Review: Annabeth Albert – Wheels Up (Out of Uniform #4)

Author: Annabeth Albert
Reviewer: Barb
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Contemporary

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Summary:

Their love is forbidden, but their hearts aren’t listening to rules and regulations.

Lieutenant Dustin Strauss is a reformed man. No longer a twentysomething hell-raiser, he’s his SEAL team’s new XO-and a man with a secret. Or seven. He’s kept his bisexual identity under wraps for years, along with his kinky side and a fondness for the military-themed semianonymous hookup website Joe4Joe. His latest chat buddy is more than a sexy online distraction-they’re taking their very not-safe-for-work relationship into real time.

Petty Officer Wes Lowe has a smart mouth, a take-charge attitude and an uncanny ability for making things go boom. The life of an enlisted man isn’t always enough to satisfy him, but one wild, no-questions-asked weekend with his online love comes close. When a transfer order comes in, Wes feels ready and centered. He’ll make a good impression on his new SEAL team and keep his growing feelings for Dustin on the down low.

But as they log more time online and some very real emotions surface, Dustin and Wes struggle to pretend they’re just a harmless fling. And when his commander introduces Dustin to his team’s newest member, they’re in for the shock of a lifetime…and a crushing disappointment: their difference in ranks means even a friendship without sexual contact could end their navy careers for good.

With their hearts on the line, Dustin and Wes may not survive their next mission, let alone find a way toward a future together

Review:
Annabeth Albert rocks! I love this series, and this latest installment is no exception to the consistent quality of these books. Two hot alpha men in one story. What’s not to like? Well…maybe a bit too much angst and overthinking, but it added drama so I guess it was needed.

Lt. Dustin Strauss is deep in the closet—even from his younger brother, Dylan, who is marrying his lover, Dustin’s best friend, Apollo Floros. Formerly a SEAL team leader like Dustin, Apollo met Dylan and it was all over. Dustin is happy for the couple and a bit envious of their loving relationship and the way they just gel together. But when Dylan came out, the burden of bearing the future Strauss family line fell to Dustin and even though he’s bisexual, his attraction is more to men recently, and he knows his dad wouldn’t be able to accept him as he is. So he seeks out long-distance online hookups with apps such as Joe-4-Joe. His current ongoing hookup is with SaucerMan and the phone and video chat sex is pretty hot and heavy—no faces though. He can’t risk being identified. Yet when he heads to a conference in the DC area (Annapolis) and mentions DC to SaucerMan, they arrange to meet. Shocked at the reality of what this guy looks like, the two exchange real first names and have a hot and heavy night together. There’s no follow-up in the morning, though, because Wes, aka SaucerMan, receives a message he’s going “wheels up” so he just leaves a “had to go” note for Dustin. He doesn’t want to reveal that he’s a SEAL, so why give any hint of it?

Wes’s family is on the East Coast near his current base, and his sister has a chronic heart condition so he’s heartbroken when he receives orders to report to the base in San Diego not long after he gets back from his latest mission. He knows Dustin is from that general area and has assumed Dustin is a Marine so hopes to carry on an in-person clandestine relationship with him once he gets out there. Thinking he’d surprise Dustin, he doesn’t mention the transfer so imagine his surprise when the Lieutenant from his new team turns out to be none other than Dustin! This is his worst nightmare, because not only would it be inappropriate with Dustin as his commanding officer, any fraternization—even friendship—is against regulations and would result in immediate court martial for both men. Stay tuned—that doesn’t stop them!

But Dustin is under his skin and Wes is under Dustin’s and the two continue to text and communicate privately afterhours. It wasn’t just sex for them. At least, it wasn’t after the first few online chats and hookups. They had established common ground, a friendship, and that powerful attraction refuses to let go—even at the cost of their careers. Dustin supports Wes when Wes’s sister takes a turn for the worse, and Wes supports Dustin when life hands him a tough break. But people are noticing and it’s impacting both men’s jobs in the field so it has to end. The added stress of Wes’s sister’s ill health and need for a heart transplant and the stress on Dustin with being Dylan’s best man and wanting to—needing to—talk to Wes takes its toll.

To find out what happens, readers should definitely pick this one up. It’s full of angst, hot and sexy, with some amazing and explicit interludes, but with a wealth of emotional impact as well. If you follow the series, be sure to pick this up so you can attend Dylan and Apollo’s wedding and then you can find out what happens to Dustin and Wes and the relationship that should never have been. Can they escape the consequences of fraternization and still keep seeing one another? And will Wes’s sister survive? I highly recommend this (and the whole series) to all lovers of MM romance, and if you love guys in the military, specifically SEALS, this one is just the one to try. And although you should read the whole series, it would be at least beneficial to read At Attention, which features Dylan and Apollo, before reading this one.

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Carina Press 

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