Ryan Haskell works at Conrad Winery and the place is like home and the people there his family. The only sore spot is their intern Danny Meyers. While most of their seasonal staff has already gone, Danny is working through the holidays before heading back to finish his graduate degree. Something about the charming, upbeat jock just rubs Ryan the wrong way, though he can admit there is an attraction there too.
Despite Ryan trying to keep Danny at a distance, Danny is determined to become friends. His friendly spirit and charming personality make it hard for Ryan to resist for too long. Soon the men are become friends and spending a lot of their free time together. But Ryan assumes Danny is only into girls, and despite the attraction he feels, he is sure it’s not returned. With Danny leaving soon to go back to school, it doesn’t make sense to get too involved anyway. But the connection between the men is too strong, and once they act on their attraction, Ryan starts to realize he doesn’t want Danny to go. Now the men have to figure out if there is a way they can make it work for good.
Leaning into a Wish is the 5th book in Lane Hayes’ Leaning Into series. The first book in the series, Leaning Into Love, was originally released as part of an anthology (reviewed here), but can now be purchased as a standalone. And just to make things a tiny bit more confusing, I am reading this book out of order. I read it before the fourth book, Leaning into Touch, because I wanted to get the holiday book reviewed before the holidays. Hayes assured me I would have no problem picking this one up first, and she was right. This story focuses on the winery and the folks there, just like Leaning into the Fall, and we meet Ryan in that book, so I had enough of a connection from that story to jump in here.
This book is kind of an enemies to lovers light. Or more like an enemies to lovers story where only one half of the pair realizes they are enemies. Danny makes Ryan nuts, but that is actually mostly because he has the hots for him and thinks it is unreciprocated. Bright, shiny Danny is a little hard for the prickly Ryan to bear until he gets to know him better. Danny pretty much decides he and Ryan are going to be friends and playfully pushes his way into Danny’s life. At times I thought Danny was a bit much (announcing out loud at work that they were boyfriends after one night together to kind of force Ryan’s hand didn’t seem too cool), but Ryan finds him charming and for the most part, I did too. Hayes does a nice job developing both of these characters in a relatively short novel and there is a nice holiday flavor to the story.
I do feel Ryan’s obliviousness to Danny’s interest seemed to go on a little too long to be believed. Danny is flirting outrageously, making sexually suggestive comments, touching him, etc. His friend tells Ryan than Danny is clearly interested. And yet Ryan’s fallback is that since he had heard that Danny had a girlfriend, he must not be interested. Why it never occurs to him Danny could be bisexual, or why he is so clueless to the obvious signs of Danny’s interest, I’m not quite sure. But this dragged on a little overlong for me.
Other than that, I found this an enjoyable story and a nice continuation of the series. Like I said, I jumped ahead on this one and had no trouble following along, so if you are reading out of order like me, I think you will be fine. But I am eager to go back and check out the book I missed before the next story in the series releases in January. I find this series charming and fun, and love the sense of place Hayes infuses into the books. So definitely a nice holiday read.