Rating: 4 🌈
The Real Baxter starts off so awesomely. We dive into the universe and get an immediate understanding of both men, their personalities, and backgrounds.
Sebastian Rourke, wealthy, gorgeous. A true silver fox who’s a producer and much sought after executive . Also a single gay father, and damaged adult who’s mourning the loss of his ex who is about to be remarried.
Trent Mackay. Actor, fake bodyguard, and now fake boyfriend maybe. With more then a few walls of his own he’s erected for his own protection.
Lane created some fascinating characters, gave them both realistic and painful back histories. Surrounded both by layered personalities and utterly charming people I loved, from Seb’s mini me older son Charlie to his adorable younger one, Oliver. Let’s not forget Macy as well.
Each man has had some emotional mountains of trauma to surmount. One is still trying. All rings so true and painful. All while navigating LA celebrity scene and slowly connecting.
So I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t enjoying what was clearly a great story. Then around the 2/3 mark it hit me! There’s never been any point where the men have really been at ease , where there’s no anxiety , no tension, or possible emotional explosions waiting to happen in the next 60 seconds. It’s that way for them. It’s that way for the reader. We never relax or take a breath.
And that makes for an equally anxious, hard, stressful read.
A story, imo, needs to behave a bit like a stream or rivers. With eddies , flows, and different ranges in its movement. At times peaceful, so you can have time to appreciate the scenery and at other places, high swells, fast currents, to make your heart race and laugh or screaming, and hang on for dear life.
But if all you’re doing is clutching with white knuckles, and trying to win out over a undertow, that stress and anxiety wears you down.
The characters are amazingly well crafted. Believable with real depth. Seb, especially with his pain over the loss of his ex to his marriage and the memories of his past faults. Extremely well done. It’s so haunting that it tears at you.
His relationship with his children? Also realistically portrayed. Charlie and Oliver are both charming and perfectly realistic.
Trent too , from the moment we meet him is someone we get. From his background and family to the existence he’s scrabbling away at in LA.
But my issue is when they’re supposed to be having a semblance of normalcy, happy times. It’s a as “related by” situation. Trent tells us about them. The reader never gets that part of their relationship that developing., until we’re almost finished. We only get the fake news bits, the stress, the anxiety.
The reader needs to be “in” on what makes them work for everything else to make emotional sense.
Plus there’s this.
“He made me feel…important. Necessary. Not just for sex, although sex was amazing and got better every day.”
Made. Not makes. Past tense.
That was Trent speaking. See what I mean about tension? As a reader I’m not thinking happy thoughts about their future here…
Took me a while to realize everything was past tense. I loved, I had, he made… and the story is about 3/4 over. Shouldn’t I be feeling a bit more hopeful about them by now?
There’s so many different interesting interconnected relationships here. Grey, Seb’s ex, and his love, rocker Justin. * Charlie, Seb’s oldest son, (who also was devastated when his father’s broke up) and his husband , Ky Baldwin, bassist in the same band as Justin.*. Oliver, the youngest son, his mother and with her newest boyfriend. Everyone is interwoven into a extensive family unit of multiple households and at times, strained relations. It seems very realistic.
Lane’s story comes across, for me, at its best when Trent and Seb are dealing with Olivier. Navigating a child’s feelings about a new person entering their very complicated and crowded life, with all the ramifications, is a delicate matter. Something that’s not done with Charles, who I thought maybe needed it more, even as grown up as he was.
The pain Charlie felt was telegraphed perfectly along with his divided emotions. But as beautifully as Lane deals with Olivier, I thought that Charlie was overlooked in all the drama and it’s resolution towards the end. Except at the Epilogue.
The Real Baxter (The Baxter Chronicles #1) by Lane Hayes is a exceedingly well written story but the anxious flow of the romance, getting to have some happiness not until later, and ,for me ,leaving much of the fundamental work on relationship foundation to Trent , Oliver, and ,only lastly Seb, made this a wonderful but less fun read.
I think a lot of people will bring many different emotions to this story. It will be interesting to read all the reviews.
I’m recommending it. And wonder how the series is going to continue going forward. With another person or the same couple. Stay tuned.
*Both Grey and Charlie’s romances can be found in Hayes’ Starting From series. Starting From Zero is Grey and Justin’s. Starting from Scratch is Charlie’s.
The silver-fox and the faux bodyguard…
Who’s the true hero behind the Hollywood heartthrob, crime-fighting, adventure-seeking international man of mystery? Me. I’m the real Baxter.
Well, I wear the suit and let the action play out onscreen. You want to know the secret of my success? Sell the story you want to tell. Even if you have to bend the truth a little.
Trust me, no one will notice. Except Trent, who seems to notice everything. And for some reason, I like that. I like him. I’m just not sure what to do about it.
Look, I’m not exactly killing it. I’m a typical struggling actor-slash-waiter, hoping for a break. And boom…in walks Sebastian Rourke. He’s a cutthroat, wickedly charming silver fox, a Hollywood legend in the making. No joke. You’ve got to sell a piece of your soul to get in this man’s orbit. Or fake a British accent, then take a job playing bodyguard to fool the press. As one does.
I know I should take advantage of the very strange situation I find myself in, but I’m not sure I’m cut out for it. However, I’m willing to take a chance, ’cause I want the real Seb.
Even though it might cost me everything.
The Real Baxter is a MM age-gap, bisexual romance featuring the man who has everything and the actor who’s willing to show him what’s real.