Shape-shifters are a bit of a puzzle to me. I was sure I knew absolutely nothing about the subject until my husband reminded me of the infamous X-Files episode in which bounty hunters are actually shape-shifting aliens who have the power to disguise themselves as anyone. Except clones. And then… I get lost. There are usually so many rules in the paranormal world I need a roadmap and a notebook. Details matter. How to kill certain shape-shifters varies and you better pay attention or you’ll certainly find yourself on the other end of the bullet, knife… you get the picture. When I watched X-Files back in the day, the one thing I really wanted was for Mulder and Scully to get together. I’m a romantic through and through. Even in the midst of dark characters, alien diseases and threat to humanity, I’m looking for love! The fact Mulder and Scully were a study in opposites was a fabulous bonus. I’m tempted to draw an analogy between shifters and my own MCs, but honestly I’d confuse myself, so I’ll stick to what I do know.
My newest release, Better Than Friends is a MM Contemporary Romance with…well, not one shape-shifter. However, Curt and Jack are certainly a case study in opposites. Curt is a little uptight. He’s a successful lawyer who recognizes he is working outrageous hours at the expense of his social life and yes, his love life. When he meets Jack at a mutual friends’ wedding he’s knows the hunky older man is way out of his league. He’s too handsome, too edgy and hell, he even rides a Harley. But there is something special in the air that night heralding possibility and perhaps even a reminder for Curt to stop thinking and start living.
Jack is Curt’s polar opposite. He’s fourteen years older and owns a gay bar and a motorcycle shop. Oh and he has tattoos. His quick wit, charm and devilish sense of humor however, are simply too hard to resist. And when the men discover they both love baseball, it’s kind of a done deal. However, as an unlikely friendship between the two men blossoms, so does an intense attraction. Their story isn’t just about falling for a friend. It’s about what the bond of friendship brings out in each man. Compassion and a shoulder to lean on when times get tough.
The Better Than Stories series are all standalone books and can be read in any order. I’m a stickler for reading numerically, but honestly, there is no confusion if you happen to read this one before the first book, Better Than Good or the second, Better Than Chance. You will meet characters from the other novels in Better Than Friends, but hopefully that will simply make you curious enough to go back and read their stories as well. J
So what are my words of wisdom on the subject of shape-shifters? Hmm. Let me get back to you…
Thank you very much for having me here today, Carson!
Best wishes and happy reading!
Lane Hayes xo
When Curt Townsend, a successful young DC lawyer, attends his first gay wedding, he doesn’t expect anything more than a great evening out spent celebrating two lucky guys willing to commit to one another. He certainly doesn’t anticipate meeting someone like Jack Farinelli. Fourteen years Curt’s senior, Jack owns two businesses: a gay bar and a motorcycle shop. He’s gorgeous and self-assured, but Curt is positive they have nothing in common.
Jack is comfortable in his own skin. He’s attracted to Curt’s quick wit and easy manner but most of all, to their unexpected mutual love of baseball. As they forge a friendship based on their shared enthusiasm for the sport, they begin a journey which reveals how their differences might be the catalyst behind a growing attraction. Both men have experienced their share of pain, but they realize they need to set aside the past and learn to trust in a future if they are to have one together.
“You have to be kidding. You’re telling me you can take one look at someone and based on what they’re wearing, you know how they like it in the bedroom?” His expression now was incredulous.
“Didn’t you suggest the same thing when you made fun of my khakis?” I countered. The lawyer in me loved the chagrined expression on his face. Score one for the defense.
“Fine. You’re right. I did and I apologize. For all I know you might have a sex swing in your bedroom and a hankering for getting tied up. With or without your khakis on.”
“Ha fucking ha.”
Jack chuckled and nudged me playfully in the side. “I’m just messin’ with you. I’m sorry I laughed.” He choked and muttered “not really” loud enough for me to know he was still teasing me but I let it slide.
“Enlighten me. I don’t understand why anyone would want to wear leather. It’s sweaty and uncomfortable.”
“To each his own. This isn’t a sex club or sex bar though and if you look closely, you’ll see that not everyone is wearing leather nor are they all gym rats. See...” Jack pointed to a group of skinny guys dressed in jeans standing around a pool table. “...and not that I paid too much attention, but the guys behind us with their tongues down each other’s throats aren’t wearing leather either. I think, my friend, it is safe to suggest you walked in here with pre-conceived notions. What else do you think you know?”
I studied Jack’s strong handsome profile for a moment deciding to ignore his question, though his observation about my pre-conceived notions was astute.
“How did you come to own a “leather bar” anyway?”
“That was cute.”
“That little air quote thing you just did.”
“Cute? Whatever. Answer my question. Or is it personal?” It occurred to me that I felt oddly comfortable in Jack’s company and was probably guilty of being a touch overly familiar.
“No, it’s not personal. I worked as a bartender fresh out of high school. I was green as could be but I looked a mite older than I was. Either that or they were desperate, come to think of it. One week I was moppin’ the floor and the next I was mixin’ cocktails. They were pure shit at first so I studied up till I was decent at it and became the best damn barman around. That first bar I worked at was a true hole in the wall catering to motorcycle men. Gay ones. It was my eighteen year old self’s personal idea of heaven. I was hooked.”
“When did you buy this place?”
“I guess it was about four years ago now. I was co-owner at another club before this one and when everyone wanted to sell, I took my part of the profit and bought this place. That last place was called the Level. You heard of it?”
Who hadn’t? It had been a very hip club in the Dupont area. One of those uber bars where there was so much stimuli between the bar, restaurant and club that you never felt the need to move on. I nodded briefly and Jack smiled slightly. “Huh, I wonder if I ever saw you there.”
“Could have. I liked that place. Why did your partners want to sell? That place was popular.”
“Yeah. I was bummed about it at first. I thought about just trying to buy Peter out but...”
“Peter? Like Jay and Peter? That Peter?”
“Yeah, that Peter.” Jack raised his eyebrows at my tone. I sounded a little too inquisitive but I couldn’t help it. I was strangely interested about what type of relationship he and the equally god-like beautiful Peter had had. They were both stunning masculine specimen. No doubt they had made a gorgeous couple when they were together.
“You were together for a while, right?” I prodded.
“You mean like... “we dated”?” Jack teased using air quotes for good measure.
“Yeah, Curt. We dated. But basically the truth of the matter is that we really didn’t do much of the dinner sort of dating you and the accountant did earlier. We mostly just fucked.”
I knew Jack was being purposefully provocative, and it was working. I should have been disgusted or maybe irritated by his manner, instead I was really fucking turned on. His use of the word “fuck” sounded like the deed itself. I could feel my cock swell again and I glad I wasn’t wearing tight jeans like I normally would at a bar. I swallowed hard and turned to face Jack straight on. The wicked look was back, his blue eyes blazing with decadent challenge. I felt a very strong pull. This man was all kinds of trouble.
Lane Hayes is a designer by trade, but is spending more time these days doing what she loves best. Writing! An avid reader from an early age, Lane has always been drawn to romance novels. She truly believes there is nothing more inspiring than a well-told love story with beautifully written characters. Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked. Her first novel was a finalist in the 2013 Rainbow Awards. She loves travel, chocolate, and wine (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband, three teenage kids, and Rex, the coolest yellow lab ever.