The Harder He Falls
The Harder He Falls is the first book in Lynda Aicher’s new series, which follows the lives and loves of the men involved with extreme sports company, Kick. This first novel involves Grady Kelley, who has just started working for Kick as a white water rafting guide. Grady joined the company to work with his cousin Finn, who helped set it up, and has been there a month. Right at the beginning of the story, we learn how close Grady and Finn are and that Finn is currently in a coma after an accident for which Grady blames himself. Grady is currently suspended from work pending an investigation of the accident.
Micah Swaine is a bartender at a BDSM leather club. They meet when Micah is reading a sexy BDSM novel to the unconscious Finn in the hospital. Grady is incredibly ungracious to Micah, who volunteers to read to coma patients because it turns out he was once in a coma himself for several weeks. Micah offers to answer any questions Grady might have and suggests he meet him at the bar he works for, as he has to go to do his shift.
This opens the way for these two men to get to know each other and explore the obvious physical attraction between them. Their meeting doesn’t quite go as expected and includes Micah suffering from what seems to be a seizure or balance problem, in the bar.
The Harder He Falls,is basically the story of two men who have had a hard time and how differently they deal with their problems. Grady is so full of guilt, angst and self-pity that he is spiralling downwards into panic and despair. Whereas Micah has severe issues to deal with every day as the result of his coma, but he deals with them with grace, self-deprecation, and many coping strategies. Micah is a big man with a big heart and although, I am sure, the story is meant to show how the two of them save each other, it’s really very one-sided. They have a mantra not saving, helping, which is applied to various situations, but I’m afraid I found Grady rather annoying by the end.
The writing is good and confident, but relies on my least favourite trope – ‘I’m not good enough for them, they are better off without me’. I nearly always find myself saying ‘let them decide that!’ Although, the bar/club is a leather bar and it turns out all the partners at Kick are Doms, it isn’t a BDSM novel per se. I liked the idea that Micah was dominant but not a Dom and Grady had submissive elements about him, but was not a sub. The author then ruined what could have been an interesting quirk by reminding the reader that Grady had a bad experience of a Dom in the past, but wasn’t a sub, on almost every page. For such a highly experienced author this part was written with a very heavy touch.
There is no white water rafting or sports within the story, but as The Harder He Falls is the introductory novel, I’m sure that side will pick up as the Kick series progresses. I suspect the same can be said for the BDSM side. This was an enjoyable read despite my reservations, and I might give book two a try.