Rating: 4.5 stars
Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance
After about 20 years in service as Marines, Gunther “Gunny” Duchene and Macalister “Mac” Jones are nearing their retirement. Both men are excited about the changes and new challenges in their lives after they leave the military. But both are also a bit wary and nervous about this new stage of their lives.
The two men have been both best friends and lovers since their early days of duty, and for the past ten years have been together exclusively. Although they have not officially considered themselves more than friends with a lot of benefits, it is clear that both men have real feelings for one another and want more. With Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in place, they have had to keep both their sexual orientation and their attraction to one another a secret throughout their careers. But now with retirement imminent and the DADT repeal set to kick in about the same time, they are suddenly able to share their feelings with the world. At first the men struggle to share with each other their true feelings and figure out what they want from their relationship going forward. And once they are ready to declare their love in front of family and friends, the men must navigate the tricky process of coming out and building their future together.
Beyond Duty is a sweet, romantic, and sexy story of two tough Marines who definitely show their softer sides. Mac and Gunny are so adorably mushy and in love, and at the same time so tough and strong (especially in bed). It makes for a great combination and I fell in love with both of them. I love that we see both their strengths and their vulnerabilities and how throughout the book these men show such support and love for one another. It is clear that they are each other’s rocks and how much they depend upon and love one another.
This book began as a free short story of the same name written around a photo and story prompt on Goodreads. (You can see the prompt here and the original photo here.) Peterson has incorporated the original short into this longer work and expanded it into a full length novel. There is no need to read the short to follow this book as it has all become one larger story. For the most part I thought this device worked very well, as we start by seeing Mac and Gunny facing their anxieties about where there relationship will go once they retire and no longer have only each other as options for dating while hiding their sexuality. And then the story expands to follow them as they go through the process of preparing for the rest of their lives together, coming out, planning for retirement, etc.
The only hitch I found is that the real conflict of the story happens at the very start as the guys must share how much they really want to be together and work through those doubts and miscommunications. This is what I assume is the climax and resolution of the original short story, and then it moves into the larger book. So while the guys deal with some issues surrounding coming out and telling their parents, figuring out their futures, etc, there isn’t much tension or conflict in most of the book and I think it needed just a bit more. That said, I am a girl who loves my happy endings, so I did enjoy reading about Mac and Gunny and all their sexy, loving, and romantic selves even without a ton of tension.
The story has a tiny bit of a BDSM element to it, but very mild. Mac and Gunny have a somewhat of a Dom/sub dynamic sexually, but other than a little aggressive toppiness, it really only comes into play once during the book with a mild flogging scene, and most of their sex is fairly tame. The guys do discuss Gunny’s desire to explore more of the lifestyle after they retire and have some more freedom. This story just begins to really delve into that issue and Gunny’s desire to be owned, to show others that he belongs to Mac, etc. So I would like to have seen this developed a bit more as the ideas are introduced but not fully explored. But I do think that this is an incredibly accessible story to anyone, whether or not your are regular BDSM reader, as these elements are very low key.
So overall I really enjoyed this one. I totally fell in love with Mac and Gunny and they are such a great combination of strength and toughness while at the same time being big softies when they are together. This story is just so sweet and romantic and mushy, and at the same time hot and incredibly sexy. I loved Mac and Gunny and really think you will too. Definitely recommended.
Cover Review: I love this cover, which has the rare quality of actually showing some bearish guys who totally resemble our heroes, rather than waxed, shiny torsos. The pose totally captures the tenderness we see so often between these guys. Very well done.