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Home the Hard Way by Z. A. Maxfield

Home the Hard Way

by Z. A. Maxfield

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214495,208 (3.56)None



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ok so at 30% I got shocked, I'm horrified and intrigued. I just hope it doesn't get too...intense; such things make me abandon books. ( )
  lulumiami | Sep 3, 2017 |
I'm having a hard time deciding how I feel about this book. I finished it last night, with time to review it, but waited until today in order to consider my own response to it. You see, I can't decide if I didn't like certain aspects of the story full stop or if I just didn't like that it wasn't the story I wanted it to be (if that distinction makes any sense outside of my head).

Before I talk more about that let me add here that I like erotica. Not that I would qualify this as erotica, there isn't that much sex in it. But my point is that I have no problem with sex in books. I like a lot of m/m romances. I also like finding a little surprise kink thrown into either one. So, my complaint isn't based just on not liking D/s, BDSM, rope and/or pain play in the book. (Though, I have to admit, anytime a character refers to something by its name, like 'pain play,' it feels too proper to be realistic to me. It rings the same cringe-bell as stiff dialogue in my head. But that's a whole 'nother matter altogether.)

Having said all that, I didn't like the BDSM, etc. aspect of this book. I think it was probably well written; that's not my complaint. And it was kinda hot; that's not my beef either. It just didn't feel natural in the story. This is the first Z. A. Maxfield book I've ever read, so I'm not coming from a place of comparative knowledge. But to me it FELT like it was all thrown in just to catch readers from the current D/s popularity wave. I don't know if it really was, but that's how it felt to me.

You see, Dare comes home to Palladian with no discernible interest in being dominated in any fashion. Doesn't even seem to be consciously aware of the lifestyle. But on meeting up with Finn he immediately starts wanting things he's never wanted before. He allows Finn control he'd never previously even considered giving up and he does it with no discussion, explanation or even verbal request (from either party). Now, consent is very clearly established, as are stop words and such. I don't mean anything like that. I just mean there must have been some psychic communication going on for Finn to know what Dare wanted and for Dare to know Finn could/would provide it, especially on Dare's part.

I did like Dare and Finn. Don't get me wrong. I liked them. I just kept thinking that the things they were doing didn't fit the otherwise sweet romance that was trying desperately to establish itself. This is also were my 'did I just not like it' or 'did I not like that the blurb sent me in expecting something else' internal debate comes in. Either way, it was jarring to me.

Then there was the whole Fraser twist. Surprisingly, I also like Fraser. I had fewer problems with he and Finn's activities than Finn and Dare's. It felt more natural there, maybe because it had had years to develop. However, unless there is going to be a sequel that deals with Fraser and his issues I'd have to call it a giant loose end.

I also liked the, I believe the phrase is penetration politics. Dare is your average hulking police alpha (as is Fraser), Finn is as you would expect. He's smaller, finer boned, prettier, gayer (or at least more openly so). Based on m/m norms you would expect Dare & Fraser to top almost exclusively. It was nice to see this trope played with.

The mystery was a good one. It wasn't too hard to figure the historic aspect of it out. It was pretty obvious, actually. But that obviousness just made the part happening in 'real-time' more interesting because you had this tantalising part of the puzzle that Dare didn't.

The writing and editing were both pretty good. I was a bit bothered by all the full names. Palladian is meant to be a pretty small town and everyone's supposed to have known each other since childhood. So I can't imagine they'd so often need a full name to identify someone. I also thought the author had a few catchall phrases she repeated (the plug & socket comparison, for example). But really these are minuscule complaints in the grand scheme of things.

I'm feeling fairly torn about how I feel or how I want to rate this book. So, I'm splitting the difference with a 3 and a bit. ( )
  SadieSForsythe | Feb 24, 2016 |
Review by Karen at ScuttlebuttReviews

This book deals with some fairly heavy issues, some more successfully than others.

I found the character of Dare initially more sympathetic than Finn, mainly because he appeared to be much more open about what he wanted, and accepting of what he needed from Finn and their relationship.

Finn was the more complicated of the two characters and at the end still seemed to have some emotional growing up to do, which in a book that seems to be a standalone was a little frustrating. However, by the end of the book, it was Finn I felt more connected to.

The BDSM element was an intriguing twist, the breaking down of barriers between Dare and Finn physically and emotionally was mirrored in the breaking down of the secrets that surrounded them.

The setting really worked for me, the small town with all the hidden secrets and lies with that feeling of twisted community. The supporting characters were well fleshed, especially Bill (who I felt should have his own story really). This supported the mystery element of the book, which for me was actually stronger than the romance element.

ZAM’s writing is excellent, she knows how to bring characters and plot together, and while I could admire the skill and enjoyed the book, I didn’t really feel the love. ( )
  ScuttlebuttReviews | Oct 24, 2014 |
I've read a lot of books by Maxfield and I must say that this is the first one that I had to make myself finish. I don't know if it was just me or if it was the book or what, but about halfway through I set it down to watch television and I never do that. I was generally interested until the scene next to the stream between the MC, Finn, and the cop, Bill. It just turned me off as I don't get off on humiliation. Then the other MC, Dare, seemed to change somehow. I just didn't see what Dare saw in Finn especially after keeping a major secret. This in no way turned me off from Maxfield's books cause I usually really like them.

Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. ( )
  amdrane2 | Aug 4, 2014 |
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added by gsc55 | editScuttlebutt Reviews, Karen (Oct 24, 2014)
added by gsc55 | editRainbow Gold Reviews, Bethany (Jul 31, 2014)
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added by gsc55 | editThe Blogger Girls, JustJen (Jul 29, 2014)
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