There is no grief like the grief that does not speak.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
I knew as soon as I finished reading The Hardest Thing that it was going to be really hard for me to review this book. I’m not a writer so how can I possibly put into words how much I enjoyed this book? How to describe how much I laughed and cringed? How much I didn’t want this crazy story to end?
The Hardest Thing is a tightly wound mystery novel. The story revolves around Dan Stagg, a tough ex-marine, who’s discharged for “inappropriate sexual relations”. We all know what that means. His years of living DADT caught up with him after his lover Will was killed by a sniper’s bullet in Afghanistan and his career began to unravel from his grief. It was extremely heartbreaking reading about Dan and Will’s struggle to hold down a relationship in a very hostile military environment. They could not show affection for each other, or Dan show his devastation when Will was killed. There where teases of the past, and this just made me want to read more of Dan and Will’s story together.
A couple of years later, Dan finds himself working as a bouncer in a downtown club. He lives in a shabby apartment and only has sex if he’s drunk. He tries not to think of Will but that doesn’t always work. His pain practically jumps of the page. He hates the downward spiral his life has taken. A chain of events changes his fortune. He lands a job as a bodyguard to a rich guy’s male “secretary”. The job is to take the “secretary” out of town for a couple of days. Simple but extremely complicated. Dan’s not a stupid guy but a desperate one, who’ll do stupid things.
Dan’s world is thrown into a tailspin when the “secretary”, a blond Sterling McMahon. walks in wearing too short shorts, a too short top and sucking on an iced drink. As soon as the two meet there’s major sexual tension. It was fun finding out if Dan slammed Sterling up against a wall or if Sterling seduced Dan. Dan gets his payment, a gun and no questions asked. And so the adventure begins.
They go out of town to New Hampshire. On the way there, things get interesting fast once Dan and Sterling fall into bodyguard/ward with benefits relationship. And when they do get together it’s pretty good. Through sex, lots and lots of crazy hot sex, Dan and Sterling develop feelings towards each other. Dan is surprised that he can have these feelings after Will. Dan is torn because he feels that he’s betraying Will in having feelings for Sterling. But the heart wants what the heart wants. Sterling begins to open up and the truth emerges about his situation. Sterling’s real name is Jodi and he’s involved with organized crime and someone wants him dead. But it’s not the whole truth and Dan is beginning to suspect that he was hired for a totally different reason. Everything is not as it seems. The story takes unexpected twists and turns, characters enter and exit which I’m not going to give away because this book is definitely worth reading.
This is the first book that I have read by Mr. Lear and I was totally blown away. The story was beautifully written. It was funny and heartbreaking at times. It made me care about Dan and Jodi and want them to have a happy ending. But as in real life, I’m not sure that’s possible for them.
If you love reading sexy, character driven stories, then this book is a must.
Reviewed by: Lana