The Loner (The Vers Podcast #1) by Riley Hart

"The Loner is the first book in The Vers Podcast series, the newest by Riley Hart. I can tell you this, after reading the loner and meeting all the amazing future MCs, I think this may be one of my favorite Riley series yet!" - Jacqueleen the Reading Queen.

From the blurb:

As a founding member of The Vers, a queer podcast I host with my three best friends, I’m The Loner—quieter than the others, and except for them, I don’t let myself get too close to people. Most of them just let you down anyway, or maybe it’s just that something about me chases people away.

Infrequent, no-strings-attached hookups have always worked for me. Who knew my favorite one would become such a popular movie star? But Sebastian Cole and I made it work, meeting up whenever he was in Santa Monica and in the mood—until he called it off when he got a serious boyfriend. A boyfriend he later found in bed with another man.

Now Sebastian is back in California, taking a break from acting. He needs a friend, and for whatever reason, he decides that should be me. We’ve known each other intimately for years, and yet we’ve never spent much time together with our clothes on. When he starts taking me places, it feels suspiciously like dates…and surprisingly, I like it.

Despite our differences, Sebastian’s lonely, like me. The more we hang out, the more I realize I’ll never get enough of him.

A loner dating a celebrity doesn’t make much sense. I don’t know how to be someone’s boyfriend, let alone be in the public eye. But to call him mine, I’ll need to leave the past behind and finally allow myself to move forward with him.

The Loner is an opposites attract romance about a movie star rethinking his career and a bar owner/podcast host who isn’t fond of most people. Expect Southern California sun, swoon, found family and once-in-a-lifetime friendships.

Jacqueleen the Reading Queen's Review:

This is my favorite type of Riley Hart book. Where the romance sneaks up on you. Where you can feel the unbreakable bond between found family. And where the ending leaves you with a little smile on your face. 

There's just enough angst to propel the storyline and plenty of banter to keep it lighthearted. Oh, and the steam. Declan has a very, very dirty mouth. 🔥 I fell in love with both of the MCs and all of the Vers podcast members. I couldn't even decide whose book I wanted most next. Apparently it's Parkers and as the self proclaimed romantic, I'm hoping the amazing man finally gets his own swoon worthy love story.

Rating: 5 Stars

Sheena's Review:

I loved this book so much. I love the premise of it, 4 very different friends who all run a queer podcast, and are each others' found family. I'm sure they all have very different stories and I can't wait to find out each one. This is Declan and Sebastian's story, though, and I loved it. Declan is the titular Loner, and his story starts with meeting Sebastian in a bar and hooking up. It's an instant connection and there is heat galore there. These two have insane chemistry. It's not quite a fast forward 10 years, but that time does fly while they each live their separate lives, coming together now and then and maintaining their connection.

Declan ends up owning that bar they met in, and Sebastian works hard on his career, achieving success and a boyfriend along the way. The story really starts though when Bastian moves back to LA and decides to look up Declan again after breaking up with his boyfriend. This is the best part. I love how their relationship sneaks up on them both, and finding out the reasons why Declan is 'The Loner' and why he is how is, broke my heart. I loved how steady Bastian was for him, and how he was always there, and they were good for each other. I loved the interaction with Declan and his friends too. That banter was hilarious and I loved 'seeing' the podcast too.

This is ultimately a story about found family - you cannot choose your blood family, but you can choose your found family. This, I truly believe, and a quote from my favorite TV show definitely applies here. "Family don't end with blood, boy."

I can't recommend this highly enough. It's a great start to what promises to be a great series.

Rating: 5 Stars

SNik's Review:

First in series (The Vers Podcast). Friends to lovers. Found family. Dual POV. 

Bar owner/podcaster Declan doesn’t do relationships, he has his childhood best friends, and that’s enough for him, and the only thing that has lasted almost as long is his occasional hooking up with famous action star Sebastian Cole. 

Sebastian knows it’s only hooking up with Declan, but he needs a friend and he trusts and likes Declan, so he talks his way into starting a friendship, but soon realizes that isn’t enough. 

I really enjoyed the slow progression of Sebastian and Declan’s relationship, their getting to know each other, the honest communication, the building of trust that Sebastian would be there for Declan was all swoony. 

There is a truly lovely, supportive secondary cast of characters from Sebastian’s family to Declan’s best friends (especially their banter on and off the podcast) and they really felt like a wonderful found family. 

So much fun, so much steam, so much love, Declan and Sebastian make it all work.

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Heather's Review:

Riley Hart's latest series gives us an extra layer of insight into four of her MC's by having them record their own queer podcast - The Vers Podcast!   

We start with Declan's book - in public, he's always been the Loner, but he's also had a long term secret hook-up relationship that became a friendship with Sebastian when Bas got into a long term relationship... and once Bas is single and back in California, they re-kindle their friendship and find that the spark is still there...

This book starts steamy with hook-ups and becomes a slow burn, slow build from friendship to more in the present...

It combines so many of my favourite things about Riley Hart's work - great friends and supporting cast, snark and banter, found family and genuine love!  I can't wait to see where the other three books in the series take us!
Rating: 5 Stars

The Loner is available to buy as an ebook, paperback, or to read with Kindle Unlimited subscription.

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Purchase Link

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About the Author

Riley Hart’s love of all things romance shines brightly in everything she writes. Her primary focus is Male/Male romance but under various pen names, her prose has touched practically every part of the spectrum of love and relationships. The common theme that ties them all together is stories told from the heart.

A hopeless romantic herself, Riley is a lover of character-driven plots, many with flawed and relatable characters. She strives to create stories that readers can not only fall in love with, but also see themselves in. Real characters and real love blended together equal the ultimate Riley Hart experience.

When Riley isn’t creating her next story, you can find her reading, traveling, or dreaming about reading or traveling, and spending time with her two perfectly snarky kids, and one swoon-inducing husband.

Riley Hart is represented by Jane Dystel at Dystel, Goderich & Bourret Literary Management. She’s a 2019 Lambda Literary Award Finalist for Of Sunlight and Stardust.