Blog Tour Rough Terrain (Out of Uniform #7) by Annabeth Albert (excerpt and giveaway)

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ROUGH TERRAIN by Annabeth Albert

Series: Out of Uniform, #7 *Final book in the series*

Publisher: Carina Press (Harlequin)

Release Date (Print & Ebook):

eBook: Monday January 14, 2019

Print (mmp): Tuesday January 29, 2019

Length (Print & Ebook):

384 Pages

Subgenre:

Contemporary Romance, Male/Male Romance, Military Romance

Warnings (if any):

No content warnings needed. Hot fake relationship shenanigans dominate along with being trapped outdoors, but HEA for everything. No addictions/bdsm/deaths etc.

Links:

Synopsis:

The camping trip from hell may be the first stop on the road to happily-ever-after in Rough Terrain, the final book in Annabeth Albert’s critically acclaimed, fan-favorite Out of Uniform series.

Navy SEAL Renzo Bianchi has a soft spot for Canaan Finley, and not only because the man makes a mean smoothie. He’s the first guy to get Renzo’s motor revving in a long time. But when he agrees to Canaan’s insane charade—one all-access fake boyfriend, coming right up—he never expects more than a fling.

Creating a hot Italian SEAL boyfriend to save face seemed like a good idea…until his friends called Canaan’s bluff. Now he’s setting off into the woods with the very man who inspired his deception, and Canaan is not the outdoorsy type. The sparks are already flying when a flash flood separates them from their group, leaving Renzo and Canaan very much trapped…very much alone in the wilderness.

Working together to come up with a plan for survival is sexier than either of them expects. But back in the real world, being a couple is bringing its own set of hazards…

Blog Tour Exclusives:

Teaser #1:

“Canaan. Baby. Everyone will be coupled up. I’m bringing Eric, and everyone else has someone. I don’t want things to be awkward between us.”

God forbid they were awkward. Like breaking up in Prague hadn’t been bad enough, or Damian taking up with Eric, the replacement drummer, mere minutes later, now apparently they had to socialize like adults because the rest of their friend circle demanded it. And quite honestly, Canaan had lost enough the past few years. He wasn’t losing his oldest friends too. “Things will be fine.”

“Of course,” Damian said, a little too quickly and brightly. “But last time we talked, you said you were seeing someone… Just bring them. It’ll be easier. On everyone.”

More like easier on Eric’s jealous ass. And had Canaan said that? He supposed it was possible in some vague make-Damian-happy way that he’d alluded to such a thing.

“I…uh…” The absolute best thing would be to say the truth, which was that he was exactly as single as he’d been boarding that plane in Prague. As single as he’d been in the three years since, flitting from hookup to hookup, nothing sticking. But what came out was “He’s a SEAL. You know, unpredictable hours. Could be deployed anytime. Can’t say for sure if he’ll have leave…”

“Well, can he try?” Damian did not sound in the least impressed by the SEAL factoid. “And really, I’m happy for you. About time you moved on.”

“Yeah.” About that…

“Listen. Since your guy’s military and all, I’ll just tell Kelly you’re bringing him. I’ll cover the fee, and you guys just show up.”

“I’ve got money.” Not much, but he did have some, and didn’t feel the best about letting Damian float him. Not to mention his imaginary boyfriend.

“My present to you. I insist. Just get your ass to Flagstaff.”

“I’ll try. Probably by myself though because—”

“Bring. Him. Don’t be a loser.”

Too late. He already was a loser. Giant L and all. Twenty-six and concocting relationships out of thin air like some sixteen-year-old might. And he’d be showing up alone with some bullshit story, and things would be awkward with Damian and Eric, because of course they would be.

Teaser #2:

“Big plans this weekend?” Canaan asked while he made the drink.

“Working out with a friend tomorrow. Gonna film some new moves.”

“Please tell me you put those clips online.” Thinking fast, Canaan grabbed a blank stamp card and a pen and thrust it at him. “I’ll fill a stamp card for you if you give me your handle.”

“Well…” Rooster’s eyes shifted to his friends, who were deep in conversation. “Navy doesn’t exactly approve of me being on social media…”

“Not gonna tell a soul,” Canaan promised. “I just like workout videos and fitness pics.” And how.

“Yeah?” Rooster gave him an appraising stare, one that had Canaan damn near preening. “That so?”

“Yup.” Canaan set the blender going and returned to the counter. He filled a stamp card and waved it at Rooster. “So how about it?”

“Okay, okay.” Rooster scribbled something on the other card and pushed it at Canaan. Their fingers brushed as they traded cards, thick callused fingers rubbing against his, and Canaan swore his toes curled from the contact.

“So how about you?” Rooster asked as Canaan poured his drink into a purple plastic Smoothie Palace cup.

“How about me what?” Canaan was still busy celebrating getting his username and felt a little punch-drunk on the contact to boot.

“Big plans?”

Here was the opening Canaan had been waiting months for, and no way was he missing it. “Dunno. I get off at nine. Wanna help me find trouble?”

“You make that offer to all your customers?” Rooster studied him intently, and Canaan straightened his spine, trying to pass whatever test he was giving him.

“Just my favorite ones.” The more honest answer would be just you, but Canaan didn’t want to seem too desperate, so he kept his voice light and easy. “How ’bout it?”

“Rooster!” Bacon called out before Rooster could answer. “Come on. We’ve got that meeting in ten.”

“Sorry. Gotta head out. Thanks for the card.” Rooster gave him a smile but no answer before hurrying over to join his friends.

Teaser #3:

Maybe they were better off as buds. But telling himself that didn’t stop his brain from taking note of how Canaan looked digging into the soup. His lips parted, a sigh escaping, and his eyes went soft, happiness smoothing his features. The sound of pleasure he made at the first taste of the broth had Renzo shifting in his chair.

To distract himself, he asked Canaan all about his favorite foods while they ate, and he liked discovering that they had a lot in common with a taste for all things Asian, a dislike of beans, and a high tolerance for spicy foods. Hell, he liked just hanging with Canaan in general. He was fun and spontaneous and easy to be around.

The food was as good as Canaan had advertised—well worth the drive—spicy broth balanced with sweet barbecued pork, loads of delicious noodles, and crisp veggies. Heaven.

“Good thing this isn’t closer to base. I’d lose all my ab definition in a week,” he joked.

Canaan gave him an appraising stare that made Renzo’s face heat. “I don’t think you have much to worry about there.”

“Ha. You have no idea how hard I work for this body.”

“I think I speak for all your admiring fans when I say it is well appreciated.” Canaan gave him another of those looks that made Renzo think about sex again. Damn it. Just buds was hard.

Teaser #4:

And as he watched him sleep, it hit Canaan that while he was on this weird adrenaline high, Renzo did this every day. Every day for days on end he confronted danger, high risks, threat of death, and he had a whole team of people counting on him the entire time too. While Canaan had been busy freaking out, he’d worried a lot about himself, about Grandpa, about what he’d miss out on. And he’d worried some about what he and Renzo could have had, especially when Renzo had been threatening to go out on his own.

But Renzo had neither freaked out nor focused on himself—the whole time, he’d been worried about Canaan. Keeping him warm. Making the alarms to drink and eat. Making sure Canaan had first choice of food. Coming up with plans to keep them safe and ensure the rescuers spotted them. Damn. It was humbling to think of all Renzo had done for him. And now Renzo was exhausted. Spent. Energy reserves clearly gone.

And yet, he would do something like this again, soon probably. With better equipment and better teammates, but he’d face danger again, head on. Because that was what he did. Who he was. His moral fabric was made of camo—tough as ripstop, unwavering and unyielding. Maybe Renzo had joined up because of his brother originally, but he hadn’t been lying about finding himself on the teams. And who he’d found there was possibly the best man Canaan had ever met. His throat ached just looking at Renzo, hands tightly clenching to stop from touching him.

“I’m going to take better care of you,” he whispered softly. “You took care of me, so maybe it’s time someone took care of you like you deserve. How about me?”

Renzo, of course, slumbered on, but something inside Canaan shifted. Changed. Accepted this new reality in front of him where this sleeping giant was suddenly the most important person in Canaan’s life.

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. Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Her critically acclaimed and fan-favorite LGBTQ romance series include the #OutOfUniform, #Gaymers, #PortlandHeat, #RainbowCove and #PerfectHarmony series.

To find out what she’s working on next and other fun extras, check out her website: 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.

Connect with Annabeth Albert:

Giveaway information:

Prizes:

1) Paperback copy of any back catalog Out of Uniform series book. Open Internationally.

 

 

2) e-copies of any back catalog Out of Uniform series book. Open Internationally.

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Ready for Some Holiday Romance? Check out Better Not Pout by Annabeth Albert (excerpt and giveaway)

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Better Not Pout by Annabeth Albert

Publisher: Carina Press (Harlequin)

Release Date (Print & Ebook): Ebook: Monday November 12, 2018

Print (mmp): Tuesday November 27, 2018

Length (Print & Ebook):  Ebook: 288, Print (mmp): 288

Subgenre: Contemporary Romance, Male/Male Romance, Holiday Romance, Military Romance

Order at:

Carina PressBarnes & Noble (mmp)  | Barnes & Noble (ebook)   |   Amazon 

 

 

Book Synopsis:

One hard-nosed military police officer.

One overly enthusiastic elf.

One poorly timed snowstorm.

Is it a recipe for disaster? Or a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for holiday romance?

Teddy MacNally loves Christmas and everything that goes along with it. When he plays an elf for his charity’s events, he never expects to be paired with a Scrooge masquerading as Santa Claus. His new mission: make the holiday-hating soldier believe he was born to say ho-ho-ho.

Sergeant Major Nicholas Nowicki doesn’t do Santa, but he’s army to his blood. When his CO asks an unusual favor, Nick of course obliges. The elf to his Kris Kringle? Tempting. Too tempting—Nick’s only in town for another month, and Teddy’s too young, too cheerful and too nice for a one-night stand.

The slow, sexy make-out sessions while Teddy and Nick are alone and snowbound, though, feel like anything but a quick hookup. As a stress-free holiday fling turns into Christmas all year round, Teddy can’t imagine his life without Nick. And Nick’s days on the base may be coming to a close, but he doesn’t plan on leaving anything, or anyone, behind.

***

Annabeth Albert says that, “BETTER NOT POUT is a male/male holiday romance featuring endearing characters with a fun, flirty plot that will remind readers of their favorite holiday rom-coms.”

 Excerpt :

It was entirely possible that standing in Teddy’s office in his drawers was less humiliating than trying to squash himself onto the couch. He narrowly avoided rolling to the floor, but ended up in a sneezing fit because up close and personal, the couch smelled like a combo of woodsmoke and fabric cleaner of some kind. And his neck and thighs were both cramping, but he tried to not groan aloud.

“Yeah. You look totally comfy.” Teddy shook his head at Nick as he finished putting the game away and banking the fire. “Come on. Bed. I’ll even turn on the electric bed warmer for you.”

“We can share,” Nick said decisively. He’d slept next to men on planes and in various mission situations. Surely he could survive the temptation that was Teddy in a warm bed.

“Excellent.” Teddy’s eyes went dark and hot.

“To sleep,” Nick clarified.

“Darn. Can’t blame a guy for hoping?” Teddy gave him a smile over his shoulder as he led the way up to a cozy sleeping loft. A large, high sleigh bed that still looked too small for both of them dominated the room, piled high with colorful quilts. Teddy clambered onto the bed, crawling across it, muttering something about finding a controller but Nick was too transfixed on his bouncing ass to pay much attention to his words. It was surprisingly round and high and rather bitable and…

“See something you want?” Teddy glanced over his shoulder.

Busted. And he must have not been able to wipe the want off his expression fast enough because Teddy crawled back across the bed to kneel in front of where Nick stood, looking like some angelic offering. An offering Nick wasn’t sure he could turn down a second time.

“How about…” Teddy pitched his voice low and seductive, almost a whisper. “I get it, I’m not your type, but maybe I could turn off the lights and you could… I dunno…pretend? Just for tonight?”

“Never said you weren’t my type,” Nick said, voice like sandpaper. True, he’d been thinking just that an hour earlier, but Teddy not being his usual didn’t mean that Nick didn’t see his appeal or that the chemistry wasn’t there. And fuck, it would be so much easier if the chemistry between them didn’t crackle like the downstairs fire. His hand was apparently done taking orders from his brain that evening and reached out to stroke Teddy’s smooth jaw. “Just that it was a bad idea.”

“It’s an excellent idea.” Teddy stretched like a cat under Nick’s touch, eyes drifting shut, like he was every bit as hungry for Nick’s touch as he was to give it. And Nick gave up the fight with a groan. This was a terrible idea for all sorts of good, logical reasons, and things were likely to get awkward, but hell if he could bring himself to stop touching Teddy. He buried his hand in those golden curls, which were far softer than they looked.

And Teddy knew he’d won, closed the remaining distance between them and looped his arms around Nick’s neck. “Now do I get to tell you what I want?”

This time Nick laughed, long and low. “Yeah. You do.”

“Goody.” Teddy beamed at him. “But it’s probably gonna be easier to show you…”

With that, Teddy leaned in, slow enough that Nick could have stopped him if he’d been so inclined. Which he wasn’t. No, he’d made up his mind to have this thing. He’d deal with the consequences—and there would be consequences—like an adult, but for tonight, he was going to let himself have Teddy.

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. Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Her critically acclaimed and fan-favorite LGBTQ romance series include the #OutOfUniform, #Gaymers, #PortlandHeat, #RainbowCove and #PerfectHarmony series.

To find out what she’s working on next and other fun extras, check out her website: 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.

Connect with Annabeth Albert:

 

 

 

Giveaway: Win 1 of 2 e-copies of any OUT OF UNIFORM series book or a finished Paperback copy of BETTER NOT POUT!

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Blog Tour for Squared Away (Out of Uniform #5) by Annabeth Albert (excerpt and giveaway)

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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.

Squared Away

Series: Out of Uniform #5

Publisher: Carina Press

Release Date (Print & Ebook): April 16. Print, ebook, and audio all available.

Length (Print & Ebook): 80,000 words

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

Links:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2ptQhFH

Paperback: http://amzn.to/2ptc00A

Audible: https://www.audible.com/pd/Romance/Squared-Away-Audiobook/B07BGJ3FRF

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/squared-away/id1326105516?mt=11

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/squared-away-1

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/squared-away-annabeth-albert/1127659238?ean=9781335980809

Carina Press: https://www.carinapress.com/shop/books/9781335980809_squared-away.html

Synopsis:

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.

What Annabeth Albert has to say about this book in her Out of Uniform series:

“I wanted to write a book about the nature of family and how loss and tragedy can shape family, mold it into something stronger, force growth and change. I’m enormously proud of SQUARED AWAY as a result because how I fell in love with this little family.”

“When Wizard first appeared in ON POINT as a secondary character, I was intrigued by him, but it wasn’t until I let myself get into his head that I really saw how complicated he was. I feel honored and privileged to have been able to tell his story.”

“No book gets written in a vacuum and this one is no different. I owe a huge debt on this book to my sensitivity readers who really encouraged me to dig deep.”

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.  

 Excerpts:

“I take it that’s a yes?”

“It’s always going to be a yes for more kissing.” Isaiah scooted closer. They’d done the massage and goodnight kiss routine a few more times, but he was careful to not press for it, to let it be Mark’s idea.

Mark gave him a fast but still electric kiss. “I was thinking about this when I was helping you outside earlier. It’s crazy how much I like touching and kissing you.”

“I love touching you too.” Isaiah trailed his fingers down Mark’s cheek. “You haven’t had that before?”

“Not really. I’ve had a lot of kisses that felt like getting my earlobe chewed by a cat or trying to kiss a salmon. Not awful but not ‘can’t wait to do it again’ either. Had some kisses I liked, but right as I was getting comfortable, the other person would try to take it to the next level. And that was always a disaster.”

“Even with your friend? The other medic?”

Mark shrugged and looked away. “He got huffy when I didn’t want to get naked after a few kisses. Called me a closet case.”

“I’m sorry.” Isaiah patted his leg, not sure what else to say. “You’re a great guy. You deserve all the good kisses—no fish or earlobe chewing allowed. And you deserve to go at your own pace. Always.”

“I feel guilty. Like I should be doing something more for you…”

“Hey now. I’m getting amazing kisses from a hot-as-fuck guy who also likes to massage me until I’m a pile of limp lettuce. Trust me. I’m not getting a shabby deal here. At all.” If anything, Isaiah felt guilty for how very much he was enjoying all this. “And add in yard work help and cleaning? Man, you’d be a lot of people’s idea of a dream date.”

“Good.” Mark leaned in for another, softer kiss. “Because I really like doing this.”

“Me too.” Isaiah tried to calm the thumping of his heart. Careful, he warned himself even as his long-comatose hope monster hefted itself up and did a dance. He couldn’t afford to go falling for Mark again, yet with each kiss, each tentative touch, he could feel his grip on his resolve weakening.

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.

Connect with Annabeth:

Twitter | Facebook | Facebook Group | Newsletter | Instagram | Website

Giveaway: win 1 of 2 ecopies of any back catalog book by Annabeth Albert:

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1 Week Tour for At Attention by Annabeth Albert (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  AT ATTENTION

Series: Out of Uniform, book 2 (but stands alone well–different couple for each book)

Author: Annabeth Albert

Publisher:  Carina Press

Release Date: April 10, 2017

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 73,000

Genre: Romance, Military romance, contemporary, age difference, may/december, SEALS

Add to Goodreads

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Annabeth Albert here today.  Welcome, Annabeth. Tell us more about your new release!

✒︎

Thank you so much for having me today! I’m so excited to be celebrating the release of AT ATTENTION which stars a widowed navy SEAL dad and his best-friend’s little brother who’s staying with him for the summer to help with the kids. Music is a huge part of my creative process, and I knew going into this that the playlist for these two was going to be a challenge.

Apollo is dealing with a lot of grief and the pain of moving on after losing his husband, so his songs to start with were sad and slow, while Dylan is sunnier, younger, and more upbeat. I’d go from bombastic TV show soundtracks for Apollo to fun pop for Dylan and back again, trying to find the musical profile for this book.

Sam Smith was an obvious choice, but other notable additions to the playlist were revelations—lesser known artists who became intertwined with the writing of this book.  You can find the full playlist on spotify, but I wanted to talk about a few songs and why they were so key to the book.

  • James Blunt, “When I Find Love Again.” I’d never heard of James before starting this book, but when I found this song, I knew I’d found Apollo’s path forward. It’s joyous and upbeat and everything missing from Apollo’s life at the start of the book. But by the end, this song really has become the embodiment of the book’s message about being brave enough to try again.
  • Tenth Avenue North, “Worn.” This song more than any other on the playlist really encapsulated who Apollo is at the book’s opening—he’s tired of struggling, tired of being alone, but he’s not sure he believes in a different future for himself. He’s waiting for something like Dylan in his life, even if he can’t admit it yet.
  • Angus and Julia Stone, “Stay with Me.” The thing about Sam Smith being on repeat for two months is that eventually one finds their way to Sam Smith covers. And this one is particularly gorgeous, and really spoke to the black moment for me, for both men, how much they need each other.
  • Haley Reinhart, “Can’t Help Falling In Love.” I listened to a lot of covers of this song, as it was such a perfect song for Apollo who really, really does not want to fall in love with Dylan, but does anyway, but this version of the song really spoke to me with her heartbreaking delivery.
  • Rebecca Ferguson, “Nothing’s Real but Love.”  Another artist I discovered while searching sad song playlists, her voice really spoke to Apollo’s resilience and how much he needs love back in his life.
  • Kina Grannis/Gardiner Sisters, “I was Made for Loving You.” This is one of Dylan’s songs—hopeful, and full of love, but wary.
  • Jewel, “Near Me Always.” I put a little piece of myself in every book, but in this case, I gave them a song from my past, one that always makes me relive a little heartbreak to hear because I needed to channel that sadness, and a funny thing happened—over the course of listening to my playlist, this song became much less about my own past and more about Dylan and Apollo’s future.

Thank you so much for having me! If you’re curious to learn more about Dylan and Apollo’s journey, I hope you’ll check out AT ATTENTION. And if you have a good earworm for me, I love hearing of new artists and songs!

Synopsis

Lieutenant Apollo Floros can ace tactical training missions, but being a single dad to his twin daughters is more than he can handle. He needs live-in help, and he’s lucky a friend’s younger brother needs a place to stay. He’s surprised to see Dylan all grown up with a college degree…and a college athlete’s body. Apollo’s widowed heart may still be broken, but Dylan has his blood heating up.

It’s been eight years since the teenage Dylan followed Apollo around like a lovesick puppy, and it’s time he showed Lieutenant Hard-to-Please that he’s all man now—an adult who’s fully capable of choosing responsibility over lust. He can handle Apollo’s muscular sex appeal, but Apollo the caring father? Dylan can’t afford to fall for that guy. He’s determined to hold out for someone who’s able to love him back, not someone who only sees him as a kid brother.

Apollo is shocked by the intensity of his attraction to Dylan. Maybe some no-strings summer fun will bring this former SEAL back to life. But the combination of scorching desire and warm affection is more than he’d expected, and the emotion between them scares him senseless. No fling lasts forever, and Apollo will need to decide what’s more important—his past or his future—if he wants to keep Dylan in his life.

Book Two of the Out of Uniform series

This book is approximately 73,000 words

Excerpt

**This is from the first chapter**

Hamburger. Onions. Pickles. Ketchup. Buns. Buns.

Well, hello, there. Possibly the most perfect specimen Apollo had ever seen was bent over in the bakery aisle at Sprouts, looking at a rack of organic cookies. High. Tight. Round. Attached to muscular legs poking out of board shorts, the kind of legs that suggested a serious investment in a sport or fitness. He wasn’t going to do more than look, but even when he’d been with Neal, he hadn’t been blind, and it was nice to know perfection like this guy existed in the world.

It was like swimming by a perfect coral reef on a dive or the blue of a cloudless sky right before a jump—

Wink. Fuck. The guy straightened before Apollo could look away and caught Apollo staring, and instead of blushing or serving him with the angry glare he deserved, he gave Apollo a saucy wink. It was the sort of wink that a decade ago would have had Apollo crossing the shiny linoleum and getting the guy’s number, but those days were long gone.

Instead he grabbed the closest twelve pack of hamburger buns and one of hot dog buns and headed to the next aisle. Those were the only kind of buns he had any business letting himself be distracted by. He was a father for crying out loud, not some single guy out treating the natural grocery store like his own personal pickup joint. Reflexively, he rubbed his ring with the side of his pinky, making it spin on his ring finger. Yeah. No more looking.

“Apollo! How are you?” Bridget from down the street almost ran her cart into his as he navigated the aisles. Her red-haired toddler waved at him from the basket.

Hell. He knew he should have brought at least one of the girls shopping. Then Bridget could have focused on the kids, and not his least favorite question in the universe.

“Hanging in there.” Apollo gave her a practiced a smile. “Good” would be a lie and no one wanted to hear “same as yesterday,” which was closer to the truth. But what the Bridgets of the world all wanted to hear was that Apollo was moving on—like time was the magic cure for the hole in his heart. “Having some people over for a barbecue later. Apologies if anyone parks in front of your place.”

“Oh, no worries.” Bridget patted his arm. “Having friends is so important.”

“Yeah, it is,” Apollo agreed because Bridget was a nice person, but inwardly his teeth gnashed together. He was so tired of well-meaning people telling him what was good for him when not a damn one of their suggestions would bring Neal back. “I better get on with my list.”

“You do that. And be sure and let us know if you need anything.

Apollo nodded. Two years. It had been two years of neighbors and friends stopping him like this, making kind offers, but none of them able to do the one thing he wanted more than anything.

Fuck. Snap out of it, Lieutenant. No one wants your mopey ass around on this sunny May weekend. And it was an absolutely gorgeous day, perfect for playing with the girls outside and kicking back a few beers with his friends. He wasn’t on duty and had three consecutive days off for the first time in a long time. No sense dwelling on sad shit. Time to get stuff done.

Find something else to focus on.

Like that perfect ass?

No. Absolutely not that. Like…pickles. Lots and lots of pickles.

He saw Mr. Perfect Butt again in the juice aisle, and it was damn hard to keep his resolution to stick to shopping. The guy was model cute—curly hair falling just so over his forehead, sparkling eyes, chiseled jaw, and a tight T-shirt advertising a British soccer team showing off a defined chest and tight stomach. The guy smiled at him again and looked like he might want to speak, so Apollo grabbed the juice boxes for the girls and got out of there like he’d just launched a flash bang in the guy’s direction.

At the checkout, Mr. Perfect Butt was ahead of him in the only line that seemed to be moving. Apollo very carefully did not look at his butt again and busied himself grabbing some gum and trying to give off “don’t talk to me” vibes.

But those vibes seemed to be an utter failure as the guy turned, offering another movie-star-worthy grin. “You want to go first?” His voice was husky, like every word was a secret.

“I’m good,” Apollo said.

The man nodded, shy smile teasing the edges of his mouth, making his blue eyes dance. “You know—”

“ID please.” The cashier interrupted whatever flirtation the guy had planned as his six pack of beer went across the scanner.

“Oh, yeah.” A faint red flush spread up the guy’s neck. Oh hell. He wasn’t just younger than Apollo. He was a kid. A kid who still got carded, and rightfully so with that baby face. What the hell had Apollo been thinking, admiring his body?

Apollo focused on unloading his own groceries, making neat rows for the cashier, and making sure the buns wouldn’t get squished.

Buns. Nope. Not going there. The kid hung around after paying for his groceries, mouth moving as if he were debating speaking, but Apollo kept his attention squarely on the cashier.

No more looking. Remember who—what—you are now. When he finally looked up, perfect butt guy was gone, and if Apollo felt a twinge of regret for being a bit on the rude side, he squashed it quickly. Wasn’t like he’d ever see the guy again anyway.

****

What will Apollo do when he discovers that Perfect Butt guy is his best friend’s little brother? Find out in AT ATTENTION!

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Meet the Author

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.

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 children.

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