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4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 4 June 2009
Tristan's got issues; he knows he does. So when his most recent girlfriend dumps him but he's preoccupied with the fact that he can't stop staring at, and lusting after her brother, Tristan figures it's about time he make some changes and take the plunge into something he's been wanting to do for a while - have sex with a man. Tristan's got a plan. He sets up shop at his local Borders bookstore, collects a pile of gay lit. titles as bait, sits himself down in the bookstore's coffee bar and waits for a hook-up, someone who can show him what he's been missing. Until who should crash his little stake-out but none other than Officer Michael Truax, a.k.a. "Officer Helmet" the man who's been a persistent pain in his skate boarding butt, dogging him with expensive tickets for not wearing a helmet.

Michael has been trying to catch Tristan for give him a second ticket, or so that's what he tells himself. Suddenly he's faced with his 'Sparky', all grown up -- and looking to get laid. The habit of protecting him isn't gone completely, but the opportunity is too much to resist. He figures the kid must know what he's getting into, so he takes him home. There, they carry on a cautious affair, only to find out that neither is what the other expected at all.

I know a story is really working for me when I start reading at say about 9:00 pm and wild horses couldn't drag me from the book. Well it was about 1:00 am in the morning when I finished "Crossing Borders" - in one sitting. What can I say, I devoured this read and absolutely loved it.

Maxfield's writing is clean, crisp, urbane and sophisticated with an equal strength in her characters and their dialogue. In Tristan she has created an incredibly intelligent, articulate, bold and witty character that practically steals the story. Tristan is one of those characters that you do not easily forget. He is younger than Michael by about ten years, yet he holds his own and then some. In Michael we get a very sympathetic, easy-going and confident character that on the surface appears to be uncomplicated. But, as the story progresses we discover that there is much more to Michael than meets the eye. I think the best part of the story for me was the dynamic between Tristan and Michael throughout the book. The very first scene in the Borders bookstore where Michael crashes Tristan's "get-laid" party has to be one of the most intelligent, incredibly clever, thoroughly entertaining, funny and verbally sexually charged exchanges between two characters that I have read in a long, long time. The scene is one of my favourites in the book.

Tristan and Michael do get together and when they do - look out! The sex in this book sizzles and scorches. Maxfield carries this urbane sophistication into the bedroom. What I found to be a breath of fresh air was Tristan's outright ownership of his sexuality. Even though he has no previous experience in being with a man and essentially comes out to, and with, the first man he sleeps with - Michael, we don't get this angst-ridden, hand-wringing that one usually has come to expect of these circumstances in gay romance. What we do get is an incredible level of maturity in Tristan's character self-exploration and self-acceptance of his sexuality. Equally, Maxfield does not succumb to the usual M/M stereotypes of tops and bottoms, alphas, betas or twinks, or the fall-back of the oft used pederastic relationship scenario of the older man and the younger boy-man. There are no labels, borders or fences imposed upon Michael and Tristan's sexual, and indeed overall relationship in this respect. Sometimes Tristan takes the lead in aspects of the relationship and sometimes it's Michael.

There is angst though and it comes in the form of Tristan's turmoil surrounding: Am I too young to be this in love? Can I handle loving a cop and all the while worry that he's going to get hurt or killed in the line of duty? Do I even want to be in a relationship where this can happen? Is this it? Is Michael the only man I will ever be with, will ever love? Am I ready for this? It also comes in the form of Michael's: I am so much in love and I'm terrified that I'm going to get burned. The metal in Tristan's and Michael's relationship is tested in this story and yes, through some not so happy and even scary events, but in the end there is an HEA.

I wouldn't characterize "Crossing Borders" as a coming of age story because frankly speaking Tristan is an old soul. What I would call it is a thoroughly refreshing and delightful read that sets the bar high and left me with a huge smile on my face and really good feeling inside.
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on 5 February 2013
I loved this book. I'd heard a lot of praise for Z. A. Maxfield and read The Long Way Home first. I didn't hate it but didn't fall in love with it, there were a lot of editing mistakes that kept pulling me out the story. I did really like her characterisation though - always a big one for me. So I prevaricated over whether to give another book of hers a try. I was so glad I did!

This book is simply gorgeous. Don't let the cover put you off - it's not about a much older man a very young boy. The book is about a cop in his twenties- 'officer Helmet' and a young man at college - 'sparky'.

This is not the most serious book I've ever read or the best written book I've ever read but it's one of my favourite reads of this past year. The author creates wonderful characters who you fall for easily and in this book she literally revels in those characters falling in love.

I don't think I've ever read a book with such a wonderful, headlong rush into falling in love before. It does get more angsty and serious later on but the first half of the book is glorious in the way it shows these two falling for one another.

For that reason I have to give it five stars. Just because I enjoyed it so damned much and because I really loved Sparky and 'officer helmet'. The author also avoided a lot of cliches. She could easily have made the older, more muscular cop a dominating sexual partner and she didn't. These guys explored their relationship and their sexuality and in a way that wasn't cliched.

There were some things that didn't ring true, I thought sparky accepted his sexuality incredibly easily - and quickly! But I didn't care. You don't always read for scorching realism and this book called out to the romantic in me. It's a love letter to love itself, and that's why I enjoyed it so much and why I give it five stars.
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on 13 September 2015
1.5 stars.
Most people seem to love this book but I'm not one of them.
The characters are sweet, but boring and completely unrealistic.
Tristan is the most unrealistic teenager I think I've ever read and Michael isn't a particularly convincing 28 year old. He seems more immature than Tristan most of the time, not to mention judgemental and preachy.
This book is a whole lot of nothing. The plot is...well there isn't one.
It's just sex, over-reaction to something ridiculous, sex. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Now I've never been one to moan about too much sex but I'm rather partial to a bit of plot to go with it.
The horrendous nicknames... 'Officer Helmet' (shudder) and Michael constantly calling Tristan 'Sparky' "Because you light me up" (please excuse me while I vomit)
It's all very 'chicks with dicks' mushy and overly sentimental.
The PoV changes are abrupt and confusing.
The decision Tristan made after speaking to Ron (btw what the hell was he all about) at about 80% was so ridiculous it pretty much finished the book off for me.
Also, where the hell did Edward go? Did I imagine him?!
The 'I love you and therefore can't be with you' was ridiculous, the tattoo was silly, the trip Tristan took didn't fit the story at all and the decision made at the end was plain old stupid.
Overall I'm very disappointed.
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on 16 May 2015
If you are looking for very explicit descriptions of love-making scenes, this is definitely the novel for you. About 62 pages out of 308 deal with this. They are admittedly mostly very hot scenes that many readers will apparently appreciate.

Personally I think these scenes are too many and they are not required of the plot. The fact is that the plot, which is quite thin, suffers. The obvious impression is that sex is the most important part in this novel. Negative is also the fact that some of the characters do not appear very convincing. Who and how you will have to find out yourself.

Despite my objections I appreciated this novel and give it four stars. However, the best and most convincing novel by Z.A. Maxfield I have read so far is "Family Unit". It is very well-written and contains all that one can wish for. I highly recommend it.
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on 26 September 2012
I felt this story was on a par with 'The Long Way Home' - absolutely delightful! Michael was the 'adult' in this partnership (at the start maybe), but Tris had had to grow up fast in lots of ways (as anyone who has lost their dad early on will tell you). He didn't want to have to go through losing someone close to him again, and was really afraid for Michael and his job as a policeman even though there didn't appear to be a lot of major crime in Fullerton. Michael could have come across as a bit of a stalker, hanging around waiting for Tristan until he was old enough to be in an adult relationship but he didn't - he was a very caring guy who felt it was his life's mission to help people, he even loved his mum! I thought the Thanksgiving scene around the dinner table was really funny, and the actual love story was handled very sensitively by the author who certainly seems to know her stuff. Well done Ms Maxfield.
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on 1 November 2010
To be honest, I wasn't expecting a whole lot from this book, and bought it relying only on the positive reviews it has received. But I was pleasantly surprised at just how good this book is. I could not put it down - I read it in about four hours. The story and the characters drew me in almost immediately, and I finished it with a smile on my face. It was nice to read a book without the customary angst at being gay; Tristan just got on with it, and I think that is one part of what makes his character so likeable. There are quite a lot of sex scenes as well, and while relatively graphic, it's nothing you wouldn't have read before, and they were surprisingly loving. The two characters love each other with an intensity that you can almost see, let alone feel, and that really comes across here. All in all, an amazing book, that exceeded my expectations and will definately be read again and again.
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on 23 April 2014
I love this story and, like with Drawn Together, having read the paperback several times, I purchased it on Kindle (easier to read!).

Michael and Tristan's story is well written from the start and the humour makes me laugh out loud. I especially love the meeting of the two families at Thanksgiving and the dialogue between the characters is superb. The inevitable angst when Tristan questions whether he can cope with Michael's job as a cop after Michael is hurt never fails to cause me heartache.

I think I enjoy this story so much because it is simply about two people who fall in love. ZAM's storytelling skills drawn you in and really make you care about the characters. Read it - I don't think you will be disappointed.
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on 11 November 2008
There's double the pleasure here - ZA Maxfield's prose is a delight to read, very witty and sharp, but never cutting. The main theme of the story is the maturing love affair between Michael and Tristan, but her style has you following them all the way, the pace just right for the reader to enjoy the characters and still find a plot. And the other delight is the characterisation, the guys are such fun! I like especially the way she writes dialogue, one minute they're bantering with each other, next minute they're almost incoherent with emotion. Devotion might sound like a sappy word, but I don't mean that here, it describes the respect they have for each other, and there's no unnecessary angst for the sake of it - they *like* being with each other! That's refreshing in a romance book sometimes. I thought it was well balanced, too, I felt as sympathetic to each of them and their families and work situation. Tristan is cheeky and bold and outspoken, Michael is more mature, confident, protective and downright cute. Oh and the love scenes and sensitive and even more fun! :)
Now I have to go and re-read it! Enjoy!
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....a firm HEA, even in the epilogue that takes place 4 years later.

This is a sweet tale that's very well-written that I had read in its first incarnation a few years ago, but I think that it's been polished slightly for re-release, though the author makes a note about not changing much, even though this dates the book a little.

I did enjoy it, and I understood Tristan's stance about Michael being a cop, but in my book, it wasn't fair for him to make it a condition of them being together that Michael couldn't be a cop. Michael might have been the one to voice the words and the offer, but it shouldn't have come to that; Michael needed to make that decision for himself. That aside, I think that the leads make it, but I wouldn't call this book one with a firm HEA ending, as 4 years on, yes, they're still together and happy, but Michael's no longer a cop and there's still been no continuation of the discussion about rings that Michael once attempted.

OK, but for those reasons alone it loses 2*; with a little better editing, this could have been a great tale.

Ebook courtesy of Samhain Publishing, in return for an honest review.
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on 27 April 2013
I have two qualms about this novel. The first is probably a matter of personal taste: for me, there's just too much "too good for words" sex in it, which the plot simply doesn't require; and secondly, some of the dialogue in Tristran's mouth just doesn't ring true for a nineteen year old. Having said that, this is otherwise a well written novel which engages the reader through its characterisation and true to life shafts of darkness as well as light.
It really is worth reading and, perhaps, my caveats should just be taken as the grumpy mutterings of a silly old queen!
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