Healey Holly is battered, depressed, and looking to go to ground in his childhood home. He wants to rent the garage apartment, but it’s Diego Luz’s place now, and the last thing Diego wants is to share it.
Diego is recovering too — from the accident that put him in a wheelchair and the death of his mother shortly after. The garage apartment is where he’s keeping his mother’s things, and as long as they’re up those stairs and he’s down on the ground, there’s no way he can deal with his loss. And that’s just how he likes it.
Healey believes in science. Diego believes in luck. It will take a blend of both, and some prayer thrown in besides, for these two to learn that it’s the journey and the destination that matters.
All Wheel Drive by Z A Maxfield is a romance novel about beginnings and endings. The book takes place in the world of Bluewater Bay, a small logging town on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. All Wheel Drive is the eighteenth novel in the series. Some of the characters who occupy the stage will be familiar to readers who know the series penned by several popular LGBTQ romance writers. Nash Holly and his partner, Spencer Kepler-Constantine, the main characters in Hell on Wheels appear at strategic points in this novel. Lovers Ginsberg Sloan and Derrick Richards, the primary characters from The Burnt Toast B&B also briefly enter the stage.
Healy Holly and Diego Luz, the main characters in All Wheel Drive are both dealing with traumatic life events when they find themselves together. Just after a pain-filled break up with his boyfriend, Ford, Heally discovers Diego. Meanwhile, Diego opens the door to Heally just as he is starting to work on a documentary and archive of his renowned Mother’s life and art.
All Wheel Drive pulls you into a complex romance between two traumatized young men working hard to find a new life. Artistic Diego is hiding; living in Bluewater Bay apart from his family in a house where he can’t reach his deceased Mother’s stored work. Brilliant Healy, on the other hand, runs away from the hospital to a home his family no longer owns. It’s almost painful watching these two fight towards a new normalcy. Healy struggles to find a life without Ford, his old boyfriend, while Diego works to cope with using a wheelchair and losing his mother, the central focus of his life.
Maxfield has a strong voice and a notable talent in evoking emotional responses to her characters. While reading All Wheel Drive is sometimes difficult. For example, why is Healy bound by a Gag Order from lawyers who are not representing him in the aftermath of his accident with Ford? Or, why is Diego the one responsible for developing a documentary of his Mother’s life?
Healy is definitely smart enough to know that he needs his own attorney to face the consequences of the horrendous last night of his chaotic life with Ford. Diego, who declares that “half my body divorced me”, still can’t accept that someone has a sexual attraction to him that doesn’t involve his wheelchair.
Diego and Healy are definitely worth the effort of getting to know them. The only fault I have with All Wheel Drive is the end coming too soon. The main characters are just beginning to develop a relationship with each other when the door closes on their romance. How do they deal with each other during their planned road trip? How does the court case with Ford play out? Several questions are left unresolved and for that reason, All Wheel Drive gets 3.5 stars.