A MelanieM Review: Palm Trees and Paparazzi (Gabe Maxfield Mysteries #3) by J.C. Long


Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Gabe Maxfield remembers Manuel Delgado all too well—since investigating him nearly got him killed. He’d be very happy never to see him again, but that’s not in the cards for him. When the mother of a missing socialite seeks out Paradise Investigations to find out what happened to her daughter, Gabe and best friend Grace Park are going to be thrown right back into Delgado’s world. Personal lives begin to interfere, as well, and soon they’ve got more on their plate than they can handle.

A missing woman.

Delgado’s son.

A romantically awkward Grace.

Gabe’s parents.

It’s just another week for Gabe Maxfield.

Ok, I’m going to admit that this series and this author have me flummoxed.  There is so much to admire about the writing and the characterizations and the settings that I want to give this story a much higher rating.  And I keep waffling about it, I really do!

See,  JC Long gets so much right here.  Til it sort of doesn’t.

First let’s talk about the setting.  That would be Hawaii where Gabe is a transplant from the mainland.  Long gets the feel of being a “native born” Hawaiian just right.  From the poke, the clothes, the  “language” that goes beyond colloquialisms into a shared culture spoken among those born to the islands itself, you feel like Long knows Hawaii and its people.

After the setting and lush grounding of Hawaii, you have the many characters of this series.  And the start of my wobbling point.  I can see them so clearly.  Long’s ability to define a personality, give them life, and then push them along a narrative works.  Whether you like that character or not, it works.  Long does a great job with all elements of society, law abiding, criminal, native, and haoli. So far so good.

Even the plot of the missing fiance was entertaining.

So where do I find that the story (and potentially series) wobbles?  Well, that would be in believing that Gave and his very annoying partner Clare are actually detectives.   I  kept waiting to find any sort of genuine investigation here (that’s left to another IT person). Anything that would make me believe that any actual “detecting” was being done.  Nope.  From what went down, I don’t believe these two could find pet rocks unless someone threw them at them. They stumble into everything and I don’t think we are meant to look at it like that.  Gabe gets followed by two men.  Does he try to find out who they are?  No.  When he gets pictures , actual  photos of the distinctive men tailing him, try to match up faces to names of the thugs? Again no.  He makes assumptions.  Does he even ask, Maka, his cop boyfriend? Or even tell him they’ve tailed him home? Nope.  Maka, when he does eventually see the thugs, identifies them immediately. Smh!  These two almost make Clouseau look brilliant. Why they keep solving cases I haven’t a clue.

This is not supposed to be a comedy of errors but serious detective work but Gabe and Clare come off at two people who not only should not be Private Detectives but give that group a bad name because they are so inadequate at what they do.  Impulsive, check.  Half cocked.  Uh huh. Running into dangerous situations. Check and check.

So do you see my quandary here?  Believable characters who are absolutely terrible at their jobs but I don’t think JC Long meant to write them that way.  Does Long believe they are doing great work?  Does he believe he’s writing terrific investigative procedures?  Or is this all tongue in cheek?  I really don’t know.  But I get the feeling it’s meant to be serious.

Then there’s their treatment of their receptionist.  Gabe hires a older woman, not because she’s competent, but because she’s sure to make Grace crazy with the way she acts and dresses.  Then when there are constant “emotional” fireworks between Clare and the feisty and totally marvelous Mrs. Neidermeyer, he doesn’t back up either one of them.  All the while acknowledging that maybe he made a less than wise decision.  Ya think? She dresses inappropriately, pole dances and dates and has way more life than many of the other characters in the series.  Long has give her depth and vitality.  Yet none of the characters in the story treat her as anything other than a joke or a burden to deal with.  How odd is that?

So yes, how do I rate this story?  Go high for great settings, believable characters and then what?  You can’t ignore character abuse, lack of professionalism by the PIs or sheer bumbling that occurred that was supposed to fill in as detective work.

For me, I’m still pondering what to do while knowing I’ll grab the next story in the series when it arrives.  Honestly, I love Maka and effervescent Mrs N!

Cover art by Natasha Snow.  Great cover, vibrant and pulls your eye right to the book. Love it.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Published July 1st 2019 by NineStar Press
Edition Language English

Series Gabe Maxfield Mysteries #3

Gabe Maxfield Mysteries Series

Mai Tais and Murder

Tiki Torches and Treasure

Hula Dancers and Hauntings

Palm Trees and Paparazzi

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Unzipping 7D (Unzipped Shorts #2) by J.C. Long


Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

unzipping-7d-by-j-c-longThis is a delightful short story full of sexy situations, two hot guys, and an app that fulfills its promise.

Frequent traveler Jordan Price uses the time in the airport lounge to search his Unzipped app—just in case. After all, meeting a hot guy here might help pass the time. As it happens there is a guy nearby, and in fact, Heath is not only nearby, he’s on the same flight. Grabbing a few minutes to chat is pretty unsatisfying since Jordan wants to get to know Heath in more of a physical way, but the flight is called and it seems all they can do is board.

However, the very enterprising Jordan stops at 7D and convinces the passenger next to Heath to switch seats with him so he can be with his “buddy.” And from there until the end of the flight, the men get to know one another quite well. In fact, they are members of the Mile High Club by flight’s end.

I was very impressed and actually pretty surprised that the author managed so much character development within forty pages. I was also connected to both characters quickly and was cheering for them to get some alone time. And then what I got, by the end of the story, was a very pleasant surprise and the possibility of at least a HFN. Loved these guys!

I highly recommend this one. What a great way to spend an afternoon!


The cover by Natasha Snow is very cleverly done with a thumbnail of a man with a bare torso on the face of a cell phone being held in another man’s hand—the perfect representation of a pickup app.

Sales Links

NineStar Press


Book Details:

ebook, 40 pages
Published February 20th 2017 by NineStar Press
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesUnzipped Shorts #2

A Caryn Review: One Pulse Anthology


Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

one-pulse-anthologySince the shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando on June 12, 2016, people worldwide have donated a total of more than 23 million dollars to the OneOrlando Fund set up to benefit the victims and their families.  It seems like a lot of money, but between the number of people affected, and the severity of their injuries – mental and physical – that money will be exhausted fairly soon.  Also, after the initial outcry and horror that such a thing could have happened, and for such a reason, the shooting has faded out of the headlines.  But for those who were directly affected, and for all people in the LGBTQ spectrum, the shooting is still at the forefront of their thoughts, and fears, and worries.  So I was very pleased to see Dreamspinner Press put out this anthology to raise money for various LGBT organizations in central Florida, and I jumped at the chance to review it.  Dreamspinner also has another anthology coming out in time for the 2016 holiday season, that will also benefit the same charities.

At first, I planned to do a short review on each story individually, but at a total of 31 stories (and almost 200,000 words) that just wasn’t possible.  The stories are written by a combination of well known and lesser known authors from Dreamspinner’s ranks, and run the gamut of genres.  There are contemporary, fantasy, paranormal, historical, and sci-fi works.  Most are romances, but some are not.  Most are M/M pairings, but there was also one F/F and one M/M/M/M.  Some stories were extremely good, some less so, but there was only one that I had to DNF.  My favorite was The Tithe by K.C. Burn, which was one of the fully original stories, but there were several that were in the various universes created by the authors in other published works (like Edmond Manning’s They Danced which tells another tale of the Lost and Founds, which would not have made much sense to me if I hadn’t read one of them first).  The stories ranged from1 star to 5 star ratings, and overall the anthology really is more of a 3 star read, but I give it an extra star because of the generosity of the authors and the other people from Dreamspinner involved in putting it together.  I looked at the call for submissions, and they were due only a month after the shooting itself, which is an incredibly short period of time to write something really good, so I actually expect the next anthology to be even better.

I also hope that there will be a little more detail of which organizations the money will be going towards in the next anthology.  Overall, I do recommend this collection, especially for those who like to read shorter stories.  I plan on buying the next anthology when it’s available.

The cover art, by Paul Richmond, really fits with the title of the anthology and the reasons it was written.  I like the symbolism of one pair of hands holding and caring for another, checking a pulse as a nod to the name of the nightclub, and the rainbow coloring for Pride.

Sales Links


Book Details:

ebook, 574 pages
Published September 19th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
Original TitleOne Pulse
Edition LanguageEnglish