Military

Afraid to Fly by L.A. Witt

afraid-to-flyRating: 4 stars
Genre: 
Contemporary; Military 
Publication day:
 January 16, 2017
Length: 
347 pages  
Publisher:
Riptide

Once a fearless fighter pilot, Commander Travis Wilson is now confined to a desk. It’s been eight years since the near-fatal crash that grounded him, and it still rules his life thanks to relentless back pain.

Lieutenant Commander Clint Fraser almost drowned in a bottle after a highly classified catastrophe while piloting a drone. His downward spiral cost him his marriage and kids, but he’s sober now and getting his life back on track. He’s traded drones for a desk, and he’s determined to reconcile with his kids and navigate the choppy waters of PTSD.

Clint has been on Travis’s radar ever since he transferred to Anchor Point. When Clint comes out to his colleagues, it’s a disaster, but there’s a silver lining: now that Travis knows Clint is into men, the chemistry between them explodes.

It’s all fun and games until emotions get involved. Clint’s never been in love with a man before. Travis has, and a decade later, that tragic ending still haunts him. Clint needs to coax him past his fear of crashing and burning again, or their love will be grounded before takeoff.

My View:  Afraid to Fly is a proper Navy tale. It’s not flashy or filled with Seals, it’s the everyday reality of most Chiefs and Sailors when on shore duty. They go to work, they talk shop, complain about PRT, and hate Navy functions. The life of a spouse and their dependents is perfectly represented too.

I prefer my characters to be on their fourties+ and Clint and Travis fit the bill. Especially because they act their age and have worries that a twenty-something won’t care about. Both men are bisexual and on the other side of dealing with their sexual identities. We do get to see a bit of Clint’s process, but it doesn’t take over the story.

The author did an excellent job dealing with the main characters sexual relationship and their PTSD. Both solutions work for them without the need for a miracle to intervene and get rid of all their issues. They have to adjust and learn how to trust each other to be together. They have many smexy scenes together as well as some lovely moments.

One thing I like is that the females in the story play an important part. They’re not vindictive or stereotypical. They simply are everyday people. The story is slow in parts and Clint and Travis spend a lot of time wrap in their own thoughts, but overall the story is solid and memorable.

Also, we get to see Paul’s and Sean’s–from Just Drive–happily ever after. This book, in particular, ends with a very satisfying HFN. I don’t see a need for another installment in the series, but a short story to wrap-up Clint’s & Travis’s future would be great.

What I liked the most: How real the characters are.

I wanted more/less: More of a separation. Just because I like to make my characters miserable. 🙂

Who should read it: Fans of middle-aged characters.

ARC provided by Riptide, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

The Farther He Runs by Lynda Aicher

the-farther-he-runsRating: 4 stars
Genre: 
Contemporary
Publication day:
 December 6, 2016
Length: 
224 pages  
Publisher:
Loveswept

After years away from home, Tanner Dorsey is back and sorting through feelings that have him in a stranglehold. The hardened Marine will do anything for a fallen comrade, so when an accident leaves Finn Kelley fighting for his life, Tanner’s eager to be there for him. In fact, Tanner’s ready and willing to do anything Finn asks—especially if it means finally acting on the sexual tension that’s always kept him craving more.

Finn senses it too—when he brushes against Tanner’s stubbled jaw, when he inhales the scent of the T-shirt that clings to Tanner’s body like a second skin. Now that he’s more vulnerable than ever, Finn knows the time is right to take control, even if it means risking the heart and soul of their friendship. The bond they share goes beyond desire; it’s a bond of brotherhood, forged under conditions few could imagine. But once they cross that line, there will be no more secrets. No more boundaries. And no turning back.

My View: The Farther He Runs brings friends-to-lovers and brothers-in-arms to a different level. The connection between Finn, Chris, and Tanner formed during their time in the military. There are many references to military terms and their time in service. One thing they didn’t share was an “in-love” relationship.

I didn’t read book #1 in the series, but I don’t think is necessary to understand when the brotherhood between Finn and Tanner turned into something more. Many of the main characters’ thoughts revolved around this concern. They both wanted more but didn’t want to lose their friendship.

As soon as Finn and Tanner met again, their worlds turned into rights. I love the scene when Tanner arrives and the one when all the men paid their respects. Their time in the cabin was interesting and very creative. The BDSM elements weren’t that convincing but didn’t detract from the story.

We also get to see the characters from the previous books and learned more about their current plans and their futures. Overall, this is a good addition to the series.

What I liked the most: How the military and its brotherhood is portrayed.

I wanted more/less: Less inner dialogue.

Who should read it: Fans of the series.

ARC provided by Loveswept, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

Just Drive by L.A. Witt

just-driveRating: 3.5 stars
Genre: 
Contemporary; Military
Publication day:
 November 21, 2016
Length: 
300 pages  
Publisher: 
Riptide Publishing

For Sean Wright, driving a cab in the tiny Navy town of Anchor Point isn’t an exciting job . . . until he picks up just-dumped Paul Richards. A drive turns into a walk on the pier, which turns into the hottest hookup Sean’s had in ages.

After a long overdue breakup, Paul can’t believe his luck. Of all the drivers, he’s picked up by the gorgeous, gay, and very willing Sean. Younger guys aren’t usually his thing, but Paul can’t resist.

One taste and neither man can get enough . . . right up until they realize that Paul is Sean’s father’s commanding officer and the last man Sean should be involved with.

With two careers on the line, their only option is to back off. It’s not easy, though; the sex and the emotional connection are exactly what both men have been craving for a long time. But Paul has devoted twenty-four years to his career and his dream of making admiral. If he’s caught with Sean, that’s all over. He has to choose—stay the course, or trade it all for the man who drove off with his heart.

My View: Just Drive is a classic L.A. Witt military story. It’s the type of book I’d have rated five stars a couple of years ago. It has a simple plot arc, nice characters, basic military references, and lots of in page sex scenes. If you are in the mood for a low angst, steamy book this is it.

I do love Paul and Sean individually. They were perfect for the story and it was easy to see how good they became as a couple. Even with the age gap, Paul treated Sean as an equal and didn’t try to play games with him. It was good to see a balanced relationship with a mature young adult.

The military details were right on point, down to the aggressive seagulls all bases seem to have. As a military spouse, I appreciate the accurate rendition of life in the service, not only for the sailor but for the dependants.

I wasn’t too fond of the ending, and the HEA perfect wrap-up, but it did work for the story. I’m glad Travis gets his chance in the next book, and I’m looking forward to more from this series.

What I liked the most: The little everyday military details.

I wanted more/less: I wanted more of Paul as CO.

Who should read it: Fans of L.A. Witt’s military stories.

ARC provided by Riptide Publishing, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

Latakia by J. F. Smith

LatakiaRate: 4 out of 5

Genre: Contemporary, Military
Publication day: December 4, 2011
Length: 340 pages
Publisher: Self-Published

Matthew likes his life in Richmond. He has his friends and his softball and his volunteer work. And he has a very good-looking boyfriend, Brian, who he’s been happily dating for over a year now. So what if his friends tend to question just how good his boyfriend is, and so what if Brian tends to have inexplicable mood swings. And so what if Brian seems to invite Matt’s suspicions on occasion. If he just shows a little faith and trust, he’ll appreciate what he has with Brian the way he should. Right?

But suddenly, Matt finds himself in a desperate life-or-death situation on a trip overseas, and he realizes just how much he misses home, and Brian. He’s luckily rescued by a team of US Special Forces, only to immediately find out they’re a bunch of bigoted jerks. Worse, a quirk of his situation forces him to spend time with them that he’d rather not. And that’s when he finds out that first impressions can be misleading. When called upon, he steps up when every fiber of his being tells him not to, and discovers something deep inside himself that he didn’t realize was even there. And his life will never be the same. He finds that he can, after all, make some very overdue changes in his own life.

What Matt doesn’t realize is that the bond of brotherhood runs both ways. And he winds up changing the lives of several of the men on that Special Forces team as much as they changed his.

All it takes is faith and trust.

My View: Latakia is a hard story to rate. I thought about DNF for the first twenty percent of the book, but since it came highly recommended, I pushed through. In the end, I’m glad I did. The story is worth it, but as a reader, you have to be in the right mental space to enjoy it.

My main issue with the story was the third person omniscient narrator. It was not until the end of chapter one that I realized the narrator supposed to be Matt. I felt as if someone was, over my shoulder, telling me the story. Almost like a Rankin-Bass Christmas movie. We go in and out of Matt’s and the omniscient narrator’s POV until the last fifteen percent of the story when Matt’s POV swaps with Mope’s. Plus, there were other grammatical and structural mistakes that could have been easily solved by a good editor.  And I’m the worse person to criticize those aspects.

I enjoyed all the men in the platoon, their stories, and the events surrounding them. I wasn’t a fan of Matt, Brian, Brett, or Jim. They needed a little bit more to be as good as the Navy crew.

All the events related to the military worked well, and the author did an incredible job keeping them as realistic as possible. There’s a lot packed in this book, but the pacing moved ahead without much dragging.

I don’t consider this book a romance. It has a romantic relationship at its center, but it’s more about faith, courage, and self-discovery. And the faded to black sex scenes didn’t help its case.

Overall, the story is worth five stars, but the delivery took away from it.

What I liked the most: The friendship between Matt and the Fire Team (Mope, Petey, Baya & Desantos).

I wanted more of: Mope’s POV. We only had a chance to see the story through his eyes in the last fifteen percent of the book.

Who should read it: Fans of military stories.