Review: Annabeth Albert – Off Base (Out of Uniform #1)

51q4q0mx7ilAuthor: Annabeth Albert
Reviewer: Barb
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Contemporary

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Summary:

After trading the barracks for a fixer-upper rental, navy SEAL Zack Nelson wants peace, not a roommate—especially not Pike, who sees things about Zack he most wants to hide. Pike’s flirting puts virgin Zack on edge. And the questions Pike’s arrival would spark from Zack’s teammates about his own sexuality? Nope. Not going there. But Zack can’t refuse.

Pike Reynolds knows there won’t be a warm welcome in his new home. What can he say? He’s an acquired taste. But he needs this chance to get his life together. Also, teasing the uptight SEAL will be hella fun. Still, Pike has to tread carefully; he’s had his fill of tourists in the past, and he can’t risk his heart on another, not even one as hot, as built—and, okay, yeah, as adorable—as Zack.

Living with Pike crumbles Zack’s restraint and fuels his curiosity. He discovers how well they fit together in bed…in the shower…in the hallway… He needs Pike more than he could have imagined, yet he doesn’t know how to be the man Pike deserves.

Review:

Navy SEAL Zack Nelson was given the family role of perfect child, when his n’er-do-well brother constantly got into trouble and into drugs, so he has high parental expectations to live up to. And he knows if his church-going parents find out he’s gay, he’s going to lose the only family he has. And not only that, he’s going to risk his teammates not having his back when the going gets tough. After all, no one disputes Cobb’s slurs and homophobic insults when he gets going, so they must all agree, right?

Cobb’s been making his life miserable ever since he spotted Zack’s stiffy in the showers at boot camp when Zack caught sight of one of their teammates. Though it was just a natural reaction, Cobb is bullying Zack and exerting blackmail pressure on him to get Zack to cater to his whims any time they are alone. Being a SEAL is a lifelong dream and a way to show his parents his true worth. He absolutely cannot risk it, but he can get away from it when his chief offers him the opportunity to rehab a rental unit he and his wife have recently purchased in exchange for a rent-free place to live.

Zack jumps at the chance for freedom. After all, he’s done other things with the help of YouTube. Why not this? Enter Pike Reynolds, a newly employed professor who happens to know rehab inside out. Pike’s mom raised him by rehabbing and flipping homes for sale. Working alongside her for years, he knows what he’s doing, and it’s a dream come true for him when he has the chance to move in with the man he’s crushing on. Tall, muscular, built, and sexy as hell, Zack Reynolds is Pike’s ideal man. But he says he’s not gay, and Pike’s been down that road before and not going there again.

Pike’s taking a temp job as a college professor in the San Diego area while trying to get in with War Elf, the company his friend Josiah works for and for which he did his statistical research for his PhD.

I’m so happy the author brought Ryan and Josiah back to us with this story, and I hope they pop up again from time to time in the future in this new spinoff series. Josiah is now working remotely in San Diego while Ryan has retired as a SEAL and is teaching high school. During the course of this story, Ryan is a huge help to Zack as Zack faces the truth about himself and comes to care deeply for Pike. The crux of the story revolves around Zack’s struggles to decide to come out, his training as a new SEAL, and Pike’s struggles to find a way to teach the statistics he loves to a group of students who are less than enthusiastic about the subject.

Two warnings: first—there’s a ton of homophobia and outright hate slurs in this story, and it comes primarily at Zack from his teammates and his parents. Second, make sure you have your personal fan available. There’s some quite steamy-hot sex all mingled in with a rapidly growing romance between the two, and it’s enough to make any reader’s heart beat a bit faster. Pike’s joy over finding out his hot man is a virgin is nothing compared to this reader’s joy at reading their story.

How the two get everything in their lives to mesh, while falling for each other and tackling tough decisions about the future, makes this story above average. I love this author! And this book is definitely on my highly recommend list. If you love a romance, this is one with a capital R, despite the couple’s struggles. Watching how everything is resolved is highly interesting and entertaining. I liked it so much I may have to go back and re-read it again next week!

Note: I received a copy of this book for review through NetGalley.

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Carina Press

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