Dana reviews Better Than Safe (Better Than Stories Book 4) by Lane Hayes (Published by Dreamspinner Press, September 25, 2015, 218 pages)
Title: Better Than Safe
Series: Better Than stories, Book 4
Author: Lane Hayes
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson
Length: Novel, 77k words
Release Date: September 25th, 2015
Blurb: Paul Fallon is a fashion advertising guru. He’s a genius at dealing with difficult editors, art directors, and designers alike. He thrives on the chaotic atmosphere and constant challenges. But in his personal life, he’s hoping for peace and stability. Settling down with a nice doctor or lawyer sounds perfect. Anyone but an artist. He’s been there, done that, and he doesn’t want to relive the heartache.
Seth Landau is a model, occasional guitarist, and aspiring painter. He’s quirky, flighty, and wise beyond his years. Life has taught him some tough lessons, then given him opportunities he never dreamed of. He’s learned to appreciate the fragility of life and to express it in his work. Seth’s flare for the absurd combined with a supple mind and a beautiful body are too alluring for Paul to ignore. Against his best intentions, Paul is drawn to the younger man whose particular brand of crazy challenges Paul to accept that things aren’t always as they seem. Sometimes taking a chance is better than being safe.
My stomach growled. I was dead tired, hungry, and more than a little confused. Seth turned the corner before my brain could catalogue any further complaints. I studied his casual attire as he came closer. Worn black jeans, a white T-shirt with paint stains, and an unbuttoned black and blue striped cardigan. He looked more like a wacky artist than a sophisticated couture model, I mused. His sharp features were undeniably attractive but it seemed as though he’d chosen the basic clothing to downplay his beauty. Or maybe he’d just painted and couldn’t be bothered. There was something ridiculously appealing to me about our very opposite looks. Corporate formal versus art student chic. I glanced down at the sushi and willed my dick to behave.
“There you are. What kind of pasta do you want? I don’t have time to make it myself, but don’t worry, I’m buying pre-packaged but fresh. Your choices are spaghetti, tagliatelle, or pappardelle.”
I looked at the three choices he held up and pointed to the one in the middle. The tagliatelle.
“Really? I was thinking basic spaghetti but—”
“Then why did you ask?”
“I want your opinion. If you want the tagliatelle, we’ll get that one. Done.”
“Good. Let’s go. Do you have wine?”
“Yes. Hmm. I don’t know about the tag—”
“Seth. Get the spaghetti. I’m not bothered.”
“What do you mean by not bothered?”
“I mean….” I took a step forward so we stood toe to toe, Italian loafer to dirty white trainer and gave him a pointed glare. “I don’t give a shit. Pasta is pasta. It doesn’t matter to me what shape it comes in. At all.”
“You’re hungry, huh?”
“What tipped you off?”
“Sarcastic and cranky. Let’s go. You need food.” He turned away, carrying his basket of goods toward the front registers.
“What about wine?” I called after him.
He stopped in the middle of the aisle and curled his finger, motioning me to come to him with a devilish grin on his handsome face. I complied. We were alone for the moment, surrounded on either side of the cramped space by white bread and a variety of colorful cereals chock-full of preservatives and food dyes. I eyed him warily, wondering why he was stalling.
“I told you I have wine. Good wine too.”
“Marvelous. Let’s go.”
“But… there’s a catch.”
I rolled my eyes. “Of course there is. What is it? You need to swing by the dry cleaners first or—”
“Are you crazy?”
“Why is it so crazy?” he asked innocently.
“Here are a couple reasons. One, we’re in the middle of a market in a family oriented part of town and two, we’re barely friends. Not lovers. Friends don’t kiss.”
He grinned. “Sure they do. What they probably don’t do is say something like, ‘you look so fucking hot in that suit, I wish I could take it off you right here next to the Cheerios and Wheat Chex,’ so I won’t go there, but I still think it’s okay to kiss.”
I stared at him with my mouth wide open, unable to find my voice. When he chuckled in amusement at my expense, I acted with uncharacteristic impulse and reached out to cup his neck and draw him close to me. He gasped in surprise at the quick movement. I smiled as our noses brushed, perversely pleased by his shock, and suddenly glad to be the one pushing him one step further. I licked his bottom lip before fusing my mouth over his in a swift but passionate kiss. I backed up with a grin and sauntered away, taking care he didn’t see me adjust my trousers as I moved with purpose to the front registers.
I set my bag of tomatoes on the conveyer belt and stepped aside when Seth joined me a moment later.
“You play dirty,” he muttered as he set the contents in his basket with mine.
“You asked for it.”
“Maybe I did. Beware. I can play dirty too.”
I bit my cheek hard and turned toward the rack of magazines nearby, hoping to diffuse the sexual tension racing through my body. Stress, exhaustion, and hunger were suddenly non-issues. All I wanted now was sex. The one thing I couldn’t have with this man. Not without risking more than I was willing.
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I listened to the first three books of this series on audio and really love the series. Each book is about a different set of main characters living in Washington DC, and one of mc’s has had a small part in one of the previous books as a friend or ex of one of the other main characters. Though each book could be read as a stand alone, I think the reading experience could only be benefited by reading the series in order.
Each book provided such a different experience and such different characters but I think Better Than Safe became my favorite one. Which surprised me. In Better Than Friends Paul was a casual date for Curt, and he paled in comparison with Jack in that book. His life is staid and maybe a tad boring. He follows a routine: working out, work, dinner, then sleep. His one passion is jazz music.
Seth is the complete opposite. He’s flighty and eclectic. He models, paints, and is a rock/blues musician. He prefers to be mobile and not plan everything out. He’s also a lot younger than Paul. Seth loves playing video games and Paul has never played one. It seems like they have nothing in common at first. Until they find out they have an ex in common. A controlling, temperamental, and sometimes violent, devoted artist. Through the presence of this ex in the mc’s lives we learn a lot more about Seth and Paul.
Paul’s life in England before he came to DC was so turbulent with his artist parents and his artist ex-boyfriend that the reader comes to understand his need for an organized and peaceful life. Seth lived his crazy days while he was too young, and so even at his still young age he’s ready for some steadiness. They each bring to each other what is missing in their lives and it makes for a spectacular pairing.
The emotions are higher with this book, the trust a little harder to come by for both Paul and Seth. The ex definitely causes some problems for them, and they have to overcome their own doubts and insecurities in order to make it. I really loved that Seth was so put together for all he had been through and surprised that Paul was less so despite his attempts to control the messiness of life. I definitely recommend this book and the whole series.
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.
Winner’s Prize: $25 Gift Card to Ebook retailer of choice (DSP, Amazon, ARE Café)
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