Review: “Hawaii Five Uh-Oh” by Z.A. Maxfield

TITLE: Hawaii Five Uh-Oh
AUTHOR: Z.A Maxfield
SERIES: Plummet to Soar
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: L.C. Chase
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 200 pages
RELEASE DATE: Nov 13, 2018
PRICE: $6.99 e-book / $14.99 paperback

BLURB:

Sarcastic cop Theo Hsu returns home to Hawai’i after realizing he wants more from his life… and also less. He hopes to reconnect with his past and make amends with his mother, who’s remarried to a cool, distant man, leaving Theo unsure where he stands.
It doesn’t take him long to figure out where he wants to stand, though: right next to his childhood best friend, tattooed detective Koa Palapiti. Theo would like to upgrade their relationship, but Koa is putting out some seriously mixed signals. It’s a mystery Theo can’t let go, but just as they start to connect, kidnapping, murder, and a deadly game with international stakes get in the way. Koa wants to keep Theo out of it, and if it comes to a choice between him and Koa’s partner, Freddie Ortiz, Theo doesn’t like his chances.
But even if Koa wants to push him out of the investigation, and his life, Theo still has a few tricks up his sleeve. It’ll take all his special gifts, ingenuity, risk-taking, family ties—and even some kinky undercover work—to save the day… and the man he never should’ve let get away.


Theo Hsu comes back to Hawaii, his home, after twenty years on the mainland. He doesn’t know where he stands with his mother and her new husband. He doesn’t know where to stands with his job, his life. But he knows one thing: he wants Koa Palapiti, his childhood best friend, his first (if not only) love.

Koa Palapiti is a dark, tattooed intense detective. With his best friend and partner Freddie Ortiz, they are the hot bad boys of the precinct. But Koa seems to have a lot of secrets and sends a lot of mixed signals to Theo.
Theo doesn’t know what to do? Can he pursue his dream to be with the man he loves? Does he have to move the past behind him and go on with his present? That’s what he’ll have to find out.

Hawaii Five Uh-Oh by Z.A Maxfield is book two in the Plummet to Soar series, but it can be read as a standalone.
I was happy to read this book, and I enjoyed a lot Plummet to Soar (https://optimumm.blog/2018/05/08/review-plummet-to-soar-by-z-a-maxfield/) where I met Theo the first time.

Theo Hsu is a cop, and after twenty years on the mainland, he’s come back to Hawaii. Theo is disconnected from his island, his people, his family. He walks on eggshells around his mother, his step-father, and his new colleagues. He tries to forget his past and move on with his present, like a good plummetee, but it’s easier said than done. Everything gets complicated when he reconnects with Koa, his childhood best friend and first love. Koa is trouble, with a big T. Something is wrong with him, and Theo knows it, but he doesn’t know how to help him, and Koa sends him a lot of mixed signasl, like a looooooooooot.

I adored Theo. I completely melted for him. He’s funny with a little tendency for craziness, but he’s also very smart and kind with a good heart. Even if he has a lot of doubt about Koa, he doesn’t give up on him, and until the last minute, the last moment, Theo tries to save them, to save their relationship and maybe their future. I really adored him, he’s so funny and smoking hot especially with Koa.

The story was told from only Theo point of view. We make this journey with him between his past and present. In my opinion, there were two plots. The first one is about how Theo can reconnect with his past and make up for the lost time. The second one focuses on Theo and Koa’s relationship and Koa’s secrets. The author was brilliant with her writing because through all the books we alternated between plot 1 and plot 2 until she makes them merge. It was very well done.

If you want to read a good contemporary romance, with suspense, mystery cops, some dirty secrets with kinky-crazy situations like only Z.A Maxfield can do, Hawaii Five Uh-Oh is for you.
I gladly recommend this book, it was fun, kinky and fresh.

4 OptimuMM’s for Te and Woody

***The ARC was provided by Dreamspinner Press. My review is an honest opinion of the book ***

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

Review: “Master Braden’s Houseboy” by Brina Brady

TITLE: Master Braden’s Houseboy
AUTHOR: Brina Brady
SERIES: The Irish Runaway Series
PUBLISHER: –
COVER ARTIST: Brina Brady
GENRE: BDSM
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 285 pages
RELEASE DATE: Oct. 1, 2018
PRICE: $3.99 -e-book / $13.99 -paperback

BLURB:

Reece was a guitar player and a singer at his grandfather’s pub in Dublin until someone betrays his secret. Once he was a happy and carefree young man, who finds himself on the streets and homeless.
He meets a handsome stranger, who gives him hope that the world still has people with compassion, until he discovers the man may have compassion, but he is no softie. Conner hires Reece as his houseboy.
Much to his shock, Conner Braden isn’t only a garda (Irish police officer), but he is also a Dom! The two men are complete opposites, but that doesn’t stop Reece from wanting to win his heart.
What happens when Master Braden blurs the lines between employer and Dom when Reece is his employee?
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This book contains mild BDSM elements including restraints, blindfolds, and spanking. While the story uses characters from The Irish Runaway Series, you can read this book as a standalone.


This is such a fun series that has BDSM but shows how love can soften the toughest of Doms. I enjoy this author very much and her ability to make me fall in love with her characters. This can be read as a standalone, but I always suggest reading the first ones so that you can relate to the other characters. I always love catching up on previous characters and see how they appear and help the new characters.

Reece has left his hometown to start over. His dad found out he was gay and kicked him out. Reece also left his last Dom because he wants a Dom to himself and Master James only trained subs so that they were ready for a permanent Dom. Reece doesn’t like sharing, so he left everything behind. The problem was that he’s homeless and it’s been raining. He’s sleeping under a box when someone kicks his box off of him.

Connor sees a box in the park and kicks it and is surprised by the most adorable face he’s ever seen. He immediately wants to help this young man and takes him to lunch. Connor decides he needs Reece to work for him as his houseboy. Connor hasn’t had a permanent sub since Patrick left him a year ago. He just has weekend subs, and that’s worked for him.

Reece has trouble following the house rules from day one where he and Finney go into his playroom after being told not to. Connor is most upset about this because he wanted to show Reece his playroom himself. Reece has awakened Master Braden’s need to Dom Reece but isn’t sure he’s ready. At least not until another Dom shows interest in Reece. He literally removes his belt and collars Reece right in the restaurant. Reece couldn’t be any happier except he wonders if he will be enough for Master Braden.

When Patrick shows up back in town, Master Braden isn’t sure how to feel. Patrick makes Reece believe that Connor is going to collar him again and that Reece will have to share until he finds Reece another Dom. Reece leaves because he wants Master Braden to himself. Will Master Braden find Reece in time to tell him he loves him and not Patrick? Will Reece ever have his own Dom and be able to trust one? Will either of these two have their happily ever after? I hope you enjoy as much as I did.

***I would like to thank the author for the privilege and opportunity of reading this ARC. My review is an honest opinion of the book ***

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

Review: “Living On Air” by Susan Mac Nicol

TITLE: Living On Air
AUTHOR: Susan Mac Nicol
SERIES: –
PUBLISHER: Boroughs Publishing
COVER ARTIST: Boroughs Publishing
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: Yes
LENGTH: 236 pages
RELEASE DATE: February 21, 2018
PRICE: $0.99 – e-book/ $9.25 – paperback

BLURB:

PIERCING THE NIGHT
Cary Stilwell has been existing since he was ten years old, and each year it gets harder to find meaning in his bleak life. The only exception – his work. As a top-billed aerialist in a popular travelling circus, he enjoys accolades and applause, but little else. When notable photographer, Rhys McIntyre, joins the circus to catalogue its inner workings, Cary fights the attraction that hits him from the moment they meet. But a kind soul wrapped in a beautiful body has a way of battering all the walls Cary has built around his cold, dark heart.
WITH LIGHT
Rhys McIntyre is on his third iteration of reinventing himself. Once a hotdog financier, he embraced his passion for photography and became an eminent war photo journalist. Until one too many bullets lodged in his body, and he gave up the front lines for the softer side of chronicling life. When he accepts the assignment to record life in a circus, the last thing he expects is to find the man crush of his dreams. Except Cary Stilwell is a cold, tortured man who seems incapable of any warm emotion, never mind love. But Rhys is known for his persistence, and this time the pay-off might be more than he could have ever imagined.


Living On Air is the first book that I’ve read by Susan Mac Nicol. I liked the author’s writing style, but at times there were too many clichés and comparatives. There are quite a few author warnings for this book. It delves into subjects some people may find disturbing. There are elements of the main character’s past that include pedophilia, the dark side of religion, and the horrors of war. Aspects of the story include self-harm, depression, and suicide, and the book is set in a circus where clowns are featured.

For me, the constant self-harm of the main character Cary was a little much as was his constant pushing away of everybody. I get that he’s lived through a horrible childhood trauma and childhood abuse, including rape, from an authoritative figure which leads to him joining the circus at the age of 10. But he’s been with this circus family for over twenty years and he’s still rude and mean to everybody except for a few people that he’s less mean to, like Marco—the circus clown, Julian, Greta—the owner of the circus, and Lucy—his fellow aerialist. I would have thought that after twenty years he would have been friendlier to them. I did like how Cary explains why he self-harms and the different things he uses like a box cutter, the custom-made cilice, razor blade, and in a pinch a broken plastic fork. I did think it was realistic that he had good days and bad days although for him it was more like bad days and worse days until photographer Rhys joined the circus to do a coffee table book about the circus, then he had more good days versus bad days.

I liked Cary. As someone who has experience with self-harm and childhood molestation, I could empathize with Cary. It really is a living one-day-at-a-time and battling feelings of self-worth and placing the blame on yourself for what happened, when it really wasn’t your fault. And any little thing can trigger a breakdown. Cary Stilwell has been existing since he was ten years old, and each year it gets harder to find meaning in his bleak life. The only exception—his work. As a top-billed aerialist in a popular traveling circus, he enjoys accolades and applause, but little else. When notable photographer, Rhys McIntyre, joins the circus to catalog its inner workings, Cary fights the attraction that hits him from the moment they meet. But a kind soul wrapped in a beautiful body has a way of battering all the walls Cary has built around his cold, dark heart, and Cary will go through some dark times as they start to crumble, especially when he finds out that his childhood abuser isn’t dead like he thought. Will that be his tipping point or will he finally learn how to rely on his chosen family for help?

I liked Rhys. He used to be a war photojournalist and has gotten burned out on being shot and the evilness of what humans are capable of. With PTSD flashbacks, Rhys is trying to do something on the softer side with his photography and takes an assignment to record the life in the circus. He didn’t expect to be so attracted to the cold and moody silk ribbon aerialist. But Rhys is known for his persistence, and he sure has his work cut out for him.

Throughout reading the story, I wasn’t sure if Cary was ever going to let Rhys into his life. Even after Rhys found out about his cutting, Cary still didn’t want to let him into his life or rely on him for help. And then just when I thought that they might make it, something tragic happens in the circus, and it prompts Cary to take care of his past, and he sends Rhys away until it’s been taken care of. This happens at seventy percent point in the book, and I was very worried about their relationship. Their relationship does get back on track, and I was happy with the ending, which for me was more of a happy for now ending.

***I would like to thank the author for the privilege and opportunity of reading this ARC. My review is an honest opinion of the book ***

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

Review: “Trex or Treat” by Tara Lain

TITLE: Trex or Treat
AUTHOR: Tara Lain
SERIES: –
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Kanaxa
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: No
LENGTH: 34 pages
RELEASE DATE: October 31, 2018
PRICE: $1.99 – e-book

BLURB:

Josh Harris is all dad all the time. A busy college professor and devoted single father, Josh tries to be happy with only his son for company. But then Bradley “Trex” Trexler moves in across the street with his stepbrother, Bogo, and takes advantage of their empty home, making it into a haunted house for Halloween.
Josh’s son, Ernie, can’t wait to go, so Josh dresses up like a movie cowboy and saunters over. It’ll be the best Halloween of Ernie’s life, but there’s another sharpshooter roaming the dark corridors, and this one might have a special treat for Josh….
Second Edition
First Edition published by Etopia Press in Halloween Heat (IV anthology), October 2012.


Trex or Treat was a cute, sweet, sexy story by Tara Lain. It has great story building for such a short story, and I found myself smiling through the book as I was reading it. I really enjoyed the main characters and their families. I liked that both main characters are single fathers in a way. With Josh being a single father to his son, Ernie, and Bradley “Trex” Trexler being a father figure to his younger stepbrother, Beauregard “Bogo.” I also liked that they both are going to be working at the same university since Josh is a busy college professor and Trex is a grad student and TA, doing his final paper on homosexual activity in opportunistic settings, like cowboys who are thrown together out on the range versus being a biological homosexual. I also liked that he’s a fan of Professor Harris and is using some of his books for research on his paper. Trex had a little bit of hero worship that was really cute with the crush that Josh had on him. Trex also wasn’t shy about going for what he wanted, which was apparent when he invited Josh back to his haunted house for the adult party that was being held after the kids had all gone home. My favorite part of the haunted house was of the televisions playing horror movies and how that changed during the adult party portion.

Overall, a super cute, sweet, and sexy short story that fans of Tara Lain will love. If there was anything that I would change it would be that I would love another book about this couple to see how their relationship progresses since the book was so short.

***The ARC was provided by Dreamspinner Press. My review is an honest opinion of the book ***

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

Review: “Embracing Fate” by C.C. Dado

TITLE: Embracing Fate
AUTHOR: C.C. Dado
SERIES: A Series of Fate
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Brooke Albrecht
GENRE: Paranormal
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: No
LENGTH: 91 pages
RELEASE DATE: October 26, 2018
PRICE: $3.99 – e-book

BLURB:

A Series of Fates: Book Two
Sometimes you just have to embrace your fate.
Seth has a secret: he has a crush on the human next door. His brilliant plan to meet Jack, the man of his dreams who happens to be an animal trainer? Take wolf form and ask his best friend, Max, to take him next door for training. Seth is the only one surprised when things go horribly awry.
Still, can this shy wolf and a human meet their fate as mates?


Embracing Fate is the second book in the A Series of Fate series by C.C. Dado. This book is just as good as the first book. The plot is fun, and the characters are lovable. It’s a short story, and like the first book, there are no on-page sex scenes. I did like getting to see more of Max and Christian and Zeus, who is the alpha’s second-in-command. Oh, and I did like how some of the lies that Seth tells end up having some funny consequences. Poor Zeus is never going to believe anything Seth says again.

I greatly enjoyed getting to read about Seth finding his mate. That his mate is a human and a dog trainer is a complication until Seth convinces his best friend Max to pretend that Seth, in his wolf form, needs training. His best friend tries to point out that it isn’t the best idea since the towns’ people, which go through a very strict background check to get to live there on a month to month lease, have no idea that a wolf shifter pack owns the town. Seth and Max risk the alpha’s displeasure should Jack, the dog trainer, find out that the wolf he’s training is actually Seth, his next-door neighbor and owner of Sweets and Meats bakery. But Seth can’t think of any other way to interact with his mate with how painfully shy he is and the anxiety he has around strangers. What they didn’t expect was that Jack would form such a close bond with Max’s pet wolf that he would want to adopt him from Max. One of my favorite parts of the book is when Jack, Seth in wolf form, and Jack’s dog, Winston, are all basking in Jack’s yard after a training session and they all fall asleep and Seth shifts back into his human form. And he has to sneak back to his bakery naked with only some shrubs to preserve his modesty.

I loved the part of the book when Seth is in the back baking, and he overhears his new neighbor, Jack, giving commands to his dog, Winston, and Seth’s wolf responds to them also leaving him sitting on the floor of the bakery and then lying there a minute later. I couldn’t stop giggling. And that was only one of the parts that had me laughing. The book was just fun to read, and sometimes you just want to be entertained without having to pay a whole lot of attention to make sure that you didn’t miss something.

I can’t wait to read the next book in the series Fearing Fate which is going to be about Zeus finding his mate.

***The ARC was provided by Dreamspinner Press. My review is an honest opinion of the book ***

Review edited by : Laura McNellis