Rating: 4.5 stars
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Lane Hayes just writes a good book. I read her first book, Better Than Good, a few months ago and was a huge fan. Could Hayes repeat the wonderfulness that was her first novel? In fact, she can. Her enemies-to-lovers story had me reading late into the night — I couldn’t put it down! She has earned my reader loyalty; her next book could be called Better Than Pickles and I’ll gladly buy it.
Better Than Chance is the story of Jay and Peter. Peter is Jay’s super hot boss, on whom he harbored a tiny crush, until they had to work together. Then, Peter’s nitpicky suggestions have Jay wishing he’d just leave him alone! When Jay is in a bind one night and Peter comes to the rescue, Jay couldn’t be more embarrassed, and wants the gorgeous man to just disappear. Peter is presumably straight, and obviously has no interest in openly out and proud Jay. It would seem, though, that Peter has other plans.
Peter has spent a lot of his life avoiding commitment. He’s successful at work, but admits he may be a workaholic to avoid getting involved in a serious personal relationship. Peter’s intrigued by Jay, the man who says whatever’s on his mind and doesn’t give a damn what people think about him. Jay’s everything that Peter’s not and he can’t help but be attracted to him, but Peter’s not sure he can be the kind of man that Jay needs. There are things in his past that Peter’s not sure he can let go, but he risks losing Jay if he can’t start living his life the way it needs to be lived.
Better Than Chance is the sequel to Better Than Good, but actually takes place before the first book, so you don’t need to read them in order. Peter and Jay have an established relationship in Better Than Good, so it was interesting to see their story, to see how such a strong couple could start off on such rocky ground. I guess the previous book is one big spoiler alert, since we know Jay and Peter end up together. In fact, Hayes lays it out in the first few pages. Jay begins the story years in the future and then looks back on the beginning of their relationship. I think there’s a certain amount of comfort in knowing that everything’s going to turn out alright before you even begin reading. Though 99.9% of romance books contain a happy ending, it’s still nice to have a guarantee.
Hayes is a solid storyteller. She creates characters we care about. In this case, the enemies to lovers trope worked well; it created a significant amount of tension and instant spark, so that even though we knew things turned out well for the two of them, there was still a lot of anxiety to get to that point. Hayes knows how to keep the reader turning the pages. Nothing feels forced or contrived. It’s just a good, entertaining story about characters you like.
There isn’t anything groundbreaking here. You’ve probably read a version of this plot many times over, which is why I can’t really give it 5 stars. Lane Hayes produces the equivalent of comfort food when it comes to reading. It’s solid and satisfying and hits the spot. It’s not the fanciest, most original book out there, but it’s definitely worth buying and moving to the top of your reading list. I look forward to the next Lane Hayes book and I’m sure you will too.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.