Home The Hard Way by Z.A. Maxfield draws on many a person’s nightmare of returning to their hometown in disgrace. Detective Dare Buckley left the town of Paladian at the age of fourteen immediately after his father committed suicide. He left behind the unresolved mystery of why his father chose to end his life, as well as something else—something he loved, Finn Fowler. Finn was just a young boy, only nine years old, and still he held Dare in such high regard, almost like his own personal hero. In fact, Dare had been just that for Finn. From the very first time Dare pulled another boy off of Finn at the school playground, the two became nearly inseparable despite their five-year age difference.
But time has passed and Dare resolutely left Finn’s letters unanswered for years. Now, he is back in town and carries with him a deep sense of shame over having allowed his lust to lead him to bedding a key suspect in a child’s murder case and his subsequent forced resignation. The hometown hardly welcomes Dare back, yet there are still a few who remember him and his Dad and are willing to give him a second chance. Finn reluctantly allows Dare back into his life, but Finn is no longer that timid boy Dare recalls. No, in fact Finn harbors some very deep and dark secrets, one of which is the key to unlocking the mystery surrounding the suicide of Dare’s father. And the other? That secret may very well spell the end of any potential for Finn and Dare to ever have a loving relationship as equal partners.
Author Z.A. Maxfield explores the dark side of each of us by drawing characters that seem so very ordinary, so very real. Both Finn and Dare are fractured. They bring with them such incredible guilt, pain, and need that it rolls off of them like a living thing. For Finn, the loss of his mother who was in essence the town whore and the subsequent loss of his childhood hero, Dare, was enough to erect a wall around his heart, leaving him unable to trust and love. He does not do boyfriends and he does not have relationships, rather he sees and fulfills a need in the men that come to him for his particular brand of help.
Dare lives a life full of self-hate and gut wrenching fear that his next screw up is right around the corner. He drinks himself into forgetfulness and tries so hard to reconnect with the one person who has always held a piece of his heart, Finn Fowler. These two collide in a town where everybody knows your business and where memories and grudges are long lasting. On top of it all, someone has targeted Finn and is determined to kill him. Now Dare must race against time to find out just how many secrets are buried in his former home town and how deeply the one man he thought he could trust is involved.
Home the Hard Way was an exceptionally thrilling mystery. When you least expected it, this story would take another turn, twist itself inside out and leave you gasping at what had just happened and how it affected every character in the book. Lies and secrets smolder beneath the surface and when the truth comes out, nearly every person is somehow a part of the conspiracy.
Z.A. Maxfield writes an incredibly fascinating and action packed story that builds relentlessly to the last page. I love it when a novel has no throw away characters but rather weaves them together in such an intricate way that they inevitably rub up against one another with serious ramifications. Home the Hard Way is a romance, a redemptive tale and a hard and fast mystery. It was an exciting story and I highly recommend it to you!