Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Dating Game by Jay Northcote: Interview, Review & Excerpt

The Dating Game
by Jay Northcote
Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance
Length: 30,000 words
Release date: September 22, 2014

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.
Carly: Hi Jay, and welcome to Boy Meets Boy month on my blog! Thank you for sharing your new story. In The Dating Game your characters go on a series of unique and fun dates. Where did you get the ideas for these activities and why did you pick them specifically? 
Jay: I wanted to come up with opportunities for the characters to engage in different ways, and for them to have a chance to get to know each other better. In particular, I wanted Owen to prove that he could be thoughtful and considerate, and not just the ‘loveable tart’ that Nathan assumed he was at first. So I had him choosing the hill walk because he knew it was something that Nathan would really enjoy. 
I chose the climbing date because I thought it would be fun to have Owen cast in the role of the less confident one for a change, and also because climbing is hot. It’s a hobby of mine and there’s something about a man in a harness *grin* I thought it would be fun to write.

Carly: Nathan and Owen seem to have very different personalities. I know we’re all familiar with the saying that opposites attract, but what was your inspiration for the character dynamic that develops between them and how you made it work? 
Jay: Right from the start of planning/writing The Dating Game I had the characters fairly clear in my mind. Owen as the pushy/confident one, and Nathan more cautious and a little quieter—but very clear about what he wants. When I started writing they fitted together well, so it was quite easy to keep them in character. It made sense with the storyline I had planned. But it was fun revealing Owen’s softer side and having Nathan discover that for himself.

Carly: I loved The Dating Game from start to finish. Can you tell me what your favorite scene was to write and why? 
Jay: Honestly, I think it was the phone sex scene. I usually enjoy writing sex scenes anyway, and phone sex was a new challenge for me. (I don't think I’ve written a full phone sex scene before? I forget!) It’s hard to make a scene sexy when your characters can’t touch each other, but I think I made it work, and was really happy with how it turned out. There was so much UST by that stage it was fun letting them get dirty with each other at last... even though it was by phone rather than face-to-face (or face-to-dick, to quote Owen). 

Carly: Thank you for sharing such fun glimpses into your characters and writing process. Can you tell us a little about what you’re working on now or what readers can look forward to seeing from you in the future? 
Jay: I have another book out on the 12th of November. That one is part of the ‘Nothing’ set of books—they’re not a series, each one stands alone, but they’re a similar type of read, which is why I decided to link them by title. This next one is called Nothing Ventured and is about two guys who meet while training for a Tough Mudder type of race. 
After that, I’m not sure what I’ll get out next. I’m working on a novel, but am hoping to find time to write a short Christmas novella for December, but whether I manage it remains to be seen. I even have a storyline planned out for a possible sequel to The Dating Game, so I might start working on that soon too.

Thanks so much for having me on your blog! It’s been lovely talking to you. 
“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.
“I’m in.”
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.”
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First impressions can be deceiving... but then, so can second and third.

Owen was known as a loveable and fun loving flirt, and he hasn't changed much since this reputation was established in college. Nathan had noticed him then, always the center of attention and a bright spot at any party, but back in those days Nathan was quiet... and straight.

Now he's back, gay and as handsome as ever. Owen quickly decides to approach the beautiful man he knew was off limits before, but is surprised to discover that Nathan isn't interested in a quick fling.  Nathan's unexpected challenge of five dates spent getting to know one another better is one that Owen is willing to meet.

Owen surprises Nathan, his friends, and even himself, by taking to dating like a duck to water... but is it a means to a sexually satisfying end, or will five fun dates turn into more? Nathan thought that Owen would quickly tire of their game and move on, but the more time he spends getting to know him, the more attractive he finds the man buried underneath the butterfly personality.

THE DATING GAME is a fun and entertainingly written romance with lots of laughter and more than a bit of sexual frustration.  As Nathan and Owen discover that first impressions often misleading, they also learn the importance of communication, honesty, and that love can sometimes be found in the most unexpected of places.  I thoroughly enjoyed the spunky characters, unique date settings and the balance of silly and sizzling sexual situations. The perfect pick-me-up for a rainy day!
View all my reviews

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.

Jay writes contemporary gay romance, usually set in or near her home town of Bristol. She enjoys the challenge of bringing the men in her head to life through her words.


  1. Love Jay's books--they always have an interesting premise! Can't wait to read this one. All the best Jay. <3

  2. Thanks for the great interview and review! They were both really good. I can't wait to read this one now.

  3. great excerpt...loved the review too :)

  4. Hmm, the question what didn't I like as I enjoyed everything from the banner at the top, the book cover, the book blurb, Carly and Jay interview (looking forward to the phone date ;) ) the extract and Carly's honest review.

    Thank you for a fun post and for a chance to win one of Jay's books :)