Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Gasp! Z.A. Maxfield

A spoiled rock star, a man who is former military, a baby and obnoxious family members make for an odd reading experience.
-Review by Cindi

********** This review contains spoilers. **********

The reviewer apologizes in advance for the length of the review.

 Gasp! Jeff Paxton returns home from Afghanistan unsure of where he is going in life.  He wants to settle down, establish roots and spend time with his family.  First, he has to get his bearings after spending time in a war zone.  What he does not want to do is babysit Nigel Gasp as a favor for his sister, Nigel's manager, who is taking maternity leave.  Nigel Gasp is a spoiled, almost 40-year-old rock star who managed to get himself in yet another embarrassing situation that could possibly hurt his career.  As a result, he needs to lay low and stay out of the media spotlight for a few weeks.  Jeff's sister (Deidre) is a force to be reckoned with so Jeff doesn't dare stand a chance at saying no to her.  So Jeff is stuck with Nigel for six weeks whether he wants to be or not.  

Nigel is a selfish brat.  He is a huge rock star and is expected to act a certain way (I guess?) but the author took Nigel to the extreme.  Some of his antics in the beginning almost had me putting my Kindle Fire down and chalking this book up as a mistake and a DNF.  I am a fan of this author so I kept going.  Did Nigel get better as the book progressed?  I want to say yes, he did, but I can't.  Sure, he kind of calmed down a bit later............ much, much later............. but by that point I was already so frustrated with the character that I was not impressed with any changes he made.  Not much anyway.  The reason for his behavior does come out eventually but by the time the book got there, my opinion of him had already been formed and there was really no going back.

After years of performing and being recognized by fans, Nigel has mastered the art of hiding in plain sight.  He has various costumes and disguises that fool even those closest to him.  Seeing each new persona was fun..... until Jeff got sick.  Jeff suddenly falls ill and is taken to the doctor (a fish tapeworm?  Seriously?)  He gets back from the doctor's office and Nigel is dressed in what is possibly the most ridiculous disguise in the world.... a nurses uniform, big fake breasts, the wig, the hat... the works.    It was not funny.  It was not cute.  To me?  It was silly and in no way contributed to the story.  If anything, it took away from it... far, far away from it.

Jeff, I did like.  Early on anyway.  He is stuck in a situation that he does not want to be in but there is no arguing with his sister (I will come back to her).  Jeff is forced to literally babysit a spoiled brat who has a death wish. He is given zero support from his sister.  If Jeff complains to her on the phone, she says "What Nigel wants, Nigel gets.  Deal with it"... but yet if Nigel takes his partying to the extreme or forces Jeff into a difficult situation, who gets blamed?  That would be Jeff.  I should also point out that Jeff's sister and mother both treat Nigel much better than they do Jeff.  Secrets are kept from him and it is made quite clear that their respect lies with the selfish rock star, not their brother or son.

Jeff's sister, Deidre.  She takes a step back from her position as Nigel's manager to have a baby with her female partner.  I am hesitant to begin on the sister for fear of going on too long.  She has to seriously be one of the most annoying female characters I have ever seen in a book.  Nigel is spoiled because this woman spoils him.  She pushes her brother to babysit this grown child and when Nigel gets into things he shouldn't?  

"Just deal with it.  He's the great Nigel Gasp.  Give him whatever he wants.  He wants to destroy a hotel room by flying in a bunch of groupies and partying losers?  No problem.  Just fix it.  Oh, and by the way?  If he does actually do these things?  That's right dear brother, you will catch hell from me for allowing him to."  

... I'm paraphrasing.

She is a major contradiction and I simply dreaded the next time she would pop up in the book.  She has a baby with her female partner as mentioned above.  It is obvious early on that Nigel was the sperm donor.  Apparently everyone is aware of this fact except Jeff, who is treated as insignificant.  Actually, Jeff is treated as insignificant by all.  Later when there is a health issue with the baby, Nigel is treated as insignificant.... by the mother of his son, hospital personnel, and Jeff's mother.

Speaking of Jeff and Deidre's mother........... I have read other reviews where it is obvious that I am not in the minority as far as Deidre is concerned.  The mother on the other hand, I am.  Most readers adored her.  Me?  Not even close.  She strings along a man who is head over heels in love with her.  She doesn't have the guts to jump into a real relationship with him or to simply dump him.  Also, she treats Nigel Gasp, who is not her son, better than she does her own flesh and blood.  Jeff fought for his country in Afghanistan.  He doesn't re-up because of his mother and other issues.  Instead of being proud and thankful, she treats a spoiled rock star better than him and shows him zero respect.

Jeff and Nigel begin a relationship of sorts.  It actually comes as a surprise as one minute they are almost killing each other and the next a relationship is born.  Not just a sexual relationship but a real relationship even if the terms aren't quite defined until much, much later.  They learn to get along and Nigel acts almost mature for a little while.  For a little while there I almost liked him.  Almost.  At the end of the six weeks, they separate as expected and try to have a long-distance relationship.  Nigel actually acted somewhat normal during that time.  Then it got weird again.  Jeff flies 1,000 miles to see Nigel and what does Nigel do?  Stays out partying all night long after a concert and leaves Jeff just standing there in the crowd with all of Nigel's other 'admirers'..  Frustrated, Jeff leaves to go back to the hotel and Nigel doesn't follow.  Hmmm.... I fly 1,000 miles to be with my man... that I haven't seen in months.... and he can't step away from being the center of attention long enough to spend time with me?  I would have been packed and long gone before Nigel bothered to make his next morning appearance.  That should have been the final straw in the relationship as it is made quite clear that Jeff is second best to Nigel and that Nigel only cares about himself and the attention and adoration that he gets from total strangers.

Jeff has severe nightmares as a result of his time served in Afghanistan.  This is touched on a few times in the book but I feel that it could have been elaborated on a bit more.  The resolution to that was not satisfying to me.  Did the nightmares go away?  What was the significance of what he was seeing in his dreams night after night?

Nigel agreed to be the sperm donor so that Deidre and her partner can have a child.  The minute Nigel meets Hazzard (yes, that is the baby's name.... also Nigel's real last name) he falls head over heels in love with the child.  Later, the baby falls ill and is rushed to the hospital (though all that was ever said about the baby in regards to this was that he had been having breathing problems... no diagnosis mentioned in the book).  Nigel, the baby's biological father and godfather to the child, is left sitting in the waiting room while the two mothers are back with the baby.  In order to actually see his son, he has to sneak into the hospital room late at night.  What does Deidre do?  Goes a bit nuts because she's scared that Nigel's love for the baby could mean that he could take him away from her.  

Okay, I get that.  I do.  This could have been a major part of the story.  But what does the author do?  She throws that little tidbit in literally on the very last page.  Deidre gets upset in the hospital because Nigel dared feel more for the child that she wanted him to. She throws a little fit about it and nothing?  To throw something like that in at literally the very end of the book (the last couple of pages) was aggravating to me.  So? What now?  Will Nigel get to be more of a part of Hazzard's life?  Will he be called Da?  Will the baby know Nigel as his father?  Come on.  You don't throw in a "Will he or won't he?" on the last two pages and expect the reader to be satisfied with this.

Another thing that bugged me and that was not resolved to my satisfaction....  Nigel asks Jeff to come out on the road with him while he is touring now that they are an official couple.  After the fiasco when Jeff was left alone after flying hundreds of miles to see Nigel, I could understand Jeff's hesitation.  If Nigel can't be bothered to spend time with him after that, how will he be if this is night after night?  Also, Jeff speaks (often) of how he does not want to be a kept man and he wants to earn his own way.  So, what happens with that?  Does he take online classes?   What?

There is a lot of jumping forward in this book.  It starts with Deidre chewing Nigel out about one of his many public escapades and she orders him to lie low for awhile and that her brother will be his handler for awhile.  Then it jumps right into Jeff and Nigel staying in the same hotel.  They are forced to leave the hotel and move to another place (because of Nigel's partying).  They spend their six weeks together as a 'sort of' couple.  The time for them to separate comes and nothing.... no goodbye... nothing. Oh, it was there but it was off page.  It jumps ahead a few weeks to Nigel being on tour and Jeff working as a bartender.

I wanted to like this book.  I really did.  I normally tend to shy away from rock star or celebrity type books but this was written by an author whose other work I have enjoyed in the past.  Perhaps I'm being too picky when it comes to this story but I do not like books that leave me unsatisfied as far as the resolution of major things.   After reading page after page of Nigel's childish behavior and Jeff sitting back and allowing it to happen because he's the great Nigel Gasp, I wanted a satisfying resolution.  I did not get that.  What I ended up getting was the feeling of being cheated.  For that reason, this book did little for me.  

I do not like doing bad reviews.  In fact, I rarely do them.  But in this case, I did not find enough good things for me to say that this was anything more than simply okay.  This will not prevent me from reading more by Z.A. Maxfield as one of her books ranks up there for me as an all-time fave.  

Many others loved this book so if you are interested in reading a book about an aging rock star and you don't mind reading page after page of his crazy antics, then this book is for you.  If, on the other hand, you are interested in a story about characters who will not get on your last nerve, this one is definitely not for you.

I do love the cover.  :)


  1. Thanks for the in-depth review - that's really interesting. I must admit I'm never much drawn by rock star/rock band books - I don't really know why, as I love books with other artist types in, e.g. actors etc! :))


  2. I avoid rock star/band books. As soon as I see it in the offical blurb I move on. The Curtis Reincarnation was an exception, but it's more character driven than much to do about the life of a singer.

    1. I normally avoid them as well, with the exception .. as you said... of The Curtis Reincarnation and I have to throw in my 2nd fave... The Missing Butterfly... though neither of those have characters like Nigel Gasp, nor are they typical rock star-type books. This guy was just too much and he didn't improve much (in my opinion).