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The Hardest Thing

A Dan Stagg Mystery
Narrated by: Charles Carr
Length: 7 hrs and 33 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (4 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Killing is easy. Love is...The Hardest Thing

James Lear does Lee Child

Once a major in the U.S. Army, Dan Stagg fell afoul of Don't Ask Don't Tell. In his late 30s, tall, and muscular, Dan is prone to violence, always upholding what he views as justice. He's offered a great deal of money to protect the young male "secretary" of a powerful real estate broker. The vain, shallow - but most of all hot - young man's idea of protection includes sex. Dan quickly realizes something strange is going on: he's being used as a shield for a much more sinister operation and must choose between easy money and sex or the ideals that he embodied in the Army. Why should he do the right thing - particularly when the army betrayed him? The Hardest Thing is a sexy gay mystery as only James Lear can write it: filled with lots of gay sexual encounters, romance, sweat, violence, and conspiracy.

©2013 James Lear (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

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  • DanBudda
  • 03-12-2015

Too Good!! Funny, jaded and bitter. Just like you!!

This is a really good listen. Funny and HOT. The narrator is a revelation!! Just take a chance and try it, you washed up loser. What's one more mistake in what has obviously been a life full of them? Lots of hot sex scenes await you, hunky Marine action, steam room sex with a hung daddy, hustlers without a clue, Italian closet cases, unconscious (FAKE! Haha!) oral rape. Let's face it, Tiger, you ain't got nothing better to do but die and you're too damn lazy for that. Get this audiobook. Now. And tell me you like it, bitch.

4 people found this helpful

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  • HaloLove
  • 23-01-2015

What In The World! LOL. 1/2/2015

Any additional comments?

LOL

I kid you not, this story takes off in physical violence, sex, and more violence and doesn't stop until the end. And I must confess, I enjoyed.

A very entertaining audio! No room for a dull moment, that's for sure!!!

2 people found this helpful

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  • Elaine
  • 03-10-2013

Best gay romantic adventure, Best Narrator!

THE STORY: 4 and half stars
Dan Stagg, ex-Marine, is one fuck away from ending up on the streets. When he gets what seems like an easy job - 10 big ones up front and 20 more when he delivers the package, he thinks his luck has changed. Well, it has, but at a price he's not quite ready to pay. Especially when he's still grieving and embittered over the loss of his career and the only man he'd ever loved.

Despite the bittersweet overtones to both Dan's and Jodi's characters, The Hardest Thing is easily the most enjoyable book I've read this year and its audio version the best I've heard since I started listening to them earlier this year.

While there is romance and Lear and his hero sorta know there is more to life than one easy fuck to another, both happily make use of every situation to get one more fuck in for the reader. And I happily went along for the voyeuristic ride because Dan is about one of the most likeable characters I've come across in a long, long time. Lear has given me an MC I can sympathize and laugh with, and at, from one chapter to the next. The title of the book does make it sound like the start of a series and if so, I wonder whether Dan and Jodi will be the main couple, both fucking their way through one adventure after another.

THT is a fun, bawdy contemporary tale that had me both laughing at, and assessing, the character at the same time. I was getting exasperated at Dan for being unable to pass up a fuck while Jodi was sleeping off his exhaustion after being on the run, when Jodi has been abducted and Dan is supposed to be trying to rescue him; but Lear so cleverly wraps me around Dan's finger (or another appendage, rather) that I, who am particularly critical about inappropriately-timed sexual trysts in my romantic fiction, am prepared to be magnanimous on this occasion.

...because this is that type of book - smutty and rough, bursting with graphic sex and a hero whose self-deprecating humor made me putty in his hands.

Now, if Jodi were some sweet, innocent romantic counterpart to Dan, I guess I would have balked at Dan's tom-cat ways but Jodi can handle himself and taken together, this couple of gay characters make THT a very different type of gay romance that I normally read - and so much better than most. It has action, sex, suspense, sex, romance, sex. While pure porn can be boring and too many or lengthy sex scenes in MM romance gets me impatient to be moving on with the story, I enjoyed every sexual encounter Dan grabbed (in case it's the last fuck he'll ever get). Why? Because Dan is able to preempt every one of my reactions when his insatiable cock, yet again, zeroes in on a new ass like a diving rod.

Despite his promiscuous nature, I can believe that Dan has come to love Jodi towards the end of the book and is ready to move on from his grief of losing Will. I was given a subtle HFN but in this instance, it was sufficient for me.

What wasn't, though, and caused me to deduct half a star, is that the story is told completely from Dan's POV and, as usually happens, I don't get to know the second MC as well as the first. What I felt was needed in this case was an epilogue to give me a more balanced feel to the book. Especially when Jodi is not the man he led us all to believe he was. The Jodi Dan and we are introduced to at the start of the book is nothing like the young man we are left with. His subterfuge and lies were too casually dealt with for someone like Jodi who's fallen in love with someone like Dan.

This book does beg for a sequel, IMO, as I would like to know how Dan copes with the new man in his life and heart, is he going to carve out a new career or will he continue to eke out a living taking one odd job to another (Jodi isn't exactly low-maintenance). I'd like to know the effect Jodi's brain hemorrhage and the recent events have on him and his future with Dan.

I'd like to see Dan and Jodi move out of Jodi's Dad's house and into their own home so that Dan won't have to share the couch with the other biting critters that have taken up residence there.

THE NARRATOR: 5 stars!
Charles Carr did a fantastic job. His ability to give different voices to Dan and Jodi made it easy to distinguish between the two characters, or when it's Dan and the other secondary characters.

Carr's skill at communicating the relevant expression to his words is one other narrators ought to emulate. I've heard narrators who are so deadpan they have no business narrating anything and I've heard those with the sexiest voices ever (Boulton, LeFleur, Morey et al) but none of them do as great a job as getting the characters' personality or the author's intent across as well as Carr does.

More than 5 stars, for the narration and Audible is to be commended for this excellent production. If you're planning to listen to, or want to try, an audiobook, make it THIS one. It's at a special price of $3.99 right now if you're an Audible member. Otherwise, beg, steal, borrow or sell your body to get it.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Kinley J.
  • 11-07-2017

Wasn't completely bad

What disappointed you about The Hardest Thing?

Too much porn in ratio to amount of story for my taste.

Has The Hardest Thing turned you off from other books in this genre?

I wish there were more novels with gay main characters where the novel was not "mostly" about the porn and detailed descriptions of the sex acts native to the plot.

Which character – as performed by Charles Carr – was your favorite?

It's a first person narrative, and the narrating main character (name forgotten) is the best.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

The main character was not a caricature of an ex-Marine.

Any additional comments?

The sex was close to domination/control/top-oriented; if that's your thing you might like this more than I did.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 30-10-2013

A Great Story

Would you listen to The Hardest Thing again? Why?

Author James Lear is a great writing, in that he keeps story moving while providing great details about the characters and the storylines.

What about Charles Carr’s performance did you like?

I loved Charles Carr voice. Very sexy and deep at times.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Susie
  • 16-10-2013

Noir Comes Out

An ex-army bodyguard and a uppity rich kid in danger. James Lear has made an “homme-fatal."

Every sexual encounter moves the plot along at a brisk pace, Lear keeps it real.

There are lies and double crosses, and an edge-of-your-seat climax that had me biting my nails, and nearly weeping.

And can we just talk about narrator Charles Carr for a second? Hand this man an Audie Award right now.

His reading made me sweat! So much mastery of emotion and character. Sure he can seduce with the sex scenes, but his alpha-male voice for Dan Stagg, showing the cracks in the armor where he needed to was just stunning.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Tory Thai
  • 24-04-2020

Amazing introduction to this author

Wow, the writing in this book was outstanding. Its my first time with a James Lear book. From what i heard i had high expectations of high quality writing and eroticism. This absolutely did not disappoint. I was completely invested with the story line, the character development and the relationship the entire time. It was really really dark though, It wasn't enough to make me uncomfortable but enough to make me wince. I really felt for these characters and what they were going through. The overall story was captivating. I consistently was curious with what the story was leading to. The action sequences were satisfying and over the top. One fun scene towards the end was an exceptionally creative unique way to take a person down. The Romance was sexy, lot of Erotic scenes peppered in with the story but never really causes it to lose focus from the narrative. Sometimes the author would skip Erotic scenes entirely to not overdo it for the reader and more just explain and 'fade to black'. I actually appreciated that a lot too because otherwise if every sex scene was explained in vivid detail it definitely would have numbed me as a reader to it. Only the important sex scene's were explained vividly and much appreciated. The romance was rough and tumble. It was very complicated. The complications with the relationship really had me opinionated a lot of the times having me constantly worry and want what's best for the main character. Overall this book's writing was incredible and professional. I'm definitely going to be a repeat reader of this author now.

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  • Curt
  • 01-10-2019

SEXY!

for the lovers of steamy/sexy private eye stories... this is your story... most definitely in regards to the steamy and sexy aspect!... Charles Carr makes this audiobook very inappropriate for your speakers at work... and he does it the best way possible!

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  • CozyWriter
  • 01-07-2019

Very well-crafted action/mystery

With just a very few tiny exceptions on niggling details, I really enjoyed this book! Once you get used to the James Lear level of sex in his novels - or chalk that up as part of the amusement - this is a very well done mystery with plenty of twists to the plot line to keep the readers' attention, right up until the end. Actually I was surprised that I was so engrossed in the story that I lost track of time, and, sooner than I would have wanted, it was over! Part of this too is the narration by Charles Carr, who gives us *the* perfect voice for our scarred and war-worn Col. Dan Stagg. There's just enough variation among the voices of the other characters that it's quite easy to follow who is speaking - even when Stagg is wandering the street, speaking to himself, working out the heavy parts of the story toward the end. This book was so well done that I'm looking forward to reading more Dan Stagg novels, as I think that Lear is on to something with this guy! I won't even mention my plotting quibbles because they are so small, and not terribly distracting. I can't wait to delve into the next one!

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  • BlueRose
  • 24-06-2019

Wow what A ride!

I definitely found my new favourite author! This was funny, hot and I just couldn’t stop listening. I had to finish it in one day. The narrator did a fantastic job. I totally recommend this audiobook.

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  • Amankris759
  • 21-05-2020

Didn't expect the feel

From all of the erotica gay fictions I have listened , this one is probably one of the best I have listened so far. Story is normal but real and the performance is top notch.