Author: Z. A. Maxfield
Genre: Romantic Suspense/D/s
Length: Novel (374 Pages)
Publisher: Riptide Publishing (July 27th, 2014)
Heat Level: Explicit
Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥4.5Hearts
Blurb: 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.
Product Link: http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/home-the-hard-way
Review: I swear this book should begin with the phrase, “A dark and stormy night…” The whole image, feel, and plot of this story had a dark, malevolent feel to it. Much like the wastewater in the river, the townspeople were toxic. The question is why, and what will wash away the evil that is lurking in the shadows on those dark and stormy nights?
From the beginning, the author makes us feel some kind of dark threat in Finn, from his lurking behavior in the parking lot, to his quite connectedness to Bill the bully.
We know that Finn is hiding something, from the reason behind his limp, to what his side work may be. But what is the big secret? I admit to thinking even darker nefarious thoughts about Finn’s connection to Dare’s father’s death, glad that wasn’t the case, but the end was still surprising.
The writing was smooth, though my favorite aspect was that the environment in the story reflected the emotional and behavioral state of the main characters. I like those layers in a good mystery, and Maxfield slips them in as more people get involved in the plot and Dare’s attachment to Finn grows stronger even though it could ruin him the same way his career was destroyed in Seattle.
All in all a dark tale, a mystery that kept me on the hook until the end, and a sizzling sexual heat between Dare and Finn that kept me on my toes the whole time. A great read, I’d definitely recommend!