Friday, March 23, 2018

Release Blitz Review: Leaning Into the Look by Lane Hayes

Leaning Into the Look
Leaning Into Stories, #6
by Lane Hayes
Release Date: March 23, 2018
Genre: M/M Romance

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.

I usually avoid jumping into the middle of an ongoing series because I hate not knowing the history and inside joke among the characters. The only book I've read of this series was Book 1 and then I lost track of the series entirely. But guess what? This one works perfectly fine as a standalone for me. Yes, the previous couples did pop in and I don't know how much I miss out on Miles and Grant's history, but I still love it.

The book did have a slow start. Grant and Miles didn't have the kind of connection or lust at first sight that usually happened in romance. When I first met them on page, it was awkward with a dose of wariness and hesitance. Grant appeared reserved, while Miles is very 'out there' with his vibrant and campy attitude. Grant might be a little scared of being in his proximity. 

I have a hard time reconciling the fact that Grant, being a successful, handsome Greek God that he is and an ex-underwear model can be such a hot mess on the inside. He had a very complex and confusing relationship with his family. I don't know whether are they the good guys or the bad guys. They seem overbearing and I wonder why can't Grant stand up for himself. He didn't come across to me as a pushover. However, as the story progress, I slowly understand that man he is and what makes him behave that way. 

Miles is an intriguing character. I love his sass, his loud and brash attitude. But we know, behind every loud mouth person, hide a vulnerability that he didn't want the world to see. I love seeing how Miles tend to nudge Grant out of his comfort zone. He makes life so much more interesting with his colourful wardrobe and sexy lingerie. Learning the Miles who is hiding behind his pink boa make me wanted to wrap him up and hold him tight, but since I can't do that, I will settle for having Grant loving him. 

Their non-relationship started in a form of one-night-stand that turns roommate/friends-with-benefits. They spend most of the book in this phase of 'we are just fooling around temporarily'. It took some time for them to accept the fact that they meant more to each other. I usually don't talk much about sex scenes in romance anymore because they are the same old, same old, but between Grant and Miles, I can feel so much more. The connection, the passion and the love, even when they said they are not even dating. When I learnt that Miles had been pining over Grant for years, the dam just broke. I wonder was this all hinted in the previous book? Now I'm fucking curious and wish I had read the entire series. Anyway, I'm glad to know the tidbits into their past entanglements. We didn't get the cliche-type of HEA ending, but it still left me plenty satisfied. I will try to make time to catch up with the previous books in the series.

I stopped short when we reached the other side of the street and then backed him against the brick fa├žade 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.


“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.

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.
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