Series: Life Lessons, Book #1
Author: Kaje Harper
Genre: Romantic Suspense, M/M Romance
Sensuality Rating: Erotic
Source: review copy from publisher
Published: May 3, 2011 by MLR Press
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 from 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.
Reviewed By: J9
In a Nutshell: Stellar romance with plenty of heart and heat set in a murder mystery.
The Set Up: Tony Hart is a high school teacher who witnesses a fellow teacher’s brutal murder. Detective Maclean is the lead investigator. Tony is immediately attracted to Mac but Mac is deeply in the closet. The killer then stalks Tony and it’s up to Mac to keep him safe.
Why I Read this Book: This is on a lot of Best of MM Romance lists so had to try it even though I’m not a huge mystery fan.
What I Liked: The romance between Tony and Mac progresses realistically. Their attraction doesn’t overwhelm who they are as characters, or the plot, and I loved this balance. Mac and Tony appear to be total opposites but they fit each other in a way neither expected and this makes their romance highly intense. The relationship conflict is natural to their characters and not because either character does stupid things. Their emotional intensity matches their growing sexual intensity and both were highly satisfying for me. I also like the exploration of how Mac wants to have a relationship with Tony and if Tony can live “on the down low.” This isn’t always an easy romance since all their problems aren’t magically fixed just because they fall in love but I think the romance was richer because of this.
What I Also Liked: Even though I’m not normally a mystery reader, the suspense was a great part of the story and didn’t overshadow the romance. Mac and Tony spend a lot of time following clues to unravel the murder and how it intersects with Tony supplied plenty of action for me.
I like erotic books as much as the next reader but what I adore is erotic romance with a plot and that’s what I got in this book. The sex scenes aren’t the meat (ah!) of the plot but the spice and that was a perfect balance for me.
What I Didn’t Like: I don’t like it when secondary characters die in books. It’s a childish, unsophisticated taste of mine that I want HEAs for everyone, including secondary characters so I was sad when one died.
Second, Tony is injured A LOT in this book. Tony spends most of the book physically injured and Mac and he have sex during this part of the book. This seemed like a contrived romance trope that a person who’s in and out of the hospital can be physically capable of so much sexy time. But it’s a romance so I’ll forgive the implausibility of this.
IMO: MM romantic suspense fans will love this book as I did. I suspect they’ll also be like me and eagerly devour the next two books.