Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
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.
Squared Away (Out of Uniform #5) by Annabeth Albert is another heartwarming installment in her Out of Uniform series that I just love. If you asked me to name which of this author’s series is a favorite, I’d be hard pressed to name one because each has its own special elements that I adore and draw me back to them. For her Out of Uniform series, Albert really captures both that sense of what it means to be a part of the “military unit” with her tight knit group of SEALs and their families. The author manages to convey their sense of duty to country, their drive to serve, the deep bonds between those that serve together, and yes, the stresses and the reality of what it means to be a part of the military today.
Along with the realism of military life, Annabeth Albert makes her stories delightfully inclusive, reflecting the fact that military today is as diverse as the society itself. Couples are looking much like the ones you see staring back at you at bars, grocery stores and city streets everywhere…they are racially mixed, not just all white couples. That’s especially true with Squared Away‘s main characters. You have SEAL Mark Whitley and the younger (now grown up) man who’s been crushing on him since his teens, Isaiah James. Among the many issues that crop up between them (age differences, perception of attitudes, stability, etc), race isn’t one of them. I liked that too.
Trust me this couple has enough to deal with as it is. Young children left orphaned by drunk driving, revelations about who their parents really were, life adjustments, and then Mark having to rearrange how he sees Isaiah, now an adult and how he sees his own path in the military. Getting one’s life ‘squared away’ is never an easy task, sometimes it takes a monumental sea change. And that’s what happens to both men here. The challenges each man faces in order to move forward towards their goals comes with frustrations here for them and for the reader who wants to shake them occasionally.
This is one emotional, heart felt ride of a story. It’s typical of Annabeth Albert that we grieve with Isaiah and Mark and the kids, then we chart the growth of their relationship, the steps back and tiny steps forward. We gnash our teeth in frustration over Mark’s inability to communicate and the consequences for all involved. And because the writing and characters are so wonderful, we’ve taken them all to heart and we need to know all will be safe and together. And love the ending so.
Squared Away (Out of Uniform #5) by Annabeth Albert has everything I’ve come to love and expect from this author and series. A heartwarming story and romance, great characters, and a ending that left me smiling and feeling happy for hours. Its why I am again recommending this series and this lovely story. If you’re a Annabeth Albert fan, you’re already way ahead of me.
Cover art: is hot, relevant and wonderful.
Kindle Edition, 336 pages
Expected publication: April 16th 2018 by Carina Press
Original TitleSquared Away
SeriesOut of Uniform #5