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.
Holy crap was this book hot.
Author James Lear combines a great mystery with some of the hottest erotic fiction I’ve ever read. Dan Stagg is a very likeable narrator with a complex backstory. Typically, I’m not fond of first-person narrative, but Dan is one of the few examples of first-person that I truly enjoy.
Dan was in love, once, and then his whole world ended. His lover died and Dan got kicked out of the military for being gay. Now, he struggles to make ends meet. Throughout The Hardest Thing, Dan grows, he heals from his past, he accepts what’s been done, and he risks his heart with Stirling (the young male secretary from the cover blurb). We get some nice backstory, appropriately placed and meaningfully written, of Dan’s history with Will, his lover from the military… it makes the developments in this book all the more meaningful.
Stirling is an interesting character, too. When we first meet him, he is very annoying. He’s, like, the stereotypical New York gay man, but when the shit hits the fan and that facade drops, we get some insights into who Stirling really is. And, you know what? He’s quite likeable.
Then there’s the whole problem of people wanting to kill them. That kind of makes falling in love difficult.
And holy hell is the sex in this book hot. The sex between Dan and Stirling, which happens throughout the first half, is very hot and enjoyable. But then in the second half, it almost turns porn-ish (but very high quality porn-ish), what with all the random blowjobs, truck stop bathroom aggressive hookups, and gym showers/sauna sex. I made the mistake of reading a chapter, the one with the aggressive group sex in a dirty truck stop bathroom, while on my break at work. Thankfully no one noticed my *cough* physiological reactions *cough* to the chapter.
This is one of those rare books where I have no negative comments, only positive. I see the cover says “A Dan Stagg Mystery” — I really hope that implies there are more books to come. If there are, I’m definitely reading them. Just not at work.