Starting From Zero (Lily G’s Audio Review)

Title: Starting From Zero (Starting From Series, Book 1)
Author: Lane Hayes    Narrator: Michael Pauley
Publisher: Lane Hayes
Release Date: May 15, 2019
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance, May/December
Length:  7 hrs and 8 mins
Reviewed by: Lily G. Blunt
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.25 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.

Starting from Zero is a May/December rockstar romance. Its two main characters are brought together to collaborate on a love song for an upcoming movie. Justin is a talented songwriter and struggling musician who wants to make it to the big time. Gray is the older songwriter already with a successful career behind him. Their first encounter is a sizzling hook-up, which follows a romantic ‘date’ overlooking the city from a rooftop bar. They click from the start, but neither of them is looking for a long-term relationship. They meet again because of outside help and Justin is offered the chance of a lifetime. Or not.  

A fair proportion of the story deals with the rock music industry and Justin figuring out how to involve his band in this amazing chance. He’s not entirely confident with the idea of writing a love song, but as he falls more and more for Gray, the song (and his life) slowly comes together.  There’s good chemistry between these guys, with plenty of conversation and banter alongside the steamy moments. The relationship is relatively angst-free. The main conflict and angst in the story happens because of the producer and also Justin’s ex-girlfriend and previous band, who are also in with a chance of a deal with the production company. Can any of them be trusted?

I liked many of the secondary characters, including OTT Seb, who acts as the band’s manager, and that we get to meet Rory and Christian from the Out in College series again. They’re still together and very much in love!

Michael Pauley’s narration is enjoyable. He created distinct voices for the various characters. I wasn’t too keen on Gray’s voice at times, but overall the production is good with the right emotions being portrayed well in the various scenes. It’s not my favourite Lane Hayes story, but I definitely will listen again.

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Advanced Review Copy

Audio copy of Starting from Zero provided by the author in exchange of an honest review.


Lily G. Blunt writes contemporary gay romance. She loves to explore the relationship between two men and the intensity of their physical and emotional attraction. Angst often features in her stories as she feels this demonstrates the depth of the men’s feelings for each other. Lily is forever writing imaginary scenes and plots in her head, but only a few ever make it to the page. There never seems to be enough hours in the day despite having left the teaching profession to concentrate on her writing!

Lily discovered the wonderful world of m/m romance novels five years ago via fan fiction and went on to write stories in her spare time. With the encouragement of her friends and readers she decided to publish some of her work. Lily subsequently self-published several stories via Amazon and later published short stories with Torquere Press, Wayward Ink Publishing, and Pride Publishing.


  • Read the book and I enjoyed it. But as you said not my favorite either. Can’t say I was loving Seb or that Charlie wasn’t a bit OTT but either way I’m ready to listen to it and see what will change for me when narrated by Michael Pauley that I love. And I’m gonna watch out for those instances you mention with Gray’s voice


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