Review: Lost and Found by Z.A. Maxfield

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

LostAndFound_500x750Rigoberto “Ringo” Salazar is thirty years old, heads up security for the upscale RV Newport Sands Resort, and owns his own “cookie cutter” home.  He is out and part of a large latino family that still loves and accepts him, not caring about his sexuality.  The one thing missing from his life? Someone to love and be loved in return. Then he spies young Gavin Lopez playing saxophone for the summer crowd at the picnic tables and Ringo is lost.

Now a year after that first sighting, things have been rocky for Ringo and Gavin.  Gavin is insecure, rough around the edges, a commitment phobe with anger management issues. Gavin spends as much time driving Ringo away as he does pulling him in. But Gavin is also “the one” for Ringo. Through constant fights, separations, and hot makeup sessions, Ringo has been there for Gavin, where Gavin has wanted his support or not.

But now things are coming to a head.  A recent moment of togetherness, brought on by Gavin’s knee surgery, is shattered when Gavin’s beloved dog Bird runs away and Gavin blames Ringo.  While searching for Bird, Ringo comes to a number of realizations about himself and Gavin.   Things cannot go on as they have, changes have to be made by Ringo and Gavin for them to have a future together.  But Gavin is full of fear and lacks faith in everyone including himself.  It will take a miracle not only for Ringo to find Bird but for the men to find it in themselves to change and move forward.  But Christmas is a season of miracles and what was lost will find a way to come home, whether it be a dog or an abiding love.

There is nothing typical about Lost and Found by Z.A. Maxfield, other than it is a perfect example of a Z.A. Maxfield story.  Part of Riptide Publishing’s Home for the Holidays collection, it is only superficially a “holiday story”.  Below such surface expectations of Christmas memories and holiday traditions lurks the all too human characters that I have come to expect from this amazing author. Her characters are full of imperfections, riddled with insecurities, lacking the tools, the social  niceties that help others cope with society and the stress of the times.  You need to look no further than Gavin Lopez to find the tarnished jewel of this Maxfield story.

I think some people might be put off by Gavin. Or if not Gavin, then’s Ringo’s pursuit of Gavin and a relationship.  But Gavin’s character is a gritty, prickly personification of a person so wounded that his first and only impulse when faced with affection and love is to throw up barriers and inflict enough pain and insult as to make that threat to his self isolation go away.  And Gavin does a quite thorough job of it in Lost and Found.  Towards the man who loves him, Gavin is abusive verbally, sometimes downright cruel. Gavin is childish, sulking and impulsive in his actions.  So why do we like him?  Because Ringo does.  And through Ringo’s eyes, we see beyond the stunted adult into the wounded young artist crying out for help and love.

The story is told in Ringo’s pov.  We understand by hearing his thoughts and feeling his emotions that Ringo too carries his share of pain and past injuries both physical and emotional.  A vet with PTSD, he has adjusted to civilian life but his memories of his tour of duty lurk on the edges of Ringo’s mind, just waiting to reappear.  Ringo has a love of his culture and family but also understands the reality of being an out gay latino in his neighborhood where he is protected not only by his size but by the force of his Uncle Salvo and family.  Ringo’s complexities are apparent whether he is dealing with security issues at the RV park or with the emotional turmoil of Gavin himself.

It is a mark of this author’s skill that, just when the reader is getting so exasperated with Gavin’s actions towards Ringo and Ringo’s constant acceptance of the unrelenting rejection that they want to give up on this couple’s romance, she has Ringo understand that a major change in his approach to Gavin must occur in order for him to go forward in his pursuit.  This is a much needed shift in attitude, and for some readers eyes long overdue.  But again it works to help the reader better understand the men involved and the relationship Ringo is hoping to have with Gavin. One more realistic layer added to an already multilayered story.

Throughout the story, like a line tethering one character to another, is Bird, the chocolate lab who is Gavin’s constant companion and the vessel into which he pours all his love.  Tying an endearing pet like Bird to someone who is off-putting and dislikable as Gavin, at least at the beginning, helps to connect the reader to that person.  It changes our perception of them instantaneously.  For if a dog loves them, then  somewhere inside they must be deserving of being loved, a widely held opinion whether it is true or not.  The reader will find the hunt for Bird gut wrenching, especially if you are a pet owner.  It feels as real as the rest of the story, as does Bird himself.

My only real quibble here is the length.  I think Lost and Found would benefit from a longer length, from novella to novel size.  The end of the story is as realistic and satisfying as these two complex men could have at the time.  I would have loved a little more to the resolution and acceptance, letting the reader revel in the moment a little longer along with the men. T’would have been keeping in the holiday spirit and the miracles that can occur if you want them badly enough.  As it is I still loved Lost and Found and recommend it highly no matter the season or holidays you keep.

Cover art by L.C. Chase is just magnificent.  One of the best covers of 2013.  Perfection in every way from tone, emotion, and character.  Just wow.

Special 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 visithttp://www.aliforneycenter.org/.

Book Details:

140 pages
Expected publication: December 2nd 2013 by Riptide Publishing
ISBN13 9781626490857
edition language English

Contest and Guest Blog by Z.A. Maxfield for Lost and Found

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Let’s welcome Z.A. Maxfield to ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords to share her thoughts on the holidays and her latest release, Lost and LostAndFound_150x300Found:

Five Favorite Holiday Book Memories

Hello, and welcome to my Lost and Found blog tour! Thanks so much to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for hosting me today. I’m so glad to be able to share my latest release.

Everyone has Christmas film memories, and I have a lot of those. But I want to talk about my Five Favorite Holiday Book Memories. These are either about books I’ve read that deal with the holidays, or books I’ve read during the holidays!

When my daughter was two, one of our relatives sent us a tiny little board book called The Christmas Mouse. I must have read that thing a thousand times. She carried it in her tiny baby hand everywhere we went, and as her mother it was my job to read it whenever she wanted it read. Reading a story to a toddler is the BEST Christmas memory.

I used to have a copy of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol that belonged to my mother. It was small, illustrated, and had a green leather binding. The embossing on the cover was so worn, you couldn’t read the title, but I loved that book. I kept it in a bookcase next to the bed for years and every time my husband left me a Post-It note I tucked it inside the cover. Somehow, I’ve lost that book and I’m very much afraid it was with the Christmas decorations that burned. But I loved that book. I used to enjoy reading it out loud to my kids.

One year my mother went to a used bookstore and bought me a dozen or so blue tweed editions of the Nancy Drew series from the fifties. I wasn’t feeling well, and I remember lying in bed for several days with a high fever, enjoying those books one after another when I felt well enough to read. That was a great gift and I still have those books and some older editions from the thirties that my mother bought when she was in elementary school. The fun thing about those is that she wrote her name on the inside covers in her painstaking elementary school cursive. (Which looked better than mine does now…)

I used to get really excited about interesting or unusual Christmas ornaments, but as probably everyone in the world knows now, I had a fire and lost all that. At one time, I collected little storybooks ornaments. I had A Christmas Carol, The Nutcracker, and I think maybe one other, I think it must have been T’was The Night Before Christmas. I used to take them off the tree and read them, and the kids liked them, they were the perfect size for little kid hands.

And Finally, MY VERY FAVORITE Christmas book memory is about an AUDIOBOOK! One year as a lark I bought this holiday themed set of cassette tapes from one of the big box stores. The tapes were a compilation of stories, I don’t know, A Baker’s Dozen, The Nutcracker, The Christmas Tea Set, and this one story about a Little Christmas Tree. Every year, we’d make cocoa in travel mugs and go drive around one of the neighborhoods where people take their holiday decorations really seriously. We’d listen to those stories, until we got to the tree one, and everyone would have a cow! See, that story was the saddest, most depressing, most pessimistic story ever, and the kids used to scream at me if I let them listen to it. So, now you know, it’s to honor my family that whenever I tell a story, I always make sure it has a happy ending. There are enough downer stories in the world…I want to remind people that even in the bottom of Pandora’s Box, there was a little bit of hope.

Thanks so much for spending some time with me and the guys from Lost and Found!

LostAndFound_500x750Blurb –
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.

You can read an excerpt or purchase Lost and Found  HERE. Remember, when you purchase Lost and Found in either ebook format, which you can find  HERE or in the print anthology format, which you can find HERE, you’re helping to support the mission of the Ali Forney Center.

About Z. A. Maxfield:

ZAM 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. Three things reverberate throughout all her stories: Unconditional love, redemption, and the belief that miracles happen when we least expect them.
If anyone asks her how a wife and mother of four can find time for a writing career, she’ll answer, “It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you give up housework.”

Readers can visit ZAM at her  website, Facebook,  Twitter, or Tumblr.

Lost and Found Contest Details:

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To recap, you can find all the blog tour information you need at the Riptide Website, HERE. Be sure you attend all the stops and follow the Rafflecopter instructions for the chance to win a $20.00 Riptide Publishing Gift Certificate and all the songs on my Lost and Found Playlist!  The winner will be drawn on December 8th at 5pm  EST.  Contest is valid worldwide.

Riptide contest details:
Enter your details in the Rafflecopter below to gain entry in the *Home for the Holidays* giveaway! This week of the tour closes at midnight, EST, on December 6th. Then, one grand prize winner will be contacted at the end of the Home for the Holidays tour on December 16th. Contest is valid worldwide.

Riptide Publishing Rafflecopter Link

Book 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 visithttp://www.aliforneycenter.org/.