Sunday, August 24, 2014

HOME THE HARD WAY by Z.A. Maxfield

Publisher:               Riptide Publishing            
Published:               28/07/2014 
ISBN:                     978 1 62649 146 5
Genre:                   Romance, M/M, Mystery, BDSM
Book Format:          E-book        
Obtained via:          Publisher
Reviewed by:          Helena Stone,

Rating:                   3.5

Dare Buckley has returned to Palladian, the small town he lived in until a tragedy took him away when he was a teenager. He’s lost his job with the Seattle PD after a disastrous error of judgment, and Palladian is the only place that will hire him now. The only benefit to the forced and reluctant return is that it gives Dare the opportunity to investigate his father’s unexplained suicide.

Returning to Palladian also means reconnecting with Finn Fowler. When they were young Finn hero worshipped Dare to such an extent it made Dare feel uncomfortable enough to end all communication between them after he left. Things have changed though. Finn is no longer the little kid Dare remembers. He’s no longer helpless and he keeps his cards very close to his chest.

It isn’t long before Dare is torn between his attraction to Finn and everything the man has to offer and his doubts about whether he can trust the man who was like his shadow when they grew up. Dare has questions Finn seems to know the answers to but the younger man is disinclined to share.

As secrets, mysteries and danger close in, the two men have to rediscover each other and themselves. The secrets of the past have the power to destroy opportunities in the present. Coming home has never been harder.

I’m having a very hard time trying to figure out what to say about this book. It swept me from one extreme to another while I was reading. There were portions of this book I adored and drank in as slowly as I could just to savour them. And then there were sections of the story I couldn’t get through fast enough because they either irritated me or seemed to contradict the images I had formed in my mind.

In fact I had a love/hate relationship with both the characters and the story itself. When the book started I fell for Finn almost immediately while Dare left me cold. As the story unfolded that perception shifted. Dare seemed to become more defined as a character while Finn became ever more obscure. By the end of the book Dare had completely won me over but I still had reservations about Finn. Most importantly, I still had reservations about Finn being the right man for Dare. And since ‘Home the Hard Way’ is a romance, not quite seeing the connection between the two characters by the time the story ends is probably not what the author had in mind.

On the other hand – and this is where my dilemma becomes clear – I liked that the story kept me guessing. The mystery in this book wasn’t just who had committed murder, or who was after Finn, or what had happened to Dare’s father or even why things were happening. The far more intriguing mystery in this book was why the characters reacted the way they did and whether or not they’d be able to overcome whatever was holding them back for long enough to see that they might be good together.

The scenes describing Dare’s submission to Finn were breathtaking. Not only were they very hot, they also gave the reader a wonderful insight into everything going on in Dare’s head and all the conflicting emotions he was dealing with.

It is possible this book was just a little bit too dark for me. Most if not all characters in this story seem to have deep and at times heartbreaking issues. I can’t help feeling that the book would have benefitted from a bit of light relief here and there.

In short I would call this a mostly fascinating story with quite a few gorgeous scenes. The writing is good and the story keeps the reader guessing. If you like your stories a little bit darker with some clever plotting, a lot of emotion and sexy scenes, you’ll probably enjoy ‘Home the Hard Way’.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.


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