The Hardest Thing (Dan Stagg Series) [NOOK Book]


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, ...
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The Hardest Thing (Dan Stagg Series)

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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 chose 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.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"This might make a nice change-of-pace for erotica fans and mystery lovers alike, so if you want a book that packs heat, grab this one."
Dallas Voice

"James Lear’s sexy gay mystery pays homage to classic pulp fiction as a former U.S. Army major must guard a beautiful young man. When Army vet Dan Stagg falls afoul of DADT he becomes entangled in a web of conspiracy."
Publishers Weekly

"Although packed with a plethora of hardcore sex scenes, James Lear’s The Hardest Thing contains, at its core, a fine private detective mystery novel in this seventh in a growing list of similar works by the author. Any reader skimming it for the sexy parts will miss out on what is actually quite a good story."
–Foreword Magazine

"The writing is captivating and the suspense plot is thrilling. If you're looking for a book that travels at a breakneck pace, one which contains a flawed but loveable hero, then I would highly recommend The Hardest Thing with a grade of 'Excellent'."
Well Read

"But for all the loose zipper, tough talking, heavy handed bravado, Stagg is a very likeable protagonist, one that reminded this reader on more than one occasion of more mainstream hetero heroes like Lee Child’s “Jack Reacher”, Barry Eisler’s “John Rain”, or David Baldacci’s “Lee Adams”. One thing is sure, this reader is eagerly awaiting the next Dan Stagg mystery."
Gay/Lesbian Fiction Book Reviews

"It's exciting, compelling and a rip roaring read of a story. I'll definitely be reading more Dan Stagg mysteries."
The Romance Reviews

"This dazzling, fast-paced, roller coaster of an adventure story does not disappoint. With plenty of scintillating twists and turns, smoldering sexcapades, and the provocative, darkly-humorous narrative of Dan Stagg at its wheel, this is action/adventure that takes you places. Deep into the dark, seedy underbelly of the human mind and then deeper, into the vulnerable, soft places of the human heart. Top all this off with a visceral and tender ending and you’ve got what I would call a hole-in-one winner, one that I can’t wait to read again and again."
Rainbow Book Reviews

"James manages to convey action without having to go on and on about it – a few closely written pages and I was in the scene."
Jeannie Zelos

"If you’re looking for a great mystery, with a lot of action and suspense, together with graphic and unrestrained sex, then I highly recommend you read Lear’s, The Hardest Thing!"
Risque Reviews

"A new erotic spin on an old mystery trope."
Books on Silver Wings

"For what is essentially a good summer read, The Hardest Thing will have you pondering as ex-marine Dan Stagg, whose grittier methods could be considered unacceptable by some, sets out to prove his worth. There's plenty of wit and humour and Lear's prose is concise, descriptive and, in using Dan Stagg as first person narrator, insightful of the man's rather complex relationship with himself."
—Cathode Ray Tube

"One of the best gay erotic fiction stories I’ve read in a long time."
—Antony Simpson

"A great romp of a thriller with quite a lot of sex!"
Lesbians North London

"The Hardest Thing about this book is putting the thing down!"
Airen Wolf Reviews

"Plenty of action and second-guessing to keep us reading."
Fresh Fiction

"An entertaining and sexy story."
Night Owl Reviews

"Intriguing gay erotica/mystery hybrid novel — and it's love, in case you were wondering."
Erotic Trade Only

"Red hot, filled with lots of sex, action, and romance."
—Quixotic Orchid

"The Hardest Thing has all the bad-ass swagger of a really good noir but also a soft romantic underbelly that was lovely and very well written. A tremendously fun read--a great escape--with mystery, bad guys and have I mentioned a little (tons of) sex?"
—Sommer Marsden

"A great mystery with some of the hottest erotic fiction I’ve ever read."
—Cameron D James

"Dan Stagg, the narrator of James Lear’s seventh novel, The Hardest Thing, is a hot-tempered ex-marine with a bad attitude and a limitless libido."

"The superlative quality of James Lear’s writing never fails to amaze me. From the opening lines of The Hardest Thing I was absolutely hooked."
Erotica Revealed

"The Hardest Thing is a sexy gay mystery as only James Lear can write it: filled with lots of sexual encounters, romance, sweat, violence and conspiracy."
Erotica Readers and Writers Association

"I haven’t read a novel by a male in a long time but this one had me on page one with it’s narrated type opening. Love the different plot and fresh writing style."
Networking Witches

"Dynamic, tautly written, The Hardest Thing delivers sex, action and romance with an equally deft touch. Dan Stagg is convincing as a soldier betrayed by DADT and as a man of passionate appetites. His story unfolds at a red-hot pace, together with his feelings for his mysterious protégé. A terrific, compelling read."
–Harper Fox, author of Salisbury Key

"James Lear's The Hardest Thing blends an unruly literary sensibility with wild and raunchy excess. An enormously entertaining homage to classic pulp friction."
–Josh Lanyon, author of Fatal Shadows

"The Hardest Thing is without a doubt James Lear’s most powerful novel yet—gritty and gripping, steamy and suspenseful—a killer-thriller with a hero who is at once cold-blooded, hot-headed and sexy as hell. Dan Stagg is gay literature’s answer to Jack Reacher; he is a hero as daring and defiant as he is flawed and fallible. The hardest thing about this book is having to wait for the next Dan Stagg mystery!"
–Geoff Knight, author of Curse of the Dragon God and Riddle of the Sands

Like many victims of the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, Dan Stagg is an ex-Marine having trouble fitting back into society. In his own words, he’s “a well-oiled machine with no ideas about right and wrong, good and evil.” He’s had his heart broken and he’s determined not to let that happen again. That is, until he meets a cute, spoiled client who needs to be protected, and then everything turns ugly once again. James Lear's The Hardest Thing is violent, fast-paced and very sexy, with a bad-boy hero you can't help but fall for. Dan Stagg is a gay action hero for the twenty-first century."
–Neil Plakcy, author of the Mahu Investigations

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781573449465
  • Publisher: Cleis Press Start
  • Publication date: 5/20/2013
  • Series: Dan Stagg Series
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 59,811
  • File size: 348 KB

Meet the Author

James Lear is the nom de plume of a prolific and acclaimed novelist. As James Lear, he is the author of The Back Passage, The Secret Tunnel, Hot Valley, The Low Road, and The Palace of Varieties. He lives in London.
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Read an Excerpt

"New York City on a dirty night in July is not my favorite place to be. I’d rather be almost anywhere else—I was thinking of the beach in Connecticut or up in the Green Mountains of Vermont, or any of those overseas places I’ve travelled, most of them warzones, where you can breathe without feeling like someone just threw up on your shoes. But New York is where I am, and short of a miracle New York is where I stay, with temperatures in the 80s and humidity in the 90s and me in my late 30s wondering what the hell happened to my life. A couple of years ago I had a career and a salary, status and respect and a sense of purpose. Now I’m working nights at a shitty club in the East Village for minimum wage. I don’t even have a uniform; the security company is so damn cheap that I have to provide my own. So it’s black polyester slacks, a black T shirt and a pair of black shoes from my dress uniform that I still keep shined—old habits die hard. I look like a burglar, except you can see my face. But nobody looks at my face except to snarl in it or shout in it or, on particularly lively nights, to spit in it. And tonight was one of those nights.
During the week, the Panther Club on East 9th Street is pretty nice by local standards—not too busy, mostly local kids who work in offices by day and fancy themselves as hipsters by night, drinking and posing and listening to the DJs or the bands who trot out third-rate art-rock and enjoy their fifteen minutes. I don’t mind the weeknights: no trouble, easy money, nobody getting too crazy because tomorrow is a working day. It’s the Fridays and Saturdays I hate, when the out-of-towners pour into the East Village to feel like freaks for the weekend, and they can’t get really freaky without getting really wasted. And that’s when I earn my few bucks an hour.
This particular Friday night started like all the others. Quiet till nine, the usual jerks wearing sunglasses in the dark, standing at the bar or smoking on the sidewalk, the smoke hanging in the air like fog, collecting under the awning where I have to stand, making my eyes sting and my clothes stink. I hate the smoking laws. Why can’t they be allowed to kill themselves inside the club, and let those of us who work outdoors breathe some nice healthy exhaust fumes instead? And then, at two minutes after nine, by some mysterious signal, along came the Assholes. They came up the street in twos and threes, never alone, guys mostly, a few tough-looking girls, all of them with that schoolyard swagger as if they’re the kings and queens of the universe and people like me are somewhere down there with the rats and roaches. By half nine the club was full, drinks were getting spilled and the atmosphere was turning nasty. A line was forming on the street—it never ceases to amaze me that people will actually wait in line to get into a place like the Panther Club—and you could smell aggression in the air like cheap perfume. Now, I have nothing against aggression. After twelve years in the US Marine Corps I kind of value it. I like a kid with attitude, if he knows what to do with it. But these guys were just dull drunks with a grudge against life, looking for a fight to perk up Friday night, and if they hadn’t started something by the time they got to the door they were more than happy to have a crack at the sap in the polyester slacks.
I don’t know where the average out-of-towner thinks that security guys like me are recruited from. Perhaps he thinks we’re former schoolteachers or unemployed librarians. The fact is that most of us are ex-military, and that means that we have probably killed more people than he has fucked. I lost count of the number of lives I’ve taken. Some of them I shot. Some of them fell victim to missiles that I had a hand in firing. But I killed a fair few—twenty, maybe more—with my bare hands. I know exactly how to do it. I can break a neck with the precision of a chiropractor—just a twist and a click and the job’s done. So if you’re looking for a fight in the East Village on a Friday night, you might want to stay away from the Panther Club.
And this is how the story began."
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 17, 2015

    Any book that makes me laugh out loud by page 7 deserves a buy!

    Any book that makes me laugh out loud by page 7 deserves a buy! I haven't finished it yet, but the author's narrative style already has me hooked. A great read so far!

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  • Posted July 22, 2013

    From the second I picked up The Hardest Thing, I absolutely coul

    From the second I picked up The Hardest Thing, I absolutely couldn't put it down. I think I finished it withint 24 hours, and it was incredibly enjoyable reading! Love Lear's writing style, and his dry wit coupled with incendiary and innovative encounters make for an awesome combination. Recommended for anyone who likes thrillers, fun function, and/or gay literature. Trust me - you don't have to be a gay man to love Lear.

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  • Posted May 29, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    I thought The Hardest Thing would be a great read for Memorial D

    I thought The Hardest Thing would be a great read for Memorial Day weekend. You have a United States Marine. Because the fellow marine he loved died by snipper fire, when he broke down in tears, he failed the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" clause in his contract and was kicked out after twelve years of dedicated service. Left to find himself again, he takes an extremely shady job as an escort/bodyguard and the book begins. He's the good guy? No, he's the bad guy. No? Well, he's not the baddest guy in the book. The author went so deep into character than you really feel for this guy, his heroic darkness. His story was fast paced, high action, and so fully detailed, good/bad boy Dan Stagg brought tears to my eyes. I can't wait to see him again.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2015

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