Daylight Again (Hell or High Water #3) by S.E. Jakes

Before Prophet Drews can have a future, he must first put his past to rest.
Prophet Drews is a man on the edge, and he’s pulling Tom Boudreaux, his partner on the job and in real life, right over with him. When his old CO calls in a favor, Prophet asks Tom to join the off-the-grid rescue. But the mission raises all of Prophet’s old ghosts: CIA assassins, the terrorist Sadiq, and most importantly, John—traitor, former teammate, and Prophet’s first love.
To help bury those ghosts for good, Prophet and Tom gather the members of Prophet’s former SEAL team . . . and a spook named Cillian who’s been tailing Prophet for years. In the process, Prophet is forced to face his team’s shifting loyalties, ghosts who refuse to stay dead, and scariest of all, his own limitations.
With everyone’s lives in danger, Prophet and Tom must unravel a tangled knot of secrets, including their own. Prophet must decide how much to reveal to Tom, while Tom must decide how far he’s willing to go to help Prophet lay his ghosts to rest.

This is my second read of Daylight Again and I honestly have no idea why I missed reviewing it the first time around. I’m fixing that now though, just in time for me to start reading the final book in S.E. Jakes’ Hell or High Water series, If I Ever. Regardless of why I committed to this re-read, I’m really glad I did. Mainly because there is SO much that I forgot. And trust me, a lot happens in this series, so missing even a little can cause some serious confusion. (That’s true, but honestly, I will use just about any excuse to re-read a book I love. 😉 )

Even though they’re growing closer and trust each other with their lives, Tommy knows that Prophet is hiding something. He’s patient though and he knows that Prophet will tell him when he’s ready. Prophet’s secret isn’t an easy one to to give to Tommy though. Not that he didn’t trust him, but because he knew that when he finally confided in Tommy, everything would change. By the end of Daylight Again, Tommy has a few secrets of his own. Prophet knows it too, he also knows he’ll get it out of him sooner or later.

That added tension, along with everything else, made Daylight Again really hard to put down. There were a lot of players involved and there were times that Tommy felt like he was on the outside looking in – especially when it came to Prophet’s old team. There wasn’t a lot of trust there and it went both ways, but Tommy would do anything to help Prophet put old ghosts to bed and keep him safe and sane… or as sane as either one of them could be.

It’s obvious at the end of Daylight Again that things are far from over. If I Ever has a lot of ground to cover, but I have a feeling S.E. Jakes will make the finale to Hell or High Water worth the wait. I should probably pick up Dirty Deeds (the first book in Mal and Cillian’s series) for a re-read before I start If I Ever, since it runs pretty much parallel to Daylight Again, but that would just be prolonging the inevitable. *sigh*

Rough Terrain (Out of Uniform #7) by Annabeth Albert

The camping trip from hell may be the first stop on the road to happily-ever-after.
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…

Oh Canaan and Renzo… as sorry as I was that Rough Terrain marked the end of the Out of Uniform series, I don’t think it could have ended with a more perfect couple.

On the surface, Canaan and Renzo weren’t even close to a perfect match. Renzo was totally focused on his military career and he had reasons for that focus. Canaan was just as focused. He was working his way through nursing school. He was also “nursing” a broken heart, but that didn’t stop him from being attracted to Renzo – and the feeling was mutual.

Attraction isn’t always enough and it took them almost losing each other to make them realize that their “pretend” romance was a little more real than they realized.

There was so much to love about this final installment. Like a few cameos from previous characters that I always enjoy. A glimpse at military life that’s pretty close to accurate (or as close to accurate as fiction can get.) Then there was the connection between Renzo and Canaan. The supporting characters were both great and aggravating at times – the perfect balance. Although I’m still sad that Out of Uniform has come to an end, I can’t wait to see what Annabeth Albert has in store for readers next. 😉

Loving a Warrior (Loving a Warrior #1) by Melanie Hansen

BUD/S: six months of the most intense training there is. It’s survival of the toughest, and Matt Knytych is determined to come out the other side a navy SEAL.
Distraction is life or death. And just the sight of former marine Shane Hovland is enough to shake Matt’s concentration.
Shane came to BUD/S training ready to prove himself—again. Semper Fi is forever, but he needs a new start. Not this dangerous heat with a man he barely knows.
Everything they’ve ever wanted is riding on a thin, punishing line. And they’ll have to fight for more than just each other if they want to make it through intact.
After all, the only easy day was yesterday.

This is the second book that I’ve read by Melanie Hansen. Loving a Warrior didn’t quite measure up to Point of Contact, but to be honest, very few of my 2018 reads did. And to be fair, Loving a Warrior was a totally different book, even though both centered around the military. As a matter of fact, the fact that these books were so different made me want to keep an eye out for more of this author’s work – especially, the next book in this series.

Okay, so enough with the comparisons… Loving a Warrior was a slow burn kind of romance between two very determined young men. What they went through in training was as much a part of this story as their relationship. I read books for a lot of reasons and one of them is to learn about situations and experiences that I wouldn’t otherwise know a lot about. I found that aspect of the story fascinating and it added a lot to the story, especially about what these two were up against. It also gave a lot of insight into both Shane and Matt’s personalities.

I loved how both Shane and Matt supported each other while staying true to themselves and their individual goals. Nothing about what they went through was easy and there were just as many failures as triumphs. Knowing they had each others’ backs made it just a little bit easier to reach their final goals.

The next book in the Loving a Warrior series is Keeping a Warrior, which isn’t another M/M book. I’m interested to read another Melanie Hansen book from a M/F perspective.

Better Not Pout by Annabeth Albert

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.

Teddy was adorable and Nick was prickly… but there was a lot more to each of them than that.

The last thing that Nick wanted to do was play Santa, but he only had a little bit of time left before his retirement so turning down his new CO wasn’t an option. He had no idea what he was in for and Teddy was definitely not what he expected.

Teddy considered Nick a challenge. He knows that there is more to Nick than the grumbly guy he first meets. The more he gets to know him, the more the challenge turns into a lot more than either one of them bargained for.

Better Not Pout was the perfect Holiday read. Full of a little sweet, a little bit nice and a little bit naughty. It fits right into what I’ve come to expect from Annabeth Albert’s military romances. 🙂

Sink or Swim (Anchor Point #8) by L.A. Witt

When need meets fear, can two very different men find common ground?
Alhazar Bukhari spent his Navy career in the closet. Now he’s retired, divorced, and hungry for the love he’s never had a chance to experience. He tries to put his faith in Allah to bring the right man into his life, but it’s hard to be patient after all this time.
Chaplain Dylan Pedersen spends his days counseling Sailors, and his nights with men he doesn’t know. Months after finally escaping an abusive relationship, he’s terrified of anything more than a physical connection. Maybe it’s a sin, but he’s too lonely to not let men into his bed, and too scared to let them into his heart.
When Alhazar’s civilian job brings him aboard the USS Fort Stevens, and his daily prayers bring him into Dylan’s chapel, the chemistry is instantaneous. Sex and friendship quickly evolve into more, but Dylan’s too haunted by his recent past to be the man Alhazar wants. Alhazar needs love, Dylan needs time, and if they can’t find some sort of balance, they’ll sink before they ever have a chance to swim.

When L.A. Witt decides to tackle a subject, she doesn’t hold back. I love the real life situations that she has her characters face in the Anchor Point series. Given that most of those situations are unique to the military makes things even more interesting. In Sink or Swim, Alhazar and Dylan had more than one obstacle to over come if they ever wanted to make a relationship work between them.

Despite those obstacles, Alhazar and Dylan had a lot in common. They both were previously married to women and had children. Alhazar married out of necessity, Dylan in an attempt to have a “normal” life. You’ll have to read Sink or Swim to get their personal back stories. Parts of both are heart breaking.

I respected both these men a lot. It was refreshing to “meet” a Chaplain – or any religious character – be as open, welcoming and respectful of other religions as Dylan was. I loved Alhazar’s devotion to his faith and learning more about it was an added bonus. His family dynamic with his ex-wife and children was great too. The circumstances were unique, but they made it work.

Both men slipped, they weren’t perfect and as much as I loved them, there was at least once where I wanted to yell at them both. There were a lot of odds against them and that balance they needed to find didn’t come easy. Alhazar had a strong need to protect those he cared about and Dylan felt like he needed to stand up to his fears on his own.

It was great seeing other characters from previous stories. Even though it would be easy to pick any one of the books in the Anchor Point series up as a stand alone, having those simple connections between the characters adds a lot to each book. I think that’s what I might like best about series books that include different characters with each book and L.A. Witt does a great job at including those previous characters seamlessly. So… if you haven’t started the Anchor Point series up yet, you could start with Sink or Swim, but I’d start with the book that started it all… Just Drive. You can thank me later 😉

Tight Quarters (Out of Uniform #6) by Annabeth Albert

Petty Officer Bacon, a navy SEAL and ace sharpshooter, has been on the front lines of more than his fair share of dangerous ops. Yet when a minor injury relegates him to the beta team, he’s tasked with what may be his riskiest assignment yet: the silver fox journalist he’s babysitting is the hottest, most charismatic man he’s ever encountered.
Award-winning journalist Spencer Bryant may have been named one of Pride magazine’s most eligible bachelors of the year, but he’s not looking to change his relationship status. He’s a consummate professional who won’t risk his ethics or impeccable reputation by getting involved with a source. Even a sexy-as-hell military man. But while Spencer can resist his physical attraction to Bacon, he has less control over his emotions—especially when the mission goes sideways and the two men are trapped alone.
Getting out of the jungle alive turns out to be easy compared to facing the truth about their feelings for one another back in the real world. And whether or not they can build a future is a different story altogether.

I really like this series and it seems to get better with each installment.

There’s a lot of tension in Tight Quarters aside from the growing sexual tension between Bacon and Spencer. Bacon is a member of the same seal team that Dustin and Wes belonged to in Wheels Up. Their (secret) romantic involvement didn’t go over well with the team. Which is just one of the many reasons why Bacon isn’t anxious to let anyone but his closest friend in on the fact that he’s pansexual. Having being put on babysitting detail with Spencer just ups his stress level. While you don’t necessarily have to read all the books in this series to enjoy the individual books, connections like this add another layer that I really enjoy.

Things got really intense in Tight Quarters. More so than a lot of the other books in this series so far. Spencer was determined to make the most of his assignment, but the men on the team didn’t trust him. There were some pretty strong reasons why getting this story right was important to him and some times he couldn’t really see beyond that. Getting close to Bacon wasn’t smart because regardless of what the guys thought about him, he had a strong sense of ethics and certain boundaries he wouldn’t cross.

Bacon was loyal to his brothers on his team, but that didn’t mean he respected them all. There were some pretty strong personalities within the ranks and he wasn’t sure who among them would have is back if they found out about his sexuality. He was getting tired of hiding who he really was though and I really felt for him. He and Spencer were great for each other, but the timing for anything to develop between them was totally off.

I really love the real life circumstances that Annabeth Albert puts her characters in. A lot of tough issues that are unique to the military are tackled and I really like the way she handles them. Tight Quarters was definitely a great addition to the series and I really hope there’s more to come.

Wash Out (Anchor Point #7) by L.A. Witt

Casey Olson has always known he was destined to be a Navy SEAL, and the best day of his life was when he was accepted into training. The worst day was when a snapping bone ended his dream.
After three combat tours in five years, Logan Carter left the Marines and self-destructed. Now he’s sober and, thanks to a forgiving ex with friends in high places, has a promising job as a civilian contractor. All he has to do is stay on the rails and out of a bottle, even when his demons won’t leave him alone.
Logan likes his job, and he really likes the gorgeous man at the next desk. Casey tries not to check Logan out, but who is he kidding? From the start, despite their best efforts, neither man can resist the other. Sizzling chemistry leads to sex so hot they can both almost forget why they’re stuck in this office to begin with.
It would be perfect, except Logan can’t stop reliving wars he’ll never forget and Casey can’t stop grieving the SEAL he’ll never be. And they’ll never have a future together until they can make peace with their pasts.

I loved these guys, I really did, but I also got aggravated with them more than once. I also sympathized with both of them. However, if I had to take sides with either Logan or Casey, I’d have to go with Logan.

Before anyone points this out, I know that I usually don’t choose sides. Especially when both characters are living with their own brand of pain. I could just relate to Logan’s honesty. He had been where Casey so desperately wanted to go and even though he knew that Casey didn’t want to hear it, he couldn’t hold back the relief that Casey wouldn’t have to endure what he did. Casey couldn’t see past his pain and loss and lashed out at Logan every time he voiced that relief. They both had issues that they had to work on individually and even though age was never mentioned (at least not that I noticed) Casey had a lot of growing up to do along with the healing.

Having said all that, it doesn’t mean I didn’t like Casey, because I did. I also think that they were good for each other. In a strange way, Logan’s past helped Casey see things in a way that he never had – and never really wanted to see before. Logan had screwed up, a lot, but he was making up for it and he was also a lot stronger than he gave himself credit for. There were a couple of close calls, but even at some of his lowest points, he pulled himself back up.

Wash Out was most definitely Casey and Logan’s story, but it was great seeing past characters. Readers who have followed the series had met both Casey and Logan in previous books briefly. It was nice finding out what happened to Casey after his accident and giving Logan a chance to make up for everything he put Clint through in Afraid to Fly, the second book in L.A. Witt’s Anchor Point series. I was also really happy to spend some more time with Diego from Once Burned. And yeah, you can probably read each one of the books in the Anchor Point series as a stand alone, but I like all these little glimpses into past characters.

Once Burned (Anchor Point #6) by L.A. Witt

Captain Mark Thomas’s world has been tossed on its head: A long overdue but still unexpected divorce. A promotion out of left field. Last-second orders to a ship where careers go to die. As the dust settles in his new home, he barely recognizes his life, but he sure recognizes the loneliness creeping in.
Diego Ramírez wants nothing to do with the military or its men. Not after the Navy burned him both literally and figuratively, costing him his career, his health, and ultimately his green card. Now working illegally in an Anchor Point bar, he keeps the military and its personnel at arm’s length.
But after a single moment of eye contact across the bar, Mark and Diego can’t resist each other. As a one-night stand quickly turns into more, Diego knows he’s playing with fire. Now he can stick around and let things with Mark inevitably fall apart, or he can run like hell and wonder what might have been. One way or another, Diego knows he’s about to get burned. Again.
50% of the author’s royalties from this book will be donated to charities supporting US military veterans who have been deported or are at risk of deportation.

If you’ve been reading the books in the Anchor Point series, you know that readers met Diego in the previous book, Going Overboard. He was Dalton’s best friend and earned just enough page time to make me really look forward to his story. I wasn’t disappointed.

Both Mark and Diego are more than a little bit broken when they meet. Diego has good reason to not want to have anything to do with the military. Falling someone who has obviously decided to make the military his career is someone he needs to stay away from. The problem is, once he gives in, he finds it hard to stay away.

Mark is lost. His marriage wasn’t a great one, far from it, but it was familiar. When he sees Diego for the first time, he’s more than a little surprised that the connection just feels right. These two are drawn to each other physically, but it doesn’t take long for them to form a real connection.

Diego is drawn to Mark, but he knows that there’s no future between the two of them. Trust is hard for him and Mark means well, but he’s oblivious to the situation that Diego is in. Not because he’s unfeeling, just because he had no idea how bad things really were and how precarious his situation really was.

For the record, L.A. Witt did an amazing job of handling this touchy subject. I fell in love with both of these characters and really felt for both of them. Diego because of the situation he was in and Mark because of his determination to make things right, regardless. This was definitely another great addition to the Anchor Point series and I can’t wait to see what comes next with Wash Out – the next book in the series. 

Squared Away (Out Of Uniform #5) by Annabeth Albert

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.

I really liked this book in the Out of Uniform series, for so many reasons. I love books that include kids, especially books that include them for more than just props. I also love books that center around a strong sense of family… Squared Away had all that and more.

Mark loved his family, but his life as a Seal kept him away. Isaiah loved his family too and even though he played the part of “wild party boy” he had his priorities. He was there for them and not just because of his proximity. Because of the physical distance between them, it was natural for Mark to not really know the man that Isaiah had grown into. It didn’t take long for Mark to realize that his assumptions had been wrong, but he still couldn’t shake the idea that Isaiah might fall back into the person who couldn’t commit and wasn’t dependable enough to take on the responsibility of his sister’s kids – plus, he wanted to keep his heart safe.

One of the other reasons why I loved this book is because it was so “real.” The juggling of kids and working. The crushing grief that both Mark and Isaiah experienced and the strength they had to muster to be there for the kids. The judgement that came with Isaiah not only being a man, but gay. Mark wasn’t the only one who thought that Isaiah was in over his head, so he had a lot to prove. The kids came first, regardless and in the end, that’s what made me grow to admire both Mark and Isaiah. Neither one of them were perfect, but together, they were great.

Basically, this story had a lot of heart and was a great addition to the Out of Uniform series. ❤ A couple of characters from past books made appearances in Squared Away and fit in well – offering the support that both Isaiah and Mark needed. Tight Quarters is next and I can’t wait!

Point of Contact by Melanie Hansen

Only love can heal an impossibly broken heart
There’d forever been a thread running through Trevor Estes’s life—his son, Riley, strong and constant like a heartbeat. But when Riley is killed in combat, everything in Trevor’s life unravels into a mess he doesn’t know how to mourn.
Then Jesse Byrne, Riley’s friend and platoon mate, arrives on Trevor’s doorstep with a box of Riley’s things. Jesse’s all-too-familiar grief provides an unlikely source of comfort for Trevor: knowing he’s not alone is exactly what he needs.
Trevor never imagined he’d find someone who fills his heart with hope again. As the pair celebrate Riley’s memory, their unique bond deepens into something irreplaceable—and something neither man can live without.
But diving into a relationship can’t be so simple. Being together means Trevor risking the last link he has to his son…leaving Jesse to wonder if he’ll ever be enough, or if Trevor will always be haunted by the past.

Oh, this book just about broke me. I feel like it should have come with a warning. See, I was prepared to meet two men who had lost someone they loved deeply. One was a father and one was a best friend… a brother really. What I wasn’t prepared for was to not only meet, but fall in love with Riley, the young man they both lost way too soon. And for the record, that’s not a spoiler. You only have to start reading the first chapter to realize that you’re going to experience the loss of Riley right along with Jesse and Trevor. Readers spend the first section of the book just waiting for it to happen. It’s hard and gut wrenching and I both hated and loved this author for putting me through it. Yes, it was intense and heart wrenching, but I love books that make me feel and I honestly think that there’s no possible way to walk away from Point of Contact without feeling.

I’m not really sure which character in Point of Contact I felt for most. I’m a firm believer that there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Trevor lost his only son. A son he wasn’t prepared for in the beginning, but a son that his entire world revolved around by the time he became a young man. There were a lot of relationships that revolved around Trevor and Jesse – both good and bad. There was obviously an age gap that existed between these two, but given Jesse’s life experience, it didn’t take long to realize that it wasn’t a huge deal. Tragic circumstances brought these two together, but love and respect strengthened their bond.

So, Point of Contact wasn’t exactly what I expected going in, but it turned out to be so much more – I’m also pretty sure that it’s going to rank among one of my favorite reads of the year. This was also my first read by Melanie Hansen, but I can pretty much guarantee that it won’t be my last.