September 16, 2017 by Valerie Ullmer
Book Spotlight – Exposure by Aly Hayden
Author: Aly Hayden
Cover Artist: Aria from Resplendent Media
Genres: Contemporary M/M Romance
Length: 61,000 words/150 pages approx.
It is the first book in the Drawn Together series.
Each book follows a different couple, so there’s a HEA and no cliffhanger.
Sam Hayward’s parents think he has a boyfriend. And he does… in his dreams. But when they insist Sam bring his partner to the annual Labor Day family reunion, his options are to either admit it was all a lie or find a stand-in in a hurry. The trouble is that his lies have all been based on one very real man.
Ben Matheny has been hurt before. When he’s bribed into playing a part by his friends, he fleshes out Sam’s dreams, but it’s like flying too close to the sun. He’s always had a crush on Sam, and now they’re going to the Hamptons to spend a week pretending they’re lovers, everything is getting harder.
When Ben uncovers another lie Sam has told – that Ben is every bit as rich as Sam is – things begin to unravel. If Sam isn’t happy with who Ben is, Ben can’t stick around to get burned again.
With their hearts on the line, the two must fight for their dreams as the pressure mounts. It would be so easy to admit that it was all a sham, but some dreams are worth the risk.
“Guess we have the hot tub all to ourselves,” Ben said with a smile.
He didn’t know whether he meant the words to be flirtatious or not. It was one thing to flirt when there were other people present. That was just what he did, how he interacted with people. Deliberately flirting with Sam was different. Dangerous.
“Guess we do.”
Sam’s voice was lower than usual. Almost seductive. There was no one around that would make Sam feel like he had to play the part of the boyfriend, which meant only one thing: Sam was actually into him. The signs were all there, if Ben was reading them correctly—the way Sam had taken to holding his hand, the morning wood after cuddling all night long, the look Sam had given him when he’d seen Ben in the shorts. And then there was that thing he had started to say right before they had gotten on the boat.
Much as Ben wanted to believe that Sam might have feelings for him too, there was still a part of him that wasn’t sure. There was certainly one way for him to find out, though. The hot tub was big enough for about six people, so naturally they had taken corners along the same wall. Slowly, Ben moved closer and closer to Sam, until they were sitting side by side. He took a deep breath, steeling his nerves, and let his leg brush against Sam’s.
“What are you doing?” Sam’s voice was low and husky, and when Ben looked up, he found Sam’s pupils so large that only a sliver of hazel showed around the edges.
He swallowed hard. “Getting closer to you.”
His heart beat so fast that his chest ached as he waited for Sam to do something. Say something. Have any reaction at all. It had been so easy when it was just flirting, but this…this was terrifying.
Seconds passed, though, and Sam didn’t move away. Instead, he leaned back against the side of the hot tub and slid his hand into Ben’s, underneath the water.
“I’m glad you’re here,” he said softly.
Encouraged by the reaction, Ben shifted down a bit and let his head rest on Sam’s shoulder. “Me too.” They sat in silence for a few seconds. Ben didn’t want to ruin the moment, but he knew that if he didn’t say anything, he would regret it. “Before, when we were about to get on the boat. What were you going to say?”
“I um…” Sam scratched at the back of his neck. “I was going to say, what if—”
Ben whipped around to see Karrigan. Someone had escaped from nap time. He fought to suppress a groan. Looked like this conversation would have to wait.
Meet the Author
Aly Hayden has loved writing ever since she learned to pick up a pencil. As a child, she used to write short stories, then progressed to novels of various genres, none of which were ever published – for good reason. She started writing fanfiction in 2011, publishing on Archive of Our Own. After finding M/M romance in 2012, she fell in love and made it her mission to write one of her own one day. When Aly isn’t writing, she can be found playing with her lovable Yorkie and watching old reruns of House Hunters.
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Valerie’s Rating and Review
The relationship between Ben and Sam is a slow burn. Although they are friends, somewhat, they are both hesitant to tell the other about the attraction they feel because they are afraid of ruining their friendship and honestly, because neither of them want to get hurt again.
Sam conjures up a fake boyfriend to appease his family. He based on the real man, Ben, he has a crush on since they’d met the year before, and while he thought that he could keep his crush to himself, the lie came back to bite him in the ass. Due to some finagling, Ben agrees to pose as Sam’s boyfriend during Sam’s family’s get-together for the Labor Day weekend. Sam is worried that his secrets will be exposed, but at the same time, he’s falling harder and harder for Ben.
Having Ben and Sam truly get to know one another was fantastic. They learned about what made the other hesitant, but it also deepened their feelings for one another. But almost as soon as they admitted their feelings, it all fell apart.
I couldn’t finish the book fast enough because I wanted Sam and Ben to have their HEA. I don’t want to give anything about this book away, but it is sweet with a little heartbreak and a wonderful ending that I absolutely loved!
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