Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new contemporary M/M romance from Lynda Aicher. THE HARDER HE FALLS is a hurt/comfort story about a man steeped in guilt and one overcoming his disability.
About the book:
Expert whitewater-rafting guide Grady Kelley lives for that rush of adrenaline: at work, as the newest employee of a Portland-based outdoor-adventure sports company, and off the river, where liaisons with anonymous men keep him satisfied. Grady prefers no drama and no strings attached, but when tragedy strikes, fate leads him to Micah Swaine. He’s hot, masculine, distracting—and offers the kind of deeper connection Grady has sworn off, no matter how badly he craves it.
Working at a leather bar, Micah meets a lot of guys, but Grady’s different—and he seems to feel the same way. The trouble is, anything beyond casual sex is too risky for Micah. He’s got secrets he doesn’t know how to share, secrets that would make any relationship a battlefield. No man, even one as compassionate as Grady, would stick around for that kind of trouble. And yet, as physical desire melts the walls they’ve put up, Micah and Grady discover that trusting each other is the most exhilarating adventure of all.
Grady is a 28 y/o out gay man who’s grieving for his cousin, Finn, trapped in a coma, and his friend Chris who died. Both men were hurt on a Class 5 rapids ride that Grady had led in the California mountains, as part of his new job at Kick, an outdoors-adventure company Finn began with Chris and several of their ex-military friends. Each day Grady spends hours by Finn’s bedside, willing him to wake. That’s how he meets Micah, coma-survivior and volunteer on the coma ward. Micah comes to read to the patients; he knew Finn personally through his day job of bartending at a leather bar.
Grady is immediately drawn to, and afraid of, Micah. He’s attractive but burly, and Grady had an abusive Dom several years ago–and never wants to go back in that direction emotionally or sexually. Still, the allure of talking to a man who’s been in Finn’s place is too much, and when they meet at the bar, Grady knows he wants what Micah can give him: release.
Micah isn’t a Dom, but he is a dominant lover. He’s able to ground Grady with his forceful loving but that brings on a temporary amnesia for time and place–a side effect of his previous brain injury. To his surprise, Grady never ridicules Micah regarding his spatial memory issues, and that’s more compassion than he’s experienced since his recovery. Perhaps these two men are meant to heal each other.
Perhaps not. Grady’s terrified his superiors at Kick will think he’s a sub, because they are all confirmed Doms and he won’t be ridiculed as weak again, not like he was before with his previous Dom. Also, Grady’s got a strong penchant for running. The only reason he’s still in Portland is Finn; he can’t abandon the only member of his family who still speaks with him. Plus, he’s still under investigation for the accident, and can’t take another job until he’s cleared of charges–if that’s the outcome. So, he and Micah spend more and more time together and they are both scared of falling too hard for a man who may not be there in the morning.
I liked this book, though I had some real issues with the medical side of things. I know all brain injuries are different, and lingering effects are varied, but the descriptions given regarding Micah’s injury/recovery really seemed far off the realm of possible–for me. I have a lot of experience in neurophysiology, however, and it probably won’t be a deterrent for most readers. More problematic for me was Grady’s complete angst over being seen as weak, or a sub. He’s all about run first ask questions never…and that got tiresome and felt juvenile. He could never let himself feel happy or satisfied, and I got that he was tied in emotional knots regarding Finn, but he lashed out in ways, and with dialogue, that didn’t make sense. Like trying to pressure Micah into performing a public scene for the benefit of some Kick partners–to prove he wasn’t a sub. Uh, come again? His fixation on labels was aggravating and it took me a long time to bond with Grady as a result. Though, I will admit, I really dug the second half of the book. I felt like Micah was a great character, and I liked how Grady and he interacted.
This is the first book in a series, and we’ll likely see the rest of the Kick family getting the subs/partners of their dreams in books to come. Also, I look forward to observing Finn’s recovery!
About Author Lynda Aicher:
If writing wasn’t a priority, it would never get done.
Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!