Review: Mai Tais and Murder (Gabe Maxfield Mysteries #1) by J.C. Long

Gabe Maxfield never wanted to be a detective or a policeman or anything of the sort. The closest he wanted to come to the law was writing legal briefs and doing research for a big-shot law firm. Nice and safe, and without all the stress. No unanswered questions, just well-defined legal precedents.

When he moves to Hawaii in the wake of a disastrous breakup and betrayal by an ex, a murder investigation is the last thing he expects to get wrapped up in, but he can’t help himself when a dead body, a hunky cop, and his best friend get involved.

So much for sipping mai tais on the beach and admiring the well-tanned bodies around him.

This was so much fun! J.C. Long has totally captured the feel of Hawaii as someone who lives there and not simply a narrative of visiting. I have no idea if Long actually lived on the Sandwich Islands, if he knows someone who lives there or just did amazing fucking research, but as a chick who lived Upcountry on Maui for 2.5 years and worked for a local company, he nailed it.

Gabe Maxfield has left his home, job as a paralegal with a prestigious law firm and stupid ex-boyfriend back in Seattle to start fresh on the advice from his best friend Grace Park. We meet Gabe as he is trying to understand the movers who’ve come to deliver some of his belongings but Gabe can’t understand them because they are speaking pidgin. For quick reference, pidgin is a casual “language” spoken by native Hawaiians and residents who have been there long enough to pick it up. I know from experience, when I first moved to Maui and answered the telephone to someone asking if my brother in law “stay?” I was confused. I didn’t realize he was asking if my brother in law was there. It takes a bit to get used to when it’s spoken but I worked at a local electrical supply company during my time on Maui and was exposed to so much pidgin my question to my co-worker about lunch would be, “Hey, Mavis. You like go the mall, yeah?” Yup. Part of pidgin is also answering your own question.

Another thing Long nailed about living in Hawaii is da grinds, braddah! Good lord. My first taste of hamburger steak and then loco moco was mind blowing. Loco moco became one of my favorite things that to this day I make it for my family for dinner (and breakfast as I first had it at breakfast) but now I make myself a Vegan version of it. I tried a lot of local cuisine while living on the island before becoming Vegan so I can nod along as Gabe tries new food and even when he freaks out seeing his first Kalua pig.

Yeah. The author delivered Hawaii to the reader in an authentic and for me nostalgic way so much that I had to pull out my Keali'i Reichel CD because it had me Wanting Memories.
But enough about me and my feelings about Hawaii.

Gabe is in Honolulu to start over and starting over means moving past his old relationship and a jerk that didn’t deserve him. Thankfully Gabe’s stud of a neighbor, Maka Kekoa is enough to make him forget Trevor ever existed and it’s not just Maka’s stature. Sure, Maka is hot AF but he’s also this guy who gives off great vibes from their meet cute and the two have instant chemistry.

“Gabe Maxfield, you are an idiot.” It was an important enough statement that I needed to hear it said aloud to reinforce exactly how stupid I was.
I adored being in Gabe’s head. He lets us know exactly what is going on and what he’s thinking with honesty. When he goes out for lunch with Grace and makes a gruesome discovery during a quick stop at Grace’s Private Investigations office, we know the score. He’s freaked out but tries to keep a cool head. Gabe never pretends to be something he’s not, even when he’s drunk on okolehalo and attempting to dance hula and take home the kalua pig’s head. He knows he’s not an investigator or even an amateur sleuth. He knows what he’s doing isn’t smart and that he shouldn’t but Gabe is loyal to Grace and will do what he needs to do to help his friend.

So while the stop ended in a murder and the murder ends up getting Grace arrested as a suspect, Gabe comes face to face with the detectives and one who is Maka. Yup, not only are they neighbors but now we have this connection and what is a guy to do when a big strapping Hawaiian detective wants to protected him with his amazing body?

What was I saying? I got lost in Gabe’s dream with Maka on the beach that I knew was going to be a dream but I so wanted it to be real but then I got the real thing and it was so worth it.

Yeah, Maka is hot and Maka is alpha but Maka is also goofy as all get out and really a romantic. I loved that he wants to protect Gabe but also wants to date him and take care of him. The luau was a perfect “date” and learning that Maka can not only surf but he dances hula as well… let’s just say so watch some all-male hula halau’s (Psst this whole routine is good but the moment you hit 2:10 to the end will give you a hint) and you’ll see why this information makes Maka that much sexier. But really, he’s a great guy who has no problem acknowledging his own appeal and makes good use of it with Gabe. Not that he has to work hard with Gabe considering Gabe wants to climb him like the Lahaina Banyan tree.

I like that Gabe and Maka are honest with one another and don’t take advantage of the situation they are in. They treat this like adults, they take steps intimately like adults and though they both talk a good erotic game, they don’t think with their dicks 100% of the time but they are stupidly attracted to one another so…

“You know what they say about thinking with your dick, right?” 
“That it’s way more fun than thinking with your head?”
But along with all this, there is a murder mystery going on though it takes a back seat to me compared to the romance. Gabe’s ability to get himself into trouble was actually entertaining for me even though it was life threatening. I have things for those who put themselves in danger the way he did when he knows damn well he is doing it and it scares the shit it out him. It’s a total recipe for disaster but it makes for a great read. Some of his antics remind be a bit of the show Pysch which I happen to adore. It’s the little things he does and his knowledge of the law from being a paralegal that actually make him a great investigator.

“You came here for a new start, right? What better way to start new than in an entirely new career?”
Speaking of him being an investigator… this book is a great set up to the series. Knowing it’s called the Gabe Maxfield Mysteries this was perfect to set Gabe up with Grace with a new career and business between the two of them. The set-up is reminiscent of the Stephanie Plum Series by Janet Evanovich and how we get a brief introduction into how she became a bounty hunter, the folks she works with and the men she is involved with. Though Gabe’s series isn’t as laugh out loud – yet – as the early Plum novels, I have no doubt he and Grace can manage shenanigans and he and Maka can deliver the romance.

I think it’s fair to say I had fun with this book and thoroughly enjoyed myself. I can’t get over the authentic feel of island life the author provided and yeah, the traffic in Honolulu is that bad. I learned my lesson on the Likelike Highway during a morning commute and Aloha shirts are fancy. Trust me on this.

Wow. I am rambling.

So, I can’t wait to read more in the series and this being my fourth book from the author, I dare say we are a good match.

Here’s to Gabe and Maka; may they continue to be hot in bed, at tables eating laulau and ridiculously romantic as the fall in love with one another. Here’s to Grace and Gabe; may their partnership get them into situations that require intelligence, wit, humor and a fast trigger finger for a gun or to call Maka to the rescue. Here’s to Hawaii; Huli pau!

Trivia Question: In which book does Chris fall for an ex-Olympian swimmer that had cancer? 10 pts

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