Author: L.A. Witt
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
[xrr rating= 3.5/5]
Once a fearless fighter pilot, Commander Travis Wilson is now confined to a desk. It’s been eight years since the near-fatal crash that grounded him, and it still rules his life thanks to relentless back pain.
Lieutenant Commander Clint Fraser almost drowned in a bottle after a highly classified catastrophe while piloting a drone. His downward spiral cost him his marriage and kids, but he’s sober now and getting his life back on track. He’s traded drones for a desk, and he’s determined to reconcile with his kids and navigate the choppy waters of PTSD.
Clint has been on Travis’s radar ever since he transferred to Anchor Point. When Clint comes out to his colleagues, it’s a disaster, but there’s a silver lining: now that Travis knows Clint is into men, the chemistry between them explodes.
It’s all fun and games until emotions get involved. Clint’s never been in love with a man before. Travis has, and a decade later, that tragic ending still haunts him. Clint needs to coax him past his fear of crashing and burning again, or their love will be grounded before takeoff.
I’ve been putting off doing this review because I have very mixed feelings about this story. On the one hand, I found it quite simple with no major plot dramas and a lot of introspection on past mistakes, the MCs trying to find the strength to move forward in the face of psychological adversity. But on the other hand, that is exactly what made the story so memorable. Three days after finishing, I’m still touched by Travis and Clint and hoping that Clint will continue to move forward in his alcohol recovery and PTSD therapy and that Travis will find some measure of pain relief for his back issues. I can’t shake these guys from my thoughts.
And that’s when I realized that L.A. Witt created characters that are not only memorable, but flawed, realistic, and vulnerable. The fact that both men are in their forties is a huge plus to me. Add in a visit from Paul and his fiancé, Sean, as they plan their wedding, and it was like receiving a special, unexpected gift.
Travis is Paul’s friend, a commander and former naval pilot who was injured when a sudden wave lifted the airstrip he was about to land on, and he had to abort the landing and eject into the sea. Though he doesn’t have any specific memories of being in the water, nightmares of what may have happened disturb his sleep, he has to wear a TENS unit and struggle constantly with back pain, and his PTSD can be triggered in a heartbeat.
The new training officer, Clint Frazer, not only has an office on Travis’s floor, he brings a male date to the Navy ball, an action that peaks Travis’s interest in him. And apparently, the interest goes both ways, and that’s especially evident when Clint announces his breakup with said date, a man who didn’t know when enough alcohol was enough in Clint’s presence. After all, Clint hasn’t had a drink in quite some time, since drinking didn’t work as a PTSD therapy, and in fact, triggered violent reactions in him in the presence of his former wife and children. And that’s why he’s no longer allowed to see his kids unsupervised.
Two birds of a feather. Granted, they are different feathers, as their nightmares and PTSD stressors are different, but they gravitate toward one another and begin a very slow burn romance. Don’t get me wrong—they end up in bed fairly quickly, enjoying kissing and hand jobs due to Travis’s physical restrictions, but the love and romance take time and proceed slowly as each man’s screwed-up psyche gets in the way of his ability to form a commitment.
These are the parts of the story that I thought dragged here and there. I’m not a big fan of angst or self-imposed angst, and I’m not a big fan of men who stop drinking without seeking a recovery group or therapist, but that’s my own personal life story hot button. But I am a big fan of an author who can create three-dimensional, flawed, and memorable characters, and that’s what we have here. So those readers who do enjoy the angst, the stress, the over-40 romance between two sexy sailors and those who enjoy the building of character in a fleshed-out romantic drama should all love this one.