Simon Wicks—Wicksy to his friends—has always thought he was straight as an arrow. But when he develops an inexplicable and undeniable attraction to Lady Gogo, he’s not sure what to do. Simon knows that Lady Gogo is a man beneath the drag, but he’s powerfully attracted to her and can’t stop thinking about her. Simon never misses her performances at Rainbow Place and he imagines her in his fantasies. So when the opportunity comes to buy Lady Gogo a drink and to flirt, Wicksy doesn’t hesitate.
It’s not the first time a straight guy has come on to Charlie while he’s been in drag and Simon is fun and flirty, not to mention hot, so Charlie’s eager to engage in a little bit of sexual fun. When Simon wants to see Charlie again, he agrees, and is all too happy to dress up for Simon again. But as their encounters continue, Charlie is able to begin to explore his feminine side outside of dressing in drag, and Simon is exploring just exactly what attracts him in the first place.
It’s a journey of self-discovery for both men as they figure out what makes themselves tick. And by being able to be so free with each other, their connections and emotions grow. But Simon isn’t ready to come out, even though he’s now able to say he’s pan who is attracted to people who are more stereotypically feminine. And Charlie wants to be more open about his relationship with Simon, especially because Simon accepts him for who he is. When Simon gets injured, it might just be the push they both need to tell the world who they are.
I’ve been reading the Rainbow Place series all along, and I’m really enjoying the vast array of characters who continue to play a role in every book. Wicksy has been there from practically the beginning, when he and his rugby team helped Seb put Rainbow Place back together in time for opening. Charlie is a new addition, having shown up for the first time in the previous book, Better Place. I was really interested to see the dichotomy between them as they both discover the truth about themselves.
So let me start with my one negative and get it out of the way. I really like Northcote’s writing, and he has a way of making me connect with characters that I never quite expect. But the plot points on this one left a little to be desired, especially with Simon’s injury being the catalyst for the big coming out. Not that it didn’t work, but I was hoping for something a little more original with these two fantastic characters. With that being said, let me jump into what I loved about this book.
Northcote does a fantastic job with both Simon and Charlie as they explore different aspects about themselves. It really starts with Simon, who can’t explain his attraction to someone who he knows is male, but who acts and presents as female. When the two begin fooling around, Simon does a bit of explaining to himself, and others, about how it could possibly work. But as his feelings for Charlie grow, I loved seeing Simon really dig in and figure out where his sexuality fell on the spectrum. And I loved that he had valid and real questions and concerns, that he voiced them and worked through them. It made his whole journey feel real and believable.
And with Charlie’s exploration, I found myself fascinated. He’s definitely male, and likes being so. But it’s hard for him to reconcile that with his love of the feminine. Not only dressing in drag and preforming, which is a thing all unto itself, but to wear more traditionally feminine clothes in public and feel like his true self. In the end, he doesn’t have it quite all figured out, but he realizes he feels genderfluid and I think that Northcote does an exceedingly excellent job portraying his truth.
I loved both these guys and I loved watching them figure themselves out while falling in love. The author strikes a great balance between self-discovery and working through their own things mentally, and the influence the relationship had on both of them to push them to work it out. All in all, I really enjoyed this addition to the series, and I’m looking forward to what’s up next for the crew at Rainbow Place.