Today I’m reviewing Loving Jay by Renae Kaye. It was a short, fun read, at about 200 pages, and overall the tone was fairly light even though the book dealt with some gruesome real life issues. Can we say gay bashing anyone? Yeah, I don’t like that much, but it’s not the focus of the book.
Do I think there are any story warnings on this one? Some violence. Some jackass homophobes. Other than that it’s fairly clean on the offensive front.
Let’s have a look at the blurb.
One thing Liam Turner knows for sure is that he’s not gay—after all, his father makes it very clear he’ll allow no son of his to be gay. And Liam believes it, until a chance meeting with James “Jay” Bell turns Liam’s world upside-down. Jay is vivacious and unabashedly gay—from the tips of his bleached hair to the ends of his polished nails. With a flair for fashion, overreaction, and an inability to cork his verbal diarrhea, drama queen Jay must have a screw loose.
An accident as a teenager left Liam with a limp and a fear of driving. He can’t play football anymore either, and that makes him feel like less of a man. But that’s no reason to question his sexuality… unless the accident broke something else inside him. When being with Jay causes Liam’s protective instincts to emerge, Liam starts to believe all he’s known in life has been a convenient lie. From intolerance to confrontations, Liam must learn to overcome his fears—and his father—before he can accept his sexuality and truly love Jay.
I enjoyed the character interaction in this story more than my morning cup of coffee. I did that thing…the one where I read an entire book in one night, simply because I adored it. Jay and Liam are like Jelly and Peanut butter. I love the type of story that starts with longing looks and want and ends with two people actually getting together. It doesn’t always (read: usually) happen in real life.
I think there is a very realistic view of Liam’s sexuality going on in this book. A lot of m/m romance novels have a completely angst stricken character who is afraid to delve into their sexuality (which sometimes I like reading), but I enjoyed that Liam is just a real guy who has gotten his penis involved in the greater search for knowing himself, but is still kind of stranded in his own mind. He needs love to make the sex really bang and sparkle for him, or maybe he just needed to be free to really go after his type of man, which is more of a fem dude.
Like Liam, I’m also a sucker for fem guys, which Jay is. Jay is described so beautifully, with his penchant for loud clothes, fingernail polish, and sparkly eye liner that I wish I could date him myself. He has a quirky personality and he’s not afraid to be himself. I love any character who can just say fuck it to the judgmental world at large.
The internal dialogue in this one was gold. We go on the journey with Liam from “I’m not gay” running through is head, to “I’m totally gay” after he falls for Jay, and that’s just…I don’t know. It’s the little things that really make a story pop for me, and the witty, sexy, raunchy internal musings of Liam were done in an especially amusing way.
He also daydreams about fucking quite a bit, and that’s always a plus. The sex in this book is a bit steamy, a bit explorative, and very much a good time.
To round out the good points, Kaye is just fucking funny. Who doesn’t like funny?
The actual storyline just wasn’t there for me. There were things going on in the story, but it’s the type of contemporary romance that is really only focused to the greatest extent on the characters. Most of the action was designed specifically to get the characters closer together. It seemed like the desire to get the characters to hook up was driving the storyline rather than the storyline driving the characters. I’m not going to nitpick too hard on that because it’s actually quite difficult to never have the characters driving the storyline in certain ways. I guess I could just see where Kaye wanted the story to be going and then her machinations to get us there were exceptionally transparent. I’m not sure if this is because I write also or if it is because I read a lot or if it is something that would be immediately obvious to everyone.
I’m usually a fan of a story where there’s some greater drama going on, but the bulk of this is centered on Liam coming to realistic terms with his sexuality, getting together with Jay, and also dealing with the fallout of what it means to be gay in his region of Australia. Sometimes that’s shit and sometimes that’s okay, just like in most westernized cities these days. Also a lot of the story is centered on Liam’s large family, which is actually pretty fun. I think the author writes about larger families on the regular because she has one, at least according to her bio. (I’m a shameless bio slut. Love to know about the writers I’m reading a story from.)
I’d have to say the biggest thing that threw me out of this book was the main action sequence. Action scenes are some of my pet peeves and secret joys depending on how they’re done. From experience I know they take a lot of work to get right and they can be horrific to try to pin down, so I’m generally pretty lenient with my judgement of them when I’m reading them. If I can mostly understand what is going on without being completely confused, I’m good to roll as long as the rest of the story is on point. But…Liam who has no training, mind you, none whatsoever beyond roughhousing with his four brothers, takes out three thugs to save Jay. He does some serious Jacki Chan style shit, which is fun, but I’m left going…Hrmmm….no. The author does a fun thing where she uses this to the story’s advantage, and it’s made a big deal that he did something so unusually awesome, but I still didn’t buy it. I let it go because the story was otherwise fun.
Lastly, I wish that we would have gotten Jay’s perspective in this book. I rather enjoyed it exactly as it was, and I’m now reading another book by Kaye and it seems to be a theme that she’s sticking to a single perspective. Single perspective is good in the sense that we really get a well rounded character and we delve into them in a way we don’t when we’re bouncing between two people. It’s kind of hard to write only from one perspective and still get a great story, so in the end I think she actually deserves kudos for this, rather than a beratement, but I would have enjoyed getting the exact same book directly from Jay’s view point. I literally would buy this book all over again only this time on Jay’s end.
Buy this book. It’s a super cute character driven story. If you’re a fan of USA shows you’ll most likely love this. You know the types of shows I’m talking about. Things like Suits where the people are lawyering, but all we really care about is whether or not the main characters are getting their end down. But you want to watch it anyway. And you even mildly care about the “businessing” and “lawyering”.
Also, if you can read this book without Loving Jay, you just don’t want joy in your heart.
Additional Warning: This author will ruin your tomorrow. As in, you will read so late into the night you’ll be a horrid crab to every person you interact with the next day, but it will be worth it.
Check out my book Threefold Love!