This is the last book in the Out of Uniform series, but this will read fine as a standalone. Canaan is studying to be a geriatric nurse and working at a smoothie place by the base. When his friends and former band members pressure him to bring someone on their camping trip since everyone is coupled up, he invites his SEAL crush Renzo. The thing is, the plot is not that complicated. As always with Annabeth Albert, it’s the attention to detail and the skill put into making the audience care about her characters that elevates the book. They are both real, awkward, and honest–to a point as they both guard their hearts. Their interactions show how they fit together in both mundane and extreme circumstances. Seeing them deal with the outside pressure of others while they are on uneven footing was interesting, but the novel takes off when they get seperated from the group in a camping adventure gone wrong. The forced proximity and emergency bring them closer.
You have to admire Canaan for taking a chance and putting himself out there. He never lies to Renzo about who he is, his past, or what he wants. He usually instigates some pretty frank sex talk. I agree completely: if you can’t talk about it, you probably shouldn’t be doing it. The love scenes are steamy and sweet as they work out what works for them. Renzo took longer for me to know with all of his layers, and compartmentalizing. It’s not that Renzo can’t feel sexual attraction without an emotional connection, he just doesn’t want to. He’s also had some negative sexual encounters that gave him some hang-ups.
I think the strong ties that both guys have to their family ultimately help them to realize they could have those ties to each other if they take the chance. Relationships are work and compromise. With Renzo being away for long periods of time for military service, the commitment and trust have to be there. This is a good addition to the series, which I have really enjoyed. I would recommend them all, but my favorites are At Attention and Wheels Up.
Best of 2018 Lists Abound at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Here we are, it’s almost 2019 and it’s Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words penultimate weekend of Best of 2018. We are winding out with another reviewer heard from, our very own Chaos Moondrawn, who has some of my Best of on her list. So […]
Rating: 3 stars out of 5 Rey, a fox shifter, is an information broker. When one of his clients gets murdered, he’s thown into intrigue he doesn’t even understand. He’s threatened, his apartment is broken into, and dire crocodile shifters are after him. I have to admit every time they were called dire crocs, my […]
This giveaway features more than 27 free stories from 28 up-and-coming m/m authors! Check it out and download them all before the giveaway ends on January 3rd. Instafreebie has rebranded as Prolific Works.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5 Book four focuses on Vance who comes from a family of law enforcement, and his new partner Samuel who left working for the DEA and ATF to join the enhanced FBI unit. One of Samuel’s informants will only speak to him, so they are actually on loan to the […]
This is the third book in this series. They will work as standalones so you don’t have to read them in order, although you may get more of an emotional impact for this story if you do. This story focuses on Brian, Simon’s ex from book one. He makes a brief cameo in book two. What is known about Brian so far doesn’t make him the most likeable character, so the author has her work cut out to flesh him out in a sympathetic way. He’s an architect and still has business ties to Simon. Malcolm and Brian actually meet at the local bar. Malcolm is on medical leave from teaching and coaching until he recovers from a car accident that broke both his legs. They really aren’t each other’s type, but Malcolm’s well intentioned family and friends trying to warn him off Brian ends up backfiring.
When Brian’s nephew Josh shows up after being kicked out for being gay, Brian knows he may not be the best role model but there isn’t anyone else and he does step up to the plate. Because the alternating POVs are from Brian and Malcolm, Josh is as much as mystery to the reader as he is to Brian. Josh ends up in Malcolm’s class so when he needs help mentoring the school’s LGBTQ society, he asks Brian since he is already on the board for the Smart Kids Foundation that helps disadvantaged kids. This allows Mal and Brian to get to know each other in ways Brian normally wouldn’t bother.
What makes this book work is seeing Brian struggle with feelings and memories of his own past as he helps Josh. Finally getting Brian’s side to the break-up and how his past affected his life with Simon was crucial. Now that Simon has had a chance to reflect, he sees his part in what went wrong also–this doesn’t excuse Brian’s cheating, just makes it more understandable. When they finally talk about the past, I did want a little more, but maybe it was enough for them to both let go and move on towards a healthier friendship. Where Brian shines is his patience and thoughtfulness with Mal’s injuries. Also, his best friend Vanessa is proof of his ability to have a long term, honest relationship. There are several times in the book where there is dissonance between how others see Brian and how he sees himself; if he could only see the good he does instead of using his persona to distance himself, which makes him less likeable. Mal getting to see the real Brian and accepting him seems to be what he needs to start a new chapter.
I thought this book was very well done. There were minor things I think could have been more fleshed out to give the story a bit more roundness, but the framework is solid. I like Mal and Brian together. I like that helping Josh and confronting his past, helps Brian start to heal so he could be a better partner to Mal. Brian actually interacting with the LGBTQ society instead of just hiding behind giving money is a great step. So, I ended up liking Brian. There, I said it.
Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5 Ten years ago Emery Matawapit broke Darryl Keejik’s heart, by chosing obedience to his parents over the love he shared with Darryl. Emery’s father Nathan is the church deacon and Darryl still holds a grudge. Emery comes home from Saint Michael’s Seminary six months before he’ll enter the priesthood […]
This is the third book in the Enhanced series focusing on Gael and his new human regular partner Jake from book two. Gael can read or speak any language, is good with computers, and has skin that can act like armor. Jake was SWAT before transferring to ENu, the police unit for dealing with enhanced. Gael has managed to mostly avoid Jake because of training, but now there seems to be a serial killer targeting enhanced and they are going to the crime scenes. Gael was convinced they couldn’t work together and asked to switch partners so just as they start to bond, Gael is partnered with Drew while he is waiting to hear back about a new job, while Jake is partnered with Vance. Gael still moves in with Jake when he gets evicted. In fact poor Gael has a lot of emotional things going on in this book as he finds out what happen to his mom after she left.
Out on a call they meet Derrick, an enhanced that can only communicate through a tablet. Gael is one of the only people who Derrick communicates with. There are two murders having to do with Derrick and since his ability is electrical, Adam is let out of prison to help. Adam is then partnered with Eli.
As the investigation involving the murder of enhanced humans heats up, so does the relationship between Gael and Jake. But trust is fragile and this unit hasn’t quite gelled yet so there are many ways for outside influences to hurt them all. As the threads of the cases start to weave together, they realize too late how everything is connected. I don’t like to give too many spoilers, but as a warning this has torture scenes. I don’t know how the author will start book four, but I don’t see how the unit won’t have low moral and confidence after everything that happens. At the end, Detective Samuel Piper quits vice and joins the unit to partner with Vance.
So there are some hot sex scenes and an emotional connection between Gael and Jake, but some violence too that I didn’t like. I think I would have liked to see the emotional connection stronger first before a sexual element was added. What happens to Gael is heartbreaking and traumatic, but even in the end his trust of Jake seems too low to make this work–counseling needed all around. It was clear in books one and two that someone was leaking information about the team and this is finally resolved in a very damaging way. I would hope this draws the team closer together but it also has the potential to damage their relationships with other law enforcement agencies. I can’t wait for book four.
Frankie kissed Tom when he was 17 and Tom punched him, ending their friendship. Then, Frank left town and hasn’t been back in 30 years. When his uncle dies, he has to go back to deal with his inheritance. Tom has been working for Frankie’s uncle and has now lost his friend, his home, and his job due to his death. He has given up everything to take care of his mother, who is now in a nursing home. The story has dual POV and their childhood is shared through flashbacks. Frankie is still caught in the sadness of the past. Much of this book is sad, reminiscences often are–of dreams lost, bad decisions made, the things you can’t take back. As Frank and Tom start to relive the good times they shared as boys, rather than dwelling on the incident, you would think it would liven up, but for me it doesn’t.
I am not a fan of second chance romances. I tend to think things didn’t work out for a reason. I am not a fan of nostalgia or glorifying the past. But avoiding dealing with things from your teenage years until you are nearing your fifties is not healthy. While my heart ached for both men for different reasons, I was frustrated with them too. Tom has let fear rule him for so long; after fighting it, he finally gives in and decides to explore what they have. Frankie was hard for me to relate to for some reason. His demisexuality seemed to keep him isolated from deep relationships and even his friends didn’t really know him. There was a little bit of comic relief about 60% in when they tour a neighboring resort. I wish that type of interaction had been included more. The best parts are having them recapture their love of the woods and each other–sharing the dream of remodeling the resort.
While this was interesting and well written, I felt removed emotionally at times. That’s okay, because I like to read books that are about many types of people. How boring would it be if we were all alike? It’s a good reminder that other people’s logic and life experience can be completely different and will affect their decisions and outlook. Charlie, Simon, and Brian from book one show up. Brian seems the next one to be paired off, but as he cheated on Simon over and over for a decade, I am not much enthused by this prospect. It will take a lot to redeem this character in book three, but if any author can do it, Kelly Jensen can.