Length: 52,000 words
Housemates Series - though a series, each book can be read as a standalone.
Shawn is adrift. Recently graduated, he’s stuck in a dead-end job that barely pays the bills. His girlfriend dumped him, his friends have moved on, and he’s still in Plymouth—going nowhere.
Jude is a student living in the same shared house. Out and proud, he’s everything Shawn’s been running from since he hit puberty. When Shawn discovers Jude works as a cam boy, he can’t resist the urge to watch one of his shows. It makes Shawn want things that scare him, yet his fascination forces him to confront his attraction.
Keen to explore his bicurious side, Shawn suggests they do a show together. Jude agrees, and things get complicated—and kinky—fast. But Jude isn’t looking to get involved with someone so deep in the closet. If Shawn’s going to get what he wants, he needs to find the courage to stop hiding from himself and be honest about who he is.
Jude, one of the new guys who’d moved in last month, sat in a corner of one of the sofas doing something on his phone, his dark curly head bending low and the glow of the screen lighting up his angular features. Shawn wondered what he was doing—probably hooking up on Grindr or something.
That twist of discomfort flared in his gut again. He knew he shouldn’t care. It was none of his business, but the idea that Jude might be planning some hook-up with some random guy lodged in his consciousness like a stone in a shoe. Maybe it was just because Shawn was single again and would have to get back to hooking up if he wanted any action. The idea of being back on Tinder wasn’t as appealing as it should be.
Shawn turned his attention to the other sickeningly happy couple in the room. Ewan wasn’t technically one of Shawn’s housemates. He lived next door, but he might as well have moved in for the amount of time he spent there with Dev. Ewan had his arm around Dev, and as Shawn watched, he turned his ginger head and murmured something in Dev’s ear. Dev turned to look at him and they exchanged a soft smile. Then Dev pressed a kiss to Ewan’s lips, which lingered long enough to make Shawn uncomfortable.
Irrational anger bubbled up, spilling out of his mouth before he could hold the words back. “For fuck’s sake. Can’t you save that for your room?”
Dev pulled away quickly, his cheeks flaming. “Sorry,” he muttered.
Ewan glared at Shawn. “What’s your problem?”
Shawn shrugged and glared back. “I just don’t need to see it, that’s all.”
“Well, the television’s over there, so stop fucking looking at us if you don’t like it. It was just a kiss. It’s not like we’re blowing each other on the sofa or anything. Jesus.”
“Ugh. And thank you for that mental image.” Shawn did a mock shudder.
“Whoa, Shawn. What the hell’s wrong with you tonight?”
Jez’s voice cut through Shawn’s drunken, angry haze, and he realised that all eyes in the room were on him. He caught Jude’s gaze, curious and assessing, and flushed at the unwanted attention.
“You should be used to it by now,” Jez continued. “You’ve lived with me and Mac long enough. And I’ve totally caught you groping Beth on the sofa before. You don’t get a free pass for living room shenanigans just because you’re the only straight couple in the house since Dani moved out.”
That was the spark that ignited Shawn’s anger past the point of no return. “Yeah? Well, maybe I’m just tired of being surrounded by all the gay in here. I never signed up for this when we moved in together.” He stood, sloshing beer out of his nearly full bottle and onto the carpet. “I don’t have to like it.”
“Feel free to find somewhere else to live, then.”
Even Jez, who was rarely moved to anger, sounded pissed now.
“Yeah. Maybe I will.” Shawn stormed to the door, careful not to ruin his exit by walking into the coffee table again. “Oh, and for your information? Me and Beth split up today, so we won’t be the token straight couple any more.”
He slammed the door behind him and stomped up the stairs to his room on the first floor. He slammed that door too, but it didn’t make him feel any better. After throwing himself down on the bed, he clutched his pillow and let harsh sobs of fury burst out of him until the red mist receded and shame and guilt crept in to fill the place where his anger had been.
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.
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As I read this amazing story, I couldn't help but wonder how many other relationships started like this. I wonder what I would do if I were to be in either Jude or Shawn's place.
Some books have characters that you just read about, maybe even identify them. I'm an avid reader and I haven't read a lot of books that make you wonder what it would be like to be one of the characters, or what would you do in their situation.
Watching and Wanting has a well thought-out, strong plot and the story line moves along at a steady pace. The interaction between the characters is believable, as are some of the characters' internal dialog and conflicts.
Having read Jude and Shawn's story in Watching and Wanting, I now want to go back and read the rest of the characters' stories.
I give Watching and Wanting a 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to everyone who wants a good read.
Oops. Did I forget to mention it's a page turner that I read in one sitting?