When a SEAL medic inherits three young children, he must battle to keep the family together and keep his long-held feelings for the man challenging him for custody at bay.
Series: Out of Uniform #5
Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date (Print & Ebook): April 16, 2018
Subgenre: m/m military romance
Includes: military romance, insta-family, hurt/comfort, angst, interracial, heroes-with-kids, gay romance, demisexual/gray ace hero, first time, loss, reunion, forced proximity
In the wake of tragedy, SEAL Mark Whitley rushed stateside to act as guardian to his sister’s three young children. But a conflicting will could give custody to someone else—someone Mark remembers as a too young, too hot, wild party boy. Even after six years, Mark can’t shake the memory of his close encounter with Isaiah James, or face up to what it says about his own sexuality.
Isaiah’s totally over the crush that made him proposition Mark all those years ago. In fact, he’s done with crushing on the wrong men altogether. For now, he’s throwing himself into proving he’s the best person to care for his cousin’s kids. But there’s no denying there’s something sexy about a big, tough military man with a baby in his arms.
As the legal details get sorted out, their long-buried attraction resurfaces, leading to intimate evenings after the kids are tucked in. A forever future is within reach for all of them, if only Mark can find the courage he needs to trust Isaiah with his secrets—and his heart.
Praise for the series:
“Albert delivers a solid hurt/comfort story…” RT Book Reviews on SQUARED AWAY
“Mark and Isaiah’s budding relationship happens with sensitivity and steamy moments…” RT Book Reviews on SQUARED AWAY
“Annabeth Albert’s Out of Uniform series is a unique look at SEALs’ lives, showing us the insides of their hearts and homes and the love that drives them.” ~Layla Reyne, author of the Agents Irish and Whisky series.
“Sexy, sweet and heartfelt, Annabeth Albert’s Out of Uniform series is a fresh take on Navy SEALs that will delight and entertain romance readers.” ~Layla Reyne, author of the Agents Irish and Whisky series.
Isaiah made a pass at Mark at the wedding of Isaiah’s brother and Mark’s sister. Mark soundly rebuffed him. Isaiah was hurt, and continued to be hurt at every family gathering when Mark ignored him. He eventually thought he had let his feelings go.
Five years later, after a tragic car accident the brother and sister were killed. Each giving guardianship of their children to their sibling. Mark is a SEAL, deployed, when he gets news of the deaths. Getting home as fast as he can, he is surprised to see Isaiah already living in the home with the three children. Isaiah has a reputation as a party boy and Mark isn’t sure about him being involved in the situation. The guardianship issue come as a surprise to both. Each deciding they would take the responsibility of the children.
Lawyers, judges, family service, and family all come into play, creating conflict and misery. When the men start discovering they might have feelings for each other it becomes even more difficult. Their futures not at all certain. Trying to do best for the family.
This is a very slow burn. Another well done story in the series, I liked it.
I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley.
I’ve enjoyed all the books in this series and this one is no exception. Mark doesn’t know what’s hit him; in one of the world’s toughest jobs, suddenly gets the news that his sister and brother-in-law have been killed leaving their three young children. He arrives back stateside and is confronted by Isaiah James, the young and very hot guy who propositioned him six years ago at his sister’s wedding.
Thing is, now Isaiah is looking after Mark’s nephew & nieces and there’s two wills, so custody isn’t straightforward and they decide to live under the same roof with the kids until it’s sorted. Isaiah’s not the wild party boy without a care in the world that Mark remembered him to be, he’s great with kids and they come first with him. He sees another side to Isaiah and as they find their feet living together and caring for the kids, feelings start to surface.
I felt Isaiah was a little put upon and dismissed at times as he’s the one shouldering the huge responsibility and trying to keep his cousin’s three children together, and it took a while for Mark to shape up and see this but once he did and got to know Isaiah better things changed for the two of them. I liked that it wasn’t a straightforward tale of sex and a HEA, there were other things at play, Mark being gray ace and sharing this with Isaiah and how it altered the pace of the story and explained some of Mark’s decisions and his behaviour, I thought this was written very well.
I liked this story, and I went from championing Isaiah and not really caring for Mark to cheering them both on and hoping they’d fall for each other and all would work out with the kids, which is the sign of a good storyteller when they can change your mind about a character.
Review Copy requested and reviewed on behalf of OMG Reads.
“You want to kiss me,” Isaiah said again. “So you should.”
His face was right there, waiting, body no longer the reassuring weight on Mark’s lap. He seriously could have kept touching Isaiah all night. He’d never wanted to explore another person the way he did Isaiah.
You want to so you should. Isaiah made it sound so simple.
“Unless you’re chicken?” Isaiah grinned at him, unrepentant, and Mark flashed to the last time Isaiah had dared him like this, the last time he wanted to find out what Isaiah tasted like. He’d wanted to kiss Isaiah so badly that night that it had hurt. But Isaiah had been eighteen and he’d been himself and just…yeah.
But now the want was back and his heart was beating so hard Isaiah had to be able to hear it.
“I’m not chicken.” As if in a trance, Mark reached out, traced Isaiah’s generous mouth with his thumb. Soft. So soft. His tongue came out, licked at the pad of Mark’s thumb, making him hiss in a breath. Apparently Isaiah liked that reaction because his lips curved up into a hint of a smile and he used his teeth next, grazing Mark’s callused skin.
Fuck. A burning hot sizzle raced up his spine.
Isaiah’s tongue attacked his palm next, little flicks that were the single most erotic experience of Mark’s life. His breath came in harsh little pants. Dipping his head, Isaiah trailed his mouth along Mark’s bare arm, hitting nerve endings he’d never seen in his anatomy texts. His wrist. His inner elbow. Dipping under the edge of his T-shirt. Moving to his neck, licking a determined path to his jaw.
“Kiss me,” Isaiah whispered, lips against his cheek. He could have closed the gap himself rather easily, but he was waiting on Mark, giving him just enough space to pull away. And somehow that hesitation, that consideration was what undid Mark, made him lean in.
Isaiah was going to tempt and dare and tease but he wasn’t going to take. No, that had to be up to Mark. And fuck, Mark couldn’t bear pulling away, not ever knowing what those lips felt like against his own. So he slid his mouth over, cautiously finding Isaiah’s. It was the most glancing of contact but he felt it all the way to his toes.
He’d been kissed before, but usually the other person took over by this point. Not Isaiah. He seemed content to let Mark get his bearings, decide how much pressure felt good, move his mouth this way and that, experimenting. Mark felt like he’d been waiting years to nip at that full lower lip, so he followed that impulse, which made Isaiah groan low. His hand came to rest on Mark’s shoulder, not yanking him closer, just a steady pressure. Another point of connection.
Mark repeated the motion, more aggressive this pass, sucking on Isaiah’s lip. He used his tongue to trace its contours, moving to lick at the seam, his turn to tease. Isaiah whimpered and trembled, and then it was Mark doing the pulling, making their torsos collide. Mouth opening on a groan, Isaiah wordlessly invited him to take more. This was the part that Mark hadn’t always liked in the past, but his tongue rushed ahead, eager to continue exploring.
And it was good.
About Annabeth Albert:
Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer. The #OutOfUniform series joins her critically acclaimed and fan-favorite LGBTQ romance #Gaymers, #PortlandHeat and #PerfectHarmony series. To find out what she’s working on next and other fun extras, check out her website: www.annabethalbert.com or connect with Annabeth on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Spotify! Also, be sure to sign up for her newsletter for free ficlets, bonus reads, and contests. The fan group, Annabeth’s Angels, on Facebook is also a great place for bonus content and exclusive contests.
Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights supporter. In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two active children.
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