- MLR Press
- Release Date
- April 2011
Contemporary Romance, Erotic Romance, LGBTQ
After Brendan and his mother witness a completely random tragedy, his carefully controlled life begins to fall apart. First he has nightmares and panic attacks, then he loses focus in his daily life. His board of directors insists he undergo rehab at a so-called "relaxation destination" and to make matters worse, they've hired newly minted psychiatrist, Dr. Dirk Melovitch, to accompany him.
Dirk, whose job it is to help Brendan learn to relax, walks into the lobby of Brendan's hotel wearing a borrowed suit with an attitude that rubs Brendan the wrong way from the moment they meet. They head for the airport and their carefully planned itinerary goes out the window, one small setback at a time.
From the airports of New York and Dallas, to the long, lonely highways of Texas and an upscale rehab destination in Santa Fe, Brendan and Dirk each try to gain the upper hand until both find out that it's not just life that can get a guy All Stirred Up.
Sep 22, 2011 [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
181 people found the following review helpful
ALL STIRRED UP is the first story I've read by author Z. A. Maxfield and it certainly won't be the last. From the start, I was drawn in and, as the story progressed I grew more and more engrossed.
The book opens with Brendan Blankenship and his movie star mother Morgan, walking along an open market street when a car comes barreling out of nowhere, crashing through tables and people, leaving carnage in its wake. The incident throws Brendan into an acute state of PTSD and his company, the company he founded, all but forces him to seek help. Enter Dr. Dirk Melovitch, a young and handsome psychiatrist, who is assigned as his therapist and issued the job of bringing him from New York City to the rehab center in New Mexico. It doesn't take long for an awkward pairing to turn heated. The relationship takes flight as the two travel across the country. But once they arrive at Crystal Reflections, new information is revealed and the relationship is put to the test.
One of the strangest elements to ALL STIRRED UP is how Ms. Maxfield beautifully unfolds the emotional journey of both characters so we can not only see their growth from the beginning to the end, but can empathize with their fears, needs, and wants. Both Brendan and Dirk are authentic. They reflect people we know in our daily lives and in ourselves. We all want love and fear rejection. We all strive to make the right choices, but allow our needs and desires to impact our better judgment.
As each chapter progresses and the two men address their attraction toward one another, acting on the physical magnetism, but withholding from the most basic of conversations, how they feel and what they want, we are carried along a journey filled with emotional angst and self-discovery. As we watch each character struggle with his own challenges, we watch the couple constantly miss each other, bypassing important intersections where they could have made some real progress in moving past their doubts and fears. To coin an overused clichÚ, they are like two ships passing in the night, always close, but just out of reach.
The beauty and tenderness of the emotional discovery and changes which take place over the first two-thirds of the story make for a heartfelt journey, but one thing which prevented me from giving this a 5 star rating was the shift which takes place in the last third of the story. While Brendan's self-discovery at Crystal Reflections was wonderfully written and well-developed, it took some adjusting to shift from watching the relationship between two men grow to focusing on Brendan's independent journey.
A measure of a good story is, in my opinion, how well the author develops the characters, fleshes them out, and demonstrates how they have grown and changed over the course of the book. A talented author is able to mesh together the fantasy of finding true love with the reality of the work that goes into making that connection last. A story of true love isn't always painted in vibrant colors with fairy-tale princesses being kissed by their princes (okay, not the best analogy given this is a m/m erotic romance, but you get my point).
ALL STIRRED UP by Z. A. Maxfield is a realistic portrayal of two men, men who are relatively normal, damaged to an average degree, each bringing their own baggage to the relationship. It is a love story which could really happen and that made the journey all the more powerful for me.
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