Thursday, February 19, 2015

Life Lessons by Kaje Harper

Synopsis From Publisher:

Tony Hart's life has been quiet lately.  He has good friends and a rewarding teaching job.  Then the murdered body of another teacher falls into the elevator at his feet, and Tony's life gets a little too exciting.

Jared MacLean is a homicide detective, a widowed father, and deeply in the closet.  But form the moment he meets Tony's blue eyes in that high school hallway, Mac can't help wanting this man in his life.  However Mac isn't the only one with his eyes on Tony.  As the murderer tries to cover his tracks, Mac has to work fast or lose Tony, permanently.

I've always wondered if I would have the strength to date a man in the closet.  Part of me, the selfish part of me, doesn't think I could do it.  I've been coming out since my Sophomore year in high school, and I know dating someone who is not out, would force me to go back in.  I wouldn't be able to share the relationship with anyone in my life, we couldn't go out in public, and I would constantly be freaking out, scared to death that the man I was with would decide the closet was more important than me.  Then there is the side of me that hopes I could understand, and be accepting of the reasons he was in the closet.  I actually did start dating a guy in the Air Force, before Don't Ask, Don't Tell was revoked, but my life was a little too chaotic at the time, and I really never did give the guy much of a chance.  I get that some men stay in the closet because of their job, and I would hope if I was put in the situation where I found myself dating one of them, I could be understanding and supportive.  I know if I was in Tony's shoes, and the guy in the closet was Jared MacLean, I would do anything to make sure that man stayed in my life.

Tony is adorable, and probably one of the most open and likable characters I've come across in a long time.  He has such a good heart, loves what he does, and really wants to make a difference in the world.  He's inquisitive, isn't afraid to fight for what he wants, and is a truly honorable and loyal friend.  His life is turned upside down when the murder victims falls on top of him, and nothing in his life will be the same.  He is attracted to Jared from the start, but assumes the man is straight.  As the story progresses, and the danger to his own body becomes more severe, Tony doesn't lose himself.  Even when he is almost killed, and his best friend loses his life, Tony's heart doesn't close off, nor does he allow himself to grow bitter.  And when things start to progress with Jared, as he falls in love with Jared, even though he knows Jared is so far in the closet, he goes for it.  He allows his heart to want what it wants, and even though he knows it may not last, he's willing to go with it.  Even when he's kidnapped, and in serious danger of being killed, Tony has faith in Jared, has faith in himself, and has the courage to do what's needed.

In his own way, even in the closet, Jared is a man on honor and integrity.  He has a daughter, but he has never slept with a woman.  He married his wife to keep her in the country.  She was a young woman who was brought to this country as a bride to a rich white guy.  When he turned abusive, and started pimping her out, she did what she could to get through it, and when the time was right, she tried to go to the police.  Jared, being the young, idealistic police officer that he was, married her to keep her from being deported, and to provide a father for her unborn child.  When she died from cancer, he took the responsibility for raising his daughter seriously, and every decision since then, including staying in the closet, was with the thought of giving her the best life he could.  He is a dedicated detective, who can turn on the charm and get any witness or suspect to open up to him.  His attraction to Tony is instant, and can't be denied.

The two of them together makes a supremely hot couple.  They compliment each other in ways I can only dream of finding in a partner, but they aren't perfect.  The closet, no matter how much Tony wants to understand the need for it, is a mighty big weight on the relationship.  Of course it also doesn't help that Tony keeps finding himself in danger,and Jared is never allowed to show how important he is to him, even when he is negotiating with the man holding him captive. As a reader, while you know they are going to have bumps and obstacles in their relationship, they are one of those couples you can't help but fall in love with.  You know that nothing will make them stop loving each other, and you know they will do everything they can to make sure their relationship works, even if those around them aren't even aware of it.

Since I'm sure you guys are just as curious about the mystery aspect of it, and since I don't want to spoil it too much for you, I will just take a few quick sentences to tell you about it.  I have to admit that when I started reading m/m romance books, I wasn't expecting the writing to be that great.  Boy, have I been wrong.  This has a supremely well written mystery, with all the right plot twists and built in suspense to keep picky mystery lovers, like myself, fully engaged in the story.  I'm not saying it's Agatha Christie level plotting, but I would put it up against most of the "cozy" stuff that is being written today.  I will admit that I didn't pick up on who the murderer was right away, though once the story is finished, I was able to pinpoint the scene where the first clue to his identity was revealed.  The characterization of everyone involved is spot on, and the motive is fairly easy to understand.   It's a well crafted mystery, and I know if some of my friends could get over the m/m romance aspect of the book, they would thoroughly enjoy it.

This is the first book, in a four part series, so I'm looking forward to bringing the other books to your attention.  I'm just hoping that I can convince some of you to give them a shot.

Challenges: A-Z Mystery, Men In Uniform

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