A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Leaning Into the Look (Leaning Into #6) by Lane Hayes

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

I’ve found my favorite, by far, in this series and I want to go back—right now—and read it all over again!

Miles? Ah, Miles, how I love you so. A gregarious, flamboyant, redhead whose favorite color is pink and who likes to wear lacy underwear, he’s the king of mall shopping and he’s Eric’s personal assistant. And now? He’s the man who captures Grant’s heart.

Grant Kostas is a real estate mogul. Put in charge of the San Francisco branch of his controlling father’s empire, he’s about to land a huge contract for his leasing firm but his father comes sweeping in to make sure he does it right. And, to make sure he at least dates a Greek man if he can’t find a woman to make him happy. Mama comes along to cook for him, decorate, and reorganize his apartment. And he can’t wait for them to leave! Grant is actually a really nice guy who has social anxiety and who formerly had bulimia and when he first came out and escaped from his family he was a highly sought underwear model. He’s also a people pleaser, at least where his family and friends are concerned, so he finds himself offering to share his apartment with the gregarious Miles after he’s had no luck helping Miles find a place in the Castro that suits him.

Each man is very into the other, though neither wants to admit it, and they form a pact that they will never let their relationship go as far as falling in love. It’s to be sex and friendship only. Of course, that doesn’t work out and they do indeed fall in love. It’s so much fun along the way that, as I said before, I’d go back and read their story again. There are definitely some very hot sex scenes but there are also so many poignantly sweet moments, and moments where they are just enjoying San Francisco and all it has to offer a young gay man looking for adventure.

There are, of course, complications that mainly come in the form of interference from Grant’s father, including a “fake” boyfriend who happens to be an artist (Greek) working on Grant’s latest project. Grant doesn’t even like the man, yet he lets his father think they are dating. Imagine the complexity of what happens when Papa and Mama show up and both the real and the fake boyfriend are present. It’s time for Grant to grow up and take back his own life, and in the process, face facts with Miles. Miles needs to know he deserves to be loved wholeheartedly—manties and all. Thankfully, our guys get their HEA after a hard-won battle.

If you love this series, by all means pick this up. It can be read as a standalone, however, there are recurring secondary characters so it may be confusing to just start here at book six. In any event, IMHO, this is the best of the series so it definitely needs to be read and enjoyed by as many MM romance lovers as possible. Very highly recommended!

~~~

Cover art by Reese Dante follows the same theme as others in the series: featuring a lean, young man’s torso, in this case with business dress shirt open down the front, set against a background scene of San Francisco Bay. It’s easy to link it to the rest of the series, and it’s certainly eye-catching.

Sales Link:

AMAZON US: https://amzn.to/2DSuOKZ

AMAZON UK: https://amzn.to/2G32N9x

 

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1 edition, 267 pages
Published March 21st 2018 by Lane Hayes
Original TitleLeaning Into the Look
ASINB07BMHZV3C
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesLeaning Into #6

Blog Tour for Leaning Into the Look (Leaning Into Stories #6) by Lane Hayes (excerpt and giveaway)

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LEANING INTO THE LOOK

LEANING INTO STORIES BOOK 6

LANE HAYES

M/M ROMANCE

RELEASE DATE: 03.23.18

 

Leaning Into The Look Cover

COVER ARTIST: REESE DANTE

AMAZON US: https://amzn.to/2DSuOKZ

AMAZON UK: https://amzn.to/2G32N9x

Leaning Into The Look Graphic

BLURB

Grant Kostas made a career based on his looks before joining his family’s real estate firm. He may not love his job but he’s better at sales than he thought. And when he’s poised to bring in the biggest account of the company’s history, even his father is impressed. Unfortunately, the extra attention highlights Grant’s personal life. His parents accept that he’s gay. They just wish he’d meet a nice Greek man.

Miles Harrison is a fabulous red head going through a rough patch. Between getting dumped by his long-term boyfriend and finding a new place to live in the city, he’s nearing his wits end. He’s not sure why he thought rooming with his boss’s friend was a good idea. Miles has had a crush on Grant for years. However, he knows attractive people aren’t always pretty on the inside. As the two men grapple with external problems, they form an unexpected bond of friendship and trust that feels like the real thing. The only way to know for certain is to let go of fear and lean into the look.

LeaningIntoTheLook-teaser-adventure-900x675

EXCERPT

“You and I are opposites. You like quiet and order, and I thrive on chaos. I want everything you have and more. The boisterous family with the ancient traditions and food for days. I can’t even watch My Big Fat Greek Wedding without getting jealous. And that’s your real life.”

“Times ten,” I agreed with a half laugh.

Miles chuckled. “Humans are a mystery. Why are we never happy with what we have?”

I lowered my hand to his waist and hooked my fingers through his belt loop. “We don’t see well. We don’t know when to speak and when to listen. We don’t understand the nuances in taste and touch. Take your pick.”

“Mmm. Personally, I think we rely too heavily on looks. Physical appearances and perceived appearances. It takes patience and effort to really see the person under skin and bones. The scars and insecurities. To sift through their baggage while they do the same to you and cross your fingers, hoping like mad that you pass the test. It’s so…hard.”

“I’ve heard if you find the right partner it’s worth it,” I said softly.

Miles sighed and leaned heavily against my side. We fell silent for a moment, letting the squawk of seagulls and the medley of tourists’ voices mix with the occasional bark of a sea lion. We were part of a crowd and yet separate enough to hear our own thoughts.

“Thank you for today,” he said after awhile.

“I didn’t do anything special.”

“Sure you did. You took me on a date.”

“It wasn’t a real date. I can do better,” I assured him with a wry grin.

“No complaints here. Oh, except you made me walk three miles and—”

“Hey, at least I avoided the steeper streets.”

Miles snickered. “You were probably afraid I’d get tired and demand a piggyback ride.”

“Yeah, that did cross my mind,” I agreed sarcastically. “How about if I buy you a coffee for the walk back to the car?”

“Make it a hot chocolate and promise to hold my hand the whole way, and you’ve got yourself a deal,” he countered with a straight face.

My smile was so big it hurt. I enveloped him in a giant bear hug and pulled back to kiss his forehead. “Deal.”

I laced my fingers with his and pulled him through the crowd to the boardwalk. And I didn’t let go. Block after block through familiar city streets and eclectic neighborhoods, I kept him close, marveling at how right it felt just being with him. I noted his shy, pleased smile and cautioned myself not to read too much into the look. I didn’t want to ruin the mood by saying too much. But I knew it was a matter of time before I lost myself to Miles completely.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lane Hayes is grateful to finally be doing what she loves best. Writing full-time! It’s no secret Lane loves a good romance novel. An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. These days she prefers the leading roles to both be men. Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and were winners in the 2016 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in an almost empty nest.

Website: https://lanehayes.wordpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100008562883399

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LaneHayes3

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7125719.Lane_Hayes

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/LaneHayesauthor

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Leaning Into Love

Leaning Into Always

Leaning Into the Fall

Leaning Into Touch

Leaning Into a Wish

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Release Day Blitz for Leaning into the Look by Lane Hayes (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Leaning Into the Look

Series: Leaning Into Stories, #6

Author: Lane Hayes

Publisher: Lane Hayes

Release Date: March 23

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 82000

Genre: Romance, friends to lovers, san francisco, humor, businessmen

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Synopsis

Grant Kostas made a career based on his looks before joining his family’s real estate firm. He may not love his job but he’s better at sales than he thought. And when he’s poised to bring in the biggest account of the company’s history, even his father is impressed. Unfortunately, the extra attention highlights Grant’s personal life. His parents accept that he’s gay. They just wish he’d meet a nice Greek man.

Miles Harrison is a fabulous red head going through a rough patch. Between getting dumped by his long-term boyfriend and finding a new place to live in the city, he’s nearing his wits end. He’s not sure why he thought rooming with his boss’s friend was a good idea. Miles has had a crush on Grant for years. However, he knows attractive people aren’t always pretty on the inside. As the two men grapple with external problems, they form an unexpected bond of friendship and trust that feels like the real thing. The only way to know for certain is to let go of fear and lean into the look.

Purchase at Amazon

Excerpt

I stopped short when we reached the other side of the street and then backed him against the brick façade of a bank building and pressed my lips over his. It was a bold move and not one I’d ever tried on any man in public before. But I couldn’t help myself. It felt oddly freeing to share one of the bleaker parts of my past with him. I wanted to thank him somehow but that seemed awkward so I kissed him instead. I held his head and glided my tongue alongside his, loving the moment when he flung his arms over my shoulders and responded with fervor. When we broke for air, I rested my forehead on his and grinned.

“Your ass is pretty spectacular too, Mi.”

He chuckled good-naturedly. “Thanks.”

“No really. I think I’m love with it.” I lowered my hands down his back and squeezed his cheeks as I molded his pelvis to mine.

“That’s kind of romantic. But if you’re thinking about falling in love with me too…don’t.”

I backed up slightly to get a better look at him. “Okay. I won’t.”

“Pinky promise.” He held up his right hand and wiggled his fingers.

“What makes you think you’re so irresistible?” I asked, wrapping my pinky finger around his.

“I’m not and you’ll figure it out sooner or later. But I like you and I want you and…”

“And what you’re really saying is you don’t want to fall for me.” I kept my tone light, hoping a jocular vibe would steer us from turning this into an uncomfortable conversation.

“Maybe.”

“Look, Mi. I’m not—”

“No. Listen. Don’t make this into a big deal. It’s not. We’re going to have a grand adventure. Just me and you. We’ll do incredible things and have amazing conversations and lots of sex. And when it’s time to say good-bye, we won’t ruin it by pretending we were ever in love. What do you say?”

Nothing. I had nothing to say. All I could think was maybe he really was crazy because who said shit like that?

But when I looked past the lighthearted swagger I saw the cracks in his armor. He was scared and battered and raw on the inside. Kind of like me. And somehow I had a feeling it wasn’t an ex-lover that made him so cautious. I only knew he was right. We were a couple of oddballs who unexpectedly found ourselves inhabiting the same circle. Temporarily.

But love? I should have walked away. Or at the very least, laughed at his wild leap. Instead I cocked my head and squinted. “What kind of adventures?”

Miles grinned. A slow-moving, gorgeous upturn of the lips that morphed into something celestial. He literally took my breath away. I hoped the dizziness faded before I gave him a reason to think it was a good thing he’d issued a warning about getting too attached.

“All kinds! We’ll turn this town upside down being one hundred percent ridiculous.”

“Okay…” I gave a half laugh and pushed a stray lock of hair behind his ear. “What do you have in mind? Dancing, parties—”

“No. More like Trivial Pursuit marathons, Netflix binge-watching fests in our Pjs, the compare and contrast game and—”

“The what?”

“Don’t worry. We’ll have fun. You’ll see,” he assured me earnestly as he laced our fingers together and pulled me away from the wall.

I glanced down at our joined hands and briefly thought about joking that he should be careful about giving me mixed signals. But I knew my limits. My comedic timing was crappy and the last thing I wanted was to push him away. I might not love Miles but I liked him. A lot. And holding his hand while we wandered through town under a sea of rainbow flags on a random Sunday felt special. The way new beginnings sometimes did.

Meet the Author

Lane Hayes is grateful to finally be doing what she loves best. Writing full-time! It’s no secret Lane loves a good romance novel. An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. These days she prefers the leading roles to both be men. Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and won first prize in the 2016 and 2017 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in a newly empty nest.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon

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Audiobook Blitz and Giveaway for Leaning Into the Fall (Leaning Into Stories #2 ) by Lane Hayes and Nick J. Russo (Narrator)

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Title:  Leaning Into the Fall

Series: Leaning Into Stories, #2

Author: Lane Hayes

Publisher:  Self-Published

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 7 hrs and 44 mins

Genre: Romance, Erotica, Bisexual, humor, San Francisco, May to December romance

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Synopsis

Nick Jorgensen is a quirky genius. He’s made a fortune in the competitive high tech field with his quick mind and attention to detail. He believes in hard work and trusting his gut. And he believes in karma. It’s the only thing that makes sense. People are difficult, but numbers never lie. In the disastrous wake of a broken engagement to an investor’s daughter, Nick is more certain than ever he isn’t relationship material.

Wes Conrad owns a thriving winery in Napa Valley. The relaxed atmosphere is a welcome departure from his former career as a high-rolling businessman. Wes’s laid-back nature is laced with a fierceness that appeals to Nick. In spite of his best intention to steer clear of complications, Nick can’t fight his growing attraction to the sexy older man who seems to understand him. Even the broken parts he doesn’t get himself. However, when Wes’s past collides with Nick’s present, both men will have to have to decide if they’re ready to lean into the ultimate fall.

Listen to an audio excerpt & purchase at Audible

 Meet the Author

Lane Hayes is grateful to finally be doing what she loves best. Writing full-time! It’s no secret Lane loves a good romance novel. An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. These days she prefers the leading roles to both be men. Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and were winners in the 2016 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in an almost empty nest.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Meet the Narrator

Nick is an award winning narrator with a fan following for his work in fiction, specifically in the romance genre. His performances in two of Amy Lane’s books, Beneath the Stain and Christmas Kitsch, made him the recipient of Sinfully M/M Book Review’s Narrator of the Year – 2015. When he’s not in the booth, Nick enjoys spending time with his wife, Jessica, and kids, (aka their beagle Frank and cat Stella), drumming in his cover band, exploring rural back roads with his wife on his motorcycle, or being enthralled in a tabletop role playing game with his friends. 

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A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: A Way with You (Memories with The Breakfast Club) by Lane Hayes

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Reeve Nelson arrives in New York, ready to set the real estate world on fire.  He’s got the experience from having co-owned his own business with his ex-girlfriend, though it was in a small town and nowhere near the complexity or the pricing of life in the City.   Hired by Leo Rodriguez to be his assistant as Leo prepares a new home real estate show for a major network, he eventually finds out that he was primarily hired because of his connections to his brother’s fiance’s family and their business, DeLuca Construction. 

Remy and Tony DeLuca from A Way With Words both make an appearance in this story as Reeve relies on his brother for a shoulder to cry on when his dreams stall out and he experiences a major crush on his arrogant, ruthless boss.   Their tension and sexual chemistry explodes one night when Reeve has had enough and confronts the big man.  Thinking he has nothing to lose since he’s about to quit, Reeve gives him a verbal lashing, but to his surprise, Leo responds by kissing Reeve, and things get hot and heavy from there. 

This story is fairly short—probably novella length—so much of the relationship development takes place off page.  However, the author does keep us informed about what is happening in their lives as they go through the summer as friends.  Reeve now has his own business in Brooklyn, where Tony’s family has more connections and Remy makes sure Reeve gets referrals, but he and Leo are still having sex, still spending hours talking about everything from their past to their likes and dislikes, and still sharing experiences on day-trips, hikes, runs, time at the gym.  In other words, they are becoming very important to one another, and slowly but surely, each man begins to realize how much he is falling in love. 

I always enjoy Lane Hayes’s writing and this story is no exception.  I wish I had known about the first book, however, as I think it would have enhanced my pleasure in reading this one since the characters from that story are featured prominently in this one.  Nevertheless, this can be read as a standalone. 

This book takes two very different men on a journey of discovery and by the time they realize their importance to each other, rather than have their life circumstances turn against them, something very romantic and magical happens and big, gruff, “ruthless” Leo does something Reeve never expects.  It’s definitely a romantic story with a capital R and is the perfect length to pick up when you need that special book to brighten your day.   

~~~~~

Cover art by Reese Dante depicts a photo of a businessman ripping open his suit jacket and shirt to expose his muscular chest.  It’s certainly attention-getting, though I would have liked to see some tattoos on that chest to match the description of Leo’s chest in the story. [fans self]

Sales Links: Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 95 pages
Published January 16th 2018 by Kindle Worlds
Original TitleA Way with You
ASINB07939KQDJ
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesMemories with The Breakfast Club settingManhattan, New York City, New York (United States)

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Leaning Into A Wish (Leaning Into Stories #3.5) by Lane Hayes

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

This is a sweet romance, one that can be read as a holiday story or simply a continuation of the Leaning Into series.  It features Ryan Haskell, a secondary character who in the past had a relationship with Wes before Nick came along and who was actively trying to break up Josh and Finn in their story.  Ryan works in the Conrad Winery and is best at his favorite task: conducting tours and selling the wine that is now a part of his life’s work with a group of people he has adopted as his family. 

Each year the winery hires interns and this year, Danny Meyers, a straight jock with a wonderful outgoing personality is driving Ryan crazy. Why? Well on the surface it appears he just rubs Ryan the wrong way when he jokes around or even just brings his bright personality into a room.  Why should one guy be gorgeous, built, athletic, and personable all in one package?  And to top it off, he keeps flirting with Ryan, even though he’s straight.  Way to make a guy crazy! 

Off and on throughout the story, the subject of wishes comes up.  We learn Ryan’s greatest wish is to love and be loved in return.  And we learn the value of believing your wishes can come true.  When Danny realizes his own wishes and dreams are all centered in the Napa Valley and a career as a tennis pro is no longer really an option, he gets the help of Geordie, the co-owner of the winery, to help Ryan weave through the path of his own doubts so that Danny can help Ryan find that wishes can come true.

Though the story is short, the characters are well-developed and the situations are infused with humor and good intentions.  There’s plenty of opportunity for the relationship to develop and there’s a really sweet ending. 

This could technically be read as a standalone, since there are multiple recurring characters from previous books, but it will be a much better reading experience for those who have read one or more of the earlier stories. 

I highly recommend this one to all lovers of contemporary MM romance and if you’ve already read the others in the series, this one is a win-win.  Be sure to ask Santa for this sweet stocking stuffer. 

~~~~~

Cover art by Reese Dante features a bare-chested man—mostly a torso shot—similar to others in the series, and set against a background of fields of grapes—one vine decorated with a Christmas wreath. By the style of the cover, it’s easy to link this book to the rest of the series, and it’s certainly eye-catching. 

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 126 pages
Published November 20th 2017
ASINB077MYSF1S
Series Leaning Into Stories #3.5

In the Spotlight: Leaning Into a Wish (Leaning Into Series #5) by Lane Hayes (excerpt and giveaway)

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LEANING INTO A WISH

LEANING INTO SERIES, BOOK 5

LANE HAYES

M/M ROMANCE

RELEASE DATE: 11.20.17

Leaning Into A Wish Cover

COVER DESIGN: Reese Dante

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Ryan Haskell loves everything about the wine business. He’s fortunate to work at one of the most prestigious wineries in Napa Valley doing something he enjoys with the people who are like family to him. But he could do without the good-natured intern slash former jock with the wicked grin who always seems to be in the way. Ryan isn’t sure why the new guy is under his skin when everyone else loves him. Thankfully he’ll be gone after the holidays.

Danny Meyers can’t believe his luck when he lands an internship at Conrad Winery. It’s the perfect temporary gig to wrap up his graduate studies. He’s left his dreams of tennis stardom on the court to focus on a new career and a new life. However, he didn’t count on the spark of attraction he feels for his prickly co-worker. When their tentative friendship blossoms into something more than either man counted on, they may have to change direction and lean into a holiday wish.

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EXCERPT

“Nothing. Um…I need a few minutes to get ready,” I said. I didn’t bother moving. I still felt sluggish and half-asleep. I needed more caffeine before I could even think about swinging a racket.

“Take your time. The courts are empty. We’re good. Sit back, fuel up, and tell me about Batman, Nutella, and whatever else cranks your chain.” He snickered at my blank stare then added, “I’m just shootin’ the shit here, Ry. Just tell me about yourself. What came first…wine, music, or the Caped Crusader?”

“The Caped Crusader, of course,” I scoffed without heat. “I went through a strong Batman phase when I was a kid followed by my teenage music years. The wine phase came in college, but I still love all three. And Nutella.”

Danny let out an amused huff and sat back to observe me. God only knew what he saw. My curly hair had a tendency to do its own thing in the morning. No doubt it was wild. The stretched out, ancient concert tee, black boxer briefs, and bare feet screamed geeky bachelor louder than my superhero art.

“That’s cool. You know what you like and you stick with it. Seems like a good trait.”

“Thanks.” I studied him over the rim of my coffee cup then took a sip and set it on the table again. “What about you? What are you into besides wine and tennis?”

“Beer and football,” he quipped.

I lifted my brow inquisitively. “Honestly, that’s what I thought. You look like you’d be at home in a country bar guzzling brews with a bunch of beefy former jocks who hung up their shoulder pads for cowboy hats.”

“Damn, boy. You’ve got me all figured out, don’t you?” he asked irritably before reaching over to tug at my wayward curls. “Guzzle that there coffee, slick, and let’s get ourselves a court.”

The boxers with T-shirt combo surely did nothing to enhance my diva-esque moment but that couldn’t be helped, I mused as I rolled my eyes and stood. “I’ll be out shortly.”

Danny snickered in response. “Just hurry it up. If you aren’t out here in five minutes or less, I’m coming in there.”

“Is that a threat or a promise?”

“It’s whatever you want it to be, Ry.”

The low timbre of his voice sounded sexy as hell. Thankfully, my brain intervened before I made a fool of myself and offered him something he didn’t want. It was a close call. Closer than it should have been. Shit. I needed more coffee.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lane Hayes is grateful to finally be doing what she loves best. Writing full-time! It’s no secret Lane loves a good romance novel. An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. These days she prefers the leading roles to both be men. Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and were winners in the 2016 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in an almost empty nest.

Website: https://lanehayes.wordpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100008562883399

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LaneHayes3

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7125719.Lane_Hayes

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/LaneHayesauthor

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A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Leaning Into Touch (Leaning Into Stories #3) by Lane Hayes

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

When Josh Sheehan bumps into his former lover, Finn Gallagher, he knows it’s a bad idea to pursue the sexy Irishman, but his libido overrules his head and he jumps back into lust with very little thought for the consequences.  Once they satisfy their immediate needs, he knows he has to let Finn go again before they get too heavily involved.  And that works—until Josh’s father lays a heavy load of angst on him in the form of a secret he’s kept for over forty years. 

It’s Finn Josh thinks of when he needs to talk.  After all, Finn is intelligent, kind, humorous, sympathetic, and, most importantly, doesn’t know Josh’s dad, so he won’t give Josh advice based on emotion like his other friends might.  Actually, Finn is everything Josh wants in a forever man—except Finn is emotionally unattainable and he happens to be engaged to a woman. At least that’s what the society pages say. 

This story was so much better than I thought it was going to be.  At first, I was concerned that Finn was going to be one of those characters I couldn’t warm up to.  He held himself aloof and detached emotionally through much of the story.  Though he looked at Josh as if he cared, and he expressed many of his feelings through his actions—his own personal hurt and guilt laid on him by a strict Catholic father in Ireland years before and enforced with each visit home—he never made a commitment to the man who so obviously wore his heart on his sleeve and wanted him desperately.  But I hung in and I’m so glad I did because Finn was one of those damaged characters who was slow to reveal his innermost self, but when he did, he grabbed my heartstrings and wouldn’t let go. 

Josh was fairly easy to love right from the beginning but watching his struggles with his dad’s news, and his mom’s manic reactions to stress, while Josh is trying to decide his next career move now that his dream job is coming to an end gave us an intimate view of an interesting character who matures throughout the story.  His selfless comments and actions on Finn’s behalf sealed the deal and caused a few tears to roll out from where I was holding them tightly within. 

Though it can be read as a standalone, since there are multiple recurring characters from previous books, it will be a much better reading experience for those who have read one or more of the earlier stories in this series. 

Need I say more?  I highly recommend this one to all lovers of contemporary MM romance and if you’ve already read the others in the series, this one is a win-win.

~~~~~

Cover art by Reese Dante features a bare-chested man – mostly a torso shot – against the backdrop of the city of San Francisco at night.  Similar to others in the series, it’s easy to link it to the rest, and it’s certainly eye-catching. 

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 235 pages
Published October 5th 2017 by Lane Hayes
Original TitleLeaning Into Touch
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesLeaning Into Stories #3

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Leaning Into Always (Leaning Into Stories #1.5) by Lane Hayes

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Let me start by saying I love Lane Hayes’s work, so I immediately jumped at the chance to read this one for review. I was given three weeks, but I took less than three days to read it, savor it, and write this review. This story was delicious, delightful, and decadent. Better than a fine piece of chocolate!

Set in San Francisco, this story was originally part of an anthology and is now going to be the start of a new series. All I can say is “Sign me up!” because if the rest are anything like this one, I’m all in.

There’s not much I love more than a geek, so I was quite happy to find that Eric Shuster is that and more. He’s also cute, humble, sweet, and the type of person who sees to the needs of his friends before his own. His work partner and ex-lover, Nick, has announced that he’s getting married, but Eric can see immediately that he’s marrying for money, not love. The girl is the daughter of a wealthy investor and Nick is always on the lookout for more funds for their technology company, whether they need them or not.

As the story evolves, Eric finally faces the fact that he and Nick were really never in love, just friends and fuck buddies, and there’s no reason to grieve his loss. He ends up spending more time with his friends, especially Zane Richards, a handsome sportsman who loves his water sports, whether they be surfing, water polo, or sailing. In fact, Zane has his own company working with the wealthy who need an experienced yachtsman to simply sail or to race. Eric and Zane become closer than they’ve ever been in the dozen years they’ve known each other as they rediscover their likes and dislikes and explore a deeper connection than the usual surface level among friends.

I highly enjoyed watching their friends-to-lovers relationship develop. Ms. Hayes provided the perfect amount of heat and humor and even a little angst, though thankfully that wasn’t overdone. Just give me a love story that will cheer me up, make me break out my personal fan, and leave me feeling warm and fuzzy and you’ve made my day. This one made my day. I highly recommend it to all MM romance lovers, and especially to those who enjoy friends-to-lovers romances. Yummy!

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Cover art by Reese Dante shows a male naked torso against a scenic background photo depicting the Golden Gate Bridge with sailboats gracefully floating along below on the deep-blue water of the bay. It feels refreshing and is both attractive and pertinent to the story.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 100 pages
Published September 5th 2017 by Lane Hayes
Original TitleLeaning Into Always
ASINB075CVSKG6
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesLeaning Into Stories #1.5

RELEASE BLITZ Leaning Into Always (Leaning Into Stories #1 Part 2) by Lane Hayes (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Leaning Into Always

Series: Leaning Into Stories, #1, Part 2

Author: Lane Hayes

Publisher: Self Pub

Release Date: September 5

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 30k

Genre: Romance, Bisexual, Established Couple, San Fran, Beach, Surfer, Geek, Opposites Attract, Friends to lovers

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Synopsis

Life is good for Eric Schuster. He owns a highly successful tech company, has a great group of buddies, and he’s about to marry the man of his dreams. Eric is pleasantly surprised to find the transition from friends to lovers has been easier than he thought. However, after running into an overly friendly ex-boyfriend on an impromptu trip to their shared hometown, Eric realizes things are about to get complicated.

Zane Richards is a quintessential California surfer dude turned professional sailor. His laid-back approach has helped him navigate difficult times in his life. Eric may not share his easy-going mindset but Zane knows without a doubt Eric is the one. However, carving a future together may require confronting a piece of the past Zane thought he’d left far behind. Both men will have to decide if they’re willing to risk what they know for a chance to lean into always.

Excerpt

“Hmm. I want to drop this, but…I have one last question. What did you mean about ‘being from here?’ I know San Francisco is home now but this is a nice place too. I always thought it would be kind of cool to move back someday so I could—”

“No. No way. Never,” I replied emphatically.

I tried and failed again to make a getaway. Zane pounced on me and held me down, snaking his arm across my chest to keep me next to him.

“O-kay…where’s this coming from?”

“I can’t explain it. You wouldn’t understand.”

“Try me.”

“It sounds stupid.” I met his patient gaze, hoping he’d cut me some slack, but he didn’t budge and I had a feeling he wouldn’t until I spit it out. “Fine. I was teased pretty mercilessly for being a geek from kindergarten through high school. I never fit in. I wasn’t blond, athletic, or particularly charming. I was smart. Smarter than I appear to be now,” I huffed.

“Who bullied you? I’m gonna kick some ass. No one messes with my man,” he said, nuzzling my neck.

I chuckled, running my fingers along his spine. “Thanks. I told you it sounded lame. I’m a perfectly well-adjusted adult when I’m not here. And I’m actually pretty good when I come for quick family visits, but this feels different. It feels like I’m being thrown back in time and forced to hang out with the cool kids. Today was a great example. I made a fool of myself out there and I made you mad. Yeah, I was jealous but that was only part of it. I also wanted to prove I’d grown up a little and that I wasn’t the same sunscreen-caked dork who’d sit under an umbrella and read when he went to the beach anymore. I guess I still am.”

“You seem to be forgetting one major detail, Er.”

I traced the laugh-lines at the corner of his eyes and pushed his hair from his forehead. “What is it?”

“I like you just the way you are. I don’t expect you to change and develop a sudden passion for things I enjoy doing. Just be you. And if that means you’d rather finish a chapter lounging in the sand than jump in the water, that’s okay by me.”

“Thank you.”

“Don’t thank me. It comes with the territory. I wouldn’t want to spend the rest of my life with you if I didn’t love all your weird habits,” he teased, pulling us both to sit up.

“Weird? Me? I bet you can’t name three weird things about me,” I declared as I sauntered toward the bathroom.

“I bet I can name ten. I’ll give you my list at breakfast. Jump in the shower while I call housekeeping and ask them to change our sheets.”

I stopped in the doorway and frowned. “Just tell them I spilled water on them or something.”

“Why lie? I’m going to tell them my boyfriend got jizz on my side of the bed and…”

I shook my head mournfully and turned on the shower to drown out his silly speech about being stuck with a messy lover and crusty sheets. I chuckled at his ‘put upon’ tone and called for him to join me before stepping under the spray. I stopped abruptly and backed up to look at my reflection. My cheeks were flushed, my eyes were bright, and my smile spanned my entire face. I was incredibly happy and if I said so myself, it looked good on me.

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Meet the Author

Lane Hayes is grateful to finally be doing what she loves best. Writing full-time! It’s no secret Lane loves a good romance novel. An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. These days she prefers the leading roles to both be men. Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and were winners in the 2016 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in an almost empty nest.

Books by Lane Hayes:

Better Than Good, Better Than Chance, Better Than Friends, Better Than Safe, The Right Words, The Wrong Man & The Right Time, Leaning Into Love and Leaning Into the Fall, A Kind Of Truth, A Kind of Romance, A Kind of Honesty, A Kind of Home AND A Way with Words

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