Car Crossed Lovers: Review of Hell on Wheels

20150710hellHell on Wheels A Bluewater Bay Novel by Z..A. Maxfield

Everybody needs a break sometimes. But what happens when a much needed diversion from the rigors of everyday life turns out to be more than that?

Nash has a lot on his plate. He’s running his family’s auto shop while simultaneously looking after his wheelchair using younger sister and absent-minded inventor father. Spencer is a celebrity in the middle of divorce that is pure tabloid-fuel.

They find each other at the worst possible point, but can peace grow from chaos?

I am seriously loving the Bluewater Bay series. Not only is it set in my favorite place, the Pacific Northwest, but every character is so well made. The writers are truly the first string on team Riptide, and the quality is quite apparent.

Nash and Spencer are so well written, as are the various family members and self-identified minions that surround the two characters. I do wish that there was more fire between the two leads. I also wish that there was less loving kindness for Spencer’s shitty ex.

I get that how the story plays out is actually the healthier and more realistic, and I know that I’m always harping on these red-flag romances, but I also wonder if there could have been a little more flash bang. What can I say, I’m a woman of contradictions.

4 stars

New Dog, Old Tricks: Review of Lone Wolf

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Lone Wolf, A Bluewater Bay Novel by L.A. Witt, Aleksandr Voinov

Another successful episode in Riptide’s Bluewater Bay series, Lone Wolf will have fanatic writers green with envy.

When Kevin Hussain aka Lone Wolf gets an IM from his fellow fanfic writer and cyber crush Wolf Hunter, it seems like it might be time to take it to the next level. Little does he know what level that actually is.

Wolf Hunter, also known as insanely popular fiction writer Hunter Easton, author behind the hit new show Wolf’s Landing has come to a complete stalemate in his writing. But when the flirty and very stimulating Lone Wolf shares his unique take on the next steps for their favorite pack, Hunter can’t help but reach out. Lone Wolf’s book needs to be the next volume in the Wolf’s Landing series, and Kevin’s name needs to be on it, but how to make that happen?

And what’s to be done about the very real chemistry between the two self-professed loners? Can two men so used to their own company learn to work together? To be together?

If you want to know the answer to these questions, as well as some hot sex between an extremely forward younger man and his equally enthusiastic older partner, this is the book for you.

As I have come to expect from both L.A. Witt and Aleksander Voinov, the writing is spot on, the plot is great, it flows well, and at no point did I find myself taken out of the function by something unrealistic or nonsensical. The only thing keeping me half a star away from the 5 star rating is that little extra punch that I look for in a true 5 star. This is good stuff and well worth the price. Pick it up.

4.5 stars out of 5

The Love that Were Not Speak Its Name – Review of Starstruck by L.A. Witt

cover52088-mediumStarstruck by L.A. Witt

Thanks to NetGalley and Riptide Publishing for the review copy.

I’ve reviewed several other L.A. Witt titles, and you guys know I love her. While I wasn’t as enamored of the recent Noble Metals as I have been of her other work, Starstruck brings her back up to level. L.A. is definitely one of the top performers in the gay romance genre, and I really appreciate the diversity of her work.

In Starstruck, retired actor Levi is offered the part of a lifetime on the hit supernatural drama Wolf’s Landing, if only he’ll stay in the closet. This seems like business as usual until he meets his smart, attractive, interesting, and very out co-star Carter. Then things go downhill fast.

Their friendship quickly has both men questioning their principals and their priorities. Carter refuses to hide, but could he make an exception for Levi? Levi can’t throw away his last chance at a meaningful career for a love affair, but he knows Carter isn’t just an affair.

The tension is at eleven. Each man has valid reasons to stay away, but the heart wants what it wants. In well-turned phrase and practiced drama, Witt makes what very well could have come across as schmaltzy Teen Wolf fan fiction into a beautiful story of attraction, personal growth, and honesty. I mean, Levi plays a werewolf named Max Furman, for Christ’s sake. FURman.

The Bluewater Bay series itself is also an interesting experiment. Riptide plans on publishing at least ten Bluewater Bay titles, each one a standalone novel, each one written by a different popular Riptide author. I’m really looking forward to everyone’s interpretation of the small coastal logging town in Washington, and how the natives interact with the cast and crew of the show that’s both reviving and over-running their tiny, isolated town. I look forward to reviewing them all.

4.5 out of 5

Twink Back the Night – Review of “Home the Hard Way” by Z.A. Maxfield

cover50620-mediumHome the Hard Way by Z.A. Maxfield

Thanks to NetGalley for the review copy.

I have to admit that I wasn’t that interested in Home the Hard Way when I first saw it on the NetGalley shelves. Disgraced cop returns home to his twinkey childhood best friend and attempts to solve an old mystery sounded like pretty standard fare.

How these things usually go is this: the twink feels hurt after being abandoned by his straight crush, and the not-so-straight crush has to man up and admit their soul-mate level bond after one or more amazing blow jobs from his slightly embarrassingly femmey “bro.” At which point, closet case straight cop turns into a gay rights activist, but never has to deal with any real danger or adversity and life goes on as normal because people are just so damn happy about love.

Home the Hard Way definitely puts the old convention, if not on it’s ear than at least on it’s knees. When Dare Buckley comes back to his minuscule hometown in the Pacific Northwest, he expects some degree of animosity, both for the scandal that sent him running home, and for the apple carts he plans to upset in the 15 year old mystery of his dad’s uncharacteristic suicide. But what he doesn’t expect is his former best friend Finn Fowler. Finn was the little brother Dare had always wanted, someone to protect, someone to look up to him and boost his confidence with hero worship. But something’s changed… for both of them.

Diminutive and openly gay, Finn is used to keeping secrets and taking care of himself. So by the time his boyhood crush comes back to town, he’s quick with the brush off for a man who couldn’t possibly reconcile the starry-eyed kid he was with the confident, leather dom he’s become. He takes no time to figure out that Dare wants him, even that Dare craves discipline, but the idea that they could have more than secret sessions in the dark both terrifies and excites him. It’s untested waters for them both, and when Finn becomes involved in a murder investigation, it looks like Dare’s poor decision making has come back to bite him in the ass. Or can he really trust this man he loves, but doesn’t know?

I fucking loved this book. The idea that the little gay kid would be holding all the cards while the masc. cop who left him behind would be the needy wreck was entirely novel for me. The leather component took me completely by surprise, and was incredibly hot. Character development is top notch. There’s no good guys or bad guys in Home the Hard Way. There’s no cut and dry answers, either. Just people trying to find their way in a sometimes cruel and uncaring, but also sometimes genuinely beautiful, generous world. The alliances and secrets that hold us together, keep us apart, and make up our lives are a character in and of themselves.

The slow burn tension and suspense had me compulsively skipping to the bottom of the screen. The murder mystery and the romance vie for attention, which is just how I like the levels in my romance/mystery combos.

If I had one complaint, it would be that it seems like Riptide (of course this beautiful piece is a Riptide release) has no intention of publishing this on the Kindle* store. It’s paperback or nothing on Amazon at $17.99 for regular users, and $15.99 for Prime users. If you want a kindle format, it is available on the Riptide site for $7.99, and well worth the price.

I just ran a test of their shopping cart process, and while nothing is as easy as the Kindle interface, Riptide doesn’t make it much harder than it has to be. As long as you know your Kindle address, and you’ve submitted the riptide address as an approved email on your kindle account, you can send the title to your Kindle by clicking a button next to the book in your “My Account” section, then entering your Kindle address into the field provided. As far as I can tell, there’s no way to save the Kindle address, or make sure that future epub purchases go there automatically. That would be on my wishlist if they want to continue to keep epub off the Amazon marketplace.

*EDITOR’S NOTE: My mistake, the title isn’t on Amazon because they, like many etailers, don’t allow pre-sale for digital books. As soon as the publication date arrives, you will be able to purchase Home the Hard Way in the Amazon store.

5 out of 5 stars