Title: Out in Winter
Series: Out in College, Book 8
Author: Lane Hayes
Publisher: Lane Hayes
Release Date: January 11, 2021
Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex
Genre: Romance, Bisexual, Friends to Lovers, College romance, Humor, Jock, Age Gap
The grad student, the jock, and some winter fun…
My new job at the bistro is fun. The owners are good guys, and the staff is made up primarily of boisterous water polo players. I know nothing about the sport except there’s a Speedo involved, and Liam likes to wear his everywhere. Yes…Liam—the chatty, handsome, utterly charming waiter I can’t seem to stop thinking about. Ugh. Note to self—do not fall for another younger man.
Getting Drew to notice me hasn’t been easy. He’s a little intense, and he knows how to keep his distance. Something tells me he’s not immune—he’s just stubborn. Maybe a weekend of bonding on the ski slopes will win him over. And if I can get him to come out in winter, I might be able to convince him that we have a chance at something special.
Out in Winter is a low-angst MM, bisexual romance starring an oh so serious grad student, a goofball water polo player, and a little winter magic. This story is part of the Out in College series, but each book can be read as a stand-alone.
The stunning winter wonderland panorama was dotted with impossibly tall evergreens flocked with snow and the pristine hills glistening in the morning sun. It was so quiet, I could almost imagine we were alone in the world. That was precisely the kind of thought that freaked me out sometimes. But not today. Today the idea seemed…promising. Maybe even cleansing, like a new start.
“It’s beautiful,” I said reverently.
“This is one of the reasons I like coming out here early. The light is so brilliant. It looks like a postcard or the photo in the dictionary next to the word ‘hope.’ ”
“That’s a nice thought.”
We shared a smile; then he adjusted his goggles and inclined his head meaningfully. “Ready?”
“Yeah, but…you go first.”
“C’mere.” Liam crooked his finger.
I shuffled forward until I stood beside him with our skis pointing in the opposite direction, expecting him to impart some advice about the terrain or maybe remind me how to stop. Both might have been helpful, actually.
“What is it?”
“Hold on to my sleeve. Stay still. That’s perfect.” He stroked my chin before leaning in to press his lips to mine. “You taste like cherry ChapStick. I like.”
I grinned. “Thanks. So do you.”
He kissed me again, twisting his tongue with mine and leaving me breathless. “Mmm. I’m making it my personal quest to make sure you get down this mountain safely and that you have fun doing it.”
“Good luck with that,” I sighed, aware that my voice had taken on a dreamy quality.
“I don’t need luck. I’m an expert,” he bragged playfully. “I’m going to give you a couple of tips. Listen up.”
“Bend your knees and stay loose.”
“Like this?” I bent my knees and wiggled my arms like a rubber band.
Liam chuckled. “Something like that. We’re gonna take it slow, moving from side to side, making wide turns. I’ll go first. Follow me and remember to keep your gaze forward.”
“As opposed to?”
“Looking at your skis. You don’t look at your feet when you’re walking, so don’t look at your skis when you’re skiing. It’ll fuck with your balance. Ready?”
“Yeah.” I licked my lips and nodded.
Liam glided smoothly down the incline, veering sharply to the right. He stopped with a flourish, sending a plume of powdery snow skyward before raising his poles triumphantly. I snickered at the silly display. He made it seem fun and relatively easy. All right, then. I could do this.
I grasped my poles in a vise grip and dug into the snow, propelling myself forward. I aimed my skis in Liam’s general direction and honestly, it felt pretty damn good. I was in control, a cool breeze on my face, and a light wind at my back. Best of all, I appeared to be closing in on my correct destination. A hot guy was waiting for me in front of a huge pine tree with—
I couldn’t stop. I picked up speed and barreled forward, trying to remember his advice. Knees bent. Check. Don’t look at your skis. Check. Stay loose…
Nope. Not possible.
I was wound so tight my head felt like it might pop off. Every muscle in my body was rigid as I zoomed closer to Liam…and the tree. It occurred to me as my life began to flash in front of my eyes that if I turned downhill, I could avoid the tree and move in the right direction. I might not have control of my skis, but Liam seemed to know what he was doing. No doubt he’d catch up easily and offer tips on how not to kill myself along the way. A comical vision of him doing circles around me while I tumbled into a giant snowball flashed in my head.
And that might have been when things went sideways.
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No matter how many times I read a new book from Lane, she amazes me. I’m instantly drawn into the plot, and the characters are so special and full of life. Once again, she delivers a couple that you want more than anything else to have their HEA.
We are brought back to the exciting world of water polo. Liam is a good-natured, yet goofy, athlete who works as a server in a bistro. The restaurant also employs a manager, named Drew, who is working towards his graduate degree. The slightly older man is drawn to the wickedly funny and kind Liam. Getting to know Liam better is causing Drew to realize his attraction towards the jovial water polo player is growing by the day.
I just love opposites attract romances. Liam and Drew may be different, but their core values are solid. I admired and genuinely liked both men. Ironically, the younger of the two may appear to have a casual and easy going personality, but deep down he knows what he wants in life. He has career goals and now a personal goal, named Drew. His manager, at first, is uneasy with his attraction towards Liam. He needs to be more professional is his mantra, but deep down there are self doubts that Liam will want more out of life than him.
The novella is short so it made me appreciate Lane’s gift even more. She fleshed out these men and nothing felt rushed. The romance was sweet, and oh so perfect. If you are drawn to solid writing that embraces an adorable and at times hysterically funny couple, and yes I am talking about their first official date, please pick up a copy and enjoy. By the way, that dinner scene had me laughing and blushing at the same time. I know you will enjoy every word. Happy reading!
* * * Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie for my reading pleasure,a review wasn’t a requirement. * * *
~ * ~ Jo‘s Review ~ * ~
If you didn’t manage to pick up this novella in the recent Prolific Works Winter Wonderland giveaway, then you really must get it now. It is just perfect to beat the winter blues. Novellas aren’t always successful; after all, they have to build characters; have a plot; and give us a HEA in far less words than a full story. Ms. Hayes does it with style, here.
You don’t have to have read the series to enjoy this (it is set in a Bistro owned by a previous character, but that actually doesn’t matter). What we have is an opposites attract, with an age gap—well that’s what Drew thinks. Him being the older one, who doesn’t have time for the fun, outgoing, and carefree Liam. Actually, what you’ve got here, is two guys that are perfect for each other. While Liam is all of those things on paper, there’s a lot more to him than that. It takes a weekend in the snow, and some time together, to get Drew to see that, but it’s worth it.
This is a light, funny book; full of banter and chemistry; I really enjoyed their interactions, and it felt very natural that they would work things out. It didn’t feel rushed, there’s enough time given for them to make a connection, and the author uses references to the time they’ve worked together to add weight to the attraction.
This is a perfect, feel good story and absolute recommendation from me. A great addition to the series (which you really should have read; if you haven’t, then go, go…you’ll thank me later).
***Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie for my reading pleasure. A review wasn’t a requirement.***
~ * ~ Annie‘s Review ~ * ~
I loved Drew and Liam. They were both fun and vibrant, especially Liam, and they fit and complemented one another very well. Their chemistry felt natural, with a good physical connection, as well as a strong emotional bond, that developed over the course of the story. The dialogue in Out in Winter was bright and lively, providing a good rhythm and tone for the story that left me with a smile on my face.
I love that most of this author’s series, like the Out in College one this story is from, are composed of standalones. It allows me to pick them up or read out of order whenever the mood strikes, or when I’m in need of a guaranteed sweetly simple romance that will make me smile. If you are in need of a mood boost, and like college-aged romances, I definitely would recommend Out in Winter.
*** Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie for my reading pleasure, a review wasn’t a requirement. ***
Meet the Author
Lane Hayes loves a good romance! An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and were winners in the 2016, 2017, and 2018-2019 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in a not quite empty nest.