Sandra @ My Fiction Nook

I like romance and boys loving boys in my books. 

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ARC Review: Crossing Borders by Z.A. Maxfield

Crossing Borders - Z.A. Maxfield

First off, my apologies to the author and the publisher for being super late to the party. I read this book back when I first got it on Netgalley, and then it just sat there in my Currently Reading pile, until I pulled it back up and read it again. 


There were lots of things I liked about this book, and lots of things I didn't.

What I liked:

Tristan's family, and Michael's mother - they were all great and worked well in their supporting roles.

The funny moments, such as Tristan's plan at Borders, Michael's obvious interest, especially that it's not obvious to Tristan. Their banter. Tristan's blushing. The Thanksgiving dinner.

Some parts of their relationship.

The flow of the story - no major lulls, no huge time jumps until the epilogue.

The romance, for the most part.

That Tristan calls Michael "Officer Helmet". To his face. I snickered a lot whenever that phrase was used.

What I didn't like:

Michael calling Tristan Sparky all the time, and that Tristan had to keep reminding him not to. "You light me up" wasn't a good enough reason for me. Also, seriously? That was your reason, Officer Helmet?

The fact that they get matching tattoos so quickly. Slightly weirded out by that. While I somewhat understood Tristan's burning need to get his, considering the circumstances, I found it slightly creepy when Michael did it. Even if he got his first.

The irrationally quick ILYs. Seriously. Tristan is 19, and while he may be more mature due to his familial circumstances, I didn't buy it as much as I may have wanted to. Also, he only just came to the realization that he's gay, Michael is his first non-het relationship, and he's still mourning what he considers the loss of what he grew up expecting to have - marriage, kids, and such. Not that this is an issue anymore, but when this book was written, same-sex marriage was but a dream for most.

The repetitive harping on safe sex, OMG, to the point where I thought this was turning into an ad for condom use. I'm all for using condoms when having actual intercourse, het or otherwise, but your chances of catching anything bad from oral sex are so slim that the use of latex, which was emphasized over and over again in this book, was a little off-putting. Tristan wasn't a super slut - he may have had sex with girls before, but there was no indication that he didn't use condoms when he did, and there was no reason for Officer Helmet to be so adamant about latex use during oral sex. At least not to me. And the fact that Michael in one scene bites his lip to the point of drawing blood, and then Tristan kisses him, TASTING THE BLOOD - yeah... I call BS on the insistence on using condoms. HIV isn't transmitted by seminal fluid only, you know.

Ron, the ex-boyfriend/lover, family friend, whatever. First, he's introduced as a bad memory of sorts, but then he inserts himself back into Michael's life, like a worm, for a reason that isn't clear, which makes him look and feel like a creepy old man, and then he becomes buddies with Tristan and decides he has the right to dole out unsolicited advice, and then turns into the catalyst for the almost-break-up. WTF? Rude!

The cover - while it's certainly cute, it doesn't fit the image of Tristan depicted within this book. Where's the long hair? Supposedly it's long enough for a pony tail. Not what we're seeing on the cover. Meh.


Overall, considering this was, from the looks of it, ZA Maxfield's first published book, even if this is the same book in its revisited format, it wasn't a bad read, not at all. I can see though that the author has grown by leaps and bounds since then, and that this book shouldn't be used a measure of her writing prowess. It's uneven in parts, and, IMHO, it's not her best work. The emotions often feel either forced or utterly OTT, and I still, even after reading it twice, have issues believing the romance between Officer Helmet and Sparky.

Maybe I'm just old and cynical. *shrugs*

** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher via Netgalley. A positive review was not promised in return **