Leaning Into Always (NeRdyWYRM’s Review)

Title: Leaning Into Always (Leaning Into Series #1B)
Author: Lane Hayes
Publisher: Self-Published
Release Date: September 5, 2017
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 100 pages
Reviewed by: NeRdyWYRM
Heat Level: 3.75 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Life is good for Eric Schuster. He owns a highly successful tech company, has a great group of buddies, and he’s about to marry the man of his dreams. Eric is pleasantly surprised to find the transition from friends to lovers has been easier than he thought. However, after running into an overly friendly ex-boyfriend on an impromptu trip to their shared hometown, Eric realizes things are about to get complicated.

Zane Richards is a quintessential California surfer dude turned professional sailor. His laid-back approach has helped him navigate difficult times in his life. Eric may not share his easy-going mindset but Zane knows without a doubt Eric is the one. However, carving a future together may require confronting a piece of the past Zane thought he’d left far behind. Both men will have to decide if they’re willing to risk what they know for a chance to lean into always.

Entertaining and Lighthearted

I was pleasantly surprised by this title. I generally steer away from novellas and short stories, mostly because I haven’t read many that were worth the time when it was all said and done. It has to be hard to create well-developed characters with believable chemistry and/or a tangible connection when page time is limited, but Lane Hayes does it well. In this story, the MCs were sweet without being sickening, lusty without being lecherous (or gross), appropriately and engagingly comedic, and generally just a joy to take the journey with.

I was immediately drawn to both Eric and Zane, and I could feel the pull they had going on between them. The storyline progressed from friendship to slow burn to inferno, and it. Was. HOT! I usually prefer—in stories like these with low angst and MCs with strong personalities—for the guys to be versatile, but since it was never mentioned in the narrative, I was okay without it. There was no tease and no discussion of that aspect of their sexual dynamic, so it didn’t feel like anything was missing. And let’s face it, the combination of intimacy and sheer lust these guys had going in the ‘bedroom’ was fans self phew! Fantastic.

A mental rewind doesn’t bring to mind any overt editing issues, “Ewww!” moments, or problems with the plot. This title was smooth sailing all the way. I highly recommend Leaning Into Always to anyone who is especially fond of Lucy Lennox or Stella Starling’s works, but any fan of M/M romance is likely to enjoy it … particularly if you’re looking for something true-to-life without any triggers, trauma, melodrama, or severe angst. This book is part of a series and is the second installment involving these characters. I do not recommend this title be read as a standalone.

Cross-posted at: Goodreads. Read other Goodreads reviews by NeRdyWYRM here.

Leaning Into Series

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Advanced Review Copy

Galley copy of Leaning Into Always provided by Lane Hayes in exchange of an honest review.


I am a life-long reader and an avid learner. I remember reading books without pictures when I was about four, and raided every title on my parents’ full and intimidating book shelves—well, the ones they would let me read, anyway—from then on. Characters written by authors like Isaac Asimov, Carl Sagan, Robert Jordan, David Eddings, Terry Brooks, Anne Rice, Stephen King, Raymond E. Feist, Mercedes Lackey, Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman, and Anne McCaffrey were my childhood playmates.

Back then, I went nowhere unless I had a book in my hand. While the rest of my generation was shifting from cassettes to CDs and from Atari to Nintendo, Sega, and Playstation, I spent my allowance on Myth & Magic pewter figurines and on books at the Stars and Stripes bookstore. These days I don’t have a book in my hand anymore, at least not the printed variety. Instead, it’s any device with a Kindle app.

I stubbornly held on to the printed page until a military move weighed my book collection in at over a ton. Oops. Sorry-not-sorry, but I did have to exercise some pragmatism in that area, unfortunately. Now I only buy hardbacks from my favorite authors, the classics, or long-running series. Otherwise, I’ve surrendered to the times and our weight allowance and have gone all digital.

I stay strictly on the fiction side of the fence because non-fiction is generally too dry to hold my interest. I was always a scholar, and so have read enough textbook-like titles and required reading for school and college to last me a lifetime, thank you very much. So, non-fiction? No, thanks. However, barring non-fiction and biographies (ewww people), there’s not much out there I won’t read.

I have loved romance novels since I was prepubescent. Something about historicals and anything with horses, i.e., Native American inspired romances just did it for me. My grandmother was appalled that my parents let me read that ‘smut’ as she called it. I’d already justified my position on being allowed to read those controversial titles with a logical argument that there were a lot of historical facts in those books that couldn’t be learned in the classroom alone. And to this day, I maintain that stance. I have learned more from books, specifically romance and fantasy novels, than I ever did in a classroom.


My dad always said I was too smart for my own good. Looking back, he was probably right! I could logically talk my way into and out of just about anything. It’s served me well, but caused me no end of problems, too. That said, despite my love for the romance genre in general and the m/m romance genre in particular, there is little chance that a decent book of any kind will fail to catch my interest, and there’s nothing at all I’m unwilling to learn. So bring it on. I hope you enjoy my reviews.

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