Category Archives: ZA Maxfield

Review: Home the Hard Way by Z.A. Maxfield

HardWayTitle: Home the Hard Way by Z.A. Maxfield
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic, M/M, Romance, BDSM, Mystery/Suspense
Length: 374 pages/Word Count: 94,100
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher


Dare Buckley has come home—or at least, he’s come back to Palladian, the small town he left as a teenager. After a major lapse in judgment forced him to resign from the Seattle PD, Palladian is the only place that’ll hire him. There’s one benefit to hitting rock bottom, though: the chance to investigate the mystery of his father’s suicide.

Dare also gets to reacquaint himself with Finn Fowler, whose childhood hero worship ended in uncomfortable silence when Dare moved away. But Finn isn’t the same little kid Dare once protected. He’s grown into an attractive, enigmatic stranger who neither wants nor needs what Dare has to offer.

In fact, Dare soon realizes that Finn’s keeping secrets—his own and the town’s. And he doesn’t seem to care that Dare needs answers. The atmosphere in Palladian, like its namesake river, appears placid, but dark currents churn underneath. When danger closes in, Dare must pit his ingenuity against his heart, and find his way home the hard way.

The Review:

Home the Hard Way by Z.A. Maxfield is an intriguing and suspense filled mystery that is full of unexpected twists and turns. After a colossal error in judgment costs him his job with the Seattle PD, Dare Buckley returns to his small hometown of Palladian. Dare’s homecoming is quickly complicated by his friendship with Finn Fowler, a suspicious death and his father’s long ago suicide.

Dare and Finn lost touch when Dare left town fifteen years earlier and a lot has changed for both of them in the intervening years. Finn’s life currently centers around taking care of his Aunt Lyddie who is dying from cancer. Between his nursing duties, two jobs and his leather making business, Finn does not have time for any type of social life but he welcomes the chance to reconnect with Dare. Dare is not happy with his disgraced return to Palladian and some of the demons that led to his downfall are still plaguing him. His transition to the local police department is anything but smooth as he is faced with resentment from his fellow officers and the animosity from an old childhood nemesis. His reunion with Finn is uneasy and shrouded with unspoken secrets from their shared past.  A surprising attraction flares to life between them but a relationship seems unlikely amid all of the chaos swirling around them.

As children, Dare and Finn shared a unique but close friendship. Dare was a popular, well-liked athlete from a well-respected local family. Finn, on the other hand, was different from everyone else in just about every way. He and his mother were the target of small-town gossip and speculation and he had a difficult time living down his mother’s rather loose reputation. As the older of the two boys, Dare took on a protective role with Finn and kept him from being bullied by the other kids. Both of their childhoods were marred by the untimely deaths of Finn’s mom and Dare’s father and their friendship ended when Dare and his mother left town after his dad inexplicably committed suicide.

Now meeting on equal footing, both men have been shaped and changed by events in the intervening years. Dare is cynical, world-weary and his shining armor has definitely been tarnished by his poor decisions. Finn maintains tight control over everything around him and he keeps himself at a distance from everyone but his aunt. When Dare stumbles across Finn in a very shocking situation, the balance of their relationship is irrevocably changed. Dare is filled with numerous doubts about their future as a couple and when the case he has been working on breaks wide open, Dare realizes how little he and Finn really know one another.

Home the Hard Way is a compelling novel and Z.A. Maxfield does an excellent job keeping readers on their toes with quite a few startling plot twists. There are two separate mysteries that need unraveling and I was completely surprised by how these storylines were eventually solved. The one thing I really did not see coming is the direction that Dare and Finn’s relationship takes and while I confess to a few doubts about how they would resolve their differences, I was satisfied by how things turned out between them. All in all, it is another fabulous read by the extremely talented Z.A. Maxfield.

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Filed under BDSM, Contemporary, Erotic, Home the Hard Way, M/M, Mystery, Rated B, Review, Riptide Publishing, Romance, Suspense, ZA Maxfield

Review: My Heartache Cowboy by Z.A. Maxfield

heartacheTitle: My Heartache Cowboy by Z.A. Maxfield
The Cowboys Book Two
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: InterMix
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic, M/M, Romance, Ménage, M/M/M
Length: 294 pdf pages
Book Rating: A

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Can love conquer all?

Jimmy Rafferty and Eddie Molina go way back at the J-Bar ranch. They’ve worked together, bunked together, camped out, and drank together. So how has Jimmy failed to notice that Eddie is gay? Eddie has not failed to notice that his friend has a serious drinking problem, and he’s determined to help Jimmy kick the booze cold turkey.

Taking him up to a snowbound cabin to detox, Eddie is confronted with Jimmy’s fierce denial. But the pains of withdrawal are nothing for Jimmy compared with the heartache of denying his true feelings and his deep longing…for the one man who cares for him more than anyone else on earth.

The Review:

The second installment in Z.A. Maxfield’s The Cowboys series, My Heartache Cowboy is full of strong emotions that don’t just tug on the heartstrings. Nope, it’s a full-fledged yank that pulls the reader headlong into the story from the very first word. This deeply moving novel pretty much breaks your heart as Eddie Molina tries to help his longtime Jimmy Rafferty overcome his addiction to alcohol.

Jimmy and Eddie have been best friends and working partners for nearly 15 years. They have shared a lot of life’s ups and downs, but after Malloy and Crispin (from My Cowboy Heart) unexpectedly find love, they discover how little they know about one another. Eddie finally admits that he is gay and well, Jimmy, about the only thing that becomes obvious is he has a serious drinking problem. Facing an uncertain future, Eddie and Malloy know that it is time to take drastic steps to help Jimmy but Jimmy is in deep denial and he fights Eddie every step of the way. When Eddie finally admits Jimmy needs more help than he can provide, he turns to his close friend and sometime lover Don. Jimmy’s jealousy of Don quickly turns to desire and soon the three men are indulging in a very hot threesome while Don guides Jimmy through the intricacies of Alcoholics Anonymous. When Jimmy and Eddie return to the J-Bar, their newfound bond will be tested as Jimmy tries to maintain his sobriety and they try to figure out what is next for their fragile new relationship.

Jimmy and Eddie both personify the “strong, silent type”, but Jimmy is definitely the less open of the two. Since My Heartache Cowboy is written in first person from his perspective, readers experience firsthand Jimmy’s inability to express his fears, needs and desires. What he thinks and what he says are often two different things and while his inner monologue is humorous, it is also heartbreaking. Jimmy’s childhood was extremely dysfunctional and he is still dealing with guilt from long ago events. He stubbornly maintains he is not an alcoholic, but he wants to make Eddie happy, so he does work diligently at staying sober but doubts and uncertainty still plague Jimmy once they return to the J-Bar.

Eddie is rock solid, patient and steady as a rock during Jimmy’s recovery. He talks freely about his past with Don but once the three of them become involved, he is a little more reticent with Jimmy. This awkwardness becomes more apparent with their return to the ranch and their relationship is soon on shaky ground. Despite his openness about his past, Eddie still harbors a few secrets that will play a crucial role in the future of their relationship.

Eddie and Don are close friends and occasional lovers and their open affection for another catches Jimmy by surprise. Eddie, Don and Jimmy are soon burning up the sheets with some very sexy threesomes and while Jimmy and Don grow closer, an emotional distance begins to grow between Eddie and Jimmy. Their return to the J-Bar adds to Jimmy’s confusion when his and Eddie’s relationship reverts back to friendship.

My Heartache Cowboy is a poignant and emotional romance that will make you laugh and cry as Eddie and Jimmy finally recognize the truth about themselves and their relationship. It is a journey of self-discovery and recovery for Jimmy as he faces the demons of his past. It is an absolutely breathtaking story of love that Z.A. Maxfield’s fans are going to love.

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Filed under Contemporary, Erotic, InterMix, M/M, M/M/M, My Heartache Cowboy, Penguin Group, Rated A, Review, Romance, The Cowboys, ZA Maxfield

Review: Lost and Found by Z.A. Maxfield

Title: Lost and Found by Z.A. Maxfield
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic, Romance, M/M
Length: 148 pages/Word Count: 37,300
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher


Lost: one dog and two men in need of each other. Found: love.

RV resort security chief Ringo never believed in love at first sight . . . until he saw Gavin playing his sax on the beach for the tourists. But their on-again, off-again affair—even counting all the great makeup sex—doesn’t come close to the relationship he wants. All he really wants for Christmas is a commitment from Gavin.

Instead he discovers that Gavin has had surgery without telling him, so he lays down a relationship ultimatum while Gavin recuperates. Complicating matters even more, Gavin’s beloved dog Bird runs away, and Gavin blames Ringo for the disappearance.

While Ringo throws every resource he has into finding Bird, he learns deeper truths about Gavin—how hard it is for him to trust and how little faith he has in love. Maybe if Ringo can find Bird, he can salvage Gavin’s faith. Maybe this Christmas, they can all find each other.

Note: 20% of all proceeds from this title are donated to the Ali Forney Center in New York, whose mission “is to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning (LGBTQ) youth from the harm of homelessness, and to support them in becoming safe and independent as they move from adolescence to adulthood.” To learn more about this charity or to donate directly, please visit

The Review:

A brooding hero, an adorable canine and a close-knit, loving family are an irresistible combination in Lost and Found, Z.A. Maxfield’s contribution to the Home for the Holidays anthology. This delightfully charming and heartwarming romance is sizzling hot but it is the emotional aspect of the storyline that I found most compelling.

Ringo and Gavin’s year long relationship is stuck in a vicious cycle with them continually breaking up and passionately reuniting. Currently split up, Ringo seizes the opportunity to lend assistance to Gavin while Gavin is recovering from surgery. Their tentative romance is threatened when Gavin’s beloved dog Bird disappears and Gavin angrily holds Ringo responsible for the Bird’s disappearance.

Ringo is rock solid and crazy in love with Gavin. He fully realizes their relationship is dysfunctional but he can’t quite give up on Gavin just yet. Their current reconciliation begins with the same pattern as always but Ringo soon tires of walking on eggshells around Gavin. He finally recognizes that he deserves more than Gavin has been giving him and although he understands the motives behind Gavin’s reactions, he knows he cannot stay with Gavin without some much needed changes. Ringo quietly changes his tactics with Gavin and their once volatile relationship becomes more even-keeled, but unfortunately, at the first sign of crisis, Gavin reverts to his old behavior.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to like Gavin, but thankfully, I kept an open mind and he quickly began to grow on me. Gavin is emotionally damaged and he is so afraid of being abandoned by Ringo, that he continually pushes him away. At first, Gavin is defensive, bristly and very reluctant to accept Ringo’s help. But he quickly becomes amenable to Ringo’s overtures but the real turning point in their relationship comes once Ringo makes it clear that he won’t put up with Gavin’s ill-temper.

What made Lost and Found such a unique story is the role that Gavin’s music plays in his relationship with Ringo. It would be easy to assume their relationship is superficial since Gavin does not give up much information about himself or his past, and in turn, neither does Ringo. But the true depth to their relationship becomes clear through their non-verbal communication. Gavin reveals his inner turmoil and emotions through music and Ringo intuitively picks up on these cues.

Lost and Found is a captivating romance but it is the personal growth of the characters that made it such a stand out read for me. It is a journey of self discovery for both Gavin and Ringo and I love how realistically Z.A. Maxfield resolves the conflict between them. An absolutely wonderful addition to the Home for the Holidays collection that beautifully illustrates the meaning of “home”.

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Filed under Contemporary, Erotic, Lost and Found, M/M, Rated B+, Review, Riptide Publishing, Romance, ZA Maxfield

I Heard Him Exclaim by Z.A. Maxfield

Title: I Heard Him Exclaim by Z.A. Maxfield
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: M/M, Contemporary, Erotic, Romance
Length: 34,000 words
Book Rating: B


Who Likes a Skinny Santa?

Steve Adams’s heart hasn’t been in the Christmas spirit ever since doctors put a stent in it and ordered him to clean up his act. No longer filling out his Santa suit or allowed to make merry, he’s forgoing the holidays this year and heading to Vegas to indulge in the few vices left to him: gambling and anonymous sex.

His road trip takes a detour when he encounters Chandler Tracey, who’s just inherited guardianship of his five-year-old niece. Overwhelmed, Chandler’s on his way to deliver Poppy to his parents. But fate has other plans and, after car trouble, Chandler and Poppy accept a ride home with Steve. Though the heat between the two men is obvious, they put it on simmer while they band together to make Poppy’s Christmas perfect.

Steve soon comes to believe that while Chandler is the right person to look after Poppy, someone needs to look after Chandler. Fortunately, Steve knows just the man for the job.

34,000 words

The Review:

I Heard Him Exclaim by Z.A. Maxfield is a light festive holiday story that is as sexy as it is sweet. With his usual holiday spirit conspicuously absent this Christmas, Steve Adams is on his way to Las Vegas when he rescues Chandler Tracey and his niece Poppy after their car breaks down.

Steve Adams impeccably demonstrates what the Christmas season is all about. He is very involved with his large and close knit family. His yearly ritual of dressing up as Santa Claus enables him to give back to the local community. He is upbeat and positive and his belief that things happen for a reason really resonates with me.

Chandler Tracey is grieving the loss of his brother and sister-in-law. He is feeling overwhelmed and riddled with doubt about raising his niece, Poppy. Calm and self- assured Steve is just the man for Chandler. With his relaxed demeanor and laidback attitude Steve helps Chandler put many of his fears and insecurities to rest.

I Heard Him Exclaim has a well-developed, yet slightly unrealistic plot. The characters are three dimensional, likeable and easy to relate to. Steve’s family is wonderful, and I thoroughly enjoyed their interactions. Poppy is absolutely adorable, and I love how easily she fit in with Steve’s extended family. And WOWZA! The sex scenes between Steve and Chandler are frequent and sizzling.

I Heard Him Exclaim is a magical holiday romance that is engaging and deliciously steamy. Z.A. Maxfield’s delightful epilogue is the perfect ending for this heartwarming and conflict free story.

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Filed under Carina Press, Contemporary, Erotic, I heard Him Exclaim, M/M, Romance, ZA Maxfield