Title: Something Like Autumn
Author: Jay Bell
Cover Artist: Andreas Bell
Publisher: Jay Bell Books
Amazon Buy Link: Something Like Autumn
Genre: M/M contemporary romance
Length: 420 pages, 150,000 words
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
A guest review by Jenre
Summary Review: A bittersweet roller coaster of a romance novel which had me laughing out loud at times but ultimately left me in tears.
Love can appear unexpectedly: a chance meeting at a friend’s wedding, the arrival of a handsome new co-worker… or while being robbed at a convenience store.
For some, love seems an impossible dream. Growing up gay in small-town Missouri, Jace Holden thought his chance would never come. When he meets Victor—a wild soul and fellow outsider—his chances of finding love go from bleak to a very uncertain maybe. Bracing his heart, Jace chases after his desire, hoping for a warm hand to hold his tight.
Something Like Autumn tells the story of Jace’s life before the events of Something Like Summer, while also revisiting his time with Benjamin Bentley.
*There are spoilers for this series in this review*
Something Like Autumn is the third book in the Seasons series. Although it’s not necessary to read the books in order, I would start with the first book Something Like Summer which I reviewed here. It is possible to read this book, or even the second book, first but because the character of Ben features as a main romantic interest in all three books then I think it’s possibly best to get his story first.
Let’s get the warnings out of the way first, shall we? Those readers who have read the other books in the series will know that there is no HEA for Jace. Those readers who loved the character of Jace and were hoping that the author might fudge a happy ending are doomed to disappointment because the book stays true to the events in the previous books. In fact, when I got to the end, I cried a great deal. I’m not saying any more but if you’re looking for rainbows and fluffy bunnies, you won’t find them at the end of this book, although you will find a sort of bittersweet happiness.
I really liked the character of Jace in Something Like Summer. Some readers complained that he was too perfect, but I liked that about him. He was perfect for Ben and I wasn’t particularly happy with the way their relationship ended. This book shows us Jace’s story from when he was 17 through to when he meets Ben and all that happened afterwards. We get to find out why Jace is so calm, so understanding of Ben’s faults and how he came to be a flight attendant on the flight where he met Ben. It’s not a easy journey for Jace who suffers a number of ups and downs through the years but has the support of a loving family and a wonderful best friend.
The story begins as Jace tries to commit suicide. He knows he is gay and having read several biographies of famous gay men, he realises that he is doomed to die alone and so decides not to put himself through years of torment by ending it all now. After throwing himself off a bridge, realising half way down what a terrible mistake he is making, he is rescued by Bernard who makes sure he’s OK and then offers Jace a job at the local gas station. It’s whilst working one evening that Jace meets Victor, a free spirited young man whose laid back approach to life fascinates Jace.
The book is divided into two distinct parts of Jace’s life. The first part is all new and original material which covers maybe four years of Jace’s life from the last few months of his senior year to his college years and centres around his relationship with Victor. This was my favourite part of the book because it shows a great deal of character growth in Jace as he deals with coming out and the highs and lows of his first relationship. Victor is Jace’s first boyfriend and the two are polar opposites. Jace has a loving family and a close friendship with his best friend Greg. He works hard at school and in his job, is biddable and obedient (mostly) and has a strong sense of right and wrong. Victor only has his mom and doesn’t see her very often, dropped out of high school and spends most of his time camping out, sponging off Jace and spouting philosophy about how he is unable to conform to society’s expectations because he is a free spirit. His friend is Star, an ex of Victor’s who becomes a rival for Jace. I have to be honest and say that I didn’t like Victor very much. Jace thinks he is wonderful, follows him round like a puppy and provides Victor with food and cigarettes whenever he needs it. Despite my dislike of Victor, I could see why Jace would like him and the author does a really good job of showing Jace’s fascination with Victor and in showing that Victor does have feelings for Jace. It was also interesting to see how Victor’s view on life changes Jace, and how their push/pull relationship is reflected in Jace’s later relationship with Ben. There were a few lightbulb moments for me when I connected the dots between events with Victor and later events with Ben. It was cleverly done.
The second half of the book covers familiar ground and deals with Jace’s relationship with Ben. There are a few cross-over events from the first and second books such as when Jace first meets Ben, their first dates and the arrival of Tim in their lives – it was especially interesting to read the water park incident from Jace’s point of view. On the whole this part was used to expand and fill in the gaps of their relationship, things that there wasn’t time or space to cover in book one. For example we get to see them going away on holiday together, and there are one or two very poignant scenes set around 9/11. I loved seeing again how much Ben and Jace worked as a couple and getting further insight into the events of other books because I was seeing it through different eyes.
There were plenty of other wonderful things about this book that I don’t have the space to cram into this review. Things like the characters of Greg and of Jace’s sister Michelle, both of whom were fully fleshed out and extremely likeable – I wish that Greg was my best friend!; or the way that this author has a gift of being able to get into the mind of a teenager and coherently show all the jumbled mix of hormones and emotions that comes with being 17/18 and in love; or how Jace was just so delightful as a character that I could have read 400 more pages of his narrative; or how masterfully the author handles emotion in the book so that I was laughing one minute (the scene where Jace’s dad offers to give advice on safe sex had me in stitches) and in the next I was in tears. The book is long but the pages flew because I was so engrossed in the events that were happening on the page.
The first book in this series, Something Like Summer, was the first book I had read by this author and I’ve now read all his books. As an author he just keeps getting better and better and I highly recommend this latest book. For those of you who have read the other books in this series, don’t be put off by knowing the ending of this book because you will miss out on meeting the wonderful character of Jace properly and that would be a great shame. For those readers who haven’t read any of this series, what are you waiting for? Get to it because you’ll be in for a treat.