Learning Curve (Life Lessons #4) by Kaje Harper #MMRomance #LGBTQ #DuoReview #Audiobook #Mystery

Erryn and Dana review Learning Curve (Life Lessons Book 4) by Kaje Harper. (Ebook re-published January 27, 2022, 386 pages. Audiobook released November 16, 2022. Narrated by J.F. Harding. 11 hours and 17 minutes in length.)

To read our review of Life Lessons (Life Lessons Book 1) click here.

To read our review of Breaking Cover (Life Lessons Book 2) click here.

To read our review of Home Work (Life Lessons Book 3) click here.

Mac is afraid he won’t recover enough to go back to being a cop; Tony’s afraid that he will.

Three months after being injured, Detective Jared MacLean is healing, but he’s afraid it may not be enough to go back on the job. He won’t give up, though. Being a cop is written deep in Mac’s bones, and he’ll do whatever it takes to carry his badge again.

Tony used to wish he could have Mac safely home, but watching his strong husband battle disabilities is far from Tony’s dream come true. When Mac is asked to consult on a case involving one of Tony’s students, both men will have to face old demons and new fears to find a way to move forward together.

(This is a lightly edited rerelease of the 2013 original, bringing Mac and Tony to their HEA.content warning for a domestic abuse case, suicide.)

©2013, 2022 Kaje Harper (P)2022 Kaje Harper


Buy links: Audible | Amazon | Add to Goodreads

Erryn’s review:

I’ve loved this series so very much.  I’ll start with the fantastic – and even heroic – narration by J.F. Harding.  I thought book 3’s narration was stellar – this one was even better!  Mac is recovering from being shot in the head and he still has a lingering brain injury.  His speech is stilted and sometimes his mind is slow to find the right words.  J.F. manages every nuance of this.  He gets the timing right so I’m struggling right along with Mac. He manages to get the words perfect as they’re written – jumbled as they might be at times. I can’t even express how amazing his work was on this great book.

Okay, on to the book.  There’s a lot going on in this story.  Mac’s still recovering.  Tony’s still fretting – he’s worried about his cop husband going back to work.  He’s also got a student he’s worried about and a vice-principal hellbent on making things way more difficult than they need to be.  For the record, I enjoyed the scene where the students made their opinions clear.

When Mac’s called in to ‘consult’ on a case, he’s thrilled.  He might not always have the right words, but the skilled interrogator is still in there, yearning to come out.  He might not be ready to head back out on the street with a gun at this point, but he can sit down with recalcitrant witnesses, victims, and perpetrators and elicit confessions.  I viscerally felt his joy in feeling useful again.

Except this brings back the stress of having two working parents and juggling two children.  I adore Ben and Anna – they bring something special to the book as I watched Tony and Mac navigate parenthood.  Ben’s special day was magical as far as I was concerned.  Anyway, Tony’s parents have moved to town and there’s nothing like the power of loving grandparents.  But Ben’s other grandparents – his bio mom’s parents – are still basically homophobic and cruel.  I wanted them out of the picture, but that’s not always the solution to tough problems.

The plotline that hit hardest for me was Mac’s mother.  I won’t give away what happens, but I’m facing a similar situation and wondering what’s going to happen when that day comes for me.  As always, with Tony’s support, Mac makes it through.

I adored the dénouement of the mystery when things all came together.  Basically, I loved everything about this book and I think everyone should pick it up.  I especially recommend reading them in order.  I’m sad to see this end, but it’ll be a comfort to be able to pick the series up again and again.

Erryn’s rating:

10/10 Points of Gold (100% Recommended) – Compares to 5/5 Stars

Dana’s review: 

At the end of the last book, Mac was hurt on the job and it was clear he was going to need some recovery time before he could resume his job as a police detective. Tony was, of course, devastated by Mac’s injury. While he helped him in his recovery process, it has to be said that Tony would be happy if Mac never returned. The danger of Mac’s job is a little stressful on their relationship, but I love that Tony isn’t a selfish person. If I was in his place, I am sure I would have the same feelings as him, but he knows that Mac loves his job and is good at it, so he puts aside his fears and hopes for the best.

Despite Mac being on medical leave, a young man with Mac’s name and number is found at a murder scene and Mac is called in to help consult. The college boy used to be in Tony’s class and the dead man is his father’s boyfriend. He only trusts Mac to make sure his father isn’t immediately suspected because of his sexual orientation. The mystery is interesting in this book, but it features mostly as a background to keep the characters busy.

Most of the angst I felt in the first three books has been eliminated. Sure, Mac and Tony will still struggle.  Every couple and family will face problems here and there. Mac’s confidence in his ability to do his job has been shaken; Tony has to deal with his fears and want what’s best for Mac. They have two young kids, Ben and Anna, and Tony is working to adopt Ben.  A concern has also risen at school about Tony’s role as the head of the gay-straight alliance. Mac’s family is finally introduced and we learn his childhood wasn’t a happy time. But it does explain why Mac joined the police force and why he wants to help others. There are a lot of things going on for these two, but their relationship is stronger than ever, and they face these problems together.

I have really enjoyed this series. At times, you could definitely tell that the original story was written years before more freedoms were extended towards the LGBTQ community. It doesn’t take away from feeling for these characters and their struggles, though. I am hoping there are more books to come, but if there somehow isn’t, I feel content in my heart with where they are right now. J.F. Harding’s narration was the cherry on top of this awesome sundae. He embodies the characters so well, even the kids, and he really brings the emotions to the next level. I definitely recommend this book and the whole series.

Dana’s rating:

10/10 Points of Gold (100% Recommended) – Compares to 5/5 Stars

I get asked about my name a lot. It’s not something exotic, though. “Kaje” is pronounced just like “cage” – it’s an old nickname, and my pronouns are she/her/hers. I’ve been writing far longer than I care to admit (*whispers – forty-five years*), although mostly for my own entertainment. I write M/M romance, often with added mystery, fantasy, historical, SciFi, paranormal… I also have Young Adult short stories (some released under the pen name Kira Harp.)

After decades of writing just for fun, my husband convinced me I really should submit something, somewhere. My first professionally published book, Life Lessons, came out in May 2011. I now have a good-sized backlist in ebooks and print, both free and professionally published, including Amazon bestseller The Rebuilding Year and Rainbow Award Best Mystery-Thriller Tracefinder: Contact. A complete list with links can be found on my website “Books” page at https://kajeharper.com/books/.

Social Media Links

Audible Profile  |  Blog/Website  |  Newsletter Sign-up

Facebook | Facebook Group: Kaje’s Conversation Corner  

Goodreads Author page  | BookBub

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