Leaning Into The Fall, by Lane Hayes
Series: Leaning into Stories, Book 2
Release Date: March 15, 2017
Rating: 4.5 Stars out of 5
Nick Jorgensen is a quirky genius. He’s made a fortune in the competitive high tech field with his quick mind and attention to detail. He believes in hard work and trusting his gut. And he believes in karma. It’s the only thing that makes sense. People are difficult, but numbers never lie. In the disastrous wake of a broken engagement to an investor’s daughter, Nick is more certain than ever he isn’t relationship material.
Wes Conrad owns a thriving winery in Napa Valley. The relaxed atmosphere is a welcome departure from his former career as a high-rolling businessman. Wes’s laid-back nature is laced with a fierceness that appeals to Nick. In spite of his best intention to steer clear of complications, Nick can’t fight his growing attraction to the sexy older man who seems to understand him. Even the broken parts he doesn’t get himself. However, when Wes’s past collides with Nick’s present, both men will have to have to decide if they’re ready to lean into the ultimate fall.
If you read Leaning into Love, the novella that kickstarted this new series by Lane Hayes, you’ll know that Leaning Into The Fall is Nick’s story. In which case, you’ll also know that Nick was an asshole to the people who loved him most, and that he could probably use a good redemption story. I think the author succeeds in giving him this, and so much more.
From Silicon Valley to Napa Valley, Leaning Into The Fall pairs Nick, our brilliant cyberguru up with Wes, a silver fox vintner who teaches him that just because certain things in life are not easily quantifiable, it doesn’t make them any less real or less valuable.
The book is written entirely in Nick’s POV, which gave perfect insight into how his mind worked and how he saw the world. I mean, yes that’s generally how first person POVs work, but I think seeing how scatter-brained and well, human Nick was actually endeared me to him a lot quicker than I expected. Because of his thoughtless and selfish behavior in book one, I fully expected a cold, calculating dotcom mogul but instead I got a socially awkward and gauche genius.
I started as I glanced up at my worried-looking secretary. It took serious effort to grasp the meaning of her words. They hung in the air like a hummingbird, hovering with purpose and flitting about in a zigzag formation, demanding attention. The insistent ripple of words broke my reverie and flooded my headspace, effectively chasing the string of numbers away to be solved at a later time.
Another thing that warmed me up to Nick right away was his many porno references (hey, don’t judge me). His mind flew to a decidedly naughty place every single time he laid eyes on sexy, stoic Wes, and I was amused at his juvenile fantasies while simultaneously rolling my eyes. I have to admit though, the sex was sizzling and I especially appreciated the power play between the two men. I loved that Nick’s fickle but sharp mind turned to mush around Wes, and his usual stubborn demeanor melted into a gentler, more trusting version of himself. Falling in love through Nick’s eyes –someone who didn’t think he was capable of a deep attachment – was an emotional rollercoaster and I savored every minute of it.
Everything was different with Wes. He made love to me. He stilled me with tender kisses when I tried to hasten his movement and urge him to go faster. He slowed me down. Just enough to appreciate the nuances of every touch, until the soft sighs and deep kisses took on a meaning I didn’t know how to quantify.
Despite plenty of clues and one particularly memorable outburst, it didn’t even occur to me that Nick could have a mild form of Asperger’s – until he begins sharing cute anecdotes and painful moments from his past with Wes. Because I didn’t really see that coming, his condition (which was discussed but never actually confirmed on-page) felt more “tell” than “show.” I usually find this kind of storytelling lazy, but in this case, the way it was revealed (or revealed to me, anyway) actually worked. I admit, I might not have been sensitive enough to pick up on the clues, but to be honest I was too busy falling in love with Nick – his awkwardness, his eccentricities, his mile-a-minute brain, all of it. I also loved that Wes and Nick’s friends were supportive of him but didn’t treat him with kid gloves.
“Do you think my…disability…the”—I stood abruptly and swallowed the lump in my throat before trying to speak again. “I—I’ve read that people like me have a hard time connecting with others. Relationships are difficult and—”
“Don’t listen to that shit.” Eric was at my side wagging his finger in my face like an irate school teacher in seconds flat. “Don’t marginalize yourself. Ever. Don’t listen to ‘people like you’ or ‘you of all people.’ No shrink and no textbook knows the real you.”
“Don’t make it sound so fucking easy,” I said, shaking my head. “I’m not easy. I know it”.
In rare moments where it blended the technical with the abstract, some of Nick’s narrative reminded me a little of the language in Where We Left Off by Roan Parrish, which I loved. I also enjoyed the nod to the early 90’s West Coast tech boom, and coupled with Wes’ back story of surviving the city streets as a teenage runaway, made me think of Ajax Bell’s This Charming Man, another favorite of mine. Some of the corporate cat-and-mouse games got a bit too convoluted for me, but it illustrated perfectly how obsessive Nick’s mind can be when it picks at something and refuses to let go.
Leaning Into The Fall is a definite thumbs up for me. It was a deeply satisfying read from beginning to end and I sighed upon finishing it. It’s official… Lane Hayes gives good HEA. So yes, I highly recommend this book in this wonderful new series. And the one before it. And probably the next one too.
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 to both be men. Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked. Her debut novel, Better Than Good, was a 2013 Rainbow Awards Finalist and her third in the Better Than Stories, Better Than Friends, received an Honorable Mention in the 2014 Rainbow Awards. Lane loves red wine, chocolate and travel, in no particular order (on second thought, maybe wine first). She resides in Southern California with her amazing husband and a regal old yellow Lab in an almost empty nest.
I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.