Genre: YA Contemporary
Premise: This novel follows Ben, a teenager who is kicked out of their home when they come out to their parents as nonbinary. Following this they go to live with their sister Hannah, and her husband, who they haven’t seen for 10 years. Ben, struggling with anxiety, decides to only come out in their new home whilst keeping a low profile at school. However, Ben soon starts becoming close with a boy in their class, Nathan, and they have to decide how to navigate these new feelings.
Review: I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I found the writing to be excellent, this is the authors first novel but they did a great job in getting me to feel what Ben was feeling which I think is always a sign of a good author. Whilst Ben is struggling with anxiety attacks I found myself feeling helpless along side them. Don’t worry, whilst this book does deal with heavy topics there’s also a lot of beautiful moments and I think Mason did a fantastic job in making this book hit just the right tone. I loved the romance here, it’s quite clear early on that there is a mutual attraction between Nathan and Ben but these two take a while to realise it for themselves and I just loved watching them uncover their feelings. My only negative was that I would’ve liked more about the sibling relationship between Hannah and Ben. They have a very interesting dynamic to me, in them having not seen each other for so long and now Hannah is Ben’s guardian, that I would’ve liked to get more on that.
Overall, this was a fantastic read and i’m very happy that I did read it. This was the first book I ever read with a nonbinary MC and I do actually feel like I learnt a lot from it, books have so much power and influence that I cannot stress enough how important it is to get own voices representation in them. I think this was an incredibly important book and I hope i’ll be seeing more nonbinary representation in the future.
Genre: Adult romance
Premise: Starting From Scratch follows Ben who’s beginning again at uni after transitioning. He’s living with a group of guys who he doesn’t allow himself to get close to because he hasn’t told them that he’s trans and he’s not sure how they’d react, but at the beginning of the new year he’s decided to try and put himself out there a bit more. On one of his first outings with his housemates their joined by some other guys, one of who is Sid. Sid is attracted to Ben fairly quickly but Ben is scared about getting into a relationship as he’s not sure how people will react to him being trans.
Review: This is book 5 in Jay’s Housemates series, although this can read as a standalone, and I have to say that this was easily my favourite so far. I loved the romance here. Ben and Sid’s relationship progresses very naturally and I loved seeing Sid, whose clearly used to things happening quicker in his past relationships, take the time to get to know Ben and make Ben comfortable before they begin dating. I also loved that Sid doesn’t show any negativity when finding out that Ben is trans, he takes the time to ask a couple of questions but always tries his best to make sure Ben is comfortable with whats happening between them.
Ben is struggling with dysphoria in this book, and his mental health is not always at it’s best, but that felt very realistic to me. I believe that Jay wrote this one whilst in the process of transitioning which doesn’t surprise me as this book does feel rather personal at times with things that Ben is feeling and struggling with. Again, I felt like I learnt things reading this as there were things Ben has trouble with that i’d never considered before so I loved that it opened my eyes more. This was definitely a strong romance novel, and less than 200 pages, so perfect if you want a quick and sweet romance read.
Genre: Adult Romance
Premise: This is a historical romance novel following two doctors. Researcher Doctor William Blackwood and retired Navy surgeon Doctor Augustus Hill are brought together when they are both tasked with curating a medical library but it soon becomes clear that there is an attraction between them. Augustus also works at a hospital and is distressed one day to find out that there is a new patient who has been brought in after being arrested for being ‘a woman impersonating a man’. He immediately knows he needs to do whatever he can to help this patient but the only person he can go to for help is William.
Review: First of all, I loved the diversity in this book – it’s not often that books have such diverse casts but it was especially rare to see in a historical – as Augustus is a gay, disabled man, whilst William is a black, gay man. I did also read Augustus as being a trans man, however it’s never stated whether him, and Moss, are trans or intersex and it can be read either way. I was also a big fan of the characters here, both William and Augustus were fantastic well-developed characters.
However, I had one major problem with this book and it was that I wanted more. This is a short novel – clocking in at under 200 pages – and I just felt like I would’ve loved it more if it’d been longer. At the length it is I never felt the depth that I wanted from the romance and I found that things cleaned up a little too nice and neat for my taste. Overall, this is a good novel with some great representation but it was lacking in the romance and plot development I wanted – I would like to try more from this author in the future though.