A Stella Review: Plummet to Soar by Z.A. Maxfield


RATING 1 out of 5 stars

Feckless, luckless, and charming, Mackenzie Detweiler is the author of a self-help book one reviewer calls “the most misbegotten motivational tool since Mein Kampf.” He’s maneuvered himself into a career as a life coach, but more often than not, his advice is bad. Really bad.

It’s even getting people hurt… and Mackenzie sued.

It falls to Mackenzie’s long-suffering editor, JD Chambers, to deliver the bad news. He chooses to do so face-to-face—to see if the spark he senses between them is real when they’re together in the flesh. Unfortunately, a snowstorm, a case of nerves, a case of mistaken identity, and finally a murder get in the way of a potential enemies-to-lovers romance.

There are many, many people who have good reason to want Mackenzie dead. JD must find out which one is acting on it before it’s too late for both of them.

This new release by ZA Maxfield, one of my favorite authors, was a surprise, but not a good one. Honestly? I finished the story just because I had to review it, otherwise it would have ended in  my DFN shelf. I can’t even tell you how many times I started it, because at first I was so sure I was missing something that I started and restarted it to find what was going on and the right approach. It was a pain to reach the ending and I’m very sorry to say this, but I finally understood it wasn’t me, it was all the story’s fault, Plummet to Soar was a mess.

I don’t want to reveal details and spoiler your reading, as the book seems to be well loved. So if you think the blurb is interesting, go give it a chance. For my experience I don’t feel like recommending it but it’s just my taste. That said, no spoilers here, but really throughout the story too many elements were unrealistic and so fake I was just without words. There are some scenes (I said “some”, not one or a couple, some meaning several) that made no sense. From the beginning to the end. I can’t understand where the author wanted to bring the reader with this new release,  I couldn’t find romance or love or any feeling at all. A mess of plot, with the mystery part that not only left me dubious but puzzling about it.

I’m not a huge fan of mystery novels but I read quite a few of them really well done and I truly appreciated them. This was not the case. Let’s talk about the characters. Mackenzie and JD were pretty shallow, not even once I was able to feel a connection between them,  I wasn’t able to like them at all. There were several secondary characters and here too, in my opinion they were just thew in there to make up the numbers and nothing more.

This should have been a beautiful coral book, but it didn’t work at all. Plummet to Soar was confusing to me, hard to read, I don’t want to say it’s not well written, but to me too many names, nicknames, internal dialogues, then private phone chats, all of these created a chaotic tangle I wasn’t able to solve.

Still, I surely will be reading more from ZA Maxfield, I’m not going to give up on this author just cause this novel wasn’t what I was expecting.

The cover art by L.C. Chase is well done and fitting, I like the style and the colors. Lovely.

SALE LINKS   Dreamspinner Press | Amazon


ebook, 200 pages

Published May 8th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN13 9781640803831

Edition Language English

Series Plummet to Soar #1

A VVivacious Review: Military Emancipation by David O. Sullivan


Rating: 2 Stars out of 5

Marc and Adam are lovers, both serving in the navy at a time when DADT is still in effect though Marc still struggles with his sexuality. When an unwelcome come-on leads to an allegation of homosexuality putting his career in jeopardy, Marc finds himself questioning his sexuality, his life and his future.

I feel like I should be honest that I don’t fully understand how oppressive DADT was or could be. We truly live in much more liberal times that policies that are not even a decade old feel much more outdated, even though it wasn’t that long ago that they were still in effect. So I do agree that I am reading this story with a handicap and therefore I find certain plot points incongruous.

Even though DADT is still breathing fire and brimstone at the time of this story there was a surprising lack of homophobia among the military personnel while this could be true, I still feel that people would not be making this particular sentiment so overtly public for fear of slander and discrimination against themselves though I could be wrong. While in real life all these factors can coexist in a story things should be more cohesive and decisive if the story wants to focus on discrimination you can’t have everyone be so accepting because that particular approach in this book made my understanding of DADT even more tenuous.

Also, I didn’t like Marc’s defence of his homosexuality as he pleads not guilty and I find myself judging him on current standards wherein I wanted him to own up to it and not be ashamed of it when directly confronted with this question. This is the point in the story where the story’s 2018 feel directly contrasts with its 2011 setting, because everyone is so accepting I can’t understand where the discrimination stems from, so I want Marc to uphold 2018 standards. I really don’t know if I am getting this point across but I feel that this is at the crux of my disconnect with this story.

The story is suffering from an incongruous theme but despite that, the story held my interest and I read through this one quite quickly. The story is engaging but the writing and plot progression makes the story come across as very clunky.

I really couldn’t sympathize much with Marc as a character especially over his struggles with his sexuality somehow his struggle only comes through on a very surface level and I really couldn’t get any feel on why he struggled with his sexuality in the first place. I really couldn’t find my space in this story when it came to its characters though I liked Adam and would have liked a bit of his POV, I didn’t really connect with the other characters in the story.

Overall, the only thing that this story had going for it was that despite how many issues I was having with it while reading it this story still managed to hold my interest.

Cover Art by Written Ink Designs. I feel like the cover doesn’t really match the feel of the story but barring that I liked how the cover is designed.

Sales Links:  JMS Books LLC  | Amazon

Book Details:

Published April 27th 2018 by JMS Books LLC

An Alisa Audiobook Review: The Foxling Soldati (Soldati Hearts #2) by Charlie Cochet and Manuel Pombo (Narrator)


Rating:  4 stars out of 5

Foxling Toka has served the Soldati king for centuries, and now he attends to the kingdom’s cherished Soldati prince. It’s a position of honor, and as Toka helps the once-human prince adapt to their magical realm, he finds joy in their friendship. He also grows bolder in his encounters with Rayner, Soldati warrior and the king’s second. But the laws are clear: servants and Soldati are not permitted to mate. It doesn’t matter that Toka lost his heart to the dashing cad long ago.

Rayner never imagined he would fall in love with a servant, but the clever and beautiful foxling has ensnared him, and he resents the regulations keeping them apart. When an arrogant and spiteful king visits from a neighboring realm, Rayner is in danger of losing everything. But Soldati warriors don’t surrender, and he intends to fight all the harder to keep Toka where he belongs—in Rayner’s arms.

This was a nice continuation in this series.  Rayner has spent centuries admiring Toka and just as he begins to admit what he feels he is torn away from him.  And since it threw me a bit I think there should be a warning of attempted rape.

I really liked Toka in the last book, he was just do sweet and that doesn’t change in this book, you can see him willing to give his happiness in order for Rayner’s.  I could feel Rayner’s pain and determination to get Toka back when the king takes him away.  This story really gave some more depth to the world they live and it’s left open to more stories in this series.

Manuel Pombo did a great job narrating this story.  I could easily feel of the characters’ emotions while listening.  The different voices he used for the characters helped me keep up with what was going on.

I love the cover art by LC Chase is nice and gives a nice visual of Toka.

Sales Links:  Audible | Amazon | iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Audiobook, 4 hrs 3 min
Published: Aptil 20, 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
Edition Language: English

Series: Soldati Hearts #2

JL Merrow on Modern Explorers and her new release Wight Mischief (guest post and giveaway)


Wight Mischief by J.L. Merrow

Dreamspinner Press

Cover Artist: Tiferet Design

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host JL Merrow here today talking about her new release Wight Mischief. Welcome, JL.



Modern Explorers

Hi, I’m JL Merrow, and I’m delighted to be here today as part of the blog tour to celebrate the release of Wight Mischief, a romantic suspense novel set on the island I grew up on, the Isle of Wight.

We’re all familiar with tales of exploration from history. There’s (to name but a few) Leif Eriksson, who made it to America five centuries before Columbus; Gertrude Bell, who pioneered the novel idea of preserving relics of antiquity in their home locations; Marco Polo, whose 24-year travels were a 13th-century inspiration to explorers who came after him; Sacagawea, who was invaluable on the Lewis-Clark expeditions, despite being presumably somewhat inconvenienced by giving birth en route.

You might think the spirit of adventure and exploration has died out in modern times. Hasn’t everywhere already been mapped? But that spirit, that urge to discover and to document, lives on—and you can find it on the internet.

Some key scenes in Wight Mischief take place on or around a tunnel that leads down from Marcus’s fortress home through the cliffs to a staircase ending on the beach. Now, this fictional route is based on a real tunnel, constructed as a supply tunnel to a 19th-century Palmerston fort built to defend the island against French invasion. I can remember the excitement of making my way through this tunnel as a teenager, and the nervous drop from the rusted-off end of the staircase to the rocks below.

Of course, these days health and safety wouldn’t allow such perilous pursuits, and in any case, the land is now in private hands and fenced off. So I wasn’t, alas, able to refresh my decades-old memories by revisiting the site.

Other, however, have been bolder. There are forums online for these modern explorers to discuss, and to document, their visits to all kinds of off-the-beaten-track places which lie forgotten and falling into decay. They see this as an important preservation of our heritage. Some specialise in subterranean exploration. Others focus on the derelict in a race against time to document buildings and other structures before they are lost forever.

You may not agree with their methods—it’s fairly clear not all of them trouble to get the landowner’s permission before they strike out on their expeditions of discovery—but you have to admire their spirit of adventure.

Question: Another favourite playground of my youth was a tumbling-down fort on Culver Cliffs. Do you have fond memories of somewhere derelict or forgotten where you played as a child?

Giveaway: I’m offering a prize of a $10 Dreamspinner Press gift certificate to one lucky commenter on the tour, who will be randomly chosen on Friday 15th June. Good luck!

Wight Mischief

A ghost of a chance at love.

Personal trainer Will Golding has been looking forward to a getaway with his best friend, Baz, a journalist researching a book on ghosts. But on the first day of their camping trip on the Isle of Wight, Will takes a walk on a secluded beach and spies a beautiful young man skinny-dipping by moonlight.  Ethereally pale, he’s too perfect to be real—or is he?

Lonely author Marcus Devereux is just as entranced by the tall athlete he encounters on the beach, but he’s spent the years since his parents’ violent death building a wall around his heart, and the thought of letting Will scale it is terrifying. Marcus’s albinism gives him his otherworldly appearance and leaves him reluctant to go out in daylight, his reclusiveness encouraged by his guardian—who warns him to stay away from Will and Baz.

The attraction between Will and Marcus can’t be denied—but neither can the danger of the secrets haunting Marcus’s past, as one “accident” after another strikes Will and Baz. If they don’t watch their step, they could end up added to the island’s ghostly population.

Available in ebook and paperback from Dreamspinner Press

Wight Mischief was previously published by Samhain, but has been completely re-edited and given a lovely new cover for this second edition by Dreamspinner Press.

Author Bio:

JL Merrow is that rare beast, an English person who refuses to drink tea.  She read Natural Sciences at Cambridge, where she learned many things, chief amongst which was that she never wanted to see the inside of a lab ever again. 

She writes (mostly) contemporary gay romance and mysteries, and is frequently accused of humour.  Two of her novels have won Rainbow Awards for Romantic Comedy (Slam!, 2013 and Spun!, 2017) and several of her books have been EPIC Awards finalists, including Muscling Through, Relief Valve (the Plumber’s Mate Mysteries) and To Love a Traitor.

JL Merrow is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, International Thriller Writers, Verulam Writers and the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet organising team.

Find JL Merrow online at: https://jlmerrow.com/, on Twitter as @jlmerrow, and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/jl.merrow

BLOG TOUR – Under Five by Michael War (excerpt and giveaway)



Book Title: Under Five

Author: Michael War

Cover Artist: Aisha Akeju

Genre/s: Gay, Contemporary, Urban Fantasy

Length: 40 000 words/172 pages

Release Date: May 30, 2018



Mike is good looking, charming, and has no trouble attracting men—as long as his clothes stay on. But the moment they come off, something always seems to go terribly wrong. When his sister takes him to a faith healer to fix the problem, he is provided with a spell—and left with a lot of doubts.

But after meeting Kevin, Mike decides to give the spell a try…


This was the first time anyone asked for the lights to be completely out. I mean, there are some guys who like the dark, but they always want some sort of light coming in. It could be a candle, night light, or just a crack from the closet, just something to keep things from being completely black. But not this time. Carlo wanted the lights completely off. I wasn’t sure whether to be offended, or to simply just go with the flow.  

But it did kind of bother me, even while we were kissing and rubbing each other all over the place. I tried to forget about the fact that we messed around the last time with all the lights on, but it was still nagging me a bit.  

“Everything okay, Mike?” Carlo asked. While I couldn’t see them, I knew his emerald green eyes were pointed directly at me. They were fake, but man, did they compliment him so much.

“Nah, I’m good, just come over here,” I cooed, pulling him up closer to me. We still had our clothes on, so it was easy to grab his shirt and bring him in closer. I wanted to feel his hot breath against my neck, followed by his gentle kisses. The two times we hooked up before, we only kissed, and both times we only had our shirts off. But this time around, I wanted more. I wanted him to take me, to ravage me. To fill me up and not stop until we were both on the verge of exploding.

I could tell that Carlo was a bit surprised, even though I still hadn’t completely adjusted to the dark, but he seemed into it and let me drag his mouth closer to mine. He took his hands and gently placed them on the back of my head, pulling a little on my hair but not enough to cause me pain.  “Don’t stop, keep going,” I moaned. Carlo intensified his kisses and started moving down towards my neck, then pulled back and little and began to pull my shirt off. I started on his before my shirt even hit the floor, and now for the first time tonight, we were both finally showing some skin towards each other.  After a bit of kissing and exploring, I forgot about the light situation. Thanks to the moon beaming through my curtains and right toward my bed I was able to make out where I wanted my hands to go. Carlo had the body type I loved; bearish, with broad shoulders and big, strong arms. But what got me was his chest. In the moonlight and without a shirt, Carlo was simply beautiful. Even though I wasn’t a bear myself, I could appreciate the slight hairy trail he had going from his chest down to his stomach. I could see that the trail went even further, and I wanted him to reveal more.  

Carlo continued to kiss me down my body, but I stopped him right before he got to my stomach.  “Let me take off your pants,” I ordered. I was hoping he would be turned on by the dominance in voice and simply obey. “No, you first. I want to show you everything I have to offer you,” Carlo responded, his hands rubbing the top of my shorts, fingers slightly pushing under the elastic. He let it snap a few times before slightly licking his lips.  I arched up a bit to help him out, and he obliged by grabbing my shorts at both ends and pulled them off along with my underwear. He placed his hand on my now erect cock, then stopped for an awkward minute.

“Something wrong?” I asked.  “No, um, just thought of something,” he replied, giggling a bit before continuing. “Now get ready to have the best sex that you….”  He didn’t finish. How could he now that he was giggling like crazy? I wanted to jump out of the bed right then and there, but he still had my dick in his hand, and even though it was getting flaccid, I didn’t want to make any sudden moves and damage myself.  “Would you mind letting go? I would like to get dressed.” He did, even though he was still laughing like a lunatic. I picked up my clothes and put my underwear on, then went for the lamp by my bed. Carlo was sprawled out across my bed. While his laughing had stifled a bit, his red face showed that something had amused him to no end.  

I slipped my shorts back on and began to gather up his things.  “Oh come on, don’t be that way. I’m sorry. We can still mess around. I just need a minute.” The moment he finished his sentence, Carlo began laughing again. He put his hand over his mouth so it wouldn’t be so loud, but it was no use.  

“What the hell is so funny? I was good enough for you before. What changed now?” I stared him down hard; so hard that I was able to break his laughing fit up once and for all.  

“I don’t want to offend you. You’re a nice guy. I was just taken by surprise. You know how it is with these things,” Carlo stated as he got up from the bed and walked over towards me.  “No, I don’t know. I don’t have a clue about what is going on.”

Carlo took my hand and looked me straight in the eyes with his emerald greens. For a second, I almost melted. But then the laughing started going on in my head again, and my fury came back full force.  Looking at Carlo’s face, I could tell he had something he wanted to say, but just couldn’t. He kept biting his lip, and you could tell he was thinking very carefully before he spoke again. The anticipation wasn’t helping my tolerance, so I knew that I had to speed things up a bit.

“Just spit it out.” Carlo looked at the floor one more time, then right back at me.  “It’s just….well….I…..I didn’t expect it to be so small.” I really don’t remember what happened after that, but I do recall that I was rushing him out in just his underwear, not giving him anytime to put his other clothes back on. He pleaded with me a bit, asking to stay and make it up to me. And I almost did — until he mentioned that his was just used to bigger.

Buy Links

Less Than Three Press

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Barnes and Noble

About the Author

Michael War is a writer whose real life tends to be on the boring side, which is why his imagination seems to float towards gay romance. Aside from writing about beautiful gay men of all types (bears, jocks, twinks) getting it on, he also enjoys writing poetry and screenplays. War holds an MFA in Creative Writing and plans to write more romance themed books in the near future. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook  for updates on upcoming stories or with any questions or comments. Or, you can read his blog for some mindless ramblings.

Social Media Links





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Series Recap Blitz for Boystown Series by Marshall Thornton – Books 1 through 10 (Giveaway)


Series Recap Blitz

Boystown Series

Boystown Bundle 1 – 3 – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #4 A Time For Secrets – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #5 Murder Book – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #6 From The Ashes – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #7 Bloodlines – Amazon US | Amazon UK (ON SALE for 99c)
Book #8 The Lies That Bind – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #9 Lucky Days – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #10 Gifts Given – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #11 Hearts Desire – Amazon US | Amazon UK (PREORDER)

All available to borrow on Kindle Unlimited.

The Series

The Lambda Award-winning Boystown Mysteries detail the cases of former police officer-turned-private investigator Nick Nowak. Set in Chicago and covering the period between 1981 and 1984, the ten books follow Nick as he struggles with memories of his abrupt departure from the CPD and the end of his long-term relationship with librarian Daniel Laverty. He moves through a series of casual tricks until he meets homicide detective Bert Harker with whom he begins a tentative relationship.

As cynical and difficult as the city he calls home, Nick doggedly pursues his cases and often solves them out of sheer stubbornness. He relies on help from a charming cast of characters, who provide clues and comfort in equal measure. Beyond the mobsters and murderers, Nick encounters a larger villain looming on the horizon. A villain who begins striking down Nick’s friends and lovers, bringing the freewheeling fun of the early eighties to an end.


Author Bio

Marshall Thornton is known for the Lambda Award-winning Boystown Mysteries. His comedic novels include The Ghost Slept Over, My Favorite Uncle and the Lambda Finalist for Gay Romance, Femme. Marshall holds an MFA in Screenwriting from UCLA and has had plays produced in both Chicago and Los Angeles and stories published in The James White Review and Frontier Magazine.


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