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Hardest Thing, The (Dan Stagg Mystery) [Paperback]

James Lear
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

8 Aug 2013 Dan Stagg Mystery
James Lear does Lee Child in his latest sexy and suspenseful mystery. Dan Stagg is an ex-military man who fell foul of Don't Ask Don't Tell. Like Jack Reacher, he's prone to violence, always upholding what he views as justice. With no personal ties and little money, Dan accepts a job protecting a young male 'secretary' of a powerful real estate developer. The young man in question is vain, shallow and very attractive - and it's clear that is idea of 'protection' includes sex. Soon Dan realises that he's being used as a shield for a much more sinister operation...

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Turnaround Books (8 Aug 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1873262825
  • ISBN-13: 978-1873262825
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 12.8 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 398,147 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"This story is a breathless ride from start to finish. The writing has an intense energy about it that propels you through the book... a fascinating read... If you're looking for a book that travels at a breakneck pace, one which contains a flawed but loveable hero, then I would highly recommend The Hardest Thing with a grade of 'Excellent'." --Well Read

'This story is a breathless ride from start to finish. The writing has an intense energy about it that propels you through the book... a fascinating read... If you're looking for a book that travels at a breakneck pace, one which contains a flawed but loveable hero, then I would highly recommend The Hardest Thing with a grade of 'Excellent'.' --Well Read Blog

About the Author

James Lear is the nom de plume of Rupert Smith, the author of Man s World (Arcadia, 2010), which was shortlisted for the Green Carnation Prize in 2010. Rupert was named joint Writer of the Year, together with Stella Duffy, at the Stonewall Awards 2010. As James Lear he has written a series of bestselling erotic novels, published by Cleis. Under the pen name Rupert James, he has released the sizzling blockbusters Silk (Ebury, 2010) and Stepsisters (Ebury, 2010). Rupert is based in London.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read 24 July 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
James Lear is an excellent storyteller whose heroes are always flawed. I would have liked the story to have been a little more fleshed out and I admit to missing the usual plethora of sexual encounters that are normally enjoyed by a Lear hero, but I enjoyed the story nonetheless and assume there will be another Dan Stagg novel in due course.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sexy adventure and adventurous sex. 7 Sep 2013
By Steve
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Rupert Smith, writing as James Lear, has always been a genius of the ultra-sexy gay adventure, usually with tongue firmly in cheek (literally as well as metaphorically). In his new book, there is plenty of suspense and adventure and lots of great gay sex. It is a jock-strap-ripping page-turner and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It lacks, though, quite the spark of originality of his earlier books and I missed the humour. Dan Stagg is a hard (permanently) hero with a warm heart but he's hardly a fun guy. Let's hope he lightens up a bit in the sequels which I hope will follow and that some of that quirky humour returns.
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3.0 out of 5 stars The hardest thing 11 Aug 2013
By Clare O'Beara TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Dan Stagg is a morose, friendless tough guy working club doors in New York for a few bucks. He used to be a Marine but had to leave when the fact that he was gay emerged. After losing his job an Italian man offers him a good fee for minding a wealthy man's secretary; while he's dubious about the legality of the matter he needs the money. A Glock is supplied and instructions to take the individual out of town. Stagg isn't nearly suspicious enough.

Stagg manages to get Stirling McMahon out of NY without any worse than a bruised arm. He's a pampered, sulking brat without respect for his close protection worker. But in rural White Mountains inns, the young man soon reveals himself as gay, so cue a lot of activity. Stirling was paid to pretend to be secretary to a real-estate developer and accompany him to weekend conferences. Someone with an unspecified grudge threatened the man's family and Stirling too. Or did they really? Stagg is already suspicious, and when a man tries to shoot them in their motel room it's clear that Stirling's boss now wants rid of the young man and has set Stagg up to take the blame.

I was surprised both that every man in the state appears to be gay, if closeted, and that fugitives would take so much time to indulge. There are many completely gratuitous scenes. As in many gay-themed novels we meet no credible women or, indeed, women. There is plenty of action and second-guessing to keep serious readers interested but Stagg isn't very intelligent, depending on his training and nothing else, so strong language and violence are foremost.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars mixed feelings about this 6 Sep 2013
By Jeannie Zelos TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition
The Hardest Thing (Dan Stagg Mystery) James Lear

ARC provided by publishers.

I've never read any of James books before so wasn't sure of what style of writing he'd have. I found this book was romance - which I love - crossed with thriller - which I'm not so keen on. Still, the thriller element was taut, and wasn't full of over used descriptions of guns, action and personnel which so often puts me off. James manages to convey action without having to go on and on about it - a few closely written pages and I was in the scene. I liked Dan right from the start, slightly morose and introspective but when we learned about his background, rose to ranks of Major and then kicked out for his sexuality it's not surprising he was bitter about events. He'd lost his lover too, to a sniper and yet because of Service policies wasn't allowed to grieve openly or be involved in the funeral. I find that sort of discrimination extraordinary, and even though policies have been changed I'm sure the same situations are still around :(
Anyway - Dan short on cash, and accepts a job that sounds straightforward, taking a person under threat to somewhere else. He's sharp, he knows there's more going on that he's told but thinks he can stay ahead and earn some much needed cash. Then he meets his charge Stirling, who's young and very Hot! Dan and he get off to a shaky start, with Stirling being an out and out brat. Closeted together though while on their journey Dan soon learns Stirling is gay, and they become much more close....they have various mishaps, and meet an extraordinary range of characters, many of who very conveniently are gay, and incredibly throughout the book I don't think we ever get to meet a woman!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  30 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great mystery, action, suspense, and graphic unrestrained sex! 6 Sep 2013
By Barbara A. Mazzuca - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Review:

The Hardest Thing is the first book I've read by James Lear. And I quite enjoyed it. The story's subplots add such insightful musing, producing a richer story. As the scheme intensifies, unraveling truth from lies becomes increasingly more difficult. Especially pertaining to the puzzling pieces that encompass the young protégé/secretary Dan is hired to protect. Secondary characters, both good and bad, are essential in a good story. Lear doesn't disappoint in this area. They are all well-defined and instrumentally placed at the right moments within the story. Frequently leading in ways just enough that have you query their motives.

From the beginning of the story the main character Dan Stagg has continued flashbacks into his past. These flashbacks are as integral to the story in as much as making Dan actions and personality perfect for the main character, seamlessly adding a twofold depth to his character--in so much that it binds all the forces within this story, hurling the reader toward its pinnacle finale.

When the young secretary adds sex to mix, Dan takes full advantage of what the young man offers him, over and over again. Instead of the heat burning itself out it grows to a full-out firestorm. Soon Dan can't decipher if the feelings he has for this man are because of the explosively brute sex they share, or something more. Dan's emotion stability is becoming more and more difficult to define the longer the two are together.

While together, the secretary divulges his past to Dan and a spiral of trepidation and conflict about this whole setup worsens. Soon an ominous series of events begin to commence, adding more fuel to Dan's suspicions about this charade even more. When suddenly the young man disappears, Dan realizes he's being played. The nagging question in Dan's mind is what part the secretary ultimately played. With Dan, the last time he didn't have a choice in the matter of his fate. This time, he's not going out without a fight!

If you're looking for a great mystery, with a lot of action and suspense, together with graphic and unrestrained sex, then I highly recommend you read Lear's, The Hardest Thing!

Title: The Hardest Thing - A Dan Stagg Mystery
Author: James Lear
Release Date: August 11, 2013
Genre: GLBT (m/m)/Mystery
Pages: 264
Publisher: Cleis Press
ISBN: 978-1-57344-929-8
Reviewer: Barb
Rating: 4 Stars

Heat Level: III ~ Requires a Diagram: Love scenes are frequent, extremely detailed and very explicit. The storyline pushes the envelope, as do the sex scenes and may involve multiple partners, partner swapping. The story may also contain controversial subject matter not for the faint of heart.

Warning: Rape Scene
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic campfire reading 27 May 2013
By MjSmoke - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I actually liked this book very much. It was an easy read, and the story was paced very well. The lead character Dan was a nice contrast to the lead characters of most of Mr. Lear's other stories. I think there is a lot of room for this character's story to continue in another novel. While there was sexy bits (and they were hot!!) they actually flowed into the story and actually added to the purpose of the plot. While I would've had a different ending involving a certain older gentlemen (mmmmmm) I was not disappointed with the conclusion. I read the whole book over three nights by a campfire and was glad I had somebody to share my tent with because it was a hot read (slight pun!).
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exciting and compelling 25 Sep 2013
By Carole "The Romance Reviews" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
This is the first book of James Lear that I've read. When I read the blurb, I expected action men, raunchy sex, manipulation, mystery, intrigue and betrayal. I got it all in a read where constant action blares off the pages like a foghorn, demanding it be heard.

Dan Stagg is disgraced, struggling and trying to hold down a job as a bouncer at a nightclub. When things go pear-shaped and he loses his job, Dan is approached by a shadowy character who offers him a job of a lifetime and the ability to do what he does best--kick arse, get back at the bad guys and put his military training to the test.

What Dan hadn't reckoned on happening was that he'd find a man he wanted to protect at all costs and that he'd end up running for his life with the man he's fast finding himself attached to--far more emotionally attached than he'd ever thought possible. Stirling McMahon, aka Jody, is a sexy, blonde bag of pure trouble and Dan finds it takes all his patience, talent and mean nature to keep him out of harm's way. And of course, contain his constant horny libido, which is on overdrive whenever he's near Stirling.

This is a definite race-along-the-highway read, full of great action moments, villains, double- double crosses and plenty of hot sex, not always simply between the two main characters. This book simply drags you along by the hair, makes you breathless and is forever surprising you with its twists and turns.

I loved the character of Dan Stagg--tough, macho, sexy and simply a real man's man in many ways. Stirling, or Jody as he becomes known, is greatly drawn too, a level of vulnerability beneath the brash exterior showing as these two men become not only physically but emotionally involved.

It's exciting, compelling and a rip roaring read of a story. I'll definitely be reading more Dan Stagg mysteries should the author choose to write more. In fact, I'll be reading the author's other book, The Back Passage, next.

Reviewed by Susan Mac Nicol
for TheRomanceReviews.com
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The hardest thing 11 Aug 2013
By Clare O'Beara - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Dan Stagg is a morose, friendless tough guy working club doors in New York for a few bucks. He used to be a Marine but had to leave when the fact that he was gay emerged. After losing his job an Italian man offers him a good fee for minding a wealthy man's secretary; while he's dubious about the legality of the matter he needs the money. A Glock is supplied and instructions to take the individual out of town. Stagg isn't nearly suspicious enough.

Stagg manages to get Stirling McMahon out of NY without any worse than a bruised arm. He's a pampered, sulking brat without respect for his close protection worker. But in rural White Mountains inns, the young man soon reveals himself as gay, so cue a lot of activity. Stirling was paid to pretend to be secretary to a real-estate developer and accompany him to weekend conferences. Someone with an unspecified grudge threatened the man's family and Stirling too. Or did they really? Stagg is already suspicious, and when a man tries to shoot them in their motel room it's clear that Stirling's boss now wants rid of the young man and has set Stagg up to take the blame.

I was surprised both that every man in the state appears to be gay, if closeted, and that fugitives would take so much time to indulge. There are many completely gratuitous scenes. As in many gay-themed novels we meet no credible women or, indeed, women. There is plenty of action and second-guessing to keep serious readers interested but Stagg isn't very intelligent, depending on his training and nothing else, so strong language and violence are foremost.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Hardest Thing 27 May 2013
By Thomas Littler - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The reader will have to judge whether James Lear's The Hardest Thing meets Justice Potter Stewart's assessment of pornography or if the sexual scenes inhabit the realm of erotica in being more sensuous. If you only want a dollop of mystery and romance with your sex, this book is probably for you. The author effectively describes men having sex with men in graphic detail. If you want a book, however, that is more mystery and romance, with some erotica, John Lanyon's Adrien English Mysteries may be more to your liking; it was for this reviewer. Mr. Lear absolutely knows how to describe the physical mechanics involved in sex, for which he deserves much credit.
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