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Starting from Zero

Starting From Series, Book 1
Narrated by: Michael Pauley
Length: 7 hrs and 8 mins
Categories: Romance, LGBT
4.5 out of 5 stars (65 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2019 Lane Hayes (P)2019 Lane Hayes

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I loved this audiobook!

If you follow my reviews at all (thanks if you do) then I'm going to sound like a broken record. I reviewed Starting From Zero as an eBook when it first released. It was a great read but now Michael Pauley's audio performance makes it even better. He does so many great voices in this one and when it comes to the sexy time – look out – hot as fire!

The following is my original review of the ebook:

I'm a relative newcomer to Lane Hayes books. I started with her Out in College series (3 books long so far) and loved all of them. Now comes her new Starting From series which is a spin-off from the Out in College series. No worries if you haven't read that series; Starting from Zero stands alone and is a complete story with an HEA.

The book is told in first person POV, alternating between Justin and Gray. Justin is an aspiring rock star with many problems. Gray is 18 years older than Justin but something just clicks for them. It starts off as an anonymous one-off but circumstances bring them together again and a relationship develops.

This story had a lot of secret keeping going on and that caused a fair amount of angst in some of the characters. I loved Gray, a successful, wealthy, older man who doesn't flaunt what he has. He started from humble beginnings and hasn't forgotten that. Justin was a bit all over the place. He has ADHD and that makes it hard for him to focus. He's determined to help his new band make it big and won't let anything stop him from making it so. He's not intimidated by Gray's wealth.

I really felt the connection between Gray and Justin and their sexy time together was WOW! The story made me smile in places, cringe in a couple and had all kind of feels going on. There are several intriguing secondary characters in Starting from Zero and I hope they get books of their own. I was particularly taken with Gray's former lover, Sebastian. He comes off as quite a jerk but I think he can be redeemed and would love to read his story. 😊

An advanced copy of this book was provided to me via IndiGo Marketing but my review was voluntary and not influenced by the author.

***Reviewed for Xtreme-Delusions dot com***

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Swoon Worthy

Swoon! Gah, I just loved Justin and Gray’s story. You know when you read a book, and it’s just so good and you have a smile plastered to your face? And you don’t want to finish because it will be over? This! This is one of those books! I loved it so much I also grabbed the audio, because amazing book, amazing narrator! Justin and Gray made me feel all warm and fuzzy. I loved their witty banter and their comfortable conversations they had with each other. Their chemistry together was explosive and off the charts hot. They truly completed each other so well, and their story really gave me all the feels. I know this will be a book I re-read when I need a pick me up. I really can’t recommend their story more!

I loved their story in ebook, but this narration really made Justin and Gray's story even more for me.

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Lane Hayes....... never disappoints a great read

i loved this book and everything he does and Micheal Pauly is onreal i think this is his best

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Loved it!

Loved how some of the characters were familiar from Hayes’ earlier books, but I felt like we got a much more in depth look at the leads in this book than we did in the shorter earlier books. Also really enjoyed the two points of perspective here, got a look inside the heads of each lead, rather than just one.

And Michael Pauley as narrator is my favorite and he nailed it... again!

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Enjoyable May/December romance

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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Great start to a new series

What happens when a quickie in the bathroom changes your life? Justin Cuevas was having a bad day when he met Gray Robertson. Justin needed someone to help him out and Gray stepped into the role flawlessly. But the end of the night had Justin leaving and Gray having no way to contact him. End of story, right?

When circumstances bring the men together there is yet another power imbalance. Gray is successful in the music business that Justin is so desperate to break into. Gray has the ability to give Justin a leg up but pride prevents Justin from accepting the help. Justin is stubborn. He is easily distracted and struggles to keep his part time jobs as well as practicing with his new band, Zero. Gray’s offer of studio time comes with no strings and Justin finally decides a little help would be okay. His bandmates are skeptical but willing to take the gift and they try to make a go of their music.

Gray knows Justin is special but struggles to help the young man realize it. He’s older and more successful, so guiding Justin comes naturally to him and sometimes he has to fight taking control of Justin’s chaotic life that is, at times, spinning out of control. Justin has a lot of baggage but it doesn’t faze Gray. Very little does.

The crux of the plot is that Justin needs to write a love song for a big movie. It’s a great opportunity for an up and coming musician but he’s not a big fan of love. His family certainly didn’t have any and the one serious relationship he had ended up burning him badly. He played a big role in the demise, but the fallout was spectacular. So…writing a love song? For a cynic, it’s a bad bet. But he can’t give up this chance so he tries. Gray has written many songs and although he could guide Justin, he wants the young man to succeed on his own. Solution? Show Justin that love does exist – in many forms – and that it might be worth taking one more chance before giving up for good.

I could relate to Justin and his floundering to find a place in the world. His music means everything but he can’t make a living at it. His pride prevents him from embracing Gray’s help whole-heartedly and I understood that. Who doesn’t want to succeed on their own without perceived or real help from someone else? Gray handles the situation with the maturity he’s worked hard for. He manages to restrain the urge to fix everything that is wrong in Justin’s life.

This is a great book about how love is far more complex than just “I love you” and that true love involves risking one’s heart and soul. The book was narrated by Michael Pauley who is one of my favourite narrators. He did a great job again, meeting and even exceeding my expectations. Great job and I can’t wait for the next book in the series.

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  • Cassi
  • ScrolMates Blog
  • 05-26-19

Fantastic story!

These guys are so sexy and vibrant. Their connection was jumping off the pages add in Michael Pauley's narration and you have book that grabs you and won't let go! I listened to this in a day. They were the perfect blend of self assured sexy rock star and venerable lovers. I adored them and I seriously cant wait for more from this series!

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Michael and Lane are a fantastic pairing!

Starting from Zero is Lane Hayes' newest sexy, rockstar romance. I read the book first and then listened to it in audio as I do with ALL of my Lane Hayes' books because they are better enjoyed that way! I always find I miss certain things or am reminded of why I liked a chapter or character. Michael Pauly and Lane are such a fantastic pairing! I’m a huge fan of both and Michael just gives these characters a stronger voice.

This is a spin off from her Out in College series and features Rory's brother, Justin. We met him briefly in Out in the Offense and I knew his story was going to be fantastic! Justin is a struggling musician who loves music. He sings like an angel and just wants to make music. His old band is just coming off a scandal and the remaining members want to start fresh. New songs, new vibe. When Justin sees Gray he's instantly attracted to the older man. He's sexy, smart and confident. They spend one night together and it's fun, sexy and freeing. Gray can't stop thinking about Justin after their brief encounter. He's a famous songwriter and he knows talent when he hears it and Justin is it. When they have the opportunity to work together on a song, they can't refuse. Gray wants to write with Justin but he also wants to be with him. Keep the personal and the professional separate. Justin tries to resist, but the sexy older man is too tempting. They laugh together, talk, and write music. It's perfect. But too good to be true? Are there things they are keeping from each other? I loved this story! I love rockstar romance and I love Lane, so this is a match made in Heaven! Gray is so sexy, talented and smart. He knows who he is and is so confident in his skin because he's forty-four. He's lived and knows what he wants. I love that he's my age! Justin might be younger but he's smart and quick witted. Their banter is perfection with the eighties jokes and their love of music.
When they are together it's magic. They balance each other out. Sometimes fighting for love is the hardest thing there is. Overall, I laughed, cried, smiled a lot, got hot and bothered and just thoroughly enjoyed every word! Lane always delivers the perfect mix of emotion, sexy, flirty and swoonworthy characters.

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Audiobook perfection! 5+ stars!

There are authors whose books I love to read and authors whose books I love to listen to. Lane Hayes just happens to be one of the rarefied few who falls into both categories, and that has a great deal to do with the fact that she simply seems to always have the most gifted of narrators lending their voices to her stories. Such is the case, once again, with Starting from Zero, the first in her Starting From series. Here she's got none other than Michael Pauley, the same guy who breathed life to her characters and stories in all the currently available audiobooks from Hayes's Out in College series. Can these two simply be permanently tied together when it comes to audiobook releases?

Starting from Zero isn't Lane Hayes's first time to write a rock romance, but this had a very different feel from her A Kind of stories--and if you've yet to read and listen to that series, I highly recommend that you check it out as soon as humanly possible!--adding a May-December touch with the already established, award-winning songwriter Gray Robertson and the still struggling but undeniably talented band leader and songwriter Justin Cuevas. But don't think of them as merely a mentor-mentee songwriting sort of relationship because Gray definitely learned quite a bit from the younger Justin, especially when it came to seeing the different views of the world through new lenses.

Lane Hayes knows how to craft these kinds of stories--the ones that can be easily read but are in no means easy journeys for her characters. You can feel the layers of complexities she's got there perfectly camouflaged in what looks like a simple M/M romance. Hayes never underestimates her readers, and that is always a good thing. And now that she has Michael Pauley gracing this new story with his voice, it becomes a wholly new but still enthralling experience. Pauley's voice sweeps you away, not merely telling you a story but allowing the characters to share their tale with you. The Starting from Zero audiobook is the perfect example of how romance audiobooks should be produced, and it's one that I'm highly recommending all audiobook lovers out there check out. Five-plus stars. ♥

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Great start to another great series by Ms. Hayes!

I feel like I’m always chasing my tail in the book world, but I did not know that Rory’s brother, Justin was getting a book; I was very pleasantly surprised in the opening scene when Rory and Christian made an appearance and I was able to connect the dots. While it’s not necessary to read their book before reading this one, I do recommend reading that book…I loved Rory and Christian’s story!

I really liked this book and pretty much didn’t put it down once I picked it up. I was hooked from Gray and Justin’s first encounter and love the banter and chemistry between them. Their age gap worked so well, Gray’s experience balancing Justin’s inexperience both in the industry and life in general. Their similar interests essentially eliminated the gap and they just worked together. I love watching them bond over their talent, becoming friends and lovers as they spent more time together getting to know each other.

This was surprisingly low angst considering the potential for drama from outside sources. The conflicts were resolved quickly but I don’t know that they were totally eliminated from the series so we may see some of these issues reappear.

The jury is still out on Seb…I would probably be alright without him appearing again.

There is a great cast of characters setting the stage for a long, fantastic series!

This is another strong vocal performance by Mr. Pauley. I love that he has been carried over from the Out in College series. He does a great job of separating the characters, giving them distinct voices and bringing the emotion of the story off the page.

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  • Edga
  • 05-16-19

lovely story.

I had been highly anticipating this book for a while now, Justin was a character that we'd met in a previous book, and I was dying for his story to be told. I was so excited to finally dive into it. It was so definitely worth the wait!

Justin had so much emotional baggage buried in his past, but I loved his attitude to life and his courage to meet things head on and overcome them. His integrity was amazing. Gray was just this amazing, kind soul. He and Justin fit together so well. In fact, I'd go so far to say that they're right up there amongst my favourite characters.

It's, of course, very well written, with a great storyline and plot. It's a passionate and emotional read, which made for a very nice romance. Also, loved meeting Christian and Rory again, characters from one of Ms Hayes' previous books. 

It is written in dual POV, which I do like, giving the reader much more of the thoughts and feelings of the main characters. The epilogue was swoon worthy and there's a puppy 😍🐕

I'm so hoping for more from this series, there were a couple of cracking secondary characters introduced in the story. Can't wait.

The narration was incredibly well done. First class listen 👍

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