Benny Ruggieri is a fiercely proud New Yorker who dreams of making it big as a costume designer in the theater. In the meantime, he’s working two part-time jobs in the food biz. When his new boss sets him up with his successful son, Benny has zero expectations. If nothing else, he figures he can entertain himself by making the uptight businessman squirm. Instead, the two become unlikely friends with an inexplicable attraction they can’t ignore. Benny might be the one to help Zeke set aside his quest for revenge, if he’s willing to let go and forgive what he can’t forget… and give in to an unexpected kind of romance.
Comment: This is the second installment in the A Kind of Stories trilogy by author Lane Hayes. This is Benny's story, a friend of Will from the previous book. I was quite eager to try this one after having enjoyed the other book so much. This one seemed a little less magnificent but so far this trilogy has been quite amazing to me.
In this second installment we follow Zeke's voice, he's one of the sons of mr Gulden, the owner of the bagel shop where Rand used to work and where Benny helps now as well. Zeke works high finance and wanted to separate himself from his father's shops and dealings. It's not that he doesn't like his father but they tend to clash. however, when he is told his father hit hid head he goes to the hospital and meets Benny, someone he immediately dismisses even if there's something about him...
Benny knows his book is a matchmaker and seems to think Zeke would be his perfect other half but do they really have something in common? One daring date probably would solve everything but what if they do hit if off?
Probably, the only major thing I'd change in these books is the narrator's voice. I liked Rand in the first book and I didn't have anything against Zeke in this one but often in a romance it's great if we can have both takes on things. I think these books are quite balanced in this aspect but t wouldn't hurt to have a third person narrating, that would increase the relationship angle for better, in my opinion.
I liked this story. Not as much as the other because this one seemed to have a lesser focus on the romance in the way that although there are romantic scenes and this is a romantic story, the relationship between the two protagonists felt a little bit more clinical. Yes, they agree to a date just to see what they can talk about, and yes, things progress quite nicely, yes we are convinced they are falling in love but the way those things happen aren't as amazing as I hoped for.
Maybe my problem is the characters themselves... I liked them as a couple, I liked several parts of them, especially the emotional level they were showing when dealing with important tasks/situations, etc. But Benny seems to want to shock or to at least not hide from others his real thoughts and preferences and Zeke is a bit too quiet and "cold". I get it that this works out and they balance each other well but their personalities, no matter how charming at times, weren't always convincing or appealing to me.
Zeke, in particular, also had some issues with his father abut his own youth and his father's role in how he saw himself growing up.. it was an interesting take on a father/son relationship, especially when one of them is gay. The closure on this is one of the things that made me appreciate Zeke a bit more.
Something I liked too was the emotional development we saw the characters go through. Both had an idea about what it would mean to be together, to just see what it was between them, as a way to appease Zeke's father into thinking they tried...but the real connection they form seems believable. I liked all the little steps they took, all the sweet moments they shared.
Of course there was an antagonist here, that was there - in my opinion - to simply act as a propeller to make Zeke realize what he had with Benny was true and could be forever. I don't really mind this tactic but it didn't make things work out as smoothly as I hoped for, considering all the things they were going through.
Zeke, as the narrator, also seems to have something more to deal with. He has his own mind, his father's opinion and his mother's illness. It's a bit too much but... it does provide interesting scenes and dialogues.
I liked the secondary characters. It seems everyone had a purpose, with more or less importance, and things went well, the pace was fluid... I wasn't as marveled with this book overall, but I still had a great time reading. I'm very eager to read the final story and I hope it's as good as these first two were.