Dana reviews the audiobook ‘Home the Hard Way’ by Z.A. Maxfield (Published by Riptide Publishing, July 28, 2014, 374 pages. Audiobook released November 3, 2016, 11 hrs 27 min. Narrated by Shannon Gunn)
Why I read this: This week we are reviewing books that have already been reviewed by another reviewer. This book sounded very interesting, and I had the audiobook so it seemed like a good time to listen. To read the previous review by Bethany click here.
Dare Buckley has come home – or at least, he’s come back to Palladian, the small town he left as a teenager. After a major lapse in judgment forced him to resign from the Seattle PD, Palladian is the only place that’ll hire him. There’s one benefit to hitting rock bottom, though: the chance to investigate the mystery of his father’s suicide.
Dare also gets to reacquaint himself with Finn Fowler, whose childhood hero worship ended in uncomfortable silence when Dare moved away. But Finn isn’t the same little kid Dare once protected. He’s grown into an attractive, enigmatic stranger who neither wants nor needs what Dare has to offer.
In fact, Dare soon realizes that Finn’s keeping secrets – his own and the town’s. And he doesn’t seem to care that Dare needs answers. The atmosphere in Palladian, like its namesake river, appears placid, but dark currents churn underneath. When danger closes in, Dare must pit his ingenuity against his heart, and find his way home the hard way.
The narration: I’ve listened to a book or two narrated by Shannon Gunn before and I think this was my favorite. He voiced the characters well, and when required his voice was very sexy. I would definitely listen to him again.
The story: I have to admit that I was really drawn in by this blurb. Who doesn’t love a book about secrets? I am a naturally curious person – some people might call it nosey 😉 – so I definitely wanted to know what secrets Finn and the town had. The story starts right away with a current death in Finn’s Aunt Lyddie’s beauty shop. Dare is only recently back in his hometown and arrives at the beauty shop to investigate the death. Though it appears to be from natural causes, Dare’s experience on a big city police force has trained him to treat everything as suspicious. Little did he know that his questioning things, would unearth a lot more than what happened to the victim.
Before Dare left Palladian, he appointed himself as Finn’s protector. Finn was much younger and his mother’s reputation was mud around town. I felt for Finn as I learned about his old life. Between his mom not being around much, and the bullies at school, his personal relationships were with his aunt and Dare, who he had a case of hero-worship for. Dare’s dad was a police officer and it sounded as if Dare was a popular kid. He had a heart of gold though, and took Finn under his wing when he saw him being bullied. After his father committed suicide, he and his mother left town.
When Dare returned, he was full of guilty feelings. First, for the events that led to him losing his last job. His mistakes have cost him his trust in himself. Second, was the feeling that he let Finn down when he left and stopped communicating with him. Though he has been mostly with women, Dare is bisexual and seeing Finn again stirs up attraction. Finn is gay, and though he was victimized in high school, he holds all the power in the affairs he has. As a result he has closed his heart off from loving anyone but his sickly aunt. Dare has a long road to winning him over if he wants anything permanent, and he might just need to learn to submit while he is at it.
I can’t say how much I enjoyed this story. There were all the right elements to keep me glued to listening to it through the eleven and a half hours. The chemistry was hot between Dare and Finn, though the romance was a much slower burn. The mystery of the dead woman led Dare into an investigation that had roots in Dare and Finn’s shared history. It was one of the few books where I had no idea who really committed the crimes that take place. Though this is only the second book I’ve read from this author, I can see myself putting her on my autobuy list. I definitely recommend this story to any fan in the m/m romance genre.
9.5/10 Pots of Gold (95% Recommended) – Compares to 4.75/5 Stars
Z. A. Maxfield started writing in 2007 on a dare from her children and never looked back.
Pathologically disorganized, and perennially optimistic, she writes as much as she can, reads as much as she dares, and enjoys her time with family and friends.
Three things reverberate throughout all her stories: Unconditional love, redemption, and the belief that miracles happen when we least expect them. If anyone asks her how a wife and mother of four can find time for a writing career, she’ll answer, “It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you give up housework.”