The Marrying Kind (Owen & Nathan #2) by Jay Northcote
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance
Nathan wants to put a ring on it, but is Owen the marrying kind?
Two years on from their first date, Owen and Nathan are living together and life is good—except they’re not on the same page about marriage.
A traditionalist at heart, Nathan wants it all: the wedding, the vows, and a pair of matching rings. Owen, on the other hand, believes marriage is old-fashioned and unnecessary. They don’t need a wedding to prove their commitment to each other. Love should be enough on its own.
All it takes is one moment of weakness on a night out to force the issue. Owen finds himself engaged after a half-drunk proposal, and Nathan’s enthusiasm sweeps him along. But as the big day approaches, the mounting tension finally combusts.
If he’s going to save their relationship, Owen will need to decide once and for all if he’s truly the marrying kind.
Nathan glanced surreptitiously at Owen sitting beside him as Jack and Simon spoke their vows. Jack’s voice was quiet but sure, and Simon’s rang out clearly over the assembled crowd.
Owen’s gaze was fixed on the couple, and his eyes were suspiciously bright. As Nathan watched, Owen cleared his throat and wiped what Nathan assumed was a tear out of the corner of his eye.
Nathan suppressed a smile and turned his attention back to the groom and groom. So much for Owen’s protests that he didn’t see the point in weddings and that they were outdated, pointless events that were stupid even for straight couples unless they were religious. Even if he didn’t believe in the principle of marriage—gay or otherwise—it was nice to see he wasn’t totally immune to the emotion of the occasion. Nathan was going to enjoy taking the piss out of Owen later. But in the meantime, he reached for Owen’s hand and squeezed. Owen squeezed back.
Nathan’s eyes were moist too by the time they’d finished. The part where the celebrant said “I now pronounce you husband and husband” really set him off. Simon looked so utterly radiant after he and Jack finally stopped kissing and turned to face the wedding guests, hand in hand. Jack was flushed and awkward compared to Simon. He obviously wasn’t happy being the centre of attention, unlike his new husband, but his smile was genuine and the joy rolled off both of them, touching everyone in the room.
Nathan sighed. Owen’s hand was still in his. Their fingers were tangled together casually—just like their lives. They’d been in a relationship for over two years now, living together for half of that, and Nathan had never been happier. But looking at Simon and Jack, he wanted more. He wanted that. But he was afraid to ask Owen, because he was pretty sure what his answer would be, and it wouldn’t be the one Nathan hoped for.
The Dating Game by Jay Northcote
Rating ~ 4 Stars
Five sex-free dates—how hard can it be?
When they were at uni, Owen always had a bit of a crush on Nathan. But Nathan was apparently straight, and Owen was too busy with other guys to take his crush seriously.
When Nathan moves back to Bristol after a year away, Owen hears that Nathan has come out of the closet, and he propositions him. Nathan doesn’t want to be just another notch on Owen’s bedpost, though, so he challenges Owen to prove he can be serious: five dates before they have sex.
Owen doesn’t think that sounds too difficult. He’s expecting Nathan to find his charms irresistible anyway. But as they grow closer, Owen begins to care more about proving himself to Nathan than he does about getting him into bed.
“So,” Owen began. “I gather you’re into cock now?”
Nathan’s eyes widened, and his cheeks flushed pink. “Um…. Yes?”
“Cool. So, do you wanna get out of here and go someplace to fuck, or suck, or whatever?”
Nathan raised his eyebrows. “Seriously?”
“Yeah.” Owen let his gaze slide down over Nathan’s torso to land on his crotch. It looked like Nathan might be getting a little hard. Either that, or he was a shower rather than a grower. “I always thought you were hot. I just never knew you swung my way. So how about it?”
Nathan cleared his throat and shifted uncomfortably in his seat. He was definitely getting hard. Owen lifted his eyes expecting to see a smile. But Nathan was frowning and biting his lip.
“That’s flattering, but I’m not interested.”
Owen raised an eyebrow and glanced briefly at the bulge in Nathan’s jeans again. “You sure about that?”
Nathan’s face was even pinker now, but he held Owen’s gaze. “I’m not interested in a hookup. I’ve been there, done that, and decided casual sex isn’t for me. I’m looking for something more serious.”
Owen blinked. This wasn’t how the conversation was supposed to go. He found himself blurting out his next words without thinking. “What, like a relationship? I could have a relationship. With you, I mean.”
Nathan chuckled then, a snort of laughter that raised Owen’s hackles, because what the fuck? He’d made a move and was being laughed at. That wasn’t cool.
“What’s so fucking funny?”
“Sorry.” Nathan pulled himself together and pasted on a more serious expression. “But Owen. You don’t do relationships. Everyone knows that. I know what you were like at uni, and from what I’ve heard on the grapevine, you haven’t changed much. And that’s fine—each to their own. But I don’t want to be another notch on your bedpost. I’d rather be friends with you than one of your conquests.”
Owen’s irritation rose, and he resisted the urge to pout childishly, but he wasn’t prepared to back down. Nathan’s words had stung, because yes—Owen would be the first to admit he was a bit of a tart on the surface, but at least he was honest about it. He’d never strung anyone along or made promises he couldn’t keep. And he’d never met anyone who made him want more than a one-night stand or a few casual no-strings repeats.
But that didn’t mean he wasn’t capable of having a relationship, and he found himself wanting to prove to Nathan that he wasn’t as bad as his reputation seemed to imply.
“Will you go on a date with me instead, then?” he asked.
“A date?” Nathan narrowed his eyes. “What, so we eat first and then have sex? I’m not sure that would be any better.”
“We don’t have to have sex!” Owen protested, raising his voice in frustration, then lowering it quickly as he noticed a few people glancing their way. “Jesus. Contrary to popular opinion, that’s not the only thing I’m interested in.”
“So if we went on a date, you wouldn’t expect me to put out?” Nathan’s lips quirked in amusement. He seemed to be enjoying this conversation a little too much.
“Not unless you wanted to.”
“I’d like to get to know you better first. I think we’d need more than one date for that.”
“Okay, so what’s your magic number? Try me.”
Nathan’s brow furrowed as he considered the question for a moment.
“Five,” he finally said. “Five sex-free dates. Then when we’ve had a chance to connect, we can take it from there. Oh… and in case it wasn’t obvious, if this is going to be a relationship, I’d expect you to be exclusive.” Nathan sat back in his seat and folded his arms. “So, what do you say?”
Owen glared at him. Nathan’s pink lips stretched further as he grinned, and all Owen could think was how he wanted to come all over Nathan’s smug face.
Nathan’s smile vanished abruptly. “You’re… what, really?”
“Really.” Owen smirked, finding Nathan’s obvious surprise very satisfying. “Five dates with no sex. So, when are you free this week? I can see you every night apart from Thursday, so if you’re free to meet most nights we can be done with all five dates by next weekend.”
“Oh no. No way.” Nathan shook his head. “If we’re going to take things slow, the dates need to be spread out. One a week for five weeks.”
Somehow Owen had thought his loophole was too good to be true.
“You drive a hard bargain, but okay.” He shrugged, conceding some ground, but not defeated. “Next weekend for our first date then?”
“And while we’re discussing ground rules for this… whatever-the-fuck this is.” Owen waved his hand disparagingly. “What are we counting as sex for the no-sex rule? No fucking obviously, but does that extend to no blowing each other? No handjobs? What about dry humping?”
“Shh!” Nathan’s face was flaming, and he moved his chair closer, leaning in so he could talk quietly. “Keep it down, for fuck’s sake.”
To be fair, Owen’s voice had got rather loud, and a group of girls at the next table were looking very interested in their conversation.
“Well?” Owen asked. “We need to be clear what the boundaries are. Can we even kiss?”
“Kissing is fine,” Nathan replied promptly, and his gaze dropped to Owen’s mouth. He paused before adding, “No orgasms. That’s the line.”
Meet Jay Northcote
Jay lives just outside Bristol in the West of England, with her husband, two children, and two cats.
She comes from a family of writers, but she always used to believe that the gene for fiction writing had passed her by. She spent years only ever writing emails, articles, or website content. One day, she decided to try and write a short story–just to see if she could–and found it rather addictive. She hasn’t stopped writing since.
Rafflecopter Prize: An e-copy of The Dating Game (Owen and Nathan book one)