Starting From Scratch by Jay Northcote, Blog Tour, Excerpt, Review & Giveaway!

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Hi guys, we have Jay Northcote popping in today with the tour for his new transgender release Starting From Scratch, we have a great excerpt and Aerin’s review, so check out the post and enjoy! ❤ ~Pixie~

Jay Northcote - Starting From Scratch Cover

Starting From Scratch

(Housemates 05)
by

Jay Northcote

Starting over isn’t easy, but Ben is ready to live his life as the man he was always meant to be.

Ben is transgender and back at university after hormone treatment and chest surgery. His new housemates have no idea about his history and Ben would prefer to keep it that way. He’s starting from scratch and his life is finally on track, except in the romance department. The idea of dating guys as a guy is exhilarating but terrifying, because if Ben wants a boyfriend he’ll have to disclose his secret.

Sid is drawn to Ben from the moment they meet. He normally gets what he wants—in the short term at least. Ben’s guarded at first, and Sid’s not used to guys rejecting his advances. He eventually charms his way through Ben’s defences and helps Ben on his journey of sexual awakening.

It doesn’t matter to Sid that Ben is trans. He’s attracted to the whole person, and isn’t worried about what is—or isn’t—in Ben’s pants. They’re good together, and both of them are falling hard and fast, but Ben’s insecurities keep getting in the way. If Sid can convince Ben he’s committed, will Ben finally be able to put his heart on the line?

Although this book is part of the Housemates series, it has new main characters, a satisfying happy ending, and can be read as a standalone.

Jay Northcote - Starting From Scratch Teaser

Excerpt!

Ben’s stomach clenched with anxiety as his mum turned off the motorway onto the main road into Plymouth.

Don’t be ridiculous, he told himself firmly. There’s nothing to be afraid of.

He’d made it through his first term as an undergraduate—his second attempt at doing a degree. He was fine. He could do this. But the thought of going back to live among people who were still mostly strangers to him, even after a whole term, was daunting.

He sighed. It was his own fault. The guys he lived with were friendly enough. It was Ben himself who’d kept them at arm’s length, deflecting their attempts to get to know him better.

“Are you okay, love?” his mum asked. “You’re very quiet.”

“Yeah. Just a bit nervous. It’s weird going back after being home for a while.”

He’d spent the whole of the Christmas holidays back with his family. Three weeks where he could let his guard down and be himself without hiding any aspect of who he was. Three weeks of not worrying whether he was acting masculine enough, sounding masculine enough, not needing to hide his scars—the ones on his skin or the ones in his heart.

Ben was lucky. He knew that. Having a supportive family was more than many trans guys had. Right from the day Ben came out, his mum, his big sister, and his younger brother had given him nothing but unconditional support. His dad had found it a little harder to come to terms with, but he got there eventually, and now he was on Ben’s side as much as the rest of them.

Leaving that safe haven to go back to the uncertainty of his life at uni was hard.

It wasn’t that he was struggling. He was doing okay, enjoying his course—Psychology this time.

First time around his choice of subject had been as much of a mistake as everything else in his life. He’d been bored and miserable doing Business Studies, and when his declining mental health forced him to drop out, he hadn’t been sad to leave. At that point he’d been too fucked-up about everything to care.

Five years later, Ben had started from scratch: new name, new gender, new body, new university, new subject. When he looked at old photos of himself, he couldn’t recognise the girl in them. She looked like a sister he’d never had, her smile hiding all the confusion and discomfort buried behind the facade. Now he looked in the mirror and finally recognised himself, and the world saw the person he’d always been on the inside. His life was so much better, but he was still only halfway there, because his social anxiety and inability to trust were stopping him from making friends.

“Are you going to try and keep that New Year’s resolution you made?” his mum asked gently, as if she could read his mind.

“Yeah. I’m going to make a bit more effort to be sociable. It’s just… I still find it hard to let people in.”

Maybe it was a mistake to keep trying to be stealth. He’d thought about being out and proud, joining clubs and societies to connect with other trans people, to be open about himself and his history. But he’d fought so hard and been through so much to get to this point where the world looked at him and saw a man. Ben was afraid that if he told people he was trans, they’d see him differently. But by keeping it a secret, he had to hide so much of himself. It wasn’t that being transgender defined him completely, yet at the same time it was an integral part of his experience. His struggle, his realisation, his transition… they all made him who he was, and it was hard to imagine being friends with people without being able to talk about that.

Plus, if he ever wanted a boyfriend, he’d have no option but to share his secret. Ben might pass with his clothes on, but with his clothes off, his body was undeniably different to that of a cisgender male.

He sighed again, wondering if he’d ever find the courage to try and date someone. It was hard to imagine feeling confident enough. His dysphoria—the sense of wrongness that he’d carried with him as long as he could remember—had eased a lot with hormones and top surgery, but he hadn’t had sex in so long. The last time he’d been intimate with someone, he’d still been faking it as a girl. It was hard to imagine what sex would be like now.

His gut twisted; the thought was terrifying and exciting all at once.

Jay Northcote - Housemates series

Housemates series!

The Housemates Series is a collection of standalone stories set around a student house in Britain. Each book focuses on new characters, with themes of self-discovery and sexual awakening.

Helping Hand (Book #1) 

Amazon US | Amazon UK

Like A Lover (Book #2) 

Amazon US | Amazon UK

Practice Makes Perfect (Book #3) 

Amazon US | Amazon UK

Watching and Wanting (Book #4) 

Amazon US | Amazon UK

About Jay

Jay lives just outside Bristol in the West of England. He comes from a family of writers, but always used to believe that the gene for fiction writing had passed him by. He spent years only ever writing emails, articles, or website content. 

One day, Jay decided to try and write a short story—just to see if he could—and found it rather addictive. He hasn’t stopped writing since. 

Jay writes contemporary romance about men who fall in love with other men. He has five books published by Dreamspinner Press, and also self-publishes under the imprint Jaybird Press. Many of his books are now available as audiobooks

Jay is transgender and was formerly known as she/her. 

Website | Twitter | Facebook profile | Facebook Author Page | Newsletter | Jay’s books

Review

Jay Northcote - Starting From Scratch CoverTitle: Starting from Scratch

Series: Housemates #5

Author: Jay Northcote

Genre: Contemporary, Transgender

Length: Novella (112 pages)

Publisher: Jaybird Press (April 10th 2017)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥ 3 Hearts

Blurb: Starting over isn’t easy, but Ben is ready to live his life as the man he was always meant to be.

Ben is transgender and back at university after hormone treatment and chest surgery. His new housemates have no idea about his history and Ben would prefer to keep it that way. He’s starting from scratch and his life is finally on track, except in the romance department. The idea of dating guys as a guy is exhilarating but terrifying, because if Ben wants a boyfriend he’ll have to disclose his secret.

Sid is drawn to Ben from the moment they meet. He normally gets what he wants—in the short term at least. Ben’s guarded at first, and Sid’s not used to guys rejecting his advances. He eventually charms his way through Ben’s defences and helps Ben on his journey of sexual awakening.

It doesn’t matter to Sid that Ben is trans. He’s attracted to the whole person, and isn’t worried about what is—or isn’t—in Ben’s pants. They’re good together, and both of them are falling hard and fast, but Ben’s insecurities keep getting in the way. If Sid can convince Ben he’s committed, will Ben finally be able to put his heart on the line?

Although this book is part of the Housemates series, it has new main characters, a satisfying happy ending, and can be read as a standalone.

ISBN: 9781545255728

Product Link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B06Y3YVY82

Reviewer: Aerin

Review: How in the hell can I review a book when the topic is something I’ve got no clue about? All the informational reading in the world couldn’t give me the ability to understand exactly what Ben is feeling, how hard it is for him to integrate himself in the society as a man after living as a woman (girl?) for so many years, and how awful and deep rooted his transphobia and insecurities are. I’m trying not to be a judgy bitch and I took in this story for the well of information it really is. I never really gave a lot of thought to transgender people’s genitalia because (with the risk of sounding ignorant) it never interested me. Go me for not sexualizing people! I was scared of reading this book but it ended up being sweet and informative; I didn’t find it hot and sexual despite all the sex that took place.

Starting from Scratch is a story about a woman who became a man, a story about loving people not genders, a story about acceptance and understanding, about a vagina called Voldemort, and a bunch of friends who have each other’s backs. I like this series a lot, but I have to admit this book is very different from the rest.

Ben is obviously the focus of this whole book, so much so, that I felt Sid didn’t shine through quite as bright as I expected him to. Ben has been through a lot…. born a girl, Ben hasn’t really questioned who he was until his 3 year relationship with his boyfriend at the time. The sex was fine, Ben (we don’t know Ben’s former girl name, and that’s ok) certainly enjoyed it, but something was missing. Taking the time to really examine his thoughts and feelings, Ben realized he identifies more as a man rather than a woman, and was brave enough to take the steps needed to become a man, with the support and love of his family. Becoming a man however didn’t wipe away all Ben’s insecurities; Ben opted to not have gender reassignment surgery, and while the testosterone treatments helped his genitals change into a small penis, he’s not like other men and he knows that. He feels inadequate and his fears are deep that he will eventually get rejected by a prospective lover.

Again, I can’t even begin to imagine what Ben is going through, but…. how do you not question your gender until you’re 18 years old (shouldn’t that feeling of discord always be present)? I’m not going to rationalize it by comparing it with men who didn’t realize they were gay until later in life, or maybe I should? It is something similar to that? Does one live peacefully as a man or woman and years later they realize they were born the wrong gender? I always assumed transgender people always knew deep down who they are, regardless what sex parts they were born with, but maybe that’s not the case? I’m very confused!

Either way, it was very hard for me to connect with Ben and to understand his inner struggles. And with all the focus being on Ben, I don’t feel like I got to know Sid all that well either. What I did learn about Sid I liked, especially his thoughtfulness when it came to Ben. Sid was understanding and honest, and when he realized his knowledge about trans people is kind of limited to the basics (like mine had been, and I felt better knowing a fictional character was a clueless as I was), Sid did research. If that research involved some FTM porn, it was all in the name of learning. So yeah, I admit Sid being so specific about what to write in my google search, and me being such an easily influenced (and curious dammit!) person, I ended up watching that stupid video Sid watched! Don’t judge me!

This book was interesting, and I learned things I didn’t know before, which is always a plus. But I wasn’t blown away by the romance and considering the length of this book, many things were overlooked and it seemed rushed. But wait a minute…… Johnnie wears lacy underwear??? Yes please! And Ryan is his love interest… hunky Ryan! Fuck yeah! Bring it on!

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