The Harder He Falls, by Lynda Aicher
Series: Kick (Book 1)
Publisher: Loveswept (Random House)
Release Date: June 7, 2014
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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.
Coping with Guilt
I could not wait to get my hands on this one because whitewater rafting is one of my favorite hobbies and I’ve never seen it featured in a romance before. Unfortunately, there’s so little about the sport that I feel Aicher could’ve swapped out any other activity and it wouldn’t have affected the story in any way. I learned early on that this book wasn’t going to be anything like what I thought it was so I had to hope that the MC’s would be strong enough to carry me through.
That said, Grady is a difficult character to like. Even when I considered his past and the nagging guilt he was feeling over a rafting accident I still couldn’t get past how much of a jerk he was. He never seems to say what he’s actually thinking and feeling but, rather, blurts out mean retorts and then wonders why he doesn’t get the response he really wanted. If you’re going to behave that way then at least own up to it. He has a bad habit of running from his problems and all I kept thinking through the entire book was that he needs serious therapy. This created a problem for me because there’s so much sex that it gets to the point where it’s treated as a cure-all for all of his and Micah’s issues.
Micah saved this book for me. Much like Grady, he has a tendency to be stubborn but he’s also patient, kind and has an overall great personality. As I read I thought if anyone would be able to break through Grady’s defenses it would be him. He keeps his medical condition a secret and tends to shy away from relationships that might reveal this aspect of himself but he thinks he’s found someone worth taking a risk for when he meets Grady. I didn’t see them as a couple as they were having a hard enough time just trying to be friends; and outside of their sexual encounters, the romantic chemistry just wasn’t there.
Even though I didn’t have much love for Grady, my favorite part of the book is that he completely looks past Micah’s condition. It’s never an issue for him. He doesn’t pity Micah nor treat him any differently than he would anyone else. I think Micah was quick to pick up on this and ultimately is the reason why he sticks around even when Grady is being anything but acquiescent.
This story is loaded with angst and drama but all of the repetitive push and pull starts to get old around the halfway mark. Grady and Micah are constantly reminding us that they aren’t into D/s relationships but there’s enough kink that, by the end, that is exactly what we get. I think this is misleading to readers since there’s no mention of it in the blurb so be warned if BDSM isn’t your thing.
If you are into testosterone fueled, hot and kinky stories where the MC’s are so pigheaded you’ll wonder how they’ll ever end up together, then this is the book for you!
Lynda Aicher is an award-winning author who loves to write emotionally charged romances. Her novels have been featured in USA Today and RT Book Reviews magazine. Her books have finaled in the Romance Writers of America’s RITA contest. Prior to becoming an author, she spent years traveling as a consultant, implementing computer software into global companies, until she opted to end her nomadic lifestyle to raise her two children. Now her imagination is the only limitation on where she can go, and writing lets her escape from the daily duties of being a mom, wife, chauffeur, scheduler, cook, teacher, cleaner, and mediator.
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I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.