Release Reviews: A Kind Of Honesty: Lane Hayes

A Kind of Honesty (A Kind of Stories #3)
Lane Hayes
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Released October 7, 2016

Music is Tim Chalmers’s great escape and the one thing that’s never let him down. But his band Spiral’s meteoric rise to fame has made it difficult for the drummer to maintain a low profile. Unwanted press pesters him after a public breakup with a volatile ex-girlfriend who loves the limelight as much as he loathes it. Tim’s main goal is to avoid confrontation. However, when he meets a handsome stranger in a dive bar who turns out to be someone he may know, everything changes.

Carter Hamilton-Temple might be a successful financial consultant with more brains, sophistication, and charm than most, but he always falls for the wrong guys: closet cases or men with issues. He can’t fight his attraction to the tattooed rock star, but can he trust his own judgment? When the thrill of danger combined with a fierce physical connection proves too strong for either man to resist, a quiet liaison away from the public eye and curious friends seems like a safe bet. But some secrets are hard to keep. When rumors threaten to rock his world, Tim realizes it’s time to confront his fear with his own kind of honesty.
“What kind of a rock star are you? You’re supposed to love sex, drugs, and alcohol. I haven’t known you long, but you seem to only really like one out of three,” Carter commented idly as he shuffled the cards.

“You’re right. I’m a sucky rock star. I rarely have more than one drink when I go out for dinner or even at a bar. Two at a party. Anything more usually leads to trouble. And I never take drugs. Even cold medicine makes me nervous.” I winked and gave him a lecherous grin that no doubt looked far from provocative in my current condition. “But I love sex.”

A Kind of Honesty is my third exposure to the writing of Lane Hayes, and after giving the previous book in this series, A Kind of Romance, my first (and as of early October, still my only) five-star rating of 2016, I approached this book with a bit of trepidation. It’s an automatic reaction I have whenever I pick up the next book written by an author after the previous one was so good—I believe the formal term for it is “book hangover” *grin*. While I didn’t enjoy this book quite as much as its predecessor, it certainly worked as well as my favorite hair-of-the-dog remedies do for the other kind of hangover, so my trepidation was largely unwarranted.

Tim Chalmers is the drummer in a band that recently leapt into the spotlight after the huge success of its first album. But the attention success brings is an unhappy side effect as far as he’s concerned, so when he breaks up with his high-maintenance fashion-model girlfriend, her love of being the target of the tabloids and paparazzi means his wish to stay under the radar won’t be happening any time soon. To blow off some steam, he hooks up with a hot stranger from a seedy bar in Los Angeles for what should have been a one-night-only thing. But the last thing he expects upon his return to New York City is to recognize the man amid a group of their mutual friends. Carter Hamilton-Temple is an exemplar of high society: he’s a successful and rich financial consultant, highly intelligent, and more charming and sexier than any man has a right to be. But for all his blessings, he invariably falls for the wrong kind of man, the type who can’t or won’t be with him fully and honestly, and inevitably finds himself brokenhearted. He can’t deny his intense attraction to Tim, and keeping their sex-only arrangement on the down low should have worked fine, but when they realize they could have something special, it looks like Carter might be right back on the same old path to heartbreak unless Tim can confront his fears and prove what they have is worth being honest about.

We briefly met the two main characters in A Kind of Honesty through their appearances in previous books in the series, but by no means is it necessary to read the first two books prior to enjoying this one. Granted, I have to admit a bit of bias, because I really enjoyed the earlier entries in the series, so I recommend reading them at some point, even if it’s in the wrong order, because the characters make only brief appearances in the books that aren’t about their stories. Like the other books in the series, this story is told from only one character’s point of view (Tim), which adds to the smoothness and clarity of the storytelling. It’s a characteristic I’ve come to expect from this author’s writing.

I remember commenting in my review of A Kind of Romance that the fact that the story focused almost entirely on the two main characters and the relationship they formed without requiring much push from outside events to develop it was one of my favorite aspects of the book. I mention this because A Kind of Honesty has almost the completely opposite structure. Tim and Carter are constantly barraged by what’s going on outside their relationship, though most of it comes from things affecting Tim: his stardom, his ex-girlfriend, his family, and his largely unhealthy way of hiding from confronting the problems these factors bring to his life.

So how does this vast difference in plot styles affect my enjoyment of the book? Perhaps surprisingly, if one considers what I said about the previous book, I loved how all these external factors drove the plot forward so well in this book. In fact, roughly the first third of the book focuses on their friends-with-benefits agreement, and while the sex was plenty hot, this section of the book seems to drag because nothing seemed to be happening. It was just a lot of sex—though I must point out, it was some really friggin’ hot sex, and it gets even hotter as they turn from lovers to actually being in love. With this slow start, though, I wondered if my apprehension had merit, but once the issues of Tim’s past start to be revealed, it didn’t take long for the story to grab my attention and go full-throttle toward the big conflict of the plot. There is one particularly delicious twist, something involving Tim’s childhood friend named Rob, that I didn’t see coming, and it suddenly made everything make perfect sense. It wasn’t contrived at all, so that, more than anything else, is what turned this story into a great read.

Something common to all three of the books in this series is the fact that the story builds to a heartrending realization that it looks like things aren’t going to work between the characters for some reason, and once that point is reached, both of the characters have to come to terms with some part of themselves before they can get to their happily ever after. In all three books, the resolution happened rather quickly in a way that was maybe a little too easy, a little too light on the angst, in comparison to the gravity of the situation that put their relationship in jeopardy. While in the second book, this fact didn’t bother me in the slightest, in A Kind of Honesty, as it did in the first book, A Kind of Truth, it seemed like a slight letdown that everything resolved as quickly as it did. It certainly didn’t ruin my overall enjoyment, but neither did it add that extra emotional punch to put it up there with A Kind of Romance in the category of books I truly love and want to read over and over.

With the three books so far in her A Kind of Stories series, Lane Hayes has firmly established herself as an author whose works will always find a place on my to-be-read list. I think there is room for at least one more novel in this series, but even if that isn’t the case, I still look forward to seeing what she comes out with next.

The author generously provided me a complimentary copy of A Kind of Honesty in exchange for this fair and honest review.

Two men meet in a crappy gay bar in L.A. just looking for one thing--one night, no real names, no strings, and no regrets...but it ends up leading to more than they bargained for...

Later in New York, Tim Chalmers and Carter Hamilton-Temple are surprised to see each other again at a party. Tim is the drummer for Spiral and Carter has his own financial consulting firm, and they share mutual friends. They still feel that attraction, lust, and infatuation that leads to a continuing sex buddies scenario. But they both agree that they do not want a relationship. 

Tim is down-to-Earth, tatted, and unfiltered. Carter is sophisticated, wealthy, successful, and a bit uptight. But he likes sex, bad boys, and a little kink. They've both had some bad history with exes and have trust issues. And both have to be wary of people wanting them for money or status. So even though they appear to be opposites, they find themselves frequently meeting up to explore their sexual chemistry.

This is a typical trope of sex to friends to more, but they are afraid of forever. But as they spend more time together, they realize it is definitely more than just a sexual relationship. They begin to find a comfortable rapport, support, can't-stop-thinking-about-the-other need, a deeper connection, and unstoppable chemistry. 

This is told in only Tim's point of view. He is the normal guy who was thrust into more of the spotlight with his band's success. He hates the pomp and fakeness of this new world where they are in the eye of the media. He feels like his world is out of control and at time internalizes issues.

Carter is more of an enigma and seemed to lack some emotional depth especially in the first part of the book. He seemed to be more caught up in appearances. I was anxious to see his perfect exterior really crack open. But we gradually begin to see his natural charisma and more playful and emotional sides. Carter really grew on me while Tim started to become more frustrating with his worries and indecision. 

Tim is a bi man who is not completely out and has some drama going on in his life that adds to his lack of control. He is plagued by fears and guilt, and generally hiding his true self from the outside world. Carter is gay and has been burned in similar circumstances before. He has already felt ignored or unimportant, and he can't let that happen again. This is a growth process for Tim to find out what he really needs and what he is willing to risk. It all comes down to honesty with himself and others as well as fighting his fears.  

This was not too angsty and most of the drama centered on past relationships and family issues. The biggest predicament deals with Tim's public image and him needing to be honest about his life and relationships. But there are a couple of interesting surprises thrown in too.

I was happy to get a bit more with Benny and Zeke, Rand and Will, Cory and Holly, and Isaac. I liked how these guys actually shared an extended friend group, but met in an entirely different place with no expectations. I have to admit I had really high expectations of this one because I absolutely adored A Kind Of Romance with Benny and Zeke and it is one of my top reads of 2016. But this one just did not pull me in and touch my heart quite as much. It took me a bit longer to warm up to the characters. I think part of it was Tim's voice...it seemed like some of the language used did not really fit his rock-n-roll persona as I would expect it to be less formal in some instances (most notably him frequently referring to his male part as his "member"). The characters and story were not as vibrant and emotional either.  But I still enjoyed the story and the match up of Tim and Carter. I am looking forward to more with Isaac...and any time Benny and Zeke make cameos is always a good thing.

I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review. 
A Kind of Truth (A Kind of Stories #1)
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Released January 8, 2016
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Read Jay's 4.5-star review

Rand O’Malley dreams of superstardom. He hopes to one day sing the blues like a rock god. Moving to New York City and hiring a new manager are steps to make his dreams a reality. But nothing moves as fast as Rand would like, and everyone has opinions, which include he keep certain pieces of himself quiet if he plans on making it in the Big Apple. Like his bisexuality.

Will Sanders is a gifted musician who dazzles Rand with his ability to coax gorgeous notes from an electric guitar one moment and play the piano like a professional the next. He’s a geek, but Rand isn’t concerned about Will’s pressed exterior clashing with his tattoos. His focus is music. Yet there’s something about Will that makes Rand think there’s much more to the quiet college student than he lets on. As Rand’s dreams begin to materialize, he’s forced to reconsider his priorities and find his own kind of truth. One that might include Will.

A Kind of Romance (A Kind of Stories #2)
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Released June 6, 2016

Zeke Gulden is a ruthless Wall Street exec. His hard-edged, no-nonsense attitude has served him well in the cutthroat business world, but less so in his personal life. When he finds out his ex-boyfriend cheated on him with a coworker, Zeke can’t let go—not until he finds a way to get even. However, his meddlesome father has other ideas. The new hire at the family-owned bagel store is somewhat colorful, but his dad is sure he’s the perfect man for Zeke.

Benny Ruggieri is a fiercely proud New Yorker who dreams of making it big as a costume designer in the theater. In the meantime, he’s working two part-time jobs in the food biz. When his new boss sets him up with his successful son, Benny has zero expectations. If nothing else, he figures he can entertain himself by making the uptight businessman squirm. Instead, the two become unlikely friends with an inexplicable attraction they can’t ignore. Benny might be the one to help Zeke set aside his quest for revenge, if he’s willing to let go and forgive what he can’t forget… and give in to an unexpected kind of romance.

Lane Hayes is finally doing what she loves best. Writing! An avid reader from an early age, Lane has always been drawn to romance novels. She truly believes there is nothing more inspiring than a well-told love story with beautifully written characters. Lane discovered the M/M genre a fews ago and was instantly hooked. Her first novel was a finalist in the 2013 Rainbow Awards. She is the bestselling author of the Better Than Stories series and Right and Wrong Stories and the new A Kind of Stories series. She loves travel, chocolate, and wine (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in an almost empty nest.


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