Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Was it the characters? The topic? The setting? The insight into Naval operations? I think it may have simply been the combination of all of the above. Certainly, these two men are among my favorite MCs and most definitely make an outstanding couple.
Chaplain Dylan Pedersen has recently left his partner of eight years—his very emotionally abusive ex-partner—one who wants him back and is using Dylan’s family and friends to persuade Dylan to come back. When Alhazar Bukhari, a civilian electrician contractor, comes to the chapel to ask for space to store his mat and Q’uran, the two are immediately attracted, but it’s not until they find out that they are both gay that they act on that attraction. And when they do? It’s one of those explosive up-against-the-wall sex scenes that this author does so well.
The thing I liked best about this story is that while there are indeed some mighty hot times between the sheets, there’s so much substance to the relationship development of the two men. And there’s more to the story. Alhazar’s son is gay and has a steady boyfriend, though both are still in high school. We learn of his culture, his prayer times with both children, his unusual past marriage to his best friend who is a lesbian and served in the Navy at the same time as Alhazar. We witness his fear over telling his parents, even though he’s over forty-years-old. And we see what a good friend he is to his coworker, Kimber Fraser, whose dad is Clint Fraser from Afraid to Fly. Kimber is suffering from harassment from her fellow male employees and though the author explores the subject and clearly shows the stress Kimber is under, at no time did I feel I was being lectured or that Kimber’s concerns were minor.
In response to the recent concerns brought to him by LGBTQ men and women as he counsels them in his capacity as chaplain, Dylan organizes an LGBTQ support group for those working at the base and for parents of LGBTQ children. Helped by Alhazar and others we’ve met in the past, including Mark and Diego from Once Burned, the response to the group is overwhelming, leaving Dylan happy and proud. Naturally, shortly after that, he has a face-to-face confrontation with his ex, and Alhazar’s presence complicates Dylan’s attempt to stand up to his abuser. It’s not until he officiates at the wedding ceremony for Diego and Mark that Dylan faces his own needs and realizes he’s had happiness within his grasp all along but walked away from it.
Thankfully, our guys get their HEA, and as a reader, I feel that I’ve gotten so much more than simple pleasure from a well-told story. I learned more about the needs of sailors and their family members and the issues that come up during deployment. Also, I learned more about the Muslim religion from this one story than from any other single source.
I can happily say kudos to LA Witt for bringing this story to life and I very highly recommend it.
Cover art: L.C. Chase. It’s a gorgeous rendering of the male torso and works within the series covers as well.
Sales Links: Riptide Publishing | Amazon
ebook, 340 pages
Published July 16th 2018 by Riptide Publishing
Original TitleSink or Swim
SeriesAnchor Point #8