The Hardest Thing by James Lear (2013). A review by John Cook

The Hardest Thing

 

James Lear is, of course, the ‘erotic fiction’ writing pseudonym of Rupert Smith – Man’s World (2010) and Interlude (2014) both of which are workmanlike novels with some gay sex (Man’s World especially). I can only guess why Smith maintains the different names though there is probably a financial reason involved. In any case, this is the only one of his ‘Lear’ output I have read. I would not classify it as pornography as it is well written with interesting character development and a worthwhile plot that maintains interest except for a (perhaps) weak conclusion.

Yes, there is sex and plenty of it – exclusively gay. It is quite well done and uninhibited without giving the reader the feeling that they are responding to gratuitous stimulation but rather following one man’s fairly constant interest and arousal (something we either experience or remember with pleasure).

There is a plot line and it happily exploits a number of well-known gay themes including older/younger (though not exclusively so), military, gangster, crime and fraud, a road chase, S&M and blighted love with plenty of lust.

The main character is a cashiered US Marine Major Dan Stagg (got to love that name) who was tried for sexual misconduct with another Marine other ranks Sergeant. This Will was to be the love of his life but was cut short by a sniper’s bullet. Dan fits the bill physically (definitely) mentally (lost and looking for love and redemption) and of whose military training we are constantly reminded as he analyses the situations into which he wanders (or is enticed by his sizable libido). To say that Dan sees sexual possibilities in just about everything is an understatement and he certainly doesn’t present as conventional long-term commitment material.

He encounters a young man (Stirling McMahon amongst his other monikers) with a dubious background and all the appearances that Dan initially dislikes. However, the machinations of the plot cause him to see the desirable young as a potential life partner though there are difficulties and dangers that have to be experienced and endured before this emerges as a possibility.

My one very weak caveat with this yarn (as it is with much porn) is the tendency for the amazing availability of sex possibilities constantly to be found in all sorts of places and persons. There is probably nothing wrong with this as it is almost certainly a fantasy dream for a lot of gay men, and what is wrong with a spot of fantasy realisation?

There is a follow-on title to this, so I may let my curiosity and libido lead me further astray to ’Straight Up: A Dan Stagg Novel ‘.

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