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The Dark Horse #1

The Dark Horse

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Paul Hammond is dead. That's what tough and sexy LAPD Detective Daniel Moran tells his lover, Hollywood actor Sean Fairchild--and Sean wants to believe him, but what about those threatening postcards in Hammond's handwriting? The last thing Sean needs is someone doubting him. But then, what does Sean really know about his new boyfriend? Dan is a dark horse--and maybe Sean is betting too much on this relationship. He can't afford to take foolish chances. It not just Sean's career at stake or his relationship or even his sanity--it's his life. [Publisher's note: this book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations that some readers may find objectionable: m/m homoerotic sex practices.]

134 pages, ebook

First published April 1, 2007

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About the author

Josh Lanyon

181 books5,005 followers
Josh Lanyon is the author of over sixty titles of classic Male/Male fiction featuring twisty mystery, kickass adventure and unapologetic man-on-man romance.

Her work has been translated into eleven languages. The FBI thriller Fair Game was the first male/male title to be published by Harlequin Mondadori, the largest romance publisher in Italy. Stranger on the Shore (Harper Collins Italia) was the first M/M title to be published in print. In 2016 Fatal Shadows placed #5 in Japan’s annual Boy Love novel list (the first and only title by a foreign author to place). The Adrien English Series was awarded All Time Favorite Male Male Couple in the 2nd Annual contest held by the 20,000+ Goodreads M/M Group. Josh is an Eppie Award winner, a four-time Lambda Literary Award finalist (twice for Gay Mystery), an Edgar nominee and the first ever recipient of the Goodreads Favorite M/M Author Lifetime Achievement award.

Josh is married and lives in Southern California.

Find other Josh Lanyon titles at www.joshlanyon.com
Follow Josh on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.

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5 stars
475 (26%)
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752 (41%)
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471 (26%)
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76 (4%)
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22 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 164 reviews
Profile Image for Baba  .
859 reviews3,834 followers
June 21, 2013
4.5 stars.****Review completed June 21, 2013

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Lanyon had me at…

I stared for a long time while Dan's deep voice receded into the cries of the gulls overhead and the pound of the waves on the beach a few yards away, until those too faded to a kind of white noise.

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I had an inkling this would be good. And it was actually more than good.

Dan's large hand slid under my fingers nervously fiddling with a teaspoon. "It's over, chief. Trust me."
"I do." It came out more husky than I'd intended.
He turned my hand palm up, lightly kissing it. The warmth of his lips against my surf-chilled skin made me shiver. I dropped the teaspoon. It hit the edge of my saucer with a silvery chime. He grinned.

Actor Sean Fairchild has been stalked for a year by Paul Hammond. Hammond, however, ended up dead after he lost control of his car during a police chase on Highway 138 and crashed into the California Aqueduct. Interestingly enough, the police never found Hammond's body and suddenly Sean is getting unsettling postcards again. But since everyone is convinced that Hammond was dead who had sent the cards? Or is Hammond not dead yet? A game of cat-and-mouse begins and Sean is getting jumpier by the hour and questioning his sanity.

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Lt. Daniel Moran of the LAPD is improving his meager cop salary by working as a consultant for the film industry. Dan acted as Sean's bodyguard when Hammond threatened him, and as soon as Hammond was dead their relationship began and both of them fell hard for one another. Sean has a rather long history of emotional issues

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"He chooses the dark horse. He chooses

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He got one arm around my waist and the other around my thigh and managed to flip me over onto my back. The Swedish mattress swallowed my frame a few obliging inches.
"The bed is having me for dinner," I said, laughing up at him.
"And I'm having you for dessert," Dan said, his voice deep and velvety.

I said, in a very bad imitation of James Cagney, "Okay, copper. You got me fair and square."
His lean cheek creased in amusement. "Oh? You're going to come quietly?"
"I always do," I whispered.

Granted, the premise of the gay cop who is accidentally also the poster boy of the new and sensitive LAPD falling for the gay Hollywood actor is kinda clichéd. Having said this, I didn't mind and Lanyon delivered a wonderful little story that provided a well-thought-out plot that was spiced up with interesting psychological aspects, complex and well-drawn characters and engaging writing. In fact, my love for Lanyon is growing. Irrevocably. I can always go back to his books when I need to read a great short. The Dark Horse is no exception and fit the bill. It's an amazing little gem, and I honestly don't know how he does it but the man knocks them out of the park all the time.

It doesn't come as a surprise that I loved Dan. The man is in his mid-thirties, mature and (sexually) experienced, very smart and I quote: old-fashioned movie-star handsome. He is very perceptive and I adored his tenderness. Besides, I really enjoyed their intimate scenes. They were well written, sexy, very sensual and even playful at times. I loved to see them laugh together in bed.

I have read quite a few books by Lanyon now and three things are (almost) a given. One MC is strong and gorgeous, physically very attractive or even handsome and the other MC is physically pretty average or above average and has to deal with health issues. Plus, one of the MCs is an excellent cook. The Dark Horse is the same although the MC with health issues is above average when it comes to looks. BTW, I got very hungry while reading this story because Sean sure knew how to cook a mouth-watering and delicious meal. Bon appétit!

To me it was very easy to figure out HUGE SPOILER Baba was right. *fist bump*

I loved how Lanyon kept playing with the book title and how he referred to The Charioteer. Sean really wanted Perfect. I guess I will have to read this book someday.

Recommended read.

"(…)Maybe he's just afraid to lose himself by loving someone completely."

Profile Image for Julio Genao.
Author 9 books1,987 followers
February 8, 2016
irritatingly neurotic protagonist whines his way through a dully-plotted mystery to a weak-sauce conclusion.

Profile Image for Sofia.
1,144 reviews194 followers
October 27, 2016

Um like this. It created a need in me to re-read The Charioteer because I'm realised that 30 years past my first reading, the story has gotten a bit (or more than) hazy. Just the feeling of a great book remains.

Read with Irina
Profile Image for Deeze.
1,592 reviews265 followers
January 25, 2022
Another winner for me.

I loved this story. It was a bit different from my previous Josh Lanyon reads. This time the Cop wasn’t the closeted jerk. Instead Dan was the one most comfortable with his homosexuality and Sean was the more complexed character.

The story line was as interesting as the other Josh Lanyon mysteries I’ve read. It kept me guessing and even after I figured it out, or at least had my suspicions confirmed, I was still reading as fast as I could to get to the climax.

Dan and Sean had great chemistry for me,

Another must read for Josh Lanyon fans.

ETA Still as good, and still had me wanting to gag Sean to stop him talking lol.
Profile Image for Trio.
2,977 reviews171 followers
March 16, 2016
Audible Version - narrator: Jason Clarke

What a fantastic story, I loved the characters and the plot was wonderfully creative (Lanyon, but of course). How she can pack so much into so few words will never cease to amaze me.

Jason Clarke's narration was perfect.
Profile Image for Emanuela ~plastic duck~.
805 reviews115 followers
May 24, 2012
What I love about Josh Lanyon's narrators is that they are not perfect and they know it. In this book Sean analyzes himself with clarity and detachment and no self-pity. For the reader it's really fascinating.

Sean has a lot of personal issues and he carries a bag of past anxiety. He's been stalked and he's fallen for Dan, the cop who was protecting him. His stalker should be dead, but Sean is still being threatened.

The stalker, his natural insecurity and the rejection for a movie part he wants badly put a strain on his life and this spills to his newborn relationship with Dan.

Sean is self-centered, probably because he had to work on himself to go past his suicidal tendencies and because he is alone, because his family has rejected him. And because he is an actor, therefore he has a pretty developed ego that he tries to downplay. I said that Sean is insecure, but he knows what he wants, so he goes through these hot/cold phases and he seems to recognize that it's difficult to deal with him. It takes someone like Dan, who is so older, solid, rational and caring, to go through his barriers.

The stalking part gives to the book a retro Hollywood atmosphere, I felt as if I was watching "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?". At one point I knew what the menace was, but I didn't know the reasons, and that surprised me.

It's a compelling story with a beautiful romance.

The sequel is The White Knight.

Profile Image for Johanna.
92 reviews47 followers
June 20, 2017
First of all: If you haven't read The Dark Horse and The White Knight yet, I think you should prepare to read them in a row, because the books twine together very nicely.

The Dark Horse was the first title Josh Lanyon wrote specifically for the m/m market. So, if you really stop to think about it, this book kind of made history, right?

What I most liked about The Dark Horse was the intimate moments between Sean and Dan: When they were talking, touching, holding each other and making love. Most of those moments were not perfect, nor were they smooth and polished – and that made them so special and fragile and perfect eventually. And the dialogue between the two men was charming to read. It was an odd (but very successful) combination of such serious topics and hilarious comments. And it really made my heart ache how at least at first Sean thought that he didn't deserve a man like Dan.

And I also think that I’ll finally have to read The Charioteer that I’ve postponed for a long time. :)
Profile Image for Breann.
587 reviews112 followers
February 22, 2015
3.5 stars

Wait. Did I just read book 1 of a series or book 2? It says book 1, but it really felt like book 2. Oh well, I still enjoyed the hell out of The Dark Horse.

There wasn’t much background given in this story, we’re kind of thrust into the relationship between Sean and Dan and into the mystery. Hence, why this felt like a continuation of a series instead of the beginning. I would have liked some buildup of the relationship or some background on the stalking and was a little confused from the lack thereof.

So I was a tad lost and wasn’t really feeling it for the first, say, 40% or so. But then! Then, shit got intense. The mystery got intense and the relationship got intense and I was loving it. And in true Lanyon style, I was hooked and riveted by every word and then… The End. It was all over when all I wanted was just a little bit more of Sean and Dan! Just a teeny, tiny bit more. I just never felt a true sense of closure and it was all over before the real relationship had really begun. For me, it felt like a HFN, when I really would have liked an HEA (obvs).
Profile Image for Annery.
941 reviews122 followers
December 9, 2017
Thank you Josh Lanyon for restoring my book faith. I'd had a couple of meh to straight out bad reads recently and wisely decided to go with a master. As an added bonus I had not read this novella and loved it. The icing on the cake? Jason Clarke did the audio. Heaven.

Sean Fairchild is an up-and-coming, out movie star, who after having been stalked for a year goes to the police which results in assigned protection. The story opens the week after the stalker has presumably died in a high speed police chase. Daniel Moran, the detective who was assigned to the case, and Sean are settling into a relationship after getting close during the investigation. Dan is also out and proud and in great measure that was the reason he was assigned to the case, to burnish the LAPD's image. There's one hitch: threatening postcards & phone calls are coming from the deceased stalker.

I won't say much more so as to not ruin the plot. You may guess early on what's happening but I for one loved the Gaslight vibe, the beach setting, and the exploration of Hollywood culture. I loved how patient Dan was with Sean, if a bit high handed, how he loved him with deeds and not just words. He's described as old-fashioned movie-star handsome and all I could envision was Jon Hamm. I've seen some people complain about Sean but I think he was logical and justified in his fears, insecurities, and assumptions. The author perfectly limns Sean's history, coupled with a year long stalking and the anxiety over his next role it all made absolute sense.

My only complaint is that I want more about these two. Greedy.

***Just found The White Knight, which seems to be a prequel to this, which makes perfect sense as this story starts with Dan & Sean as an 'established' couple. Just what the Doctor ordered.***
Profile Image for Kati.
1,755 reviews65 followers
May 24, 2012
Oh, how I love Josh Lanyon's totally screwed up characters - the main hero in this book, Sean, was suicidal in the past. I loved Dan and his protective nature - even though he did go over the top from time to time, that's true - and it pained me to see how his and Sean's relationship went all screwy because they couldn't just talk, both having trust issues. The misunderstandings kept piling up and Steve's meddling didn't help. To sum it up, I loved it!
Profile Image for Sarah.
1,725 reviews103 followers
May 24, 2012
t’s a Hollywood cliché: the hot and handsome bodyguard. But in the case of LAPD Detective Daniel Moran, it’s all true. Dan is everything Sean ever wanted in a leading man, but Dan’s kind of an old-fashioned guy. It’s his job to keep Sean safe and in one piece — happy is someone else’s problem.

As tension mounts, Sean can’t help turning to Dan, while Dan is finding it harder and harder to say no. Their only chance of a happy ending is if Dan can keep Sean alive — but what happens when he uncovers the secrets Sean is trying hard to conceal?
From Loose Id.

It has been a while since I have read anything by Josh Lanyon. I read the 1st book in this series, Dark Horse, early last year and thoroughly enjoyed it.

The characters are incredibly compelling. Sean is so broken and I love the authors ability to portray the damaged hero so strongly without him becoming too much of a whiney pain in the ass. Sean tries hard to fix himself with varying degrees of success and this is what appealed to me so much in the 1st book. He has some fairly ingrained issues with control and even though there is a sense of completion in the 1st book, it is the 2nd book where you see more of Sean slowly letting go and trying to move on, it’s just so very human. He knows Dan loves him and is only trying to help, but it is only through ultimately trusting someone else that he can move on and these two strong willed people can learn to live and be together. Love it. The titles are astute too.

What also appeals is the humor within the book. Those sardonic moments that sneak up on you, like Dan being a black belt? heh. They catch you by surprise and make you snigger quietly to yourself. It’s clever humor and I like that kind of internal dialog from a character.

I am used to hot, but not gratuitous sex in Lanyon’s books. They often have a lean, pared down feel that is always intense, but some of the scenes in White Knight took me a bit by surprise. (No more sticky pen for you!) They were intense and loving, with much hot tub goodness. Noice.

Compelling and beautifully written, it’s books like these that stay with you. More please.
Profile Image for Natasha.
534 reviews255 followers
February 18, 2014
(Yeah, I dunno.)

Classic Lanyon. Do I start each of my Lanyon reviews by saying "classic Lanyon"? Because I feel as if i do... anyway.

I'm in a book slump right now. Nothing I read I enjoy. Well, a few things, but most I'm not loving lately. EXCEPT LANYON BRINGS ME BACK INTO THE SUNSHINE!

I love mystery novels with CRAZY BITCHES. This one had a crazy bitch or two in it and I love that. I actually (sure, maybe I'm a bit dumb) didn't know who the culprit was until literally like 86%. This was AFTER the main character found out who it was. I'm becoming slow in my old age.
Whatever. This book was hot and a great mystery, for me at least (I knew it was one of two people) and exciting.

Profile Image for ElaineY.
2,119 reviews68 followers
May 24, 2012
Like most of the m/m romances I've bought, Dark Horse focuses on the romance with a bit of suspense to spice things up. I've realized that I'm turning to more and more gay erotica to get my romance/erotica fix because they, surprisingly, are more emotionally satisfying than the m/f romances being written these days.

Profile Image for Jon.
Author 8 books127 followers
January 18, 2018
This novella was one roller-coaster ride!!! I thoroughly enjoyed "The Dark Horse"; As a reader, I felt like I was "dropped" in to the novella after so much had happened; the stalker, Paul Hammond was dead (or was he?), the Hollywood actor, Sean Fairchild had been stalked for a while before the stalker's death and assighed a body-guard, the hunky LAPD Dan Moran....therefore, I was immediately captivated. I read the novella over two days - I couldn't put it down!!!

My only disappointment is that the novella didn't begin at the beginning of the stalking of Sean and the assignment of the LAPD Detective, Dan Moran. There is SO much more story here (perhaps Mr. Lanyon will oblige us at a later date); there is, however a sequel with this pair titled "The White Knight" which I've already purchased. The first installment was just too damn good to pass it up.

Basically, the story is about a Hollywood actor, Sean, who has been stalked by a man named Paul Hammond. Appears Paul is thought to be dead following a police chase (happened before this novella) and Sean has escaped to the coast to relax and get his life back together. He's forged a relationshipo with the LAPD detective that once protected him....now, a postcards with stalker Paul's handwriting start appearing in the mail. Sean is freaking and Detective Dan - er, lover, is trying to make light of the situation. Sean is on the verge of another breakdown, Dan is beginning to question his lover's sanity and clearly "someone" wants to scare the actor into hysterics....

A very fast read; great dialog - wonderful pull and tug between Sean and Dan; very sexy and erotic at points....a genuinely good read!!!

Profile Image for Jennifer☠Pher☠.
2,727 reviews230 followers
May 25, 2014
Lessons learned, um, never? Last night I chose this book to read today. I figured I would start it in the morning, knowing there were plans for the day, with no worries. I'd start it, it's short, all will be ok. Except, because I will never learn, it wasn't. As is with me and Lanyon, I couldn't put this one down, again.

So, what did I think? I loved it, loved it, LOVED IT!! I think you will love it too! Read.
Profile Image for Norma.
711 reviews
May 24, 2012
Oh Josh. How is it that you manage to make me feel happy and sad in the same sentence? Beautiful story. Twists and turns, most of which I saw, but still made me stop and think. It's amazing to me how this author can fit so much into short stories and never have to resort to any nonsense to keep his story going.
Profile Image for Ije the Devourer of Books.
1,715 reviews53 followers
November 16, 2014
Enjoyable, although I solved the mystery way before the end. Still, this is one of my favourite authors and the writing, the pace, the characters were just perfect.
Profile Image for Silke.
271 reviews1 follower
April 8, 2015
LOVED IT ! Great and interesting case/plot and the two MC's are just perfect together.
Profile Image for Katie(babs).
1,809 reviews540 followers
May 24, 2012
The Dark Horse is an excellent mystery/romance about Hollywood actor, Sean Fairchild and LAPD Detective Dan Moran, who is also a bodyguard to the Hollywood elite. The Dark Horse begins where Sean is trying to get his life back on track after being stalked by a fan. His stalker is dead and Dan, his former bodyguard, is now his lover. We see things from Sean’s POV and his voice and internal dialogue was very enjoyable. Sean is simply adorable and the relationship he has with the older and rugged Dan is very sweet and very sexy. I have read too many gay romances in the past where everything is physical and not enough emotional build up. I like sex in my books like anyone else, but Josh has done something very different. Even though we see how much these two men care of each other, their physical intimacies have not taken over the story to the point where the plot is pushed aside. Sean has issues about these certain intimacies that Dan would like to introduce Sean to. But Dan takes Sean’s feelings into consideration and doesn’t push. Even though Sean questions things between himself and Dan, Dan is there to answer any questions Sean may have. And even when Sean thinks his stalker is still alive, Dan is there to protect Sean and help him get through his fears.

If you haven’t had the chance with GLBT fiction, Josh Lanyon’s The Dark Horse is the perfect place to start.
Profile Image for CrabbyPatty.
1,574 reviews170 followers
February 9, 2020
Read this in 2015, but I'm finally getting around to reading The White Knight so I figured I better write a short review.

I spent most of this book figuring I gotta be reading the second book in the series since the love story apparently started before THIS book and some of the plot is rehashed. I hated playing catch-up .....until I learn that somehow the actual second book in this series is both a prequel AND a sequel. And right now I am very confused .....

Visit my blog, Sinfully Good Gay Book Reviews
Profile Image for Fangtasia.
565 reviews45 followers
May 24, 2012
Like everything else from Josh Lanyon, fabulous story, characters so real that you miss them when you finish the book. If you liked the 'Adrien English Mystery' series, you will enjoy 'The Dark Horse'.
Profile Image for Vero.
1,420 reviews9 followers
December 30, 2012
This is the second part in the series after "the white knight". I loved it. It is a typical Lanyon novel and has two great main characters and a good suspense part - simply great.

Profile Image for Georgie-who-is-Sarah-Drew.
1,100 reviews126 followers
October 8, 2017
Suffers from being the sequel to a story that is never really referenced.  We're plunged into the middle of things, with no way of judging whether Sean is a reliable narrator, nor how strong his relationship with Dan is.  So a lot of this short novella is spent with the reader on the back-foot.  A second reading didn't really engage me much either.
Profile Image for Milyd.
502 reviews16 followers
September 3, 2019
The problem with mystery books for me is that it’s hard to find the middle ground. I’m disappointed if I’m not able to guess the murderer, but I also hate if it’s too easy to guess the murderer. This was a case of the latter.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 164 reviews

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