The Case of the Rising Star: A Derrick Steele Mystery by Zavo

This is definitely a book for which I have mixed feelings. The overall plot was okay but there were definitely a few things that niggled, especially concerning the main character and the dialogue.

The Case of the Rising Star: A Derrick Steele MysteryThe Case of the Rising Star: A Derrick Steele Mystery by Zavo

My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

The blurb…

A young and famous movie star is receiving death threats, and Derrick is on the case. Without warning, Warren O’Malley, Derrick’s long-forgotten half-brother, arrives in Los Angeles, bringing with him his two formidable younger brothers. The trio is determined to claim their rightful place in the Steele family, or destroy them in the process. With Warren’s arrival comes a dark secret from Daniel McAllister’s past, one that Daniel is unwilling to reveal. As the tension between Derrick and Daniel begins to unravel their relationship, it also begins to threaten the detective agency itself. When Derrick realizes he is falling in love with the young movie star, he faces a heartbreaking decision. Will Derrick be able to save the young star in time? Can the Steeles pull together as a family to stave off this new series of threats? Will this be the end of the famous Steele Detective Agency?

So what did I think?

I have read a couple of good mysteries lately so was looking forward to another of this type of story. I was hoping for a enthralling plot with a nice side helping of romance. This story didn’t quite deliver.

The story centres around Derrick Steele who is a private detective in the family business. As the story starts he is remembering past events – it turns out this isn’t the first book in the series and there was another story I wasn’t aware of – and there are a multitude of characters who are mentioned in a short period. I found myself getting a little lost and confused but kept on going.

Derrick has a couple of cases and we see him following a cheating spouse which involves a bit of action with chases and gunshots. But the main case involves a movie star who is being threatened. Derrick takes on the case and starts spending time with Gordon Maxwell.

My main issue with this story is probably the fact that I didn’t really like Derrick very much. He has a lot of sex with different people and he seemed shallow and superficial. I find it difficult to really like a story when I can’t rate the main character very highly. I disliked the open relationship he had with his live-in lover and didn’t like the affair he started with Gordon. I also didn’t like Gordon’s dalliances with a married man, no matter what the state of the marriage.

While the plot was okay, the story didn’t seem to have a natural or relaxed flow. The conversation/dialogue felt a bit stilted. The other thing I found very noticeable was the overuse of the first names in the dialogue. Each character seemed to use the name of the person they were talking to in every sentence which didn’t seem natural. But perhaps this was supposed to reflect the speech patterns of the time when the book was set? I’m not really sure of the period of this book but it obviously sometime in the past – there are no cell phones, they use the library for research, photos are developed not digital….

There is quite a bit of sex in the book – sex more than romance. Even one slightly strange scene where Gordon is telling Derrick about his first boyfriend. He launches into this really detailed description of them having sex which seemed unnecessary in the context of the story so was perhaps just a strange way of inserting a sex scene.

The ending is also a set up for the next book. There is some closure but also unanswered mystery.

In summary, I think I would have enjoyed this book more if I had read the first book to put some of the elements into context. Once I put my thoughts about Derrick to the side and ignored the somewhat stilted dialogue, the overall story was okay, the potential was there, just not quite realised.

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in return for an honest review.

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★★★★ When Love Takes Over by Jacob Z. Flores ★★★★

“What happens in P-town is supposed to happen. This is a special place, It changes people’s lives. The problems and worries that you bring with you don’t mean as much.”

Don’t forget to check out the Book Trailer at the end of the review!

When Love Takes OverWhen Love Takes Over by Jacob Z. Flores

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

Zach Kelly’s life is a shambles. His boyfriend of three years dumped him, and his writing career is going nowhere. On a whim, he heads to Provincetown, Massachusetts, to nurse his broken heart and figure out his next step. He’s expecting to find rest and relaxation on the sandy beaches of Cape Cod. Instead, Zach meets a hunky porn star during a chance encounter at a leather shop he mistakes as a place to buy a belt that is definitely not for whipping.

Van Pierce is smitten when shy and inexperienced Zach crashes through a shelf of fetish gear. Though Van’s got an insatiable appetite for men on and off the set, his porn persona, Hart Throb, hides a broken heart. He’s struggling to find the reality the porno set doesn’t offer, and Zach is fighting to find the fantasy that will set his writing on fire. The odd goofball and the suave beefcake may either find love amid Provincetown’s colorful pageantry where summer never seems to end—or more heartbreak than either can imagine.

So what did I think?

Zach has been dumped. He is lacking self confidence, shy, clumsy and with a poor image of himself. He is re-evaluating his life, wanting to get back into his writing and Provincetown provides his escape.

For Zach, P-town is like the ultimate fantasy escape. Under the guidance of new friends Gary and Quinn, he undergoes a makeover and starts to experience a side of life that is very new to him – parties, drinking, dancing, sex…

Van has lived in Provincetown for years. His bad experiences with love have resulted in him escaping into his porn star persona and protecting himself by not getting emotionally involved.

Van is attracted to the pre-makeover version of Zach, the slightly geeky and sweet man, who seems quite different to the typical men he encounters so is disappointed to see Zach behaving in party-boy fashion. Zach is instantly attracted to Van. He makes the most of what Provincetown has to offer but can’t stop thinking of him.

Over the course of Zach’s holiday (yes, the romance is a quick one), Van and Zach come to mean a lot to each other but the road to true love is fraught with emotional ups and downs.

The story has quite an emotional element which is interestingly set against a backdrop of casual partying and good times. It delivers a strong message of love and acceptance. Zach comes to understand that he doesn’t need to change, that he is worthy of love exactly as he is and that Van’s career choice doesn’t impact how he feels about him.

The secondary characters in the book are fabulous, the setting is gay man’s paradise and the sex is lots and sizzling! I was quite intrigued by the references to each man’s stink – as in “he could smell Van’s stink on his beard” (not quite sure I like this but I’m not a gay man! :)) and so very different to all the other books where the characters seem to shower all the time.

The whole Provincetown location had a real ‘fantasy island’ feel so it was easy to accept the insta-love and the grand-gesture happy ending!

4 Stars


For more information on Jacob Z. Flores and his books visit his website.

Buy When Love Takes Over from Amazon.

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The Men of Holsum College: Bossy and the Brat (book #5) by Daisy Harris

From the author: Holsum College is your average liberal arts school nestled in the scenic hills of Vermont. Well—except that it has more than it’s fair share of gay and gay-curious students. Handsome and horny, Holsum College boys get into all kinds of hijinks as they text, party, make out, pretend to study, and basically act like your average university students.If you remember the days when every conversation eventually turned to sex, the walls were thin enough to hear your neighbor breath, “massage” was code for “hook-up” and every Friday night meant a new party, then Holsum College is the series for you!

Check out the Book Trailer for the series!

Bossy and the Brat (Men of Holsum College #5)Bossy and the Brat by Daisy Harris

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

Calvin Beaumont is supposed to marry Nicole. He’s a biology major, lab tech, and resident advisor—everything everyone expects him to be. There’s only one problem. He likes boys. In particular, a flirty dance major who was a freshman on his hall.

It’s sizzling summer at Holsum College, and Tyler Burk isn’t a freshman anymore. When he notices his hardworking resident advisor has same-sex feelings, he goads, teases, and tempts Mr. Bossy into dating on the sly. Cal may not be out, but he’s domineeringly hot, and Tyler doesn’t mind keeping things quiet…for a while.

But Calvin has wanted Tyler all year, and their sexting and secret rendezvous soon blossom into something neither one of them can control. Can Cal control his secret, as well as his sexy little brat? Or will he be man enough to admit he’s not the man everyone thought he was?

So what did I think?

This is the fifth book in the series and follows the Player and the Prude  which was the darkest book in the series yet. With this story, the series reverts back to the somewhat lighter side of romance as Tyler and Cal start to connect.

At the start of the book, Cal has a girlfriend who moved to college with him from their small town. They haven’t had sex, and Cal has used the small-town-values-sex-before-marriage thing as a excuse. But he really knows that he is not really attracted to her. She knows it too and they part ways but this all seemed a bit too easy and I would have expected more tension in the situation.

It’s Cal’s obvious obsession with Tyler, the guy in the room across the hall, that makes his true desires evident. But Cal is reluctant to start anything mainly because he was the RA and Tyler was a freshman. Tyler is a flirt and is looking for love and a boyfriend in all the wrong places. I never totally warmed to Tyler, perhaps because he seemed quite immature. It was also a bit of a struggle to truly believe in the relationship because I never got a real sense that the men knew what was in the heart and soul of the other, the relationship seemed a bit superficial.

There’s lots of teasing between Cal and Tyler and it doesn’t take much to get either of them going. Cal’s virgin status has him focused on sex pretty much all the time! A bit of sexting takes place as Tyler sends some nude photos to Cal and there is scene where they get off while texting back and forth – phone sex seems so much easier than text sex – surely it’s difficult to coordinate the texting with the other activity that’s going on? 🙂 Given Cal’s lack of experience I was also a bit worried for Tyler with the shoelace thing!

So all in all, I enjoyed reading this book, although perhaps not as much as the earlier books in the series.

3 Stars

Find out more about Daisy Harris and her books at her website.

Buy The Men of Holsum College series at Amazon