Publisher: Self-published rerelease
Narrator: JF Harding
Release Date: December 02 2021
Genre: Mystery/Contemporary M/M Romance
Trope/s: murder-mystery, in the closet, modest age gap, single parenting
Themes: hurt-comfort, closet-getting-tight, MC in danger
Heat Rating: 3-4 flames
Length: 8 hours and 47 minutes
It is the first book in the Life Lessons series. It does not end on a cliffhanger but a HFN.
Mac's three goals: keep Tony safe, catch the killer, don't come out.
Tony Hart's a dedicated teacher, though he's not much older than his high-school students. Between his profession, a few good friends, and plenty of books, he's content with his quiet life. Then the murdered body of another teacher falls into the elevator at his feet, and Tony's life becomes all too exciting.
Jared MacLean is a homicide detective, widowed father to a young daughter, and deeply in the closet. But from the moment he meets Tony's blue eyes in that high school hallway, Mac can't help wanting this man in his life. Mac's not out ― can't afford to be out ― but Tony makes him want the impossible.
Mac isn't the only one with their eyes on Tony, though. As the murderer tries to cover their tracks, Mac has to work fast or lose Tony, permanently.
(This is a rerelease of the 2011 original with light editing.)
Tony said after a pause. “You’re not the only person trapped in the closet. All those guys in the military, stuck with don’task, don’t tell; other guys with macho jobs or religious families. Lots of guys are doing it.”
“But you don’t want to,” Mac acknowledged.
“It wouldn’t be my first choice, no. I’ve put a lot of effort and pain into being out so I wouldn’t have to hide. But I do want you, and I know that comes on your terms.”
“They’re not my terms,” Mac protested.
“Whatever. It comes with being secret and hiding whatever we have together. The question is whether that’s better than not having anything together.”
Mac wanted to shout that of course it was, but he bit his tongue.
Tony looked at him hard. “The other question you have to ask yourself is whether you want to take the risk. No matter how careful we are, you may get caught. A wrong look, a note in your pocket, someone tracking down your cell in an emergency; there are lots of ways this could come out in the open. It’s not a problem for me. But is that a risk that you want to take?”
Mac opened his mouth to say yes, and hesitated. How have I come this far this fast? He’d been willing to cut away anything in his life that risked his daughter Anna or the job. And sex had never been that important. But this wasn’t about sex; it was about Tony. And Tony had somehow become too important to cut away. It might hurt less to give up breathing.
“There’s never been anyone I could go to, to just be myself. I’ve never had a lover, or even a fuck-buddy. I thought I could live without that, but now… I don’t want to. Even with Mai, I wasn’t… I couldn’t relax completely. With you, I’m just me.”
“Yeah.” Tony smiled at him. “That’s part of being gay, you know. It’s not just who you want in bed. It’s who your emotional relationships are with the other twenty-three hours of the day, whose arms you want around you when life hands you shit.”
About the Author
I get asked about my name a lot. It's not something exotic, though. “Kaje” is pronounced just like “cage” – it’s an old nickname, and my pronouns are she/her/hers. I’ve been writing far longer than I care to admit (*whispers – forty-five years*), although mostly for my own entertainment. I write M/M romance, often with added mystery, fantasy, historical, SciFi, paranormal… I also have Young Adult short stories (some released under the pen name Kira Harp.)After decades of writing just for fun, my husband convinced me I really should submit something, somewhere. My first professionally published book, Life Lessons, came out in May 2011. I now have a good-sized backlist in ebooks and print, both free and professionally published, including Amazon bestseller The Rebuilding Year and Rainbow Award Best Mystery-Thriller Tracefinder: Contact. A complete list with links can be found on my website "Books" page at https://kajeharper.com/books/.
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About the Narrator
Life Lessons by Kaje Harper is the first book in the series of the same name and introduces teacher Tony Hart as detective Jared (Mac) MacLean comes into his life to investigate a murder. As Mac comes to realize that Tony is important to him personally as well as professionally, danger mounts, and Mac may lose what he’s only just discovered he wants in life.
This adult gay contemporary romantic suspense story is the first tale in one of my favorite series by this author. I love the revelations, both in terms of Mac’s beliefs and comfort levels and regarding the murder mystery itself, as well as the secondary characters that enrich this story. The realism is so skillfully depicted that I ache for each of the men who must decide how much compromise they can tolerate even as they stand in their truths and care for those around them. This is one of my comfort reads because I find it heartwarming and inspirational, even as I am instantly caught up in the exciting action that gets more and more dangerous.
I don’t usually listen to audiobooks, but I enjoyed the sample I listened to, and I think narrator J.F. Harding gives life to the story. I’m so glad there are several books in this series, and I enjoy watching the connections between these two fascinating men deepen and grow.
A copy of this story was provided for review