"Boys in Our Books"…

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REVIEW: “Semper Fidelis” by Various Authors

ABOUT:

Anomaly by S.A. McAuley

Warning: Untested chemical reactions in process…

When Staff Sergeant Galen Welc is handed Temporary Additional Duty orders that move him to the Marine Corps base at Twentynine Palms, he thinks he’s prepared for what’s to come. Known for his uncanny ability to spot improvised explosive devices, he’s pitted against the latest in defense technology. He trusts his instincts and his training, but they may just be leading him somewhere—and to an explosive reaction with someone—he could never see coming.

Always Ready by T.A. Chase

Making a living on the Bering Sea is hard enough, but throw love into the equation, and things can blow into a hurricane.

Senior Chief Dean ‘Jake’ Jacobson loves his job as a Coast Guard rescue swimmer. Saving lives is the second best thing he could ever do. The first is loving Phil ‘Rhody’ Rhodes.

Phil is a third generation crabber who fishes the Bering Sea. Being gay and in love with Dean isn’t something he talks about, especially not with the six men he lives with on the Angela Kayla for weeks on end. But he’s been happy with his life.

Until one day the Bering Sea reminds them that she is a dangerous place to work. As her icy waters surround them, they discover one truth. Dean and Phil must always be ready to love each other because life can be taken so easily when one works on the sea.

A Ring and a Vow by Devon Rhodes

Every promise must someday be fulfilled, and the best way Owen knows how to reward Cary’s faith is with a vow.

It’s been nearly five years since Owen went down on one knee with his Academy ring and promised Cary he’d someday do it for real. With Cary being a Naval aviator and Owen a Marine officer serving in Iraq, they’re rarely on the same continent, let alone together.

About time for them to fill out paperwork to re-up, Owen realizes that if they were married, they’d have a much better chance of being stationed nearby. But time is not on their side so he’s forced to compromise on his proposal in order to make it work.

Cary has been waiting for Owen for years—there was no chance he’d ever say anything but yes. Owen is coming home at last, and wants to make a home with him. However, between the chronic nightmares he’s been fighting and the ever more complicated wedding plans, the next month could be anything but a dream.

Publisher’s Note: This book is the sequel to A Ring and a Promise.

My Marine by LE Franks & Sara York

For a man who made his career in intelligence, falling for an Afghani national in the middle of a war zone wasn’t the smartest thing a Marine could do.

Marine Captain Sean Kelley loves his country and the men he serves with, but when he meets Akim, he’s tempted to throw it all away for the mysterious man. He knows better than to chase after a local, but repeat encounters culminating in a moment of passion leave him reeling—he’ll do almost anything to figure out how they can be together.

Akim Bijan has a secret of his own—one large enough to get more than just himself killed if it’s revealed. But from the moment he first lays eyes on the handsome Marine, he’s tempted to do just that rather than hide his growing attraction to the man. Being a translator allows him access to the base and he finds Sean alone one night. They take things farther than he ever intended. If only he could tell Sean everything, but his lips are sealed.

When tragedy strikes, Akim is afraid he’s lost Sean for good and he’s forced to make a decision that will change both their lives. Will love win, or will Sean and Akim be separated forever?

Soul Sick by Kendall McKenna

Jamie thought he made it home to Tucker, leaving war behind. Now, each day he battles to fit into his own life, and save the love that saved his life.

Jamie is a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps who carried a photo of Tucker with him throughout his deployment. His body and his heart both make it home, but he isn’t sure about his sanity. It no longer feels like his own life even fits.

Tucker is a reformed bad boy who has an advanced degree and an important job but still sports long hair and tattoos. He missed Jamie while he was on deployment, but he couldn’t stop living his own life. Now, they’re struggling to learn to live with one another again, and things are going downhill fast.

Jamie wants everything to be the way it used to, but his anger and self-destructive behaviour begin to push Tucker away. Too much alcohol and a night of violence inside their home take them nearly to the brink. Tucker is willing to fight alongside Jamie to keep it all from falling apart, if Jamie can learn to accept the help he needs…before it’s too late.

Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of domestic violence.

Safe Shores by Morticia Knight

Kirk’s Coast Guard lover, Shane, is the only person who can save his son from a vicious gale storm – if he’s not too late.

Fishing is the only life that Kirk has ever known. Born and raised in a small town on the Northern Oregon Coast, coming out of the closet was a struggle. Fortunately, he’s been lucky to find an amazing man to be with who serves in the Coast Guard. But he can’t help but wonder whether Shane wants more than just a shore leave romance.

Shane loves the Coast Guard, loves the sea. That’s one of the main things he has in common with his fisherman lover, Kirk. He just needs to make sure that Kirk knows how serious he is about their relationship and what he plans on doing about it.

Shane and Kirk’s joyful reunion is interrupted when a vicious gale storm threatens the coast. Kirk has to stand by helplessly and wait while his lover battles the raging seas to save his son. In an instant, Kirk could lose everyone he holds dear.

Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of BDSM.

 

REVIEW:

I’m about to use an overused cliché, so I apologize in advance. Anthologies are like a box of (Valentine’s!) chocolates: you never know what you’re gonna get. How true! There’s going to be a few stinkers, sadly.

I am a total sucker for stories about men in uniform: military, police, fire, paramedic, stick a fork in me, I’m done. This anthology focuses mostly on boys from the marines and the coast guard, yesssss. In the collection of six stories, my favorite was Soul Sick, followed by Safe Shores and A Ring and a Vow. Always Ready was okay, I didn’t connect with Anomaly at all (so bummed!) and My Marine was just…not good. Here’s a short synopsis of each:

 

Soul Sick, by Kendal McKenna 3

I’ve read a few things by McKenna before and her work is a mixed bag for me, but I liked this story. If you’re a fan of the hurt/healing trope, you’ll be pleased. Jamie has awful PTSD and he’s looking to Tucker to help him heal. I liked that their relationship was complicated and messy, and the story felt like real life. I wanted to know more about them, though, and I wish the story could have been developed a bit further.

 

Safe Shores, by Morticia Knight, 3

Kirk and Shane were swoon-y, I can’t lie. I bought into the push-pull/power play of their relationship. The sexy time in this story was its highlight, but I didn’t feel like the author really gave me a, ahem, fighting chance, to get to know what motivated these two to get their HEA. I also didn’t love the Kirk-has-a-grown-son-in-trouble part of the story. It felt tossed in, as if to create angst.

 

A Ring and a Vow, by Devon Rhodes, 3

This story is apparently a sequel to another novella by Rhodes, and I think if I’d known who the MCs were, it would have been a lot more meaningful for me. That was disappointing, but I liked Rhodes’ writing style, and the story definitely had romance in spades: Owen and Cary are in love, and there’s a wedding that needs to happen. This one was low on the angst, too. Bonus!

 

Always Ready, by T.A. Chase, 2

Ugh, I hate saying this, but…Dean and Phil were puffy and…girly for my tastes. They also were too perfect, formal and one-dimensional. One of my biggest pet peeves in m/m is the evil mother/father/family who rejects an MC because gay. I know it’s a reality everywhere, all the time, but I hate when it’s poorly done in stories, as I felt it was here. I will say the guys did have a sexy connection, but the story was too neat for my tastes and didn’t work for me.

 

Anomaly, by S.A. McAuley, 2

I’m a fan of McAuley, and of all the stories in this collection, I was most looking forward to this one; I’m bummed it didn’t work. I didn’t feel any chemistry between Galen and Zach. Honestly, the story was weird and awkward without any real point or direction and then, boom, it ended. In fact, it was so abrupt, I was half convinced I got a misprinted ebook. Sad!

 

My Marine, by LE Franks & Sara York, 2

This story was insta-love at its absolute worst. Not even down and dirty sex (meh) could save this novella. I couldn’t stand the writing style and the plot was silly and weak and unrealistic. Dismissed, Captain.

 

RATING:  3 STARS

BOOK INFO:

Title: Semper Fidelis
Authors: S.A. McAuley, T.A. Chase, Devon Rhodes, LE Franks, Sara York, Kendall McKenna, Morticia Knight
Publisher: Totally Bound Publishing
Pages: 213
Release Date: Jan. 23, 2015
Purchase Link: Totally Bound

 

 

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