Title: Starting From The Top
Series: Starting From, #5
Author: Lane Hayes
Publisher: Lane Hayes
Release Date: March 8, 2021
Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex
Genre: Romance, Age Gap, Rock and Roll, Hurt and Comfort, Bisexual, Contemporary Romance
The guitarist, the dad, and a band on the rise…
A quiet place to live and some time to recharge before my band heads out on the road again sounds amazing. I wouldn’t mind a distraction too, but my new neighbor is off-limits. There are rules about not getting involved with your bandmate’s ex, right? And Sean isn’t my type anyway. He’s too bossy, too commanding, and he has way too much baggage. I’ve learned that it’s best to let go of the heavy stuff. So why am I so drawn to him?
Coming out later in life has taught me to protect my privacy at all costs. And while juggling a handful of businesses and two kids isn’t easy, I excel at the art of multitasking and keeping everything separate. But Johnny blurs those lines. He’s easy-going, sweet-natured, and cool. In short, he’s everything I’m not. I want to know all about him…starting from the top.
The cheery sound of family fun drifted through the house…the dog barking, cupboards closing, and a girlish squeal of delight. And more dog barking.
I chuckled at the chaotic homey cacophony. I would never have envisioned this was Sean’s life. He’d always seemed like a badass boss to me—not a man who’d wear an apron to bake cupcakes with his daughter while his son had a guitar lesson. His chocolate mussed hair and concerned parental frown made him look goofy and yet very…endearing. In a hot dad way.
Okay. Definitely time to go. I reached for the knob just as Sean did.
“I’ll walk you out,” he insisted, holding the door open.
I stepped onto the porch and blinked against the bright afternoon sun at the hilltop view of the city. “Wow. This is nice.”
“Yeah,” he agreed absently. “How was he?”
“Amazing. The next Chuck Berry.”
Sean sighed grumpily. “Less sarcasm, please.”
“Sorry, Dad.” I snickered. “He was great. I mean, he sucked, but I think he had fun. I told him to keep the guitar and practice on his own. If you want me to come back, I will.”
“Really? That’s good.” He stared at the horizon for a moment before glancing my way. “I wanted to—why are you smiling at me?”
“You’re fuckin’ covered in chocolate. It’s in your ear.” I made a face and tugged at my own ear.
He gestured at the apron. “Baking isn’t my thing.”
I flashed a megawatt grin at him. “Sure, it is. Are you decorating those cupcakes with anything besides frosting?”
“Sprinkles. You’re welcome to join us.”
“Thanks, but I don’t want to crash your family time.”
Sean inclined his head. “So…did he talk to you?”
“It took a little coaxing. Full disclosure…we played video games before we picked up the guitars. You’re not paying me, so I don’t really feel guilty. I just don’t want you to think it was a jam session from the start.”
“You know?” I repeated.
“I snuck in to see how you were doing. Hulk let you down. You might want to go with Iron Man or Captain America next time.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.” I snort-laughed, then sobered. “As for Parker…he’s a good kid. He’s shy, reserved, and likes organization. He seems like the kind of person who excels at things he can control. I bet he builds killer Lego sets. He might learn a few songs, but I doubt he’s a savant. You never know, though. Kids are sponges. They pick up stuff you and I would never catch.”
“That’s true. I’m impressed. And you’re right…about everything. He keeps a lot inside. He’s always been that way. Very thoughtful and methodical. He sets a high bar for himself. He likes to get things right the first time. He does well in school, but he’s struggling with the transition to junior high. His old friends tried out for sports and he opted not to. It’s left him feeling ostracized and alone. Hormones don’t help. I thought it might be good for him to spend time with someone cool who—”
“Cooler than you?”
“Well, let’s not get crazy.” Sean flipped the corner of his apron and let out a self-deprecating laugh. “I just…thanks for doing this. I appreciate it.”
“No problem. Hey, if he really is interested, we can do this regularly. My schedule is light for the next couple of months, but it’ll get crazy again in late spring.”
“I’ll call you.”
“Text me. I hate phone calls.” I held out my right hand and snatched it away a second later, narrowing my gaze. “You have frosting on your nose.”
“My nose?” He wiped his hand over the apron, then across the tip of his nose. “Did I get it?”
“No. Come here. Let me help you.” I stepped into his space and brushed the sugary goodness away.
“Did you get it?” he asked in a huskier than normal tone.
“Yeah, but it’s on your ear and your chin and…”
I ran the pad of my thumb under this bottom lip. “Got it.”
I didn’t move. I should have, but something held me in place. I studied his features, noting the flecks in his eyes. I wondered what color they were…gold, green, brown? I traced a line at the corner of his mouth, rubbing the scruff of his neatly-trimmed beard. I stared at his full lips for a long moment before meeting his gaze. Then I inched closer and…kissed him.
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~ * ~ Jo‘s Review ~ * ~
I’ve been really looking forward to this book. It’s part of a great series; Jonny and Sean have been the quietest of all the characters, but there’s been something about the two of them that just made me really excited for what their story would bring. It’s definitely possible to read these as stand-alone, as the characters overlap, the plots don’t, but I wouldn’t. Why would you want to miss out on the fab stories that have come before?
Sean is epitome of control. He’s got his kids to think about and his business to run. He’s happy like that; well…until he starts spending time with Johnny. Having mutual friends, including his ex, means they’ve been in each other’s periphery for a while, but when situations start bringing them together more often, flirting—and a very hot spur of the moment hookup—leaves them both surprised and questioning their relationship.
I really loved both these characters. Johnny hasn’t had the easiest of starts in life but he’s found his pace, he knows what he wants, and isn’t looking for complications. He comes across as such a great guy with believable emotions. He wants to make music, but isn’t really prepared for the reality of his increasing fame. How he talks with Sean’s son while teaching him guitar—gorgeous. Sean and him together manage to be funny (so hot) but also believably naive; they both think this can be lighthearted when it soon becomes obvious that their connection is far deeper. I loved how the author takes them on a slow, emotional journey as they explore what this is, and ultimately have to decide if it can be what they both want and need.
It’s been such a great series but this could possibly be my favourite now. It’s nice not to be just reading a rehash of stories with different names as you get in some series. This is a beautiful love story about two guys, who on paper might not fit, but in reality work perfectly.
This is a definite book to buy, devour, and add to your favourites list.
***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.
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