Title: The Right Time
Author: Lane Hayes Narrator: Michael Ferraiuolo
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: 03-14-16
Length: 9 hours and 2 minutes
Reviewed by: Lily G Blunt
Heat Level: 3.5 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.4 stars out of 5
Workaholic Nate Erickson is a successful real estate developer who thrives on long hours and stress. When a Los Angeles project prompts him to relocate to Santa Monica, he welcomes the change of scenery. Nate has always considered romantic entanglements trouble, but his sexy next-door neighbor isn’t easy to ignore. Which makes no sense, because Nate is straight… or so he’s always thought.
Alex Reyes is a retired professional soccer player turned West Hollywood business owner with an insatiable lust for life. He loves his family, friends, and work. But there’s one life challenge left to accomplish: coming out publicly. Respect for traditional Latino values has kept him in the closet, but Alex begins to think he and his new neighbor might help one another combat their fears. As Alex and Nate forge a strong friendship, they soon realize facing their personal demons will take more courage than either man bargained. The reward is immeasurable… if the timing is right.
“I didn’t know what was missing in my life until I met you.”
Sometimes you need to wait for The Right Time to make certain decisions in your life and for the right things to happen to you. Luckily for Nate and Alex, they meet at the right time, although they don’t realise the impact this will have on their future.
At the start, Nate comes across as a bit of a grump. He’s a workaholic, who prefers his own company or being with close friends. He doesn’t like going out much. Gradually, the sad events in his past are revealed. He has a lot of personal baggage, which he keeps to himself at first. He’s not really looking to give his heart away to anyone and is using his temporary relocation as a break from his lonely life.
Soon after meeting Alex, his handsome landlord, he questions his reaction to him. “I gulped, wondering what the fuck was wrong with me. Why was I noticing this stuff? It wasn’t like me. At all.” Despite this initial response, it becomes clear that Nate is bi, although he’s been suppressing his ‘gay side’ for fifteen years after a bad experience. He’s attracted to Alex— not surprisingly as he is a charismatic and sexy man who warms up Nate’s rather cold and distant personality through his teasing and attention. There are some beautiful and amusing moments as they spend time together, become friends, and then sort of lovers. Alex comes across as self-assured and hot-blooded, yet calm and patient when needed.
However, for me, Alex is not as perfect as he seems and is often rather self-absorbed and unsure of exactly what he wants at times. This inconsistency in his personality threw me as I listened. For such a confident and gregarious person, I was surprised he was still in the closet. Yes, his friends and family were aware, but the fans and players from his previous sporting career were not. Early on in the story, Alex intends to come out officially and thinks up a weird scheme using Nate as a fake boyfriend to come out to his disapproving father before he comes out publicly. This confused me, because we discover his father already knew, although he refused to acknowledge Alex’s sexuality for years. Whatever the intention, this ‘let’s pretend to be boyfriends’ plan helps to bond Alex and Nate and allows Nate to work through his ‘gay’ feelings.
I liked the slow build of their friendship and the sizzling undercurrent as they get to know each other; they share conversations, dinners and music, run together, go to the gym and beach, help out at the local LGBT centre, and have no-commitment sex. Alex treats it all as a game, although I had a feeling it was a way of showing intimacy without letting Nate know how he felt about him. Thanks to their ‘friends with benefits’ style relationship we are treated to several hot and sexy scenes between the two men. The whole story oozes with sexual tension. I liked how these guys almost slipped into a relationship as their attraction and love grew, although at times I thought Alex was implying it was still a game to him later on. There were a few scenes, including the one after they make love for the first time, where the story jumped ahead. I wanted them to cuddle up and discuss where they stood with each other. But it seems neither of them were confident enough to express how they feel and that leaves them both guessing. I liked the angst as the time to return home approaches and Nate isn’t sure of Alex’s feelings for him and he doubts any possibility of a future together.
Jules, Nate’s ex, is a fly in the ointment. She makes annoying appearances and as the story progresses she comes across as a pathetic hanger-on rather than a true friend. Nate should have dealt with her sooner.
I thought the ending of the story was at odds with the friendship/romance that had blossomed between Nate and Alex. Alex overreacts when he discovers something about Nate’s past, yet in the scene beforehand Alex had actually said he didn’t want to hear when Nate wished to tell him about his past. What did it matter to Alex? I didn’t get his anger, even with his traditional family values. Nate hadn’t lied; he’d just not told him everything. And then wanting to be alone to think things through when all along they have been supporting each other didn’t quite fit. However, we are treated to a lovely angsty scene because of his response and my heart went out to Nate at this point. Luckily, the two lovers sort things out pretty swiftly.
I seem to have nitpicked in this review. But I loved this story despite all these points. The writing is great with lots of feelings and ‘aww’ moments. There are some superb scenes and lovely dialogue.
This third book in the series could easily be read as a standalone, but as it refers to characters from books 1 and 2 you might want to read/listen to them first. I was pleased Bran, Jake and Mack had a role in this story and glad to hear they are still happy together.
Michael Ferraiuolo’s excellent narration has made this whole series particularly enjoyable. I like that he takes on a different voice to represent the POV character for the main narration in each story. His character voices are clearly recognisable and match the personalities he portrays. His voice for Nate was laced with sadness at times and Alex’s Latino dialogue was distinct and sexy.
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