Aster Valley is a contemporary romance series by Lucy Lennox. I think she’s one of the best writers of the genre. As I mentioned before, it’s hard for me to get into a pure contemporary romance book. But here, the author swept me along with her wonderfully written stories.
The titular Aster Valley is a small town somewhere in the Colorado Mountains if I am not mistaken (sorry, I forgot the location). It’s formerly a ski resort town with it’s own unique charm that drew the characters in. The books are about the couples who eventually found a home here.
Aster Valley: Winter Waites – Lucy Lennox
Gentry Kane is a rockstar I’ve been half in love with my whole life. And now he’s my patient.
When Winter Waites knocks on the door to the snowy cabin where his next physical therapy patient awaits him, he has no idea his dream celebrity is on the other side. Gentry Kane is everything Winter has always fantasized about. But it was only a fantasy. What happens when Winter is faced with the flesh and blood man who wants more than physical therapy? Can one night in a cozy cabin lead to more? And how will that affect Winter’s growing career in the tiny, charming town of Aster Valley?
Winter Waites is the prequel to the series. This is the story of how the famous rock star Gentry Kane found the love of his life among multitudes of fans in the middle of a concert.
Occupational therapist Winter Waites has been a fan since the days Gentry Kane was singing in college campuses. To suddenly discover that your patient is not only your dream rock star but that dream rock star has been looking for you all this time, well, that’s mind blowing to say the least. It’s a highly improbable but very romantic premise. Don’t we all wish it would happened to us? Teen me would have been over the moon had Billie Joe Armstrong knew I existed.
The story is very sweet and light on the angst. I loved how the author ramped up that awkward, tension-filled first meeting between them. I felt that scene! It’s easy to see how, beyond the physical attraction, Gentry would fall in love with the gentle, caring soul that is Winter. I didn’t even mind the insta-ness of it all. It was kismet.
The only thing here was that Gentry’s hand was injured, which was why he needed a therapist in the first place. Winter was telling him he needed to keep in a brace. Then they had sex without putting Gentry’s hand back in the brace. All the while, I’m like, dude, your hand! Your hand!
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
Aster Valley: Right As Raine – Lucy Lennox
As the first openly gay professional football player, I can’t afford to make any mistakes, on or off the field. And the absolute biggest mistake I could make right now would be to fall for Mikey Vining, my best friend, employee and, more importantly, Coach’s baby boy. I might fantasize about Mikey at night–every night-but actually touching him would be a serious personal foul.
And falling for him? That’s completely out of bounds.
I’ve learned my lesson about falling for one of my dad’s players. They’re a bunch of spoiled jocks with more muscles than brains. I’ve spent years learning to keep my eyes, and my hands, to myself. But resisting the temptation becomes nearly impossible when Tiller Raine and I end up together in a small cabin in a remote Colorado town.
Suddenly, there’s not much to do but look at each other. And talk. And hopefully, hopefully touch.
But what happens when our stay in Aster Valley is over and it’s time to return to the real world? Will Coach blow the whistle on our relationship? Or will Tiller admit there might actually be something he loves more than football after all?
Right As Raine is the nerd/jock, forbidden romance of football star, Tiller Raine, and Michael Vining, his personal assistant/chef/coach’s son/long-time crush he couldn’t live without.
Tiller is an award-winning, highest paid pro athlete. Also a lovable gentle giant who adores his coach’s son. I loved how he calls him “my Mikey“.
Mikey is feisty, talented, ambitious and hardworking. He’s been crushing on his boss for the longest time but keeps his hands off. I really liked Mikey for keeping it professional. His family is shit. They say they accept him as gay but then go out of their way to exclude him.
As with the prequel, the story is very sweet, and fluffy. It is mostly light until the later part. I loved the slow-burn-ness of it all. The book really took time to build up the simmering feelings between Tiller and Raine, resulting in delicious anticipation and fabulous chemistry. Their shift from friends to lovers felt so natural and very easy yet very satisfying.
There’s a bit of angst involved with Mikey having to deal with his homophobic dad. The coach is a manipulative bastard, a homophobe who pretends to be accepting but underhandedly sabotages Mikey and discourages Tiller from openly pursuing relationships.
The scene where Mikey confronts the bastard was difficult for me to go through. Not because it was badly written but because of all the negative emotions the evil dad generated. I nearly dropped the book so again, good job to the author for the effective writing.
The rest of the Aster Valley boys were awesome. Gentry and Winter make appearances as well as Mikey’s best friend, Sam, and the cute geek, Truman, who will be paired with him in the next book.
All in all, Right As Raine is a heartfelt, comfort read. The family drama might pull you out of it but stick around because it is ultimately, a very rewarding book.
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
Aster Valley books can be read as standalones but I recommend reading them in order to get the best experience. The boys will make it worth your while.
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Out in College: Out On The Serve – Lane Hayes
Roommates to friends to lovers…
I need a roommate fast. Even a temporary one. Beggars can’t be choosers. Going pro after graduation has been intense, and time is precious. Thankfully, Braden seems cool. He’s a little quirky…and very sexy. Of course, I would never get involved with a roommate. That’s a bad idea. Isn’t it?
Moving to Long Beach seems like a no brainer. It’ll be a perfect chance to wind down before grad school and a nice respite from my folks. Plus, my new roommate is a great guy. A little messy, but sweet. Gotta admit, I like him more than I should. And we’re off to a strange start when a mutual friend hooks me up with his ex. Elliot’s the one I want, but going from friends to lovers is a risk. We could end up out on the serve…or we could win it all.
Out on the Serve is a low-angst MM, bisexual romance starring two roommates, one neat, one messy, beach volleyball, a lot of sand, and a little summer fun. This story is part of the Out in College series but can be read as a stand-alone.
Lane Hayes spun the well-loved roommates-to-lovers trope into a fun and sweet story with two MCs that were opposites but synced so well with each other.
New roommates Elliot and Braden get to know each other’s quirks as they deal with their mutual attraction, difficult teammates, theater dreams, meddling friends and last hurrahs before September comes and put an end to everything.
Elliot is the goofy, messy one who leaves sand all over their floor while Braden is a neat freak who alphabetizes their pasta. Both men were out as bi and while Elliot’s hippie mom was more than okay with that, Braden’s conservative Catholic mom was in denial.
The evolution from roommates to friends to lovers was fantastic! I really liked how the two men worked around their differences and just came together naturally even if at first, they had to fight their insane attraction to each other. For the sake of being roommates and friends. But even they couldn’t deny their sizzling chemistry!
Conflict came in the form of a misguided attempt to boost popularity, a fiasco brought about by Elliot’s volleyball partner, Gus and their annoying friend Sophie. Braden also had things to say to his mom.
Thankfully, the book avoided the usual pitfalls. There were no unnecessary dramas and the pacing was smooth and fast. It also it resolved things in a sensible manner, something many of us highly appreciated. It might not have the grandest grand gesture moment but it definitely hits you right in the kokoro!
From start to finish, the story had me rooting for Elliot and Braden. And though it began as a summer hook-up, there were no doubts that theirs was a forever thing.
This is my first book from the Out in College series. Many characters from the other books make appearances and my interest was piqued. I loved meeting Elliot’s friend, Colby and his boyfriend Sky, and Braden’s ex, Phoenix. Max, Phoenix’s boyfriend gets a mention. Many of the characters were likable except Sophie and Gus.
The audiobook was narrated by Michael Dean. I’ve always liked his narration. Although here, I felt his voices for younger 20-somethings were a bit too mature for their age. Dean makes great voices for the age range of 30s and older. Other than this niggle, I think he made the book even more enjoyable with his energetic reading style and well-acted dialogues.
Overall, Lane Hayes served up another win in this delightful story of sports, sand and summer romance. If the beach is your happy place, this book will definitely take you there.
Thank you to IndiGo and Audible for giving me a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Review of Lane Hayes books here.
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
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