Sunday, June 5, 2016

Review: The Harder He Falls by Lynda Aicher

The Harder He Falls by Lynda Aicher
Series: Kick, Book 1
Publisher: Loveswept
Genre: Male/Male Erotic Contemporary Romance with Light D/s
ISBN: 9780425285121
Release Date: June 7, 2016
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

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.

The Harder He Falls is sexy, angsty, and features two wonderfully flawed heroes. Grady is a whitewater rafting guide who is floundering after an accident on the river lands his cousin in a coma. While visiting his cousin in the hospital, Grady meets Micah, a bartender who gets under his skin from the moment they meet. Their attraction is red-hot, but both men carry baggage that could crush any hope of a relationship before it even starts. It’ll take courage, trust, and patience on both their parts if they ever want to move beyond casual sex.

Micah is easy to love. He’s strong, protective, and patient, but he’s also a bit vulnerable. He was in a coma himself years ago, and though he has mostly recovered, he suffers from permanent side effects that he feels would be a burden to others. Micah likes to stick to brief encounters, but something about Grady calls to him, and he wants to help the other man just as much as he’d like to go to bed with him. As for Grady, his torment over what happened to his cousin is only the beginning of his problems. Grady’s formative years were shaped by abusers, he’s never had a support system, the only person he could possibly ask for advice (his cousin) is in the hospital, and Grady has a negative view of the submissive side of his sexuality. Grady isn’t a sub in the traditional BDSM sense, but he does like to submit in bed, which makes him a great match for Micah, who is a strong top. But it’s been ground into Grady that submitting in any sense of the word makes him weak, and that makes him fearful of what he gives to Micah. There’s a lot of push-pull in The Harder He Falls, but for me it was understandable given what Grady has been through.

When Grady and Micah aren’t battling their demons, they can be hot as hell. Lynda Aicher cranks up the heat in sex scenes that blur the line between kink and light BDSM. And while Micah and Grady’s erotic encounters sizzle, what really grabbed me about the story was the heart. Grady is troubled and gets wrapped up in his problems, but he’s also incredibly caring toward Micah. He never treats Micah differently because of his medical condition and he never makes it a defining characteristic of the man either (which I loved). Instead, Grady adapts and helps Micah when and how he needs it, and he creates a safe space for Micah to push his boundaries. The two of them are a great match and both have a lot of love to give, which makes every obstacle they have to overcome worth it.

The Harder He Falls is the first book in the Kick series, which is about an outdoor adventure company and the sexy gay Doms who run it. We don’t see much of the company in this story, but I can’t wait to learn more about it and the men who work there. I finished Grady and Micah’s story a well-satisfied reader and I can’t wait to read the next Kick book, The Deeper He Hurts.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.