All Wheel Drive, Z.A. Maxfield
Genre: LGBTQIA, Romance
I love the Bluewater sereis, and devoured ZA Mazfield’s Cowboy sereis so I was sure I’d love this. But somehow for me it just doesn’t work.
Healey doesn’t seem to know what he wants, given what he’s been through that’s understandable, but I wasn’t convinced he’d be ready to jump into something with Diego so soon after the ultra traumatic breakup with Ford, someone he’d been with for (I think) two years, maybe more.
Diego is ultra prickly, being in a wheelchair myself I know how easy it is for people to be offensive even when they don’t mean it, but he seems to take offence at the slightest hint, maybe there’s another narrative.
I didn’t feel anything between him and Ford, no chemistry, no attraction or even just plain old lust, but to be fair I only got to 50% before giving up and just skimming to end to see what actually happened between Healey and Ford, and what the accident was.
I found all the things we couldn’t know so frustrating, Healey and Ford and The accident, the Gag order – wouldn’t his family insist he gets his own solicitors? He’s supposed to be ultra brilliant, wouldn’t he have seen the need for independent representation. even Ford tells him he needs it!
Diego, his past, his mum, whether she was famous, and why, and who wanted this exhibit, and why was he in a wheelchair, its kind of central to know what his history is to know why he’s so prickly. Is it from an accident, an illness, from birth? all those things affect differently how people cope with life on wheels.
Just too many unanswered questions, combined with lack of chemistry and me feeling I just didn’t Know the characters, didn’t feel they were real.
Stars: two, still love Bluewater and Z A Maxfield’s stories but this one just didn’t work for me.
ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers
Genre: Romance, LGBTQIA
I love Z.A.Maxfield books, but only came across them last year. I’d jumped in with book three of the Cowboy series and had to read the rest…so even though I’d not read first tow here I thought I’d be able to keep up.
I read amazon samples of books one and two and that gave me some background. Adin though – at times he’s like a toddler, short attention span, deliberately disruptive and it was hard imagining him as a scholar, a PHD, very respected in his field. I think if I’d read the first two books maybe I’d have understood him more? Still, I really liked him, and of course when he finds out about Donte’s part in his unwilling turning he’s devastated.
He’s been struggling to cope anyway and this seems to send him into a kind of listless depression. He’s not eating – well not from humans anyway but he can’t survive off animal blood and Donte knows he really needs to be firmer about his education, and formalising his entry into the world of Vampires, but he loves Adin, loves him desperately, and can’t bear to upset him even more. You can feel the way they are both in such a dilemma, not knowing what to do. I kind of understood why Donte did what he did, he’s lost so many people over his centuries long life and he couldn’t bear to lose Adin. It must have been a hard decision and not one you can take time over the way it seems to have happened.
Then the funeral of Ned Harwiche comes up, and Adin goes to it along with Donte’s long time rival Santos. Donte knows though that rival or not Santos will look after Adin and keep him safe. Adin’s a kind of magnet for trouble though and soon he’s deep into a mystery and kidnapped. Poor Adin, I felt for him, he was a bit naive but I did understand why, and he was trying to do his best when he got kidnapped.
Ned’s family are very involved in this book, and they’re a strange and spooky unit. Adin gets a crash course from Barrett Harwiche in Shifters, adding a bit more to his fast growing knowledge of the supernatural world, but it seems the more he learns the more there is to know, and he breaks rules without even having any idea of them. He’s kind of like a moth to a flame, bumbling round into danger, unable to escape.
Its a story that’s got lots of surprises in, and some interesting plot lines and I do want to go back to books one and two sometime. I think this is the end of the series as its labelled a trilogy, but I’d be happy to read more from this world, maybe a side series about other characters? There’s such great potential here for more IMO.
Stars: Four, a really satisfying read.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers.
My Cowboy Promises, Z. A. Maxfield
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
Genre: Romance, LGBTQIA
I’ve loved all the novels in this series so far, and it was great to see Tripp and Lucho from the last one in here. I’m glad the story has moved on from the J Bar, as there were only so many people could work on that ranch….
Z.A.Maxfield writes characters I can feel, can hear, and these seem very real to me. I can hear Ryder’s soft drawling accent, (even though I’ve never met a cowboy – not much call for them in the UK!) and feel I know from his actions just what sort of man he is. A real gentleman in every sense, not a poseur, image orientated person, but one who’s always out to look after his family and friends, who’s moral and always does what’s right whatever the cost to him. That’s how he ended up married to Andi, and father to Josh. Its a marriage in name only though, ( even though as others have said they share a bed, its not sexual, just comfort and making normality for Josh). Josh had plans to leave the small town til his best friend got pregnant. He knows what its like having a dogmatic, controlling father, and wants to help her as best he can. He’s a terrific father to Josh, loves him and acts as though he was biologically his. No-one except him and Andi know the truth. They’re still both very young at 23, with Josh now being 5. He’s a great kid and such a cute boy, and it shows just how well for a couple of youngsters, facing disapproval from both parents and everyone in town, they’ve done a spot on job of bringing him up.
Andi seemed a bit flaky to me at first, idolised by her father, spoiled after her mum left and used to being the prettiest, the favourite – until she slid off the track her father had planned out for her. He’s a tough man, cold, bossy and controlling and he really wasn’t happy about Andi’s pregnancy and marriage to Ryder. Andi loves to sing, but her dad has never approved, and she rarely gets the chance now. She lets off steam at town events and that’s when we first meet her, at one of her dads big publicity fourth of July parties. She’s had a bit too much to drink and has taken over the mic from the band, and of course her dad is furious, embarrassed and demands she stop. Then Ryder gets hurt at the event and in comes Declan the new doc. Sparks fly when they first see each other, and its clear that though Ryder thought he could be happy with Andi, that now he’s met Declan things will change. Somehow Ryder and Declan keep on bumping into each other and its a totally new experience for Ryder. He’s known he’s gay since childhood but never done so much as even kissed another man…..and certainly no one else but Andi knew this til Declan spots it.
Its a story that’s more than just a romance, its about growing up, about attitudes and bigotry, about how to deal with the problems that result from their actions. There’s little sex in here, especially when compared to others in the series, and the character don’t even kiss til maybe 3/4 of the way in. That didn’t matter to me as the story was perfect but it’s something that others may feel differently about. I felt the ending was a bit rushed though and left in a kind of ambiguous way. I liked that it looks as if things work out, that after all Ryder’s sacrifice Andi finally steps up and protects him. The song at the end Andi and Ryder sing together, that was perfect but I really wanted a bit more concrete idea of how the future was working out for them, not just a plan that should go through – as we all know things don’t always go to plan. I need a solid HEA, not just a plan for one. That’s why this isn’t five star for me but a four.
Stars: Four, great read but I felt it was a rushed ending.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers
Hell on Wheels, A Bluewater Bay Novel, Z..A. Maxfield
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
Genre: Romance, Gay and Lesbian.
I love the Bluewater Bay novels and it’s such fun having a series that’s written by different authors. Each book is a complete story but sometimes we meet characters from earlier books in another one. This idea of author collaboration works well I think – many of them have co-written other reads so they all have a style that will work together, and though the series could feel very disjointed it doesn’t – it feels fresh and I’m really enjoying it. Some authors feature more on the film set and the stars, others take the locals from the town of Bluewater Bay. This time we meet Spencer, who’s one of the stars of the film and Nash who runs a local business. The film connection is mostly in the background though, Spencer is one of the stars but we don’t see any of the set or actual filming.
Nash – oh Nash, what a great man he is. He’s got a lovable and crazy inventor father ( I love the saviour saver – or whatever it was called….), a twin brother and a disabled younger sister. His twin is away at college, dad has retired from the business and spends his time inventing more and more of those gadgets we don’t think we need but somehow end up with, and he makes good money from it. 15 year old Shelby has some serious health issues and is a wheelchair user, but the brothers and dad have done a great job and she’s very independent. I so sympathise with her when she says she feels invisible sometimes – that people see the wheelchair and not her – I’m also a chair user and that’s exactly how it is, people talk to whoever is with me as if I’m an idiot sometimes – or even more infuriating I get the “baby” voice and my head patted. One day I’m going to do the two fingered eye jab and scream!! Back to the book….now everyone is changing, growing up and becoming independent and Nash is beginning to feel he’s not needed any more, and is a bit lost.
Spencer, oh he’s great too – loyal and loving, and wants a traditional type marriage, yet his husband has left him for a woman. His ex is a real jerk, and the lady involved is a real b itch. They provided some great moments of drama and I do love that, someone nasty to mentally boo and hiss at. If its all sweetness and light its boring! I love Spencer’s very British curses, B ollocks and A rse, so familiar!
Nash comes across Spencer waiting for a tow truck just outside town and keeps him company. He’s not one of the big fans of the series, doesn’t really get into all the celebrity cult worship though his younger sister adores the series, especially Spencer. He can see Spencer is unhappy and carrying some anger and they chat, get along well and soon become good friends – and maybe a bit more. Nash tries to tell himself Spencer’s only there to film his part and then he’s off, but the heart doesn’t listen to the head does it? They’re feeling their way, getting closer and then – bam – The Ex comes out with a very public, very grand ( and very funny, though unintended on his part) gesture. Poor Nash, he’d been kidding himself he’d got his feelings under control, and when he sees this he’s convinced Spencer will take Peter back and forget him. I do love the sad parts…and I really felt for poor Nash when this happened.
Its another great read from Bluewater, and I love the way we saw the whole family, loved Spencers team of Tick and Bast, and the way they all felt like real people. As I’ve said I could identify with Shelby and her part was very true to life. So often authors throw in a disability without ever really researching the realities of it but this time it was very realistic.
Stars: Five, loved it and a perfect ending.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers
Home the Hard Way, Z.A. Maxfield
Review from jeannie zelos book reviews
I love good romance – well good for me anyway 🙂 I need romance with a solid backstory, where the characters feel real, and have real experiences. Thats all here in this novel, two amazing leads, lots of genuine secondary charaters, a plot that so real in that bigotry and small town pettiness always exists, and the romance – the push/pull, the one step forwards and two back – that was fabulous. I like some tension too and the mystery here let that play out superbly.
I was drawn ionto the story quickly, poor Dare, left town as a teen after his father’s suicide, and now he’s back. Demoted after his mess-up at his last post in the city he’s been lucky to get this transfer. He needs to stay out of trouble to get his career back on track, and of course the local officers have a bit of a chip about him being there, normally one of them would have been promoted. So poor Dare is on a hiding before he’s even started. Then he tries to pick up his friendship with Finn. Finn is difficult to work out – first I thought he was a “victim” type character – he’s had some awful experiences at school and beyond after Dare left. He’s 5 years younger than Dare, and he was always Finn’s protector. Once he left it seems Finn was on every bullies hit list. Not only is he gay but he’s got a strange kind of beauty that seems to rub people up wrongly, and of course his mothers promiscuity doesn’t help, even though she’s long dead, drowned in a river when he was just a child. As I got to know him though I realised he had an inner strength, and an inner beauty that shows through. He’s got a way of looking at people and sizing them up, and he knows Dare needs help but isn’t yet in a postion to ask for it. He’s also still feeling off after Dare never continued contact when he left, never answered any of his letters or calls. Now it seems Dare thinks he can just waltz back in and Finns not having it.
It’s a small town story, full of gossip and innuendo, people who add two and two and come up with five, with secrets new and old being held. When Dare comes in and starts asking about his dad’s suicide he stirs up a hornets nest. His dad’s death never felt right to him, no note, nothing to suggest that was what he was going to do – once he starts looking however it stirs up a whirlwind, nothing of the past seems to be what is was, and there are mysteries in the present beginning with a death that may or may not be suspicious, and ending with danger and murders. As ever with a suspense I like to try to work out “who dunnit..” but I was totally off course. Of course I’d only the clues that came out as the book continued, but even when some big secrets were revealed I was still way off track!
Then there’s the romance side. That was really good. Dare isn’t sure about his sexuality – its always been a bit fluid, though mostly he’s been with women, but something in Finn brings back all the protectiveness he felt when they were kids. Finn isn’t that little boy anymore though, and he’s been through so much that changed him. Dare isn’t really in the profession that looks kindly on gays either…though even there people are hiding what they are it seems. I really enjoyed the back and forth between Finn and Dare. People do change and it was good that they didn’t just fall into each others arms, but had to learn about each other as adults and accept the changes. That’s where I felt Finn had changed so much, but then he’d been through some terrible life threatening experiences, and gained stength through the measures he took to cope. He too has a weakness though, he’s learned control works for him and he’s not willing to go back and be the one being protected. Dare and Finn have a long way to go before they can be happy.
I loved this book, its got depth and understanding of human nature. I felt for poor Finn and really admired hm as an adult. He could have just given in, but he matured into an adult with a special kind of strenth without losing his loving caring nature. His aunt, Lyddie, who he lived with and was caring for in the last stages of her cancer, was a really good character, very wise, very all seeing and loved him deeply. I loved the sound of the mask he was making for her! I love glitter and glitz, and I’d enjoy knowing a real life Lyddie. Dare turned out to be so different to my first perception of him, as did a couple of other characters. There’s a minor BDSM side to the story too, and it’s explained very clearly and makes sense. Sometimes that’s just thrown in casually, and doesn’t fit the story but the author feels all romances have to have it added for titillation… but here its just perfect and adds an extra dimension to the characters. The sensuality ios good too, not overloaded on sex but little scens that are slipped in when appropriate and add to the understanding we have of the characters. When it is there its very sensual and seductive.
Stars: Full five! This is one of those stories that feels as it you know the characters, and getting to understand them better gives a feeling that the surface face they present inst the real one, and there are many, many people like that. It’s a great read, I really was gripped by the whole thing, plot, characters and concept.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and Riptide
Arc supplied by Netgalley.
First book I’ve read by this author – it won’t be the last, I really enjoyed this story. Its a M/M romance and a very tender love story. I love romance regardless of sexualities. Jack’s a super man, had a horrific accident which ended his fire-fighting career, but along with some long time friends starts up The Brothers Grime. Its a clean up firm for after disasters, deaths, accidents and allows him to still feel connected to helping people. His injuries limit his abilities on the physical side so he’s mostly doing the paperwork side, office stuff and visiting sites for quotes. When he gets asked to quote for the latest job though its a tough one, its a gun suicide of someone he had a relationship with a long time ago, and it ended very badly with Jack getting beaten up. He’s still carried feelings for Nick though all these years, and it’s left him unable or unwilling to open himself to a relationship, so he’s just done casual dates and friendships since then. He’s reached a point though where he thinks maybe its time for more, but his on – off partner isn’t out, says a Gay cop is not what he wants to be seen as. It’s clear Jacks beating affected his friends too and left them afraid of coming out. Jack’s a lovely man and its clear he’s lonely, even though he has a great group of friends and colleagues.
At the job site Jack meets Ryan, Nick’s cousin and owner of the house. He’s stunned at first by how alike they look, and it gives him a mental jar. Ryan’s a great guy, prone to picking up what he describes as “lost causes” though and has been badly let down in his choice of partners. Despite that he’s still so open and loving, I really felt he and Jack deserved each other and would just fit so right. The heat between him and Jack is pretty immediate, and the sexual tension steaming. There are some sex scenes but well written and fit the story exactly. Ryan doesn’t know Nick was gay – he had a wife and children, and kept it hidden from everyone, so has only Nick’s version of what happened which is far from the truth, and he initially looks at Jack as someone different, and with different motives to that which he has. Ryan’s lonely too, and as the two work together on the clean up (Ryan wants to do it himself but Jack persuades him its not a good idea, but he insists on helping) they learn more about each other. Ryan phones Jack the night after the clean up, early in the morning feeling very upset and not realising he’d feel that way, and he needs someone to talk to. Jack’s awake anyway, having similar feelings and the two chat for a long time. They quickly they get closer and become lovers. Jack’s stunned that Ryan is so open about showing how he feels about him in front of others, and they go out together to the memorial sevice and on a date. Jack’s always been kept in the background before, he’s out but never been with anyone for more than just sex. Its a new thing for him and he finds he likes it. He’s still hiding from Ryan though about the truth of him and Nick, and of course secrets have a way of being outed and causing problems…..
It’s a great love story, very tender and yet sizzling hot at times. I really enjoyed the story behind it, this novel is not just an excuse to write sex but a real tale worth reading, and one I’ll be happy to re read. The best stories always bear re reading, and I find things I missed first time round. Its priced at £3.97 for 166 pages so quite expensive on my VFM scale, but the re reading possibilities of course brings that down to a much better value. I’d rather pay more for a book I can re read than have a cheap one off read.
Stars: well, great story, lovely characters that I felt for and a HEA so a full five.