- File Size: 461 KB
- Print Length: 279 pages
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Publisher: MLR Press,LLC (May 1, 2011)
- Publication Date: May 1, 2011
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B004YXMV9W
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #498,988 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Life Lessons Kindle Edition
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I’ve been meaning to read the Life Lessons series by Kaje Harper for awhile now but have not as of yet gotten around to it, so I was overjoyed when I noticed that my Goodreads book club was reading the first book in the series, Life Lessons. Now, this author is not new to me. I’ve read two other books of hers: Sole Support and Into Deep Waters, both of which I really enjoyed. I had no idea what the book was about, but it didn’t take long to figure out that it was a mystery/detective novel because it…
-- Starts Out With a Body--
Right from the get-go, this adrenaline-filled story hits the ground running. The novel opens one evening at Roosevelt High School as young teacher Tony Hart prepares to leave for the night. As soon as the elevator door opens, one of his colleagues, Brian Weston, stumbles into him and drops to the floor. It’s then that Tony notices the knife sticking in Westin’s chest. Tony checks for a pulse. He’s dead.
Panicked, Tony leaves the body in the elevator and calls the police from his classroom. He then anxiously awaits their arrival.
-- Enter Mac--
Homicide detective Jared MacLean – who goes by Mac – arrives on the scene. He and Tony appear to be complete opposites. While Tony is young, a tad twink-ish, opinionated, out & proud and somewhat sarcastic, Mac is masculine, pushing 40, gruff, by-the-book, and straight (or so it seems initially).
We learn as the novel progresses that Mac has had a difficult background – he is a widower and the legal father of a daughter who is not his. The daughter is being raised by his religious crackpot of a cousin, who won’t allow Mac in her house because she believes that Mac and his former wife (now deceased) had the child out of wedlock. We also learn that he is gay but is so deeply in the closet that he doesn’t ever acknowledge Hart’s flirting – or his growing own attraction to the young teacher.
I also found the police procedural scenes to be well-done, thorough and believable. Many authors tend to do a “data dump” when describing crime and police procedures. This was not the case here – the author expertly unfurled information only as we needed it.
--The Plot Thickens--
The relationship between the two men unfolds a little at a time with Hart being angry with himself for lusting after a straight cop and Mac being unable to let Hart know that his advances are not unwelcome, as he stays firm in his conviction that he will remain in the closet.
The author reveals the inner-workings of the characters slowly, allowing us to get to really know them. No insta-love here. In fact, it begins to appear that Mac is never going to let Hart know that he is also gay and attracted to Hart.
There was one especially revealing event in the story – the day Mac and Hart ran into each other at the zoo, each accompanied by a kid. I found their day at the zoo to be one of the more tender moments of the book, as the two men, on neutral turf and off the clock, conversed freely and honestly, providing each other with a synopsis of their life story – and yes, Mac’s sexuality was still unknown to Hart at this time.
-- No Relief For Hart--
The plot of our murder mystery thickens as well, and Tony Hart is right in the thick of things, with several threats against his life, as well as another murder and an attempted murder.
Toward the end of the book, we realize that Tony is not the wimpy twink we may have pegged him for. We learn that he is no pushover and can definitely hold his own in a crisis.
--And the Part We’ve Been Waiting For…--
The stress, as well as the body count, is rising. The threats against Hart’s life are becoming more serious, and a murderer is still on the loose. Along with the tension of a high-profile murder case, each man is trying to deal with the attraction he feels for the other. Finally, it all explodes, and Hart and Mac ended up in each other’s arm…and in bed. [Fanning myself].
The sex was hot…yet, not overdone. I’ve read so many novels in which once the characters have sex for the first time, we find them jumping in bed with each other every two pages – with the plot of the book gets lost in the process. Not so here. The sex scenes are well-done, relevant to the story and do not overpower or take away from the plot.
-- The End--
Do our heroes survive unscathed? Don’t worry – I won’t tell you how it ends. But I will say that you are in for one hell of a roller-coaster ride! The denouement is tense, exciting, surprising and adrenaline-filled. And believe me, by the end you will really care about what happens to these characters.
Once again, this author did not disappoint. This well-written story was compelling and gripping enough to keep me turning the pages, wondering what was going to happen next. The storyline was fast-moving but not so fast-paced that you lost what was going on. This book was part crime/detective novel, part slow romance – although I will say that theirs is not a fluffy gushing-over-each-other type of romance. This novel is touching, compelling, absorbing and scary in all the right places with extremely well-developed characters. I can’t wait to read the next one in the series. Recommended!
I keep on marveling because this series was just so beautifully written. The last sentence of the fourth book in particular will stay with me, and it all was written in the same style: simple, expressive, powerful, and beautiful. There was a lot of reflection in the last book, looking back at when Tony and Mac first met and started their relationship two years before, and it was so representative of reality, in that you look back, and almost can't believe that they were the same two people as are closing out the series at the end. Just like looking back in our own memories, we are stunned at how much we've changed. And Tony and Mac were just so real, I want to believe that they are alive. That is the true brilliance of this series...how they go through so, so many issues; how they grow together and build a solid family throughout it all; how they are fearless and mature and stick with each other through the good and the bad (and they are plenty of both in the four books). They are both such great characters, and they work well to fill in each others' gaps.
I loved how Mac and Tony were such great role models. For a great, successful relationship. For parenthood. For jobs they love and do well. They are amazing, complex characters that challenge and overcome so many obstacles to their happiness. I won't spoil the specifics from any of the books, but the way they support each other and face everything like a real couple and family time and again was gorgeous...perfect. I loved the supporting characters too, even the ones I didn't actually like, because they all eventually played roles in the bigger picture. From book one to four you meet new people who eventually become more prominent and link everything together. The story progressed and clicked to make a convincing life for Mac and Tony, and reading their alternating points of view helped endear them because you learned their characters so well.
These books deal with a lot of dark subjects like child abuse, murder, serious injuries, bigotry, hatred and the like. But the people support each other and face down the demons and bad people and together make everything right. It turns dealing with these tough subjects into something hopeful and happy at the end.
From their meeting in that school hallway, to the cases they solved, to abductions, to injuries, to revelations, to growing together, to helping others, to finally standing all together in that park in the last pages...Tony and Mac's story was wondrous and true and consuming. They will remain as one of my favorite couples, and a great example of what real couples should be like. It was hard work, but they loved each other and their family, and they learned and struggled and made it work. All the books were fast-paced and filled with intriguing moments so I did not want to put the books down, and read the last two straight through.
I am going to miss them and might just reread this series some day because all in all, it is one of the best, most inclusive stories about a couple. It took many little battles and melded them together into hard-won victories that created their joined lives. Five plus stars. It is well worth reading and savoring this series one book at a time. I encourage everyone to read them and enjoy their love!
I liked both elements of this book. The police procedural / mystery and the romance, both were done really well and neither overshadowed the other. Both MCs are good people, with complex lives and fall hard for each other practically from meeting each other. However, there are problems, Tony is a witness to murder and more importantly Mac is in the closet. He made the decision to stay in the closet for very real and honest reasons, the blue wall isn’t known for its acceptance of pink bricks and his daughter was in the care of his cousin who was deeply religious and he relied on her for his daughters care.
I really liked the way Tony took Mac’s issues seriously, he didn’t threaten or pout. He thought whether he could live in the closet and made the decision that he could and he stuck by it. I loved Tony he has to be one of my favourite characters in a long time. He isn’t perfect but he is kind, considerate and honest.
I won’t go into the mystery which was, in my opinion written well. This book was an excellent start to the series and I am looking forward to reading more.