Review: L.A. Witt – Chief’s Mess (Anchor Point #3)

51XprEF-IOL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_Author: L.A. Witt
Reviewer: Barb
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Genre: Contemporary

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Summary:

Anthony Talbot is in Anchor Point to visit family, but after two days of strife, he needs a break. A local gay bar is calling his name.

When Chief Noah Jackson sees that red head stroll into the club, he immediately wants him. They’re perfectly matched, and before long, they’re burning up the sheets. Noah can’t get enough. Anthony can’t stay in Oregon for long, but as soon as he leaves, he’s counting down the days until he can fly back for more. And between his increasingly frequent visits, there’s always phone sex, sexting, webcams . . . anything they can get.

But Noah’s got a carefully crafted façade, and Anthony can’t help noticing the slowly forming cracks. The scent of alcohol in the middle of the day. The extra drinks at dinner. The hint of red in his eyes. Anthony knows what it means. He doesn’t want to believe it, but he’s seen this before, and there’s no denying it. If Noah doesn’t get his downward spiral under control, he’s going to lose both his career and the first man he’s ever really loved.

Review:

Out for a bit of booze and relaxing, Chief Noah Jackson nearly drops his beer when the tall, lanky redhead shows up. But his libido takes over as soon as he asks if he can buy the guy a beer and the man responds with “Yes, you can. Or tell me you bottom, and we can skip all that and get out of here.”

And that pretty much sets the stage for this story, which had three main elements: sex and more sex; travel between Anchor Point, where Chief Jackson is stationed, and Denver, where Anthony works; and alcoholic drinking. About three quarters of the story is the sex; the travel, primarily by air, is necessary to be able to have the sex, and the booze is necessary for Noah to get through the days between the sex. Anthony has an ex-brother-in-law whose alcoholic drinking became daily and rageful and resulted in divorce. We met this man, Clint, in book two, Afraid to Fly, and he becomes important to both Anthony and Noah near the end of this story when the alcoholic drinking becomes the focus.
The two men, who originally only wanted to hook up for a night, become long-distance friends-with-benefits until it becomes evident to both that they are much more involved than they originally thought possible. Along the way, Anthony notices signs of alcohol abuse and addresses some of the symptoms with Noah, who immediately agrees that he won’t drink while with Anthony, and yet he continues to drink to excess to the point where his good friend and boss, Senior Chief Will Curtis, calls him on his behaviors and warns him that he won’t cover for him if he gets in trouble. But like any good alcoholic, Noah becomes more adept at hiding it—even from himself. Until the weekend he forgets about Anthony coming to visit…

This was a good story, with engaging characters, and it was nice to see Clint and his lover, Travis. However, though I never thought I’d say this, there were too many pages devoted to sex in this story. Granted it was highly detailed, hot, and heavy, and I’m sure many readers will enjoy the body-ravaging, biting, marking, dick-pounding scenes. I did. But after a while, I wanted more to this story. More depth of emotion, especially from Noah. More gritty self-analysis for Noah. More research into why his reactions were so painful for Anthony. Each character could have sought and benefitted from outside help.

I was disappointed by the portrayal of Noah’s alcoholic behaviors. I’m intimately familiar with this disease, and it is a disease, not a disorder or a “behavioral problem,” and I kept waiting for that acknowledgement—either from Noah or from Anthony or from Clint. But the impression I’m left with is that Noah’s behaviors got out of control and somewhere along the way he lost the willpower to stop drinking. Unfortunately, all the willpower in the world won’t stop alcoholism. And almost all alcoholics I’ve known and worked with admit that they knew their drinking was out of the norm long before others started to notice. They also tend to suffer from low self-esteem and guilt about being unable to control their drinking. I would have appreciated a deeper exploration of that emotional side when the alternating POV came back around to Noah.

Without going further on this topic, all I can add is that my own beliefs and life experiences obviously influence how much or how little I enjoy any story—this one or others. And I acknowledge that it may just be my own perspectives that kept me from rating this any higher than 3 stars, but that’s the beauty of being human—we are not all the same. Thank heavens.

Now, if you into hot alpha naval officers; sweaty, sheet-pounding sex; web sex; or versatile partners, this one will likely hit the spot for you.

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Riptide Publishing

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