Home Work (Life Lessons #3)

Title: Home Work (Life Lessons #3)
Author: Kaje Harper
Cover art: Winterheart Designs
Publisher: MLR Press
Buy link: Buy Link Home Work (Life Lessons)
Length: novel/356 PDF pages/108,000 words
Genre: Contemporary/Romance/Mystery/Police Procedural

Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

A guest review by LadyM

Review summary: Good sequel which focuses more on the men’s relationship and less on mystery. A very enjoyable read.

Blurb: Mac and Tony thought the hard part was over. They’re together openly as a couple, sharing a home and building a life with their two children. It’s what they dreamed of. But daughter Anna struggles with the changes, Ben is haunted by old secrets, Mac’s job in Homicide still demands too much of his time, and Tony is caught in the middle. It’s going to take everything these men can give to create a viable balance between home and work. Especially when the outside world seems determined to throw obstacles in their way.

Life Lessons Series

Review:

Home Work is the third book in Kaje Harper’s Life Lessons series (the first book was reviewed here; Breaking Coverhere). Unlike the first two books which concentrated more on one of the protagonists, this is the story of them both, their new family and challenges they are facing. Because of this, Mac’s case was in the background and, perhaps, not as well balanced with the rest of the story as was the case in the first two books. That, however, didn’t take away much of my enjoyment in the book.

Three months after the events from the previous book, Tony and Mac are trying to balance their newly found family life, their relationship and their careers. Both of the kids have a difficult time adjusting to the new circumstances: Anna misses Brenda and the rituals of her previous life, while Ben fears abandonment and has difficulties expressing his feelings. Parenthood isn’t easy for either man, but Mac’s long hours often leave Tony with the entire burden of responsibilities, making him feel inadequate.

What really worked in this segment of the book was how Ms. Harper described their struggles and how the men worked through their problems. Tony and Mac are not the perfect parents – they make mistakes, they lose patience. When frustrated Tony finally explodes, it is as realistic as it gets. Still, their mutual love is as clear as day, their stolen moments romantic and sexy. When the tempers cool down, they are able to compromise and find the best solutions for both kids and themselves. Their relationship moves forward in a way that will satisfy even the most romantic soul out there. Additionally, considering their ages and experiences, the two children are described as realistically as I have seen in M/M fiction. The characters of both Anna and Ben have grown and deepened and provided some of the more touching moments in the novel.

The author also deftly handled Mac’s situation at work and his interactions with colleagues after his coming out. One of the things I usually dislike in books is the portrayal of homophobia in law enforcement which completely disregards the reality – the time we live in and the laws as well as people’s differences. From Oliver’s discomfort to Detective Ramsey’s complete acceptance and support, Ms. Harper gives us the whole range of people’s reactions and opinions. I particularly liked how the author treated the progression of Mac’s relationship with Oliver.

The one thing that didn’t work so well or, to be fair, not as well as in the two previous books was Mac’s case. While the book did a great job to show Mac’s dedication to his job and his effort to solve the case regardless of the victim’s background, I was bothered by the use of coincidences to move the case forward (Tony just happens to know the man who knows the man who…). As I said at the beginning, in spite of being a mystery fan, I wasn’t very bothered by this because the focus of the book wasn’t on the mystery. In the end, the case provided one of the most important plot points, which I won’t disclose here, but it added another dimension to the men’s relationship and gathered their entire family around them.

I don’t know if the author plans to write more books, although the events in this book indicate that we might look forward to at least another addition to the series. Whatever happens, Home Work is a well-written novel which will certainly satisfy the author’s fans and people who enjoy this series. I really enjoyed the progress of Tony and Mac’s relationship and the insight into their family situation. If you haven’t tried this series yet, I highly recommend that you do, only make sure to start with the first book.  

18 comments

  • I know what you mean Dianne:) I was really surprised to see this wonderful, well written novel only received a 4.25. It’s a 5 plus plus for me. Different strokes I guess, as I’ve seen some 5’s that made me do a double take. That’s what’s so interesting – everyone’s opinion varies, and that’s a good thing:)

    Reply
  • Madonna196 – I think I’ll just “ditto” your comments!! Finished this last night and absolutely loved it as much as the previous two in the series (which I have memorized, no kidding!) Kaje combines all of the elements you mention – romance, action, suspense, family/kid issues – in such a wonderfully believable and and compelling fashion. Tony, Mac and the kids rock. I did want to buy Mac a clue a few times early in the story, but he came through 🙂 And Tony’s reactions, at a few points in particular, were just so raw and real. This is also definitely a series where I find the crime story/mystery as gripping as the relationship between the MCs. Love the original twist (what Mac had to deal with) presented later in the book (don’t want to spoiler so won’t say more 😉 )

    Kaje has quickly become one of my favorite authors as well. I do believe I’m really looking forward to book four in the series :bravo:

    Reply
  • I reviewed this novel on Goodreads and gave it five stars. It’s one of the best novels I’ve read this year. I dearly love big Mac and Tony. Their relationship is one that I feel is solid and I’m walking on egg shells over whether they won’t make it. They’re there for each other unconditionally, and there for the kids. This coming from a reader who’s not a fan of kids in novels. But I love this family.

    My favourite novels involve cops or detectives, a little mystery, some suspense and action with lovely scenes of romance and tenderness in the mix. This novel had everything. Tony’s and Mac’s protectiveness for each other and the kids is heart meltingly wonderful.

    This novel was joy to read and I can’t wait for the next installment. Kaje Harper has become one of my Top 5 writers.

    Reply
  • I’m a fan of these guys as well, so I’m looking forward to reading this, especially after your great review.

    Reply
  • Thanks for the review LadyM!! The first 2 in this series are some of my most re-read books ever!! Kaje does an excellent job with every aspect. I have this one slated for this week – as soon as I can spare a night’s sleep 😀 Excellent series and I second your high recommendation 🙂

    Reply
    • You are welcome, Dianne! The book is great, but, yes, it requires a little time. But what a great way to spend it! 😀

      Reply
  • Thanks for the great review – I just wanted to say that yes, there definitely will be another book. This ending is far from a settled HEA, and I promise I will get the guys there (or as close as one can get to HEA, with all the things a lifetime can still hold.)

    Reply
    • Kaje,
      I loved this book, being part of the guy’s complicated lives again was very enjoyable, even if both happy and sad happenings did actually make my eyes fill. This relationship feels so strong and so real. Thank you . :flowers:

      Big thanks for the review LadyM. 🙂

      Reply
      • You are welcome, Raine. And, you are so right, their relationship feels so real. It’s actually rare that it’s depicted so well.

        Reply
  • Uhhh, I can’t wait to read this one! :happydance:
    I loved the first two books of the series.
    Thanks a lot for your review LadyM

    Reply
  • I’m really looking forward to reading this story, I loved the previous “Mac & Tony” books, and I agree that one of the reasons is that all of the characters (even kids) do seem so “everyday”, not an easy thing to write. IMHO 🙂
    Thanks for the review!

    Reply
    • I think you will love this sequel, rdafan7. I tried not to include any spoilers, but it’s lovely addition to the series. Let me know what you think. 🙂

      Reply

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