Home the Hard Way
I love flawed characters. They make a story so much more interesting. I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t want to read about a perfect hero and heroine (or in this case, hero and hero.) I want the characters to be approachable, and since I am in no way perfect, I want to read about people like me. I think this is a fairly universal thing. But the problem comes in trying to make someone a flawed but likeable character – it is such a fine line to tread. I was hopeful for Home the Hard Way, but sadly it just didn’t quite hit the spot.
Dare Buckley is back home in small town Palladian, a place he thought he left behind with the memories of his father’s suicide as a teenager, after leaving the Seattle Police Department in disgrace. Apparently, Palladian was the only place to offer him a job. Not long after Dare returns, however, a suspicious death in the local beauty shop, currently run by none other than Finn Fowler, a childhood friend who worshiped Dare as a hero. But Finn is nothing like he remembers, and Dare is having trouble adjusting to his old hometown even before he starts to realize how many secrets are hiding beneath the small-town vibe, including those around his father’s death.
First, I have to get this off my chest – some things should just not be a surprise. Specifically in this book, surprise BDSM did not work for me. There was absolutely no lead in, just one character watching as the other character played out a scene ending with a “good boy” moment – it just didn’t fit, and I had no idea we would be playing in a dom/sub sort of world. I have no problems reading books that include power play or bondage, or whathaveyou, but there should be some hint of it either in a summary, or earlier on in the story. And there really were other issues with that particular part of the story as well. For example, inebriation does not equal consent. It’s an irresponsible person,or an especially irresponsible dom, who would accept a decision to enter that lifestyle for the first time while drunk. Seriously, it bears repeating: DRUNK =/= CONSENT!
That being said, there were some really lovely things hiding in here. Dare is a wonderfully messed-up hero. He’s looking for a place to belong, dealing with depression and some serious alcohol issues, and falling head over heels for Finn. Throughout the book, Dare isn’t fighting his feelings for his friend – he is surprisingly upfront about his homosexuality for a law enforcement character in a small town. His issues stem more from the alcoholism and the dominance/submission issues he wasn’t expecting. Finn’s Aunt Lyddie is also quite wonderful – the story is structured in part around her end of life experiences, and her desire to see Finn with someone who makes him happy. Unfortunately, Finn was a bit of a disappointment. His absolute refusal to try for a real relationship (“I have sex, I don’t have boyfriends” to paraphrase) or compromise when Dare is willing to try really hit all the wrong buttons for me. I had trouble believing they would get their happily ever after, and I’m still not quite convinced.
I am still not sure what to think about this one, honestly. I was really excited to read this – the story seemed an interesting take on the hometown hero trope, but while the writing was good and the small town setting felt real, it just didn’t work for me. I’d definitely give the author another shot, though, because I really enjoyed her writing style. I just hope she doesn’t have more surprise BDSM – I want to know what I’m going to be reading, and not be blindsided by it.