4 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Maryann, Zahra Owens

Review: Conflict of Interest by Zahra Owens

Title: Conflict of Interest

Author: Zahra Owens

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 276 Pages

At a Glance: Conflict of Interest shows how two different people deal with abuse, healing, and relationships.

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: When a material witness changes her story during a court interrogation, allowing the man who assaulted her little boy to go free, Senior Crown Prosecutor Finn DeHavilland’s legendary self-control goes out the window. His subsequent suspension from appearing in court leaves Finn with time on his hands. Desperate to continue working, and after regularly attending his mandatory psychiatric sessions, he accepts a delicate case involving a fraudulent Scotland Yard police detective.

Excited to be assigned to the case, DS Tommy Drummond, who has had a soft spot for Finn since Finn defended him during an internal investigation, and his partner, Stevie Fielding, begin uncovering evidence. A series of seemingly random occurrences muddle their investigation. Believing they’re on the right path, the team pushes forward, until Tommy’s apartment goes up in flames. Offering Tommy a guest room in his home turns up the heat on the growing feelings between Finn and Tommy. But Finn’s baggage may be too much to deal with, and paranoia threatens to tear them apart. As the net around the corrupt detective tightens, it becomes clear he must have had help from high places, and Finn and Tommy become pawns in the game.

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Review: Finn DeHavilland is a Senior Crown Prosecutor in the London courts. He is confident, brilliant and aloof, but time has taken a toll on him. He’s tired of handling the many abuse cases, especially child abuse, and is struggling not to be affected by them. They are heartbreaking for Finn. At the age of forty-two, he’s also a lonely man, married to his work, resigned to being celibate, and not confident at all in his personal life.

Tommy Drummond is a young Detective Sergeant working Serious Crimes Command. He’s smart and precise in his job and always likes seeking advice from Finn on cases he’s worked on. Plus, Tommy has a crush on Finn, and he loves going to the court just to watch the confident prosecutor in his wig and robe. Tommy has had his hook-ups, and even has a daughter, and he’s comfortable with being a gay man, but on a previous case, he was discredited and was brought up on dismissal charges by a former boss for being seen kissing another man outside a club. Finn came forward to testify in Tommy’s favor during the investigation, though, and therefore helped save Tommy’s job.

Finn is trying yet another child abuse case, when his witness starts to change her story. He becomes frustrated to the point that he leaves the prosecutor’s bench and is now in front of the witness box and has grabbed the witness’s hand. Tommy is watching the judge, Finn’s boss, and the ushers, but no one is doing anything to stop Finn. It’s then Tommy decides to come to Finn’s aid, and takes him from the courtroom to try and calm him down. But it’s too late, as Finn’s boss has entered the robing room with orders from the judge that Finn be assessed. Finn has been suspended, and he knows in order to get back to work he needs to meet with Ayse Kartal, the Crown Prosecution Services psychiatrist. As Finn confides in Ayse, she eventually recommends that he return to work, but his boss doesn’t want him back in court just yet.

Finn, Tommy, and his co-worker Stevie have been ordered to work together on a confidential case of evidence fabrication. As they start investigating all the cases in question, pieces start falling into place. Tommy has lost his home to a fire and moved in with Finn, is then badly beaten, along with other strange incidents that occur during the investigation. Are these all coincidence, or is someone trying to sabotage the case?

Zahra Owens offers a lot of insight into the characters’ emotions and thoughts, not solely based on sex. The story also shows how two different people deal with abuse, healing, and relationships. The court system and investigation of the case was very by-the-book, but interesting. There are many references to the London court system, and I felt a glossary of terms might have been helpful to explain acronyms and the different functions of the court.

TNA_Signature_Maryann







 

You can buy Conflict of Interest here:

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

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2 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Holiday Romance, Reviewed by Kathie, Zahra Owens

Audio Review: Happiness for Beginners by Zahra Owens – Narrated by Michael Stellman

Title: Happiness for Beginners

Author: Zahra Owens

Narrator:: Michael Stellman

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 1 Hour, 51 Minutes

At a Glance: The storyline was too basic, with very few details about the main characters’ lives

Blurb: Jesse harbored a crush on his TV series costar, Kaye, for more than eight years, but when the show was canceled and he realized those years of playing gay hadn’t convinced Kaye to leave the straight and narrow, Jesse turned his back on acting for good. Ten years later, Kaye is back in Jesse’s life, on Christmas Eve—and the eve of his third divorce. Jesse’s not sure his heart can take another beating, but Kaye has a few tricks up his sleeve—and a few truths from his own heart—that might just convince Jesse that the gifts of love and happiness are not just for Christmas.

Dividers

Review: This was a hard audio for me to review. I wanted to really like Happiness for Beginners, as Zahra Owens is one of my favorite authors, but sadly, I didn’t enjoy it at all. Wow! I have a harsh opinion, but why didn’t I like it? The storyline was too basic, with very few details about the main characters’ lives during the time they worked together, or the ten years since they have seen each other. Kaye is a stereotypical “star” being told what to do to make his image more marketable, and even at the end of the story he checks with his agent. Billed as a Christmas Story, to the point of being bundled in a Christmas anthology , Christmas played no role in the plot or storyline—one afternoon spent with a sister, and it wasn’t even on Christmas.

Kaye shows up at his former co-star Jesse’s travel agency two days before Christmas. They have not seen each other for over 10 years, after having worked together for eight years performing as life partners on a late night television series. With Kaye coming back into his life, Jesse realizes that he is still very much in love with Kaye but also harbors a lot of hurt feelings, feeling that Kaye had been avoiding him for all those years.

Then it’s Kaye turn to explain to Jesse. After spending an evening with Jesse’s sister and her kids, they return to Jesse’s apartment. Kaye, it seems, has lots of issues. Over the course of three days, he lets Jesse in on a few of them. The rest of the story is listening to Kaye talk about his sexual hang-ups, and Jesse helping him overcome them. I did like the ending; I always enjoy a happily ever after.

In every story I have read, or listened to, there is always a nugget of goodness, and Happiness for Beginners is no exception. “Maybe he’s got a picture stashed away somewhere that ages so he can stay young”. I want one of those pictures, please. “‘This is crazy, J.’ ‘Lust always is, Kaye. And so is sex. It’s crazy and messy and explosive’” — my two favorite parts of the story. What I didn’t like about this story was the story development. Kaye shows up at Jesse’s, they make tea, Kaye confesses to Jesse all of his sexual hang-ups, Jesse “fixes” him, and they have lots of steamy sex . I can almost see the bullet points of the outline.

As far as the narration of this audio, the lack of inflection or emotional color made it hard to stay with the story. If the audio would have been any longer, I wouldn’t have been able to finish it. I am glad I listened to the end, though. As I said earlier, I like a happy ending.






You can buy Happiness for Beginners here:

Audible.com

Audible.com

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Dreamspinner Press, Zahra Owens

It’s Never Too Late To Reach For The “Moon and Stars”



“Scandal is gossip made tedious by morality.” ― Oscar Wilde


BLURB: After an affair with a married DA led to scandal and disbarment, Cooper Nelson left his legal career in shambles, and found solace working as a hand at the Blue River Ranch. Eight years later, during a rare visit into town, Cooper bumps into Kelly Freed, a man he left behind fifteen years earlier when he started out as an attorney. Unfortunately, Kelly is running for sheriff and his wife is terminally ill, so Kelly can’t even consider rekindling their relationship. Cooper knows from sad experience that hiding the truth leads to lives being ruined, so for his part, he refuses to be anybody’s dirty secret.

In the meantime circumstances at neighboring Blackwater Ranch have taken a desperate turn. Gable’s friend Calley has breast cancer, and when Gable and Flynn take in Calley’s kids, they need help from their friends. Cooper and Kelly’s combined talents are put to work to ensure Gable can make a bid to become the legal father of his children, and that Calley’s affairs are in order if worse comes to worst. For Cooper, staying away from Kelly was never easy, and now with a common cause, Cooper finds he can’t stop himself from seeking the man out.

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