Author: Lane Hayes
Narrator: Michael Ferraiuolo
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Run Time: 8 hours and 1 minute
At a Glance: The Wrong Man is fun and sweet, and it is nice to check in with the characters from book one if you have read or listened to it.
Reviewed By: Mike
Blurb: Successful owner of an upscale boutique in fabulous West Hollywood, Brandon Good swears by his personal edict to “live in the present.” After a bad breakup, he agrees to dog-sit to keep his mind off his ex. Never did he expect the dog to belong to a man from his past, the only man to ever truly break his heart.
When Jake Westley relocates to join the WeHo fire department, the last thing he anticipates is reuniting with his secret high school love. Thrilled with the prospect of reconnecting with Bran, Jake feels no guilt in using his charming old dog as an unwitting matchmaker. As he and Bran rekindle their friendship, it becomes clear the intense attraction they once felt is stronger than ever. But as hard as they try to leave the past behind, painful memories resurface. Bran will have to confront his fears and consider the possibility that the man he swore was absolutely the wrong one might be perfect after all.
Review: [Even though this book is the second in a series, you do not need to have read book one to appreciate the characters in this book. The major characters from the previous book do make random appearances and you know all you need to know about them in the brief descriptions given for them.]
The action in The Wrong Man opens with Brandon Good, running his West Hollywood boutique of high end items and knick-knacks, being cajoled into dog sitting for the friend of one of his employees. The elderly yellow lab he takes charge of quickly finds his messy way into Brandon’s heart, and those of the shop regulars. When Brandon meets the dog’s owner, they both realize they knew each other in high school.
There was a relationship that was just blooming when Jake Westley gave in to his own fears and pulled away from Brandon, crushing Brandon’s heart and hopes for ever finding a true love of his own again. Brandon and Jake begin a dance of coming together and pulling apart over some fairly normal relationship road blocks. None of them is insurmountable but they do ratchet up the tension Brandon feels. But a hurtful high school relationship between them, and the slightly dark pasts the two have survived, are both bridges and obstacles to be crossed.
Does Brandon break his own rules about not going backwards by dating exes? Can Jake be trusted to even be a friend, let alone be let back into Brandon’s heart? Are their most recent exes getting in their way, or are they being leaned on to protect a pair of broken hearts that seem to need each other to heal? All of the mutual desire and distrust sometimes take a backseat to their mutual love and caring of Jake’s dog, who has medical issues that require someone be on watch to make sure he’s doing well. This brings two former friends and lovers together. It also keeps a short wall between them that either of them could cross if they stop giving in to the fear that the past will repeat itself.
The sex, when it happens, is not just jammed into the plot to make it steamy. It is put in so you can see the relationship between the two main characters bloom and change into something that could be cherished by them both. How they negotiate their desires and the need to not be hurt again by the past becomes an intriguing interplay that is worth the time to explore for yourself.
When they finally come to a resolution, it is both satisfying and expected. Sometimes being the wrong man is just what you both need to make a better, less lonely life for you. But, only if you’re willing to take a few risks and see where life takes you. Brandon and Jake seem to be ready for that.
The cast of supporting characters adds to the depth and richness of the book. Because this is an audiobook, it’s worth noting the narrator, Michael Ferraiuolo, does a better than average job with the book. One of my pet peeves about audio is that sometimes, the narrator mispronounces simple words, which, thankfully, is not the case with this book. His voice work gives you a fairly clear difference between the main characters and, despite the fact that Brandon is a sometimes sassy, sometimes flamboyant gay man, the narrator does not give in to doing the sassy black woman voice so many narrators do.
The editing is tight and the pace is well done and never laconic. Female voices are done without the usual high pitched lisping, gushy clichés that drive listeners to distraction. The only pitfall in an otherwise great narration is the character of ‘Zo. Portraying a Latino from Southern California is a tricky thing, but this one character misses the mark and is a bit disappointing, for anyone who is Latino, to see the voice work done—it seems to be the easy out characterization that becomes more stereotype than acting. It also makes it easy to not pay attention to that character even though he has some very helpful insights into the relationship between the main characters.
In all, I can recommend this audiobook. It is fun and sweet, and it is nice to check in with the characters from book one if you have read or listened to it. The running time for the book is just a bit over eight hours and is worth your time. If you love a happy ending where everyone involved gets something good out of the action, this is a book for you. The happy ending here does not end up tied in a bow. There is still some room for things to wobble, but you are left knowing that whatever the block is, they can work through it if they have the will to.
You can buy The Wrong Man here: