Home the Hard Way

Z. A. Maxfield
Home the Hard Way
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Riptide Publishing
Release Date
July 2014
BDSM, Contemporary Romance, LGBTQ

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.

Book Review by Pat Henshaw (author,reviewer)
Jul 22, 2014   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
233 people found the following review helpful
Old secrets turn to murder as a disgraced police detective returns home to find old friends aren't quite as he remembered them and that love is lurking in the shadows for him.

Former Seattle detective Dare Buckley comes back to his hometown with his tail between his legs after a grave misstep in judgment which nearly let a killer go free. On the surface, the town looks the same as when he left it after his father killed himself. Shy, retiring Finn Fowler is still being bullied by Bill Fraser, who is now one of Dare's fellow cops.

Once again, Dare is attracted to Finn and wants to protect him as he did before Dare's mother moved the family away to start a new life. But Finn has his hands full taking care of his dying aunt who was more mother to him than his slut of a mother was. As if that weren't enough, Finn is working two jobs, one at the local big box store and managing his aunt's beauty salon. Although he'd like to, Finn doesn't have time for Dare.

When a woman drops dead in the beauty salon, no one thinks it's murder until other mysterious deaths occur. As Dare begins to tear the rose-colored glasses from his eyes, he realizes that not only isn't Finn the man he once knew, neither are many of his other neighbors in town.

This is a typical Z.A. Maxfield story in that neither the plot nor the characters are what they seem on the surface and the complicated ties between the various relationships can easily be misinterpreted by someone who doesn't look below the surface.

Dare might seem to be a tough, seasoned detective from a much bigger pond than his tiny hometown. But his recent faux pas in Seattle is the telling thread to his character. Dare comes back ready to see everyone as he had after his father shot himself and his mother moved them away.

Dare's naiveté is startling against the strength and power Finn has developed through the years. Not only has his place in the fabric of the town solidified, but in many ways he's hardened and become calloused. Finn's complexity is at once harder to understand and perplexing. Without giving away spoilers, I wasn't convinced that some of the ways he and the older generation of men got along were plausible, especially considering the amount of guilt among them.

Extending from that, the relationship between Finn and Dare became a little unbelievable once or twice, making me wonder why as Dare's eyes were opened to what was happening around him and how people in town had changed, he still felt close to a Finn who was so far removed from the one he left.

Aside from those niggling moments, the story resounds with the intrigue and complications of perceptions to be gripping and spellbinding.
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