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Tracing The Stars

I read mostly science fiction and romance, and often a combination of the two.

Meh. Not what I expected for several reasons

Home the Hard Way - Z.A. Maxfield

Overall, I liked the book. I didn't love it or 'really' like it, though. It has a decent mystery aspect, but much of this becomes as repetitive as the internal struggles of both Finn and Dare. There are points where the mystery and investigations overwhelm the character story, then it switches and it's the character stories getting in the way of the mystery. At times, it felt as if the novel couldn't make up it's mind on if it wanted to be a detective story or a character novel. 

There are several interesting characters that helped carry me to the last page of the book; not so much the mystery or the back-stories between Finn and Dare. Finn is a complex, surprising and well-written character. Dare, for most of the book, proceeded to get on every last one of my nerves. I couldn't like him, no matter how hard I tried. I actually liked and appreciated Bill's complex nature more than the meatstick douche that Dare continually came off as.


Then, at forty-five-ish percent, the book takes an extremely unexpected twist. I didn't mind the twist at all, but I can see some readers having an issue with it. The blurb for the book in no way alludes to the fact that their is some heavy-handed BDSM Dom/sub play. I was expecting a romance between Finn and Dare, but I wasn't prepared for what actually happened. Reader be warned - if BDSM and control-play isn't your cup of tea, then this book probably won't be your cuppa either. The power-play was well done / pretty on-point for the realities of certain power-play relationships. My 3-star rating has nothing to do with this unexpected inclusion.

Something that was a problem for me was the awkward head-jumping. Head jumping / point of view shifts are perfectly fine when they are done well. Unfortunately, in this novel they were confusing most of the time. There were also odd tense shifts. Most of the book is third-person, but there are places where it suddenly shift to first person without italics or any other 'character thought' indication. This may be something that is fixed in the final editing stages, as I am reviewing an advanced copy.


There were also some issues with over-detailing, too much introspective and, perhaps, too many side-characters. It was a lot to keep track of at certain points, and I would have preferred a more streamlined focus on Finn and Dare. I did finish the book, and wanting to know all the town's secrets was a bigger pull than the Finn / Dare element. I think I would recommend this more for mystery readers who don't mind some BDSM and m/m relationships more than I would the typical m/m romance reader.


I received an review copy in request for honest feedback