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Will Barter’s been in love with his best mate Jack for as long as he can remember. They’ve shared everything: love, life, laughs, even Will’s first kiss. But Jack’s straight, and Will’s long-buried infatuation means nothing until their last summer together draws to a close.
Then one night, everything changes, but with Will bound for university in Leeds, and Jack for his dream DJ job in Ibiza, there’s no time to explore their blurred lines. Before long all that’s left are secrets, lies, and misunderstandings.
In the months that follow, anger and hurt overshadow fifteen years of friendship, and Will must dig deep to remember Jack is his mate… his best mate, and nothing matters more than that, right?
Oh boy! A coming-of-age, friends-to-lovers (with a side-serving of gay-for-you) story? Sign me up!
Told from Will’s POV, My Mate, Jack follows BFFs Will and Jack from their boyhood to beyond college. They’ve been by each other’s sides through thick and thin; Will is gay, and the straight Jack accepts Will unconditionally. Knowing that Will is a virgin, and being quite the Casanova—let me clarify…ladies’ man—Jack offers himself up for the job of deflowering Will (‘cause, you know, that’s what friends do for each other…?). Shortly thereafter, the guys separate (of course!) when Will leaves for university and Jack heads off to pursue a DJ gig in Ibiza.
And thus begins my frustration with this story.
It took Will and Jack a ridiculously long and angsty time to finally realize their (mutual) feelings for one another. Like, past-the-point-of-reason-end-of-the-book-long. The miscommunication and misunderstanding frankly started to wear me out. See, if you’re that close to someone—and especially within the context of this story and what the reader is lead to believe—I think you’d be more inclined to just pick up the phone or text your friend and generally work a heck of a lot harder to get to the root of the problem(s).
Overall, the story felt forced, and Jack’s lack of self-awareness made me want to yank my hair out. If you’re attracted to your best bud, well, did it ever occur to you that you might maybe be a skosh bisexual? Maybe? Yep, color me annoyed and unhappy with the character of Jack.
When Will and Jack were together on page (which honestly wasn’t much), they had super chemistry; I wanted them to work out. There were some really funny and fun parts of the story, too, and I liked the supporting cast of characters, including Will’s dad and Will’s gal pals.
A word of warning: the ending to My Mate, Jack is rather…unfinished. I suppose a conclusion/solution is there, but it’s not airtight, clearly setting the stage for a second book in the series. Maybe the next novel will be told from Jack’s POV and the reader will have an opportunity to better know (and like) him?
I’ve had good luck with Garrett Leigh stories in the past; in fact, I really enjoyed the first two Only Love books, and I’m super excited to read the highly-praised Roads series. I think Leigh is a great storyteller. I’m undecided at this point, though, if I’ll continue on with the Heated Beat storyline.