Title: Watching and Wanting (Housemates: Book Four)
Author: Jay Northcote
Length: 129 Pages
Category: Contemporary, New Adult
At a Glance: This is not only the most erotic book in the series, but it’s the most rawly sexual Northcote book I’ve ever read.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: Watching Jude’s cam show stirs desires Shawn’s always denied…
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.
I’ve read and adored all the books so far in the Housemates series, each book for its own reasons, and even some more than others (Josh and Rupert in Like a Lover are still my faves). These books fall in the New Adult category, and each have had either an underlying or an overt theme of self-discovery, some as deeply explored as coming to terms with one’s sexuality—which is what Watching and Wanting is all about. I can also say, without equivocation, this is not only the most erotic book in the series, but it’s the most rawly sexual Northcote book I’ve ever read. He has succeeded in creating a visceral sexual tension between Shawn and Jude, managing to craft their relationship in a profoundly sensual way without making the sex all there is to them and what begins between them.
Shawn is struggling mightily after his girlfriend calls it quits, and his lashing out at the happily coupled housemates makes him look a lot like a homophobic gobshite. His concept of hyper-hetero sexuality was ingrained at a young age, but the fact is that most of these angry feelings are his own internalized fear and confusion over the truth that he may not be as straight as he’s always thought he was. Although he can’t, or won’t, admit it, he’s struggling with jealousy over the other’s relationships. And, as we all know, jealousy is an emotion that often reveals more about the one who is feeling jealous than it does about the people one is jealous of.
Like Josh in Like a Lover, Jude is working his way through uni in a rather unconventional way (although, it’s probably more common than not). Jude is a cam-worker—he masturbates on the web for tips, with the residual benefit of controlling the sexual voyeurs who tune in, teasing and edging until the money is right or he can’t hold off the cum shot any longer. None of his housemates know what he does when he’s locked away in his room at the same time every Wednesday and Sunday. And all it takes is Shawn barging in on Jude once, catching him in the act, to set the wheels of Shawn’s own voyeurism and curiosity in motion.
I appreciate the way Jay Northcote treats these characters and their relationship in this story. Everything plays out in a matter-of-fact way, no moral equivocating over the way Jude pays the bills, and I also love the way he portrays Shawn’s coming to terms with his bisexuality. There’s no immediate kicking down of the closet door; in fact, Shawn’s fear of coming out is a huge conflict between him and Jude. Also, while there was a good deal of struggle for Shawn to accept his attraction to Jude—and embarrassment over his own kinks—there was never an attempt to portray Shawn’s relationships with women as an overcompensation for being secretly gay. Shawn is bi and happens to have now fallen for a man—the one man who is worth the struggle to accept himself and own his feelings for.
Is the fear of losing the one person who makes you feel like no one else ever has enough to overcome the risk of claiming the one person who makes you feel like no one ever has? That’s the big question in Watching and Wanting—this as well as Jude’s refusal to be anyone’s dirty little secret. And, when push comes to shove, there’s a satisfying payoff to Shawn’s finding his courage. Northcote handled every issue and its resolution so well here.
As these stories are standalones and can be read in any order, I can say without reservation that if you’re looking for a short contemporary novel, slightly angsty and overflowing with both eroticism and romance, Watching and Wanting delivers it all in a really lovely and recommendable way.
You can buy Watching and Wanting here:
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Excerpt from Watching and Wanting
A couple of days later, Shawn was still doing his best to be a better housemate and friend. So after he’d finished his dinner—late because he hadn’t left work till six and had then been running again—he washed up lots of pots in the kitchen that other people had used and tidied up some things left lying around in the living room.
“Is this either of yours?” He held up a hoodie that was slung over the back of a chair.
Jez and Mac, who were on the sofa watching TV, both glanced his way.
“Nope,” Mac said.
“I think it’s Jude’s.”
Being helpful, Shawn decided to take it up for him.
He passed his own bedroom on the middle floor and went up the second flight of stairs to where Dev’s and Jude’s rooms were. Jude’s door was shut, so Shawn tapped lightly on it. There was no reply, so assuming Jude was out, he turned the handle and pushed. The door opened quietly.
It took a moment for his brain to register the information from his eyes.
Jude wasn’t out.
Jude was definitely in.
He was sitting in a chair with his back to the door, shirtless, dick out and jerking off in front of… fuck, was that Skype? Maybe he had a long-distance boyfriend Shawn didn’t know about.
But the screen didn’t look like Skype; there was a distinctive logo that even from the door, Shawn could see read “Boyz on Cam.” And—Oh fuck. The guy on the screen looked remarkably like Jude himself. Surely he couldn’t be…?
“Shit, sorry, sorry!” Shawn blurted out.
“What the fuck?” Jude wheeled around, simultaneously managing to whip his sweatpants up and slam the laptop shut. “Oh my God, haven’t you heard of knocking?”
“I did knock,” Shawn said helplessly, trying not to stare at the bulge in Jude’s trousers. Eyes up. Jesus Christ, don’t make this any worse than it already is. “You didn’t answer.”
“I didn’t fucking hear you. But you just barged in anyway.” Jude covered the tent in his sweatpants with his hand.
His face was flushed. It was hard for Shawn to tell how much was embarrassment and how much was anger. “You should have locked it,” he said unhelpfully, then mentally kicked himself for his lack of filter. Bit late to point that out now.
“I thought I had!”
“I’m sorry,” Shawn said again. “I didn’t… I mean….” Sensible words eluded him. There was no script for this. “I found this. It’s yours. I’ll go now.” He threw the hoodie at Jude, turned, and fled, shutting the door firmly behind him.
Back in his own room, Shawn paced back and forth.
“Fuck, fuck, fuck!” He scrubbed his hands through his hair, stopped pacing, and glared at his laptop where it lay on his desk, a threatening presence.
No. I can’t.
He threw himself down on the bed and stared at the ceiling.
But what if he was wrong? Maybe he’d misinterpreted what he saw? Maybe Jude was just watching another guy on camera who happened to look a bit like him? Shawn tried to tell himself that it was none of his business anyway, but he needed to know.
He got up and locked his door—learning from Jude’s mistake there—then sat at his desk and opened his laptop carefully, as if it was an unexploded bomb he had to defuse. He pulled up his web browser and typed in the words burned onto his brain: Boyz on Cam.
After an 18+ warning, the site loaded quickly and Shawn half covered his face with a hand, as though peeking through his fingers could make this better. He scrolled past a few photos of half-naked guys with nice abs and inviting smiles, but none of them was Jude.
Then he noticed a link at the top reading “Live Shows.”
Mouth dry and heart racing, he clicked on it. He didn’t think it was possible for his heart to beat any faster, but when he saw Jude’s face grinning suggestively at him from a thumbnail image, he seriously wondered if it was possible to have a heart attack at the age of twenty-one.
He knew he shouldn’t look, didn’t even know why he wanted to go any further. He’d confirmed his suspicions, and that was all he needed to know. Yet, with a shaking hand, he clicked on the link anyway.
About the Author
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.