Review: A Way with Words: Lane Hayes

A Way with Words
Lane Hayes
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Released June 20, 2017
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Tony De Luca is a simple guy. He works for his uncle’s Brooklyn-based construction firm. And he knows from experience that keeping his head down and doing his job is the best way to deal with the meddlesome family members he sees daily. They think he’s quiet and maybe a little awkward but the truth is more complicated. Tony has a secret he isn’t ready or willing to share. He’s an expert at avoiding familial scrutiny. At least he was until the sexy guitar player showed up.

Remy Nelson is a small-town, free-spirited guy looking for a new life in the big city. He stays busy playing his instrument on a busy Manhattan street corner during the day and bartending at night. Remy is more interested in finding steady employment than a mate, but he can’t deny his attraction to the dreamy construction worker with soulful eyes, a kind heart, and a unique way with words. Falling for Remy wasn’t what Tony expected, but keeping him will require courage. And an end to keeping secrets.

Followers of my reviews know that I don’t read a lot of novellas, because I generally feel like they’re lacking in some fundamental way that keeps the romance from being as effective as a longer version of the story could have been, mainly because romance novellas usually try to do too much in too little space. While it would have been nice to see a few more scenes in Lane Hayes’s novella, A Way With Words, it doesn’t suffer in the slightest from their omission. Instead, it is a sweet and quick, easily single-sitting read that really highlights how beautiful writing and a simple plot can allow a romance to shine through, even with only thirty thousand words.

Part of the reason I think A Way with Words works so well is that the point-of-view character is so easily understood. I don’t mean that he’s simple, but rather his motivation is crystal clear almost immediately upon his introduction as a character in the book. Tony has always known he’s gay, but his huge Italian Brooklynite family that is constantly trying to push women on him makes him feel there’s no possible way he’ll ever get what he really wants. He simply can’t come out to them and be a disappointment or, worse, risk losing the family he loves so much. And even if he could keep a boyfriend completely hidden from them, that’s not the sort of forever he wants. This dilemma and its eventual resolution are easily a satisfactory drive for both the romance between Tony and Remy as well as Tony’s frequent interactions in the book with his family.

Perhaps if I have to point to a flaw that kept this from being a higher rating for me is that the story leans heavily toward it being Tony’s story instead of that of both Tony and Remy. We do get to know Remy’s basic facts—we know that he’s a musician and why he moved to New York City and that he’s more focused on finding a real job that will pay for him to stay in the city rather than finding a soul mate—and the portrayal of their relationship is full of the sorts of warm and fuzzy romantic moments I love about the genre, but other than being a great, sweet, and understanding guy for Tony, Remy's character doesn’t add to the plot at all. That’s not a bad thing, especially in a novella, but it does make him feel less important, even though he’s half of the relationship.

Even so, this novella is another wonderful example of Lane Hayes’s remarkable skill at weaving authentically gripping prose, particularly when it comes to dialogue. It’s so noteworthy that I always catch myself thinking at some point in her books that the lack of “white space” in many of her dialogue scenes—meaning scenes of dialogue where one character (or both) talks in long paragraphs instead of in back-and-forth single sentences, resulting in relatively little empty space on the page compared to the more common style of dialogue—don’t make them feel like long-winded, pointless passages. Instead, they are beautifully crafted and intimately revealing moments in the relationship that build me up for the feels to come.

It’s worth noting that A Way with Words is part of a Kindle World, fittingly called Memories with the Breakfast Club, based in the setting of two series of books written by Felice Stevens, Memories and The Breakfast Club. I have not read any of the titles in either series, but since it did not hinder my ability to enjoy this book in the least, I can say it works fine as a standalone novella.

I can quickly summarize my view of Lane Hayes’s novella, A Way with Words, in a single sentence: it made me happy. When it comes to romance, that’s really what it’s about, so this is definitely a recommendation, particularly for those looking for a single-sitting read with a lot of heart.

And though I know it is truly cheesy to say it, I'm going to anyway: Lane Hayes really does have a way with words. (You may commence groaning now.)

The author generously provided me a complimentary copy of A Way with Words in exchange for this fair and honest review.
Lane Hayes

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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