A MelanieM Review: Step Up with Me (With Me #5) by Kris Jacen


Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Richard “Tank” Martin was a big boy from the start. Born weighing over 11 pounds, he didn’t stop growing. When he was in middle school, a football coach took him under his wing and finally explained to him the mystery of calories in, calories out and from then on it was all good for him. At least he thought. Being called to meet with his platoon sergeant and told that he was now part of the Army’s overweight program, sent him into a spin that only his crews can help him out of.

Dr. Jack Dillon thought his life was good and finally settled. Part of an active veterinarian practice, volunteering with a service dog organization, spoiling his sister’s triplets and training in sports jiu-jitsu…the only thing missing was a partner. He never thought that his world could be shattered with just a phone call even after being around his military friends.

Tank and Jack have been dancing around each other for months until Tank takes a chance and kisses Jack at their friends’ wedding moving their slow dance into a heated bump and grind. Can these two survive the changes coming their ways together or will all the changes break them apart?

It seems I always learn something new about military life when I read one of Kris Jacen’s stories, especially her series With Me.  Step Up with Me, the fifth book in the With Me series, addresses an issue I hadn’t even thought was a problem with the military.  That of weight and body issues.  I had no idea.  i just assumed (bad me) that all the constant training and workouts kept everyone ready and well, slim or rock hard.  I should know better considering all the various body types out there and struggles with weight that just don’t mysteriously vanish one you enter the military.  Or that it has such serious repercussions if not met.  Including the end of a career.

Yes, the U.S. Army has Weight Standards for its Soldiers , men and women. Army Body Fat Measurements that includes an army body fat calculator and  the Military Tape Test which  Jacen makes  such effective use of in her story.  She also notes that the current standards are under review and, hopefully will be updated to more realistic measurements.

All of this brings us to Richard “Tank” Martin, a man who has been fighting with his weight and body image all his life.  Solid muscle by any standards, a recent “tape test” has deemed him overweight and his superior officer put him on the Army’s Overweight program, which carries not only a stigma but potential career consequences.  This in addition to the emotional impact its having on Tank himself, who is not only frustrated in his attempts to lose weight but dealing with the old issues of poor self image as well.

Tank is easily one of most recognizable and connectible characters of all of the military unit for me.  Perhaps it’s in his issues with his body image, his quiet manner of questioning his choices later on in this story, or his appreciation of all the difference people in his life, his teacher on nutrition and diet (who just happens to be the wife of one of the Heptad).  Maybe its a largesse of character and personality to go along with his body that Jacen has created for him, a huge heart as well.  Whatever it is, Tank is someone who I gravitated towards immediately.  You will too.

As we saw towards the end of the last story, a swift surprise kiss with Dr. Jack Dillon moved a tentative romance ahead and that’s where this story starts off.

Both men are already established characters and here they come more fully into depth, revealing more layers and backhistory as their romance progresses and we see Tank work through his “program”, learning to eat better, exercise more in a way that suits him all the while talking about body positivity and support.

The two men together are so special  and just settling in, when another traumatic event happens to throw them and the reader into an emotional spin.  I wasn’t prepared for just how much pain this section caused but as Jacen has done her normal outstanding job of putting together a character that we cared about, however briefly, I shouldn’t have been surprised.  Then come the triplets, oh my.   And a family unit.

I won’t give too much away except to say how much I love this story.  All the many other characters from previous books appear as support and, as have been proven over and over again, the military families joining forces to act as an extended family to those in need.  It was heartwarming, moving, and it felt as authentic as could be.

With Me is such an outstanding series and Step Up with Me (With Me #5) by Kris Jacen is another exemplary reason why I always recommend this series and this author.  The writing is so smooth as to be impeccable, the plots realistic and moving, and the characters real and memorable.  Read them all in the order they were written for a memorable journey with a group of people you won’t soon forget.

Cover art: Kris Jacen. I adore this cover by the author.  It’s perfection in its representation of Tank and one of the triplets.  Now I need to read it again.

Sales Links:  MLR PressAmazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 125 pages
Published February 20th 2019 by MLR Press
SeriesWith Me #5

Wait for Me

Explore with Me

Learn with Me

Challenge Me

Step Up with Me

Need a new fantasy? Check out the Release Blitz for Becoming D’Vaire (D’Vaire #11) by Jessamyn Kingley (excerpt and giveaway)



Book Title: Becoming D’Vaire (D’Vaire, Book 11)

Author: Jessamyn Kingley

Cover Artist: LJ Anderson, Mayhem Cover Creations

Genre/s: M/M Urban Fantasy Romance

Heat Rating: 3 flames   

Release Date: March 14, 2019

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Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

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High Arcanist Delaney D’Vaire is the world’s only dark wizard, something that has alienated him from his people since birth. Orphaned as a child, he is shuffled around until the Prism Wizard sees his potential, steps in, and enrolls him in school. Though he never truly feels like he belongs, Delaney excels. Graduating at sixteen, he applies to a unique sanctuary, and his life forever changes when he is accepted. Delaney has the family he’s always wanted; surrounded by love and support, he’s grown into a young man, giving everything to help the people who still scorn him, though he continues to doubt himself. All he needs now is his mate, but Delaney is skeptical that even Fate could come up with his perfect match.

Vampyr Lord Grigori Volkov is the genius of his family. Numbers line up in his head, and he loses sight of the world around him. At fourteen, young Grigori creates a nearly synthetic version of blood to sustain his people, saving countless lives. Content to remain out of the spotlight, his involvement is kept from the general public. Since then, Grigori has spent most of his time alone in his lab, learning all he can and pushing his limits. At twenty-six, Grigori is content with his solitude and doesn’t believe Fate has him in her sights.

When the High Arcanist and the Vampyr Lord appear at the same event, they are stunned to find that Fate indeed has a plan for them. Reeling from their discovery, the mates set upon the task of getting to know each other. It does not take them long to find common ground, but as Delaney and Grigori build their life together, old foes will test them and their entire family. The path Fate has laid out for them is not simple, but they must be strong enough to trust in each other and stand together rather than alone to learn what it truly means to become D’Vaire.


Hours later, Grigori was deeply troubled by his desire to ensure Delaney’s life included everything he wanted. He’d teleported to D’Vaire after sharing a lovely meal with his family where he filled them in on the details of his upcoming ceremony. Grigori was greeted with an enthusiastic kiss from Delaney, then found a cuddly familiar on his shoulder.
However, his pretty mood popped like a bubble when they started talking. He was thrilled to be handed one of the new D’Vaire stones, but it was the subject currently being discussed he would do without given the opportunity.
“Is Dre’Kariston sure he wants to wait to shadow walk? He could move it up a day instead,” Grigori tossed out, treading carefully as he rubbed a hand over Delaney’s leg. The wizard was sprawled out over him on the couch. They’d ditched their shoes, and his initial intention was to get them undressed, but that was not anywhere on his radar now. He hated to think of Delaney on the other side of the veil for any reason at all.
“Yeah, another day isn’t going to matter. Besides, it gives us more time to fine-tune our plans for how we’re going to root Carvallius there.”
“This is something you really want to do?”
Delaney nodded with a smile. “Absolutely. It’s so cool. It’s one of the perks of being a dark caster. I’m lucky enough to have a powerful enough necromancer who can take more than one person with him when he crosses.”
“This is safe?”
Delaney’s grin disappeared. “Shit, you’re worried. Dre’Kariston said Somerly was shitting bricks over him going again. We talked about this before, and you seemed okay with it. I don’t want to make this a thing between us. If it bothers you, I can stay here. I mean, they’ll tell me all about it, and I’m just going to explore. They don’t need me to be there for any of this.”
The wizard’s willingness to drop his idea of going made Grigori feel small and awful. “No, I think you should go. I’m nervous but not like sweating-profusely-going-to-faint-any-minute crazy. I trust you, and I trust the Arch Lich.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah, I can’t keep you from doing things because it’s not something I’d want to do or because I’m scared. This is something you want, so I think you should go. Somerly and I will just hold each other tight until our men return from their trip.”
“You might be careful embracing him too snugly. Dre’Kariston’s got a lot of power, he might flatten you.”
“Well, then I hope you like it on the other side of the veil, because he’ll send us both there, and I won’t have you saying ‘Oh, for fate’s sake, Grigori, now we’re fucking dead and this place sucks.’ ”
“I won’t. I’ll start out by reminding you that you missed our first date, and you got yourself killed by cuddling the fuck out of Somerly.”
Grigori kissed his welcoming mouth. “I only cuddle the fuck out of you.”
“Then we just might be safe. You sure you don’t want me to skip it?”
“I want you to go. Well, no…that’s a lie. I don’t want you to go. I want you to stay here with me but I’ll get over it, because that’s selfish. You’ll only be gone for a little while, then you’ll have this amazing experience to tell me about.”
“It’ll be okay, I promise.”
“Just like when I drink from you the first time.”

About the Author

Jessamyn Kingley lives in Nevada where she begs the men in her head to tell her their amazing stories which she dutifully writes it all down in what has become a small mountain of notebooks. She falls in love with each couple and swears whatever book she wrote last is her absolute favorite.

Jessamyn is married and working toward remembering to start the dishwasher without being distracted by the scent of the magical detergent. For personal enjoyment, she aids in cat rescue while slashing and gashing her way through mobs in various MMORPGs. Caffeine is her very best friend and is only cast aside briefly for the sin better known as BBQ potato chips.

Visit her website and follow her on Facebook. She loves to engage with readers there.

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