Monday, September 2, 2013
Review: The Hardest Thing: A Dan Stagg Mystery by James Lear
Title: The Hardest Thing by James Lear
Genre: M/M Romance, Contemporary, Mystery, Erotica
Published June 11th 2013 by Cleis Press
Length: 264 pages
Rating: 3 Stars
Review Copy Provided by Publisher
Killing Is Easy. Love Is... The Hardest Thing
Once a major in the US Marines, Dan Stagg fell foul of Don't Ask, Don't Tell and is now struggling to make sense of civilian life. In his late 30s, tall and muscular, Dan works as a bouncer at an East Village nightclub. When he's offered a fortune to protect the young male secretary of a powerful real estate developer, Dan takes off on a road trip with a hot blond companion who makes it clear that "protection" doesn't stop at the bedroom door. But Dan soon realizes he's being used as a shield for a much more sinister operation and has to choose between easy money and the ideals that he once fought for.
Purchase Link: http://www.cleispress.com/
Dan, an ex marine, after losing his job as a bouncer, got a job offer delivered right to his front door by the handsome Italian man, Ferrari. As he takes the job as a personal bodyguard to Jody, he stumbles into a mystery that may cost him his life and that of Jody, his new love interest.
Some words of warning from me: the couple in this book are not exclusive even though they "love" or are falling in love with each other. Sex is used as a pastime, a bribe to keep others' mouths shut, and an manipulative act. It's hardcore and graphic. If you can get past all that and love reading mystery books, this is the book for you.
I don't really like Dan as a character. He says he loves Jody but keeps comparing this love to a past love, Will. The writing describing his past relationship with Will was poetic and heartbreaking. He never really got any closure from Will's unexpected death from a sniper bullet and carries a lot of resentment. Meeting Jody, he gets introduced into the modern world of cell phones and internet. Dan says he loves him but this love is definitely not as strong as his love, commitment, and possessiveness for Will. When Dan finally gives Jody a chance and commits, it's at the very last page of the novel.
The mystery plot was solid until Jody lied too many times. Dan didn't know whether or not to trust him anymore and which part of his story was true. And if Dan doesn't know, the reader doesn't. Add to that, Ferrari also fabricated some lies. So when I got to the part when Ferrari agreed to testify in court, I still didn't know what part he played in this murder mystery. It would have been less confusing and I would have loved it more if the readers knew what was going on and Dan didn't.
Nevertheless, the author puts a new erotic spin on an old mystery trope. The sex scenes were entertaining and action scenes abundant. If there's nothing exciting happening, then we get to read about Dan's emotional turmoil over Jody. I would recommend this to fans of M/M erotica with a mystery plot.
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