Starting From Zero (Bob-O-Link’s Review)

Title: Starting From Zero (Starting From #1)
Author: Lane Hayes
Publisher: Lane Hayes
Release Date: April 19th 2019
Genre(s): Romance
Page Count: 215
Reviewed by: Bob-O-Link
Heat Level: 5 flames out of 5
Rating: 5 stars out of 5


Justin Cuevas is going through a rough patch. A broken relationship, a scandal, and the demise of his band have shaken the aspiring rock star’s confidence. Working two jobs and sleeping on his friend’s sofa isn’t ideal, but Justin isn’t ready to give up yet. With a little luck, he’s hoping to re-launch his music career in LA with his new band, Zero. The key is to stay focused, and not get distracted by his past…or the sexy songwriter he can’t get out of his head.

Gray Robertson has written dozens of hits and worked with some of the biggest names in the industry. But he’s never met anyone like Justin. The younger man is fiery, passionate, and smart. A powerful voice for a new generation. Other than an unforgettable one-night stand and a passion for music, the two men have nothing in common. Or do they? Justin knows the out-of-the-blue challenge to write a quintessential love song is a huge opportunity. And it’s the ultimate test for someone who’s doesn’t believe in happily ever after. When sparks fly, Justin and Gray realize they have a shot something special if they start from zero together. Maybe even love.

Think of reading a new romance novel as a sort of trip to the supermarket. Lane Hayes, with Starting from Zero, has provided a shopping cart ready to be filled with the most delicious goodies you might want – sex, personal conflicts, missed opportunities, odd relatives, and needed cleanups of misunderstandings in aisle 5. Okay! I”ll kill the simile.

This is a really satisfying book. The lead characters, as introduced, are already fully drawn and then are more beautifully developed in the novel so as to realize their apparent possibilities.

Justin Cuevas, relatively young and a promising talent, seems hampered by personal quirks and some well-earned negative attitudes about life. He is an ideal romantic here: “a bundle of every contradiction known to man. Nervous and awkward, then cocky and self-righteous.” Wanting to succeed in the music industry, these might seem able to limit his future. His bumpy family background would make a soap opera interesting. And his cynical view of the reality of love and romance (“bullshit”) further insulates him from many experiences.

Gary Robertson is older than Justin by more than a dozen years, and already is very successful in the music industry. But even his past has encouraged him to be cautious about love and relationships, and to build safety barriers around his heart.

These two men are canvases on which the author draws newer, better humans. The reader knows we are headed to a happy ending, but Hayes Lane has made the trip to that ultimate place especially satisfying. Justin and Gray meet and start with a bright, chemical spark. A detailed initial, hot, erotic experience is coupled with a fine exchange between them of deeply personal information that deepens the event. Their chemistry is spot on, and what might otherwise be merely convenient and somewhat pornographic sex (Hooray!) evolves into satisfactorily erotic (Wow!). That’s talented writing. And it never hesitates using expected purple prose descriptives – “his thick xxx,” “carnal cocoon.”

Along the way, the plot moves apace, and the reader becomes immersed in the heroes’ personal problems, complicated back stories, and, ala afternoon TV, usual missteps. Author Hayes keeps things moving apace, and the readers’ interest is unlikely to ever flag.

We can add to our satisfaction of the HEA, as it seems most likely to persist well after the book’s last page, as our heroes recognize they need each other to be whole.

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Advanced Review Copy

Galley copy of Starting From Zero provided by author in exchange of an honest review.


I’m a retired professional. My husband and I, each with an ex-wife, between us have six married children and 10 grandchildren. We both read voraciously, with a strong leaning to gay romance and HEA. Stories with a little (okay, even loads of) sex, and a lot of tears, always pleases.

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