“When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back.” ― Paulo Coelho
***This review may contain spoilers from Home Work, the previous book in the Life Lessons series***
Learning Curve picks up three months from where Home Work left off. Mac is still on disability after being shot in the head while trying to apprehend a suspect. He still has trouble with certain aspects of his speech and his reflexes aren’t fast enough should another dangerous situation present itself. Tony is loving having Mac at home. Tony is still working as a high school English teacher and leading the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance. He is happy that Mac is there to help with their children, Ben and Anna. Tony is also happy that Mac is safe. As long as Mac is home, he can’t get hurt and Tony doesn’t have to worry about him every minute that he’s out of sight.
Mac, however, is working hard to get back to work. He works out, runs, does speech therapy and whatever else is needed. Tony is not looking forward to Mac returning to the police force. He will miss the help that Mac provides and he will again have to worry endlessly that he, and their children will lose Mac. In his heart, Tony wants to ask Mac to give up being a detective, but he can’t ask the man that he loves to give up that large a part of himself.
It seemed to me that Learning Curve provided a forum for Kaje Harper to tie up the loose ends from the three previous books in the Life Lessons series. The trial of the woman who shot Mac is one of them. The squaring away of permanent guardianship of Ben and Anna is another. We also see Mac recovering and wait to see to what degree he will return to his former self.
There was a minor plot involving the murder of a family member of one of Tony’s students. This seemed to be filler in between the loose ends. It wasn’t the major plot and while it did help us to see how Mac was recovering, it just didn’t feel like it was needed. Everything that progressed in Learning Curve could have done so without the murder story line.
A crisis in Mac’s family caused some chaos, but Ms. Harper didn’t follow it through. That could have been a significant part of the story in Learning Curve, but it was handled in less than one chapter. It could have been most of the book. There was so much left untouched there.
The sex in this entry in the series was hot and the love Tony and Mac felt for each other very evident. It was heartwarming to see their family come together in such a way that Tony and Mac were finally able to protect Ben and Anna from more distant family members with less than the kids’ best interests at heart. It was also satisfying to see Tony come to realize that Mac was a cop. Deep inside his soul, that’s what he was meant to be.
All in all, Learning Curve felt cobbled together. A bit of this story mixed with a touch of that story, an occasion for Tony to make a public statement about marriage equality which, while incredibly important, came from nowhere and led nowhere. I would have liked to see more of the potential realized. More than bits and pieces, it could have been a big juicy steak if it had lived up to its potential.