Starting Over With ALL WHEEL DRIVE–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a recently published M/M romance from Z. A. Maxwell. ALL WHEEL DRIVE is the 18th book in the long-running Bluewater Bay series, but is fine to be read as a standalone. Readers who’ve enjoyed HELL ON WHEELS will likely enjoy it most, as it features some side characters in this new love story.

About the book:
Healey Holly is battered, depressed, and looking to go to ground in his childhood home. He wants to rent the garage apartment, but it’s Diego Luz’s place now, and the last thing Diego wants is to share it.

Diego is recovering too—from the accident that put him in a wheelchair and the death of his mother shortly after. The garage apartment is where he’s keeping his mother’s things, and as long as they’re up those stairs and he’s down on the ground, there’s no way he can deal with his loss. And that’s just how he likes it.

Healey believes in science. Diego believes in luck. It will take a blend of both, and some prayer thrown in besides, for these two to learn that it’s the journey and the destination that matters.

My Review:
Healey Holly is a man adrift. His long-time, bipolar, boyfriend, Ford, just spun off the rails of sanity and nearly took them both to a very young grave. They’d been growing apart, and were on a last goodbye weekend when things went really, really, bad. Busted up and needing some connection to his roots, Healey limps into Bluewater Bay and offers a load of cash to the disabled man, Diego Luz who’s recently purchased Healey’s family home, so that he can crash in the apartment above the garage. It’s a dump, filled with storage boxes of Diego’s late-mother’s art and Diego doesn’t want to have anyone up there, but he recognizes the desperation rolling off Healey and reluctantly agrees.

Diego is wallowing, and has been for some time. He’d suffered an accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down a few years back, and he’s bitter over the way his life has changed. Once a sought-after photojournalist and bed partner, Diego is a virtual recluse, now, doing some low level editing work for the Wolf’s Landing TV show that is filmed in Bluewater Bay. His step-father has been after him for a year to make the documentary about his late mother’s art, and her influence on Chicana politics, but Diego can’t find the will to even look at her work. He’s so despondent, and he’s not sure what to make of the interested stares he witnesses from Healey.

So, this book is long on healing. Physical, emotional, sexual. Healey is a brilliant man, and doesn’t trust his instincts since life with Ford went so awry. How could he be so complacent, and was he responsible for Ford going manic? Diego’s much more pragmatic, but still vulnerable. He wants a stable partner, but doesn’t think anyone would want him for anything but a fetish, if that. As he and Healey begin to confide in one another, they see each other in a different light, one where Healey can forgive himself and Diego can endure the pain of his mother’s loss. There are some sexy moments, but they aren’t porn-worthy. Unless some of it’s a bloopers reel. And that’s okay, because all of this felt really genuine. Life is freaking messy, and Diego is quick to judge himself for making messes, while Healey basks in the strength and resilience Diego casually demonstrates. I liked how they saw the good in one another, and brought that to the surface.

When each man needs to hunt down his demons–Healey needs to speak with Ford face-to-face to resolve the legal issues that have developed from their accident, and Diego has to visit his stepfather and the extended family–they are a solid support for each other. A bulwark against the potentially crushing emotional toll these experiences are sure to bring. They work as partners, for many reasons, but not least of which is sheer stubbornness, and the ability to see past the present limitations and into future possibilities.

Interested? You can find ALL WHEEL DRIVE on Goodreads, Riptide Books, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and Kobo. I received a review copy via NetGalley.

About the Author:
Z.A. Maxfield started writing in 2007 on a dare from her children and never looked back. Pathologically disorganized, and perennially optimistic, she writes as much as she can, reads as much as she dares, and enjoys her time with family and friends. If anyone asks her how a wife and mother of four manages to find time for a writing career, she’ll answer, “It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you give up housework.”

Her published books include Crossing Borders, Drawn Together, and the St. Nacho’s and Brothers Grime series from Loose Id, ePistols at Dawn and The Pharaoh’s Concubine from Samhain Publishing, and Notturno, Vigil, Stirring Up Trouble, and All Stirred Up from MLR Press.

Catch up with Ms. Maxfield online on her website, twitter, Facebook and Goodreads.

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