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.
Zack Nelson has always been sure of his job, but that’s where his certainty comes to a crashing halt. He’s been through training and earned his spot on a SEAL team, now all he must do is keep his team from finding out he’s gay.
Some things are easier said than done. Zack spends nearly every day on base worried his secret is going to come out. Is he paying too much attention to one of his teammates, does his gaze linger a bit too long, do any of the words coming out of his mouth out him? The military may have revoked DADT, but that doesn’t mean every service member is on board. In fact, there’s one asshole in particular on Zack’s team who strongly suspects Zack’s leanings and isn’t above threatening and/or blackmailing Zack. At home is the only place Zack truly feels comfortable, but home has its own complications.
Pike Reynolds has been openly gay for a very long time, and after an awful early experience, he swore he would never again become involved with a man who isn’t as open about his sexuality as Pike is. Again, some things are easier said than done. With few options left to him and time running out, Pike agrees to share a small fixer-upper with Zack. In exchange for rent, Pike will help Zack overhaul the house and get it ready to sell. Pike’s good with his hands, knows a great deal about house flipping, and is hopelessly attracted to his closeted roommate. As the days and weeks pass by, Pike and Zack become not just friends, but intimates. Pike knows of Zack’s fears, his job issues, and his prejudicial family, but that doesn’t stop him from getting physical. The attraction between the two is strong, and Pike is certain he keep his feelings in check . . . . for about a hot minute 🙂
While Zack and Pike are at home their relationship is sexy and sweet, but Pike wants more and Zack isn’t ready to tell the whole world about his personal life. Finding himself where he swore he would never again be, Pike tries to rationalize the situation so he doesn’t have to give up the man he has come to love. Pike doesn’t push and Zack keeps making promises, but it’s going to take a medical/life-threatening emergency for both men to finally come to terms with their situation. When the hard decisions have to be made, both Pike and Zack find themselves with some personal demons to tackle before they can come back to one another in a healthier and happier way.
The Bottom Line: I’m not going to get all crazy and say I was blown away by Annabeth Albert’s Off Base, but I am willing to commit to having liked the read. It really is a very typical romance with one atypical aspect, it’s about two men. If you think of the very typical issues found in many romance novels – work difficulties, mixed feelings, a bit of drama, a scary-bring-it-all-into-focus moment, and some naughty bits – you have Off Base. I liked both Pike and Zack well enough, their story was just interesting enough to keep me reading, and their naughty moments were fine (notice I didn’t say smoking hot!), but I also didn’t find anything new or terribly exciting in this read. It is the first in a series and those are always hard books so I have hope that the later additions will be a bit more intense and/or sexier. The groundwork has been laid so it’s time for the next novel to up the ante, so to speak.