Helping Hand

Helping Hand - Jay Northcote 4.5 stars

Jay Northcote hits a great balance between smutty and sweet with this novella. After spending their first year at uni partying, Mac is on the verge of being kicked out of school and Jez is flat broke and in debt to his parents. As their other four housemates are out partying, they are stuck at home drinking cheap beer and watching the television. Staying home means no hooking up with girls at the bar, and since Jez did some messing around with other boys when he went to an all boy school, why not give it a shot with Mac. Mac reluctantly agrees to getting himself off while watching porn with Jez doing the same next to him. Soon they have a regular Friday night “date”, but that doesn’t make them gay, right? Jez is willing to keep pushing for just a bit more, but when his feelings start to go past more than just lending each other a helping hand, he starts wondering whether this was really such a great idea.

Told strictly from Jez’s point of view, the story has a lot of gay sexploration, a little bit of humor and just enough emotion to keep me reading straight through. A huge plus for me was that boys’ learning about the possibilities of gay sex were a bit tentative and seemingly realistic, which made things even hotter. They weren’t having porn star sex and Jez was more than willing to use porn and the all-powerful Google to help figure out the mechanics before diving in to the more advanced moves.

The attitude of let’s keep doing what feels good, as long as we can and sort out the inevitable mess later is precisely what I would expect of two twenty year old, horny college students. Of course, communicating with actual words is not their strong point so as Jez’s feelings for Mac start to change he begins to worry about Mac’s reactions. Jez is fine with his bi-sexuality, but by all evidence Mac is straight and Jez is concerned about the housemates finding out, and potentially labeling him as gay, but more importantly, with his feelings intensifying he doesn’t want to lose the friendship or get too attached before Mac inevitably finds a girl and ends things. Mac’s internal conflict worked really well for me, since I felt that the friendship was well established outside of the sex and I felt invested in that side of things as well.

Jez does get some help from their openly gay housemate Josh that gets him thinking about how much weight he should give what other people think in deciding what to do with his attraction to Mac.
“Labels can be restrictive. Sometimes you need to stop thinking about gender and sexuality and focus on the person. If you care about them, if you feel good when you’re with them, if you’re hot for them … then what does any of the rest of it matter?”

I would have loved to get just a bit of Mac’s thoughts at the beginning, but other than that, this story hit all the right buttons for me. If the thought of two horny college guys who may not be as straight as they thought, discovering the joys of gay sex by having lots of gay sex, and dealing with their increasing emotional entanglement in a realistic manner sounds good to you, run out and grab this one.

Reviewed for Sinfully... Addicted to All Male Romance