• Starting from the Top

  • By: Lane Hayes
  • Narrated by: Michael Dean
  • Length: 8 hrs and 43 mins
  • 4.9 out of 5 stars (61 ratings)
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Publisher's Summary

The guitarist, the dad, and a band on the rise....

Johnny

A quiet place to live and some time to recharge before my band heads out on the road again sounds amazing. I wouldn’t mind a distraction, too, but my new neighbor is off-limits. There are rules about not getting involved with your bandmate’s ex, right? And Sean isn’t my type anyway. He’s too bossy, too commanding, and he has way too much baggage. I’ve learned that it’s best to let go of the heavy stuff. So why am I so drawn to him?

Sean

Coming out later in life has taught me to protect my privacy at all costs. And while juggling a handful of businesses and two kids isn’t easy, I excel at the art of multitasking and keeping everything separate. But Johnny blurs those lines. He’s easy-going, sweet-natured, and cool. In short, he’s everything I’m not. I want to know all about him...starting from the top.

Starting from the Top is a MM, bisexual romance with some rock and roll, an age gap, and a little family fun! Each book in the Starting From series can be enjoyed as a stand-alone.

©2021 Lane Hayes (P)2021 Lane Hayes

What listeners say about Starting from the Top

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Loved this

This was a sweet opposites attract age gap, bisexual romance.

This one has been by far my favorite in this series.

I connected with the characters and found them to be relatable and well fleshed out.

The storyline was interesting and kept me engaged.

The writing style was compelling and flowed well with the narrative.

I absolutely loved the audio delivery and narration.

Overall an amazing listen

2 people found this helpful

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Highly Recommended Listening

This story was absolutely delicious. Pressing play, or opening up the book to the first chapter, of a book written by Lane Hayes is like coming home from a long business trip. It just makes you feel good. What more can we really ask from a book? (Don’t answer that...ha ha...it was rhetorical.)

This is book five in this series. All of our favorite men are present and accounted for. We’ve met both of our main characters before, and they couldn’t be more different if they tried. Johnny exudes charisma, energy, and enthusiasm. Sean...well, he’s more put together, in control, polished, but he has hidden layers that even seem to surprise him. For a while, they weren’t even sure they liked each other, but soon developed a camaraderie, and somehow it just worked. It was shockingly easy, to be honest, and it completely took them by surprise. I loved their chemistry and banter. It was so easy getting lost along their journey towards their HEA.

If you haven’t read the other books in the series, do not worry; you will easily jump into this story without feeling lost. However, this is a great group of guys who have fun stories as well, so I would encourage you to listen to/read them at your leisure.

Michael Dean does a stellar job capturing Hayes’ characters. It’s as if he becomes them. It’s easy to forget that he’s a guy, sitting in his recording area, performing into a microphone. I get lost in his narration, and I always enjoy going along for the ride.

1 person found this helpful

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Two different worlds collide

I’ve really enjoyed the Starting From series and this book is no exception. Sean is a high-powered executive who loves his kids and respects his ex-wife. He’s out now and even dated a rock star, although that was like for 30 seconds, and that rock star is now happily married. But Sean doesn’t share with his kids that he’s gay. In fact, he keeps his love life well away from them. His time with them is precious, and he doesn’t want anything – or anybody – getting in the way of that.

Johnny had a rough start in life. He’s come from less than nothing and built a name for himself in the rock world. He loves his bandmates and is pretty happy with his new digs. He’s laying low, but his publicist wants the band to break through with their next tour and although Johnny appreciates what he has, he’s not sure superstardom is for him.

So what do a business man and a guitarist have in common? Well, more than you might think. Sean asks Johnny to give his son Parker guitar lessons in the hopes of drawing the young man out of his shell. And his precocious daughter quickly latches on to Johnny. Whether she sees the loneliness, or just wants Dad’s new friend around, she insists Johnny join them on occasion and, not in a bad way, what Penny wants, Penny gets.

I liked the romance in this book. Yes it starts out as on the down low, but as Johnny gets drawn into Sean’s world, he begins to see that there’s something to be said for family. One he never had. One that’s now within his reach. The question is whether both men are willing to risk everything – including their hearts – for a chance of real happiness. A chance of happily ever after.

Michael Dean narrates this series and I’m a huge fan of his. Another great job. Another great series. Another great book.

1 person found this helpful

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Another fantastic audiobook in this series!

The audiobook of Starting From the Top came out right as I was reading and reviewing the ebook. The only thing I can really add to my original review is how fantastic Michael Dean’s performance is. He’s done a great job with all of the books in this series but this one was really outstanding.

Below is my original review of the ebook:

Each book in this series can be read as a standalone story but I’m really glad that I was fortunate enough to read them in order.

I really loved Johnny and Sean’s story. Johnny had a pretty awful home life growing up but he managed to overcome that and is on his way to stardom along with his bandmates who make up Zero. Sean is several years older than Johnny and is a successful businessman. He only came out as bi-sexual a few years ago after his divorce was final.

They start off as just a casual thing. Sean has two kids that he has to be protective of and Johnny isn’t looking for anything serious but the chemistry between the two of them is off the charts. Johnny also meshes well with Sean’s kids. He starts giving guitar lessons to Sean’s son which has helped Patrick to come out of his shell and be more confident.

I really love how family-oriented Sean is and how concerned he is for his kids and what they need, even if it means giving up something that he really wants. Johnny is so much more than what he appears to be and he doesn’t take his increasing popularity for granted.

The only thing that will make me enjoy Starting From The Top more is listening to the audiobook performed by Michael Dean and I hope to do that soon.

I’m sorry to see the end of the Starting From series but Lane Hayes has already announced a new series that’s kind of a spin off and I’m really looking forward to reading it.

A copy of this audiobook was provided to me but my review was voluntary and not influenced by the author.

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

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Best in the series so far.

I really enjoyed the final book in the series featuring an older MC who falls for a younger musician/rock star. Trying to make it all fit into a complicated family dynamic is one of Lane's specialties. Lots of feel good moments in this one. Highly recommended! .

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Good story. Good narration.

Another good addition to the Starting series. As usual, I really enjoyed getting to know all the characters in this story. I especially appreciated the inclusion of children. Sean's children were a wonderful addition to the cast.

The unlikely pairing in this series really worked out well. I think Lane Hayes could pair up just about any two personalities and give them a convincing relationship which is why I enjoy this series. Sometimes I just want everyone to get along. Sean is portrayed in a different light in the first book of this series, and Hayes does a great job of showing why we shouldn't pass judgement before we know all sides of a story.

Once again the narrator did a great job and was well suited to this story.

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Best of the series!

I just loved everything about this book. So many elements hit home for me. Struggling through divorce and trying to co-parent two kids. I'm 15 years older than my husband and had some serious reservations about starting over. This book made me laugh and cry and cheer for their happy ending. They both deserved it! Now could we please get a HEA for Sebastian??? Poor guy needs some happy in his life too!!!

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Blew me Away!

Oh I just adored everything about this book! Sean and Johnny were amazing together...sweet, hot, real...I was so invested in their relationship. This was such a realistic portrayal of falling in love surrounded by very real life obstacles. From Johnny's rise to fame and him being in the spotlight to Sean's divorce and his life being a dad to a 9 and 12 year old...it was just handled so beautifully. The kids played a big part in the story and they stole my heart. Sean and Johnny's connection and love was so believable and so touching.
And let's talk a minute about the stellar narration by Michael Dean. He really brought the emotion in this one. I had tears coming down my face during a tender moment with the kids and the combination of Lane's words and Michael's narration just did me in, it was so heartwarming and beautiful!

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All. The. Feels!

I need to confess something. I'm a wee bit addicted to Lane Hayes's audiobooks. I've loved reading her books, but there's just something about experiencing those very same stories with a narrator giving voice to them. The fact that Hayes also happens to have a penchant for choosing narrators who are the best suited for a particular series. Michael Dean has been the voice of her two most recent series, Out in College and Starting From, and the partnership between Hayes and Dean has proven to be a good one. Their latest meshing of talents is the fifth, and also the newest, Starting From audiobook, Starting from the Top.

Johnny Martin is the thirty-year-old guitarist of Zero, an indie band that's making a huge name for itself in the music scene; Sean Gruen is the forty-five-year-old owner of several businesses in West Hollywood and Palm Springs. Johnny and Sean are opposites, with the former being more chill and owning his sexuality, while Sean is more rigid and prefering to keep his private affairs exactly that--private. They are, however, devoted to those that matter most--Johnny his music and Sean his two children, Parker and Penny. Becoming involved with a rock star on the rise could prove disastrous for someone protective of their privacy, but if they give themselves a chance, it could prove to be rather wondrous.

Lane Hayes and Michael Dean have done it again! Johnny and Sean's story gave me all. The. Feels! Dean brought these two to life, and he certainly gave justice to a wonderfully written story by Hayes. Listening to how the main characters evolved from acquaintances to friends to lovers and then into a family together with Sean's kids was a joy. Theirs is a reminder that true love is worth taking a chance on, and that the best kind of life is the one well lived. I laughed, I cried, and I swooned. Five-plus stars for Starting from the Top.

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Love this series!

Michael Dean has done a fantastic job with this series...his emotions are on point and his variation of voices for all the characters has been perfect. I think in this book I was most impressed by his portrayal of Parker, Sean's stuttering child. I read the ebook but listening definitely adds a component to the enjoyment of it.

Here's my review of the ebook after reading it...my thoughts remain the same.

I don’t think any of us had an accurate opinion of Sean…Johnny included. There is a lot of history between the band and Sean. This book basically picks up where the last one left off so I don’t think this could be read as a standalone.

Sean is surprisingly sweet. He’s a great dad (I don’t remember this from a previous story if we learned that) to both his kids and his dog. He is wound tight and doesn’t like to lose control. Johnny is his opposite in many ways. He’s easy-going, fun-loving, and appreciates friends and family because his family life was never awesome. They balance each other perfectly. Johnny is great with Sean’s kiddos. They had a rocky start trying to figure out how they could forge a…relationship, I guess. It took Sean until about the 85% mark to finally admit that’s what they had. Thankfully, the relationship angst ended quickly.

There were a couple of things in this book that disconcerted me. The first was Clay. I don’t like how he manipulated Johnny. I don’t like that he takes pictures of people (and does other things) without their consent. I don’t like how blasé he was about his sinister behavior. This brings me to the next thing that bothered me…and that was Charlie. He totally blew off Johnny’s concerns and as far as I’m concerned, his best interest. He’s supposed to look out for these boys and protect them and he basically threw Johnny to the wolf, dismissed his concerns, and all ‘for the benefit of the band’. He pissed me off…and I usually like him.

If Clay gets a book…I would be out and I hate to say that because I’m a HUGE fan of Ms. Hayes' work.

Other than those two issues, I liked this book.

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  • AL
  • 03-16-21

This was a feast!

Story: I love this series! Loved it from the start and with this part I love it a whole lot more! Johnny's and Sean's story was everything! A great age gap story with plenty of banter and witty comments, hurt and healing, but most of all hope for a bright future! Lane Hayes is great at showing the reader all the emotions and all the character development the MCs go through! I absolutely love, how the focus was not only on their relationship, but them as people as well!
Narration: Great job by Michael Dean! Top notch performance as always!

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  • Edga
  • 03-14-21

Excellent all round x

I’ve loved this series so so much, this one is all about Johnny and Sean, who are immediately attracted to one another, but, of course, life really isn't that simple. Both carry baggage, however, I loved that this didn't impede their relationship developing so naturally, it was very believe able. Ms Hayes has written a lovely romance here, there's no obvious insta love, they start out no strings attached, and it was a beautiful thing to watch their feelings grow.

They had their little misunderstandings and doubts about each other, and I loved that little bit of uncertainty they both experienced, it especially demonstrated to Sean his own shortcomings. His reveals to Johnny were heartbreaking.

I absolutely adored Johnny, he's cute and funny, is so humble, and just exudes a sexy confidence that you can’t help but love. In fact, he's definitely one of my favourite Lane creations, so far 🥰

A wonderful, truly enjoyable and addictive story, which demonstrates how important family and self forgiveness are, it also took a surprising turn, I didn't expect. It's packed full of family, love, laughs and second chances. Highly recommend the whole series, as in both eBook and audible form.

Michael Dean is an exceptional narrator, he really has come this story justice.