Tuesday, June 7, 2016

A Kind of Romance by Lane Hayes: #Review #Excerpt #Giveaway @LaneHayes3 @CreativMindsPR

Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson 
A Kind of Romance
(A Kind of Story, Book 2)
by Lane Hayes 

Length234 pages
Genres: Gay (M/M), Contemporary, Romance
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. 
I BRACED myself for the dreaded hospital smell the moment the automatic doors opened. The antiseptic lemony scent had a way of getting in your clothes and under your skin if you stayed too long. The emergency room waiting area was already crowded with a diverse-looking brood who were either sick or waiting for news of a loved one who was. I scanned the area once more before heading toward the haggard-looking nurse with bright red hair and blue eye shadow behind the reception desk.

“Hi, Lynn,” I said, noting her nametag. “My father was admitted less than an hour ago. I called on my way and was told to check in with emergency but—”

“What’s his name?”

“George Gulden. He fell, but I think it may have been serious and—”

“I’ll check in and let him know you’re here.” Lynn kept her gaze on her computer and reached for a clipboard. “I know they’re going to do a CT scan, but I think they’re running other tests first. I have some paperwork for you to complete in the meantime and—”

“Paperwork? Wait. My dad is seventy-two. There’s no time for paperwork. My brother will be here soon. He can deal with that. I just want to see my father and make sure he’s okay. Has the doctor seen him?” I asked.

I glanced at the large black-and-white clock hanging behind her head: 8:10 a.m. On a normal Monday, I would have been at my desk for almost three hours by now. This was what I got for slacking off the day after yet another agonizing Mother’s Day. It seemed like a good plan yesterday. Now I wasn’t so sure.

“Not yet. He’ll be with your father as soon as he can. Here’s the paperwork. Your name is listed first to call on your father’s information card in case of emergency. And since you’re the first to arrive, this is yours. Do your best,” she added in a somewhat sarcastic tone, placing the clipboard in my hands. She turned away from her desk before I was able to tell her where to shove said paperwork.

It was just as well. There was no point in engaging in a standoff with the nursing staff to see who could out-asshole the other. I’d win, hands down, but I had nothing to gain by making enemies here. I pulled out my phone, deliberating ignoring the “no cell phones allowed” signs posted throughout the area. The waiting room reminded me of an airline terminal. Cold and sterile. A strange juxtaposition to the obvious worry on the faces of the family and friends slouched in uncomfortable-looking upholstered chairs. I kept my distance as I paced near the entrance, willing my brother to answer his phone pronto.

“I’m on my way. How is he?” Abe asked when he picked up.

“I don’t know. I just got here.” I sighed. I raised my right hand to my head, forgetting I was holding a clipboard. “They handed me a bunch of forms to complete and told me to take a seat. I hope the doctor makes an appearance soon. I’ve got shit to do and—”

“Zeke, don’t be an asshole,” Abe growled. “Fill out the damn papers and sit tight. I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

I maturely resisted the temptation to fling my cell across the room when he hung up on me. Fucker. My phone vibrated a second later with an update from Gina, kindly letting me know she’d blocked out my day so I could deal with my crisis. I huffed unhappily.

“Gina, I’ll be in by ten. I just need to see my father. In the meantime, I want the Feldman Group account info forwarded immediately. Has the underwriter finished reviewing the portfolio? It’s a no-risk proposal. I don’t want to mis—”

“Excuse me. Are you Zeke?”

I stopped in my tracks and turned toward the young man standing a few feet away with an expression of acute sorrow on his pretty face. My first thought was he was the nursing assistant assigned to escort me into the hallowed emergency room. But I immediately knew I was wrong. First of all, he wasn’t wearing scrubs or a name tag, and secondly, if he was in the medical field, the streak of electric blue in his short dark hair and the gloss on his lips, indicated he was definitely off-duty.

Gina was still talking. Something about one of the managers handling a trade.

“No one handles anything without my approval. Send me the file.” I hung up, then inclined my head toward the young man. “Yes. I’m Zeke. And you are?”

“Benny Ruggieri. I called you ear—”

“Thank you. I appreciate it. What happened?”

Benny let out a rush of air. He looked shaken and upset. “It was strange. He was fine, but I told William I thought his coloring was off. George’s, not William’s. He seemed normal enough at first. Very cheerful and friendly. You know… like he always is. He was talking to Rand about—”

“Did he keel over? Did he lose consciousness? I still don’t know anything other than he’s currently behind a curtain somewhere waiting for a CT scan. That sounds serious.”

“It’s good that they’re doing all those tests. I— It happened so fast. It was scary. Blood was everywhere, but the paramedic said head wounds bleed a lot and….” Benny shivered dramatically and hugged his arms around his body. “I’m sure he’ll be fine, but they won’t tell us anything because we aren’t family.”


“William came with me to the hospital. He just left for school. He has a class at nine. You might know him. William is Rand’s boyfriend. You know, Rand used to work for George until a few months ago.”

“I know who Rand is, but—”

“Well, he came with him at the last minute. I was surprised ’cause it was kinda early still, but George was really happy to see him. He asked Rand about the band’s upcoming trip to Europe and—”

Oh my God. The guy was a talker. If he didn’t get to the point soon, I was going to lose my fucking mind.

“Stop!” I ran my hand over my jaw and reminded myself the guy had done my father a favor and deserved my attention and whatever patience I could muster on this fucked-up Monday morning. I softened my tone as I continued, “Just… tell me what happened. Please.”

Benny’s eyebrows knit with irritation. He crossed his arms and gave me a thorough once-over. Diva-style. The slightest lift of his eyebrow let me know he was not impressed with my three-thousand-dollar Armani suit or my no-nonsense attitude.

“I was getting to that. He was leaning on the counter like he was tired, and he was definitely pale, but he was still smiling and asking questions. I kept my eye on him. He made me nervous. Call it a sixth sense, but I could tell something was wrong. The next thing I knew, he was on the ground. We called 9-1-1 and… here we are.”

Benny shrugged, wordlessly indicating he’d finished his story. His expressive eyes were tinged with worry. It was telling that my father could incite that kind of concern from people who were practically strangers. Everyone loved Dad. George Gulden was a New York City legend, renowned for his sunny personality and, yeah… bagels.

My great-great-grandfather first made the doughy bread treat by hand in his native Poland. He had a small store in Warsaw and taught all his sons the family trade. When my great-grandfather moved to New York City in the late 1800s, he followed in his father’s footsteps and sold bagels in the Lower East Side on a street corner. My grandfather opened the Bowery location in the late 1940s and aptly named it Bowery Bagels. But it was my dad who expanded the business and made it into a New York institution of sorts.

I was the second of his four sons and the only one who hadn’t gone into the family business. However, that didn’t mean I didn’t know more about bagels, cream cheese, or family tradition than the average joe. I could bore anyone senseless explaining the importance of water quality, kettle boiling, and plank baking when it came to creating the perfect New York-style bagel. But at the end of the day, I wasn’t friendly enough to make it behind the counter for an extended stretch without wanting to clobber someone who couldn’t decide between pumpernickel and onion. My insanely stressful Wall Street job was more suited to my no-bullshit personality. Though when my phone began a new round of buzzing, I wasn’t so sure. I ignored my cell and studied Benny.

“Thank you. How did you know to call me?”

He cocked his head and gave me a funny look. “George talks about you all the time, but of course, he calls you Ezekiel.”

“He’s got a thing against shortening first names.”

“I noticed.”

We shared a halfhearted smile, a symbol of an unlikely kinship between two strangers sharing a burden of concern. A sudden wave of awareness washed over me, the way it did when intuition took on a clairvoyant quality, warning me to pay attention. To what, I didn’t know. Before I could contemplate the absurdity of having any connection to the blue-haired stranger whatsoever, the nurse called my name.

“I have to go. If you’re staying, would you mind looking out for my brother, Abe? He’s about five ten, a little heavy around the middle, and—”

“I know Abe.”

“You do?”

“Sure. I’ve met all your brothers at the store at one time or another. Don’t they live in Brooklyn? George mentioned you were the only one who lived in Manhattan,” Benny said, brushing his blue bangs from his forehead.

The gesture was curiously elegant. I was interested in spite of myself, though the niggling sense of attraction was more bothersome than titillating. Benny was cute. Pretty even, but he was not my type. He was slender and small at maybe five foot eight. That made him easily four inches shorter than my own six feet. Other than the electric-blue fringe in the front, his hair was a dark brown. It offset his light brown eyes, pointed nose, square jaw, and golden skin beautifully. He was effeminate-looking in a way, and yet not obviously so. Something in his voice made me think he was affecting a tone a notch or two below his usual register. But the way he dressed gave him away. The tight black jeans with red Converse sneakers were one thing, but the snug-fitted, white T-shirt depicting a fish on a rod with the words size matters was sure advertisement that he was “that” kind of gay.

Benny set his hands on his hips and gave me a lopsided grin that let me know I’d been caught staring. “Well?”

“Huh? Oh. Yeah, Abe lives in Brooklyn,” I said, stuffing my phone back in my suit pocket distractedly.

He smiled kindly and pointed toward the redheaded nurse waiting nearby. “You should go. I’ll wait for Abe.”

I nodded in acquiescence and at the last second squeezed his shoulder impulsively. It was meant as a gesture of solidarity. An innocent, physical show of appreciation and support. The immediate zing to my fingertips was alarming. I glanced at him again, making sure to linger on his weird T-shirt in an effort to get my balance back. However, the moment our eyes met, I had a notion something was cosmically compromised in my world. How else could I explain the feeling I’d met someone extraordinary?

4 of 5 stars
One of my favorite aspects of this story is the dynamic between Benny and Zeke, and how their opposite personalities complement each other. Zeke's focused and slightly uptight mannerisms are knocked off balance by the joy Benny finds in the simple things. They bring out the best in each other and, as time goes by, learn to appreciate their differences.

With a delightful blend of humor and passion, Benny shows Zeke how to let go of his past and appreciate the beauty in life. A Kind of Romance is an engaging romance with dynamic characters. Together, Benny and Zeke discover all you really need to be happy is forgiveness, patience, understanding... and a whole lot of love.
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 a well-told love story with beautifully written characters. These days she prefers the leading roles both be men! Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked. Her first novel was a finalist in the 2013 Rainbow Awards and her third received an Honorable Mention in the 2014 Rainbow Awards. She loves travel, chocolate, and wine (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband and the coolest yellow lab ever in an almost empty nest.
June 7

June 9

June 14

June 16

June 21

June 23

1 comment: