Rating: 4.5 stars
Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance
Tuck & Cover tells the story of Owen Bradford and Shane Tucker, soldiers who meet in Army basic training. It is told in two parts, first Tuck’s version of the events and then Owen’s.
Shane Tucker is 19, looking for a way off the farm and out of his small Texas town when he joins the Army. Though he knows he is gay, he figures Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell gives him a perfect excuse for staying in the closet. Although as a big strong guy he thought he was physically prepared for the military, when Tuck gets to basic training he finds it tests him both mentally and physically. But nothing is as difficult for Tuck as being around sexy Owen Bradford. Owen is big and gorgeous and cocky and pushes all of Tuck’s buttons. Tuck’s attraction to Owen is off the charts, and he goes crazy having to be around him, especially when they are assigned as “battle buddies” and forced to stick together all the time.
Tuck can’t tell if Owen is torturing him on purpose, sensing Tuck’s attraction, or if he is just oblivious. But Owen has no sense of personal space and Tuck is going crazy. When basic training ends, Tuck does his best to forget about Owen, but they are soon reunited as both begin Ranger training. Despite the rigorous training and constant exhaustion, Tuck can’t help but find himself totally falling for Owen, but he knows the Army is no place for a romance. It turns out coping with his attraction to Owen may be the biggest test the Army has for him.
Owen Bradford is the latest in a long line of military men in his family. His father and grandfather were both Army Rangers and he has known practically from birth that this is the path his life will take as well. He has grown up reciting the Ranger motto and taking apart guns for fun and he is confident he is ready for whatever the Army has to throw at him. But he is not prepared for his immediate reaction to Shane Tucker. Owen recognizes Tuck’s attraction to him, and also Tuck’s determination to avoid Owen. And Owen can’t quite stop doing all he can to push Tuck’s buttons, getting up close and driving him crazy. Especially because Owen shares Tuck’s attraction and wants nothing more than some up close and personal time with Tuck. But Owen’s goal has always been to be a Ranger and he doesn’t want to take any chances of messing it up, especially when one of their fellow soldiers seems intent on causing trouble. But like Tuck, Owen is finding managing his attraction to be one of the toughest tests of all.
So as I said, this story is told in two parts from two different POVs. The first part is Tuck’s viewpoint and we follow along through basic training and Ranger school. It is told in a very narrative way, almost as if he is talking to the reader and telling the story. I really liked this style as it brings the reader right into things and Tuck has a great voice. The second part is from Owen’s POV and repeats essentially the same time period from his POV. This time we get to see Owen’s take on many of the same events and see how at times his perspective was different, or learn more about his motivations directly.
I think this format worked in many ways and was a little rough in others. It was sort of fun to get both perspectives, to learn what both men are thinking and feeling in a first person POV and without constantly switching back and forth. Tuck is a little more naive, a little more overwhelmed by everything, so in his part there are some gaps in his understanding that are then further developed in Owen’s portion. I think the second half especially helped because Tuck really has no idea how Owen feels and so it is only when we hear from Owen directly that we get the full picture. Plus the second half brings us insight into Owen’s personality and his character that we don’t learn from just reading Tuck’s part.
The downside with this format, of course, is that at times it gets repetitive. I actually didn’t find reading the same events twice to be much of a problem, surprisingly. I think the twist of the alternative POV for the most part kept things fresh and there were only a few times were things felt duplicative. But I think there were some places where details were repeated unnecessarily that became distracting. For example, Tuck says at one point that his idea of camping is relaxing by a fire and fishing. Then in Owen’s section he basically repeats this word for word, which adds nothing to the story. Or Tuck explains what each phase of training is called, and then later Owen mentions some of the same terminology. So just some places where things are repeated and no real new information is added. FWIW, these two parts were originally published as two separate stories eight months apart. So it probably made sense then to repeat more details because readers weren’t approaching it as one long story. But as one book, I think tighter editing would have helped smooth things out a little.
One of the things I enjoyed most about this story is that these guys are pure alpha males at their prime. They are big and strong and tough as nails and about as physically perfect as two men can get. So when they get together it is like a crazy testosterone explosion, all hot and intense as they battle for dominance with each other. If you like your men all sweaty and growly and powerful, this is going to be right up your alley. Here is a bit of a scene from when these guys first get together:
In the scrimmage that ensued, I removed his pants, and then it was a brawl of sweat-slick bodies rolling and straining as the sounds of grunts and groans filled the small room. I briefly got the upper hand, straddling Owen’s thighs, pressing him hard into the mattress, and pinning his bulging arms above his head. The dark disks on his chest stood out in stark contrast to Owen’s sweat-glistening skin, making my mouth water. Before he could roll me again, I leaned down, swiped my tongue across one hard nub, then bit down.
Owen yelped and arched hard. “Fucker,” Owen groaned, his voice was deep and husky with need.
His words may have sounded like a complaint, but by the way he was pushing his chest into my face, I knew he loved it. I moved to the other erect nipple, biting and sucking hard. A stream of crazy nonsense poured out of Owen as he bucked and thrashed. It was like riding a fucking bull, except this bull had pried a hand free from my grasp and had a death grip on the back of my head, making sure I wasn’t thrown before the ride was over.
“Agh. That’s it, harder!”
Owen went wild beneath me, thrusting his fat cock against my equally hard dick, making my eyes roll back in my head. This was a head rush to beat all fucking head rushes. Screw jumping from planes or rappelling down sheer cliffs. It took more strength to keep my grip on Owen than anything the army could throw at me. I was in pure fucking heaven.
Mmmmm, all hot and growly, yes?
So I really liked this one. It was hot and sexy with great sexual tension. I loved the narrative style and really enjoyed the way it felt like we were listening to these guys recount their experiences right to us. Peterson gives great detail on the military and their training experiences without every making it feel too bogged down. Lots of fun and definitely recommended.
Cover Review: I love this cover. I think it is the color and the great use of the shadows. Very cool.