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.
Source: Netgalley My Rating: 4½/5 stars
Some things in life simply aren’t fair. For example, Lieutenant Dustin Strauss has finally accepted his bisexuality and begun a conversation (and a little fun) with an online companion only to find said companion transferred to his unit and under his command. The military takes fraternization seriously which is why the relationship, such as it is, must come to an immediate end.
Wes Lowe wants nothing more than to be off the west coast and back to the east coast with his family, where he can look after his ailing sister, relieve his parents from some of their burden, and be with his own, familiar SEAL team. As an explosives expert, Wes’s skill set is in high demand which is how he has found himself in the one place he absolutely doesn’t want to be, on the west coast. While the presence of Dustin Strauss should be a comfort, Dustin is now Wes’s superior officer and therefore, completely off limits.
Life and love are funny creatures that are often unpredictable and surprising. What started out as some casual guy on guy online flirtation and fun has slowly turned into a real friendship with real feelings and emotions. Because of their work situation, it isn’t even possible for Wes and Dustin to be anything other than co-workers to one another. But, real feelings don’t just go away and as life throws more and more crap at both men, they find it harder and harder to stay away from one another. Neither intends for a physical relationship to develop, but real feelings are tricky and often lead to physical expressions. Comfort and emotional support take many forms, and Dustin and Wes quickly find themselves in a “this has to be the last time” situation neither counted on nor wants.
The Bottom Line: Wheels Up may be the best book in the Out of Uniform series to date! This one has such a tricky plot with the issue of fraternization coming into play. The military really does take the issue quite seriously and Dustin and Wes are two fictional representations of what must be a very real-world situation. Albert has navigated this tricky issue brilliantly with great care and concern taken for all parties involved, including the military. Likely the best aspect of this entire read is how it all plays out in the end, and without giving anything away, I was so pleased with the caution, the very real sense of perception, and self-preservation. Albert doesn’t pander to the crowd who want nothing but a neatly tied up HEA, but provides the reader with a real-world ending that fits the characters and the situation perfectly. Make no mistake, it’s still an HEA, just not quite the one you may be expecting.