Hello, and welcome to Book Reviews and More by Kathy! Thanks Kathy for letting me (figuratively) visit from sunny California! My newest release is from Riptide Publishing. It’s called Home The Hard Way.
Here’s a sneak peek you won’t find anywhere but here and in the book:
Bill writhed beneath Dare’s knee. Whatever he and Finn had been talking about, he’d flipped his fucking lid, and it was all Dare could do to hold him down. Tony barreled out of his bar and pulled them apart with the help of Trent and Rob Evans.
Bill jerked away from them, standing poised to run, wild-eyed and huffing like a bull.
“Fraser. Buckley,” Tony yelled. “What the hell is this all about?”
Bill remained silent, so Dare took a chance.
“One more word about how I don’t deserve a job here, and I will knock your teeth down your throat.” Bill was too stunned to reply, so Dare was able to take a halfhearted swing at him.
Bill ducked out of the way and came back with a jab that caught Dare in the gut.
Right. Now Bill catches on.
Dare doubled over from the body blow. Even though his fight with Bill had sobered him up, his reflexes were slow. It took a while before he could drag air into his lungs. “Fuck you,” he sputtered. “You just can’t admit I saved your life this morning.”
“That’s not how I remember it,” Bill played along.
“Oh, yeah? What do you remember?”
“The way I remember it is I had to push your sorry ass behind a tree. You didn’t even realize you were in danger.”
“We’re all the star of our own fantasies.”
“That’s enough, Buckley,” Tony roared. “Fraser, take Buckley home.”
Both men turned to Tony and started arguing at once.
Dare said, “I’m fine, Tony, I don’t need a—”
“Take him home?” Bill pointed at Dare. “Why the hell should I?”
“Because I asked you to,” Tony told Bill. “Because you work together and you need to put aside your differences and your petty emotions and act like adults.”
“Yes, sir.” Bill let up first. “Buckley, my truck’s over here.”
Dare shrugged that off. “I don’t—”
“Can I talk to you for a minute, Dare?” Tony gripped Dare’s elbow and pulled him into the shadows.
Oh, Christ. Here it comes.
Dare hadn’t really thought about the consequences of his actions. He’d just seen Finn’s panic and the visceral fear in Bill’s eyes, and he’d gone with his instincts.
If the incident cost him his job, he had no one to blame but himself. Again.
He tried to meet Tony’s penetrating gaze, but failed.
“Listen up, son. I helped you get this job. Is this how you’re going to repay me?”
“No, sir.” Dare focused his attention on the ground. “I’m sorry that got out of hand, sir.”
“You raised your hand to another officer. You should be facing disciplinary hearings.”
“You drink too goddamn much.”
Dare flinched. So he drank? What business was it of anyone else’s? Were people talking behind his back? “I—”
“I need you to consider whether you really want a job here or not. Alcohol played a role in your disaster in Seattle. You’re fucking up down here for the same reason.”
“Yes, sir.” What else could Dare say? Tony was right, he was fucking up. Maybe fucking up was his true calling, and alcohol merely magnified his ability.
“This can’t be the first time you’ve heard this.”
“You need to find a program.”
Oh, god. “I’ll look into that.” At the very least, I need to do my drinking at home from now on.
“See that you do. I’ll talk this over with Borkowski tomorrow. You had all kinds of witnesses. Don’t think it ends here.”
Tony sighed and leaned in. “Kid, your dad was one of my best friends. Don’t throw away a promising future over this. There’s no shame here unless you let it continue.”
“I won’t, sir.”
Dare’s face burned as he meekly followed Bill to his truck.
When they got there, Bill keyed the lock on the passenger door to let Dare in. Just when it seemed unlikely things could get worse, Bill elbowed him viciously in the ribs.
“Don’t expect me to thank you, asswipe.”
Dare got in and kept his mouth shut while Bill fired up the engine. He watched the streets of Palladian, or about a mile-long stretch of them because he lived so close to the Barn, pass by in the deepest of silences.
Dare didn’t give a fuck what made Bill who he was or what made him act the way he had. Bill Fraser was just one more item on a long list of reasons he wished he’d never come back. The incident at the bar still made him angry enough to take his life in his hands and say what was on his mind. “Maybe you should see someone about your problem.”
“What problem is that?”
“That closet you’re living in must be getting awful tight.”
Bill’s face mottled with rage. “I don’t need your advice.”
“Not true, because if you go after Finn like that again where I can see you? I will kill you.”
“Finn doesn’t need you to take care of him.”
“Maybe not.” Finn didn’t need him at all anymore, but those were the breaks. He’d lost his right to Finn’s friendship when he’d failed to return it. “But I’ll do it just the same.”
“If you tell anyone—”
Bill was silent for a long time.
“I know what you’re thinking,” said Dare. “If you had something on me that would make me the laughingstock of an entire town, you’d put it up on a fucking billboard.”
“All right, so why haven’t you? If you know so much.”
“You’re wondering if I’m a nice guy or if I’m just waiting until the perfect moment to strike.”
The muscles in Bill’s jaw were getting a serious work out. “Are you?”
“Maybe I feel sorry for a fellow fucked-up closet case.”
“I am not a fucked-up—”
“Yes, you are.” Dare braced himself for an explosion. “And it’s going to drive you crazy knowing that I know. Wondering who and when I’ll tell—”
“Don’t you like living?” Bill careened to a rocking stop at the curb in front of Dare’s house. “Are you tired of it? Because I can help you with that.”
“That offer’s touching, but—” Dare gripped the door handle “—not necessary. Have a good night, then.”
“I’ll just get out here, shall I?” When Dare opened the door and put one foot on the curb, Bill let up on the brakes, forcing him to hop along for about five feet before he could get free. “That’s real mature, Fraser.”
“Sleep well.” Dare slammed the door.
Bill roared off and Dare staggered up his porch steps. He got out his keys, glad he was home.
At least the evening wasn’t likely to get worse.
Title: Home the Hard Way by Z.A. Maxfield
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic, M/M, Romance, BDSM, Mystery/Suspense
Length: 374 pages/Word Count: 94,100
Dare Buckley has come home—or at least, he’s come back to Palladian, the small town he left as a teenager. After a major lapse in judgment forced him to resign from the Seattle PD, Palladian is the only place that’ll hire him. There’s one benefit to hitting rock bottom, though: the chance to investigate the mystery of his father’s suicide.
Dare also gets to reacquaint himself with Finn Fowler, whose childhood hero worship ended in uncomfortable silence when Dare moved away. But Finn isn’t the same little kid Dare once protected. He’s grown into an attractive, enigmatic stranger who neither wants nor needs what Dare has to offer.
In fact, Dare soon realizes that Finn’s keeping secrets—his own and the town’s. And he doesn’t seem to care that Dare needs answers. The atmosphere in Palladian, like its namesake river, appears placid, but dark currents churn underneath. When danger closes in, Dare must pit his ingenuity against his heart, and find his way home the hard way.
Read my review HERE.
Read more about Home the Hard Way HERE.
Z. A. Maxfield started writing in 2007 on a dare from her children and never looked back. Pathologically disorganized, and perennially optimistic, she writes as much as she can, reads as much as she dares, and enjoys her time with family and friends. Three things reverberate throughout all her stories: Unconditional love, redemption, and the belief that miracles happen when we least expect them.
If anyone asks her how a wife and mother of four can find time for a writing career, she’ll answer, “It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you give up housework.”
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