Rating: 4.25 stars
Buy Link: Amazon | All Romance
Ensign Aiden Lange has only met two men that have sparked his interest in the few months he’s been on Okinawa. One put him in the hospital and the other is a freaking general’s son!
After an overeager Marine assaults Aiden outside a gay club and the fallout threatens to out him, he takes some good advice and goes hiking at Hiji falls, intending to pass off his injuries as caused by clumsiness on the slick, uneven terrain. The hike is somewhat difficult and isolated, so he doesn’t expect to see anyone there on a Sunday afternoon, let alone meet a man he could be interested in. But there he is, the best looking guy Aiden’s seen yet on the island, in a wading pool like he’s there just for Aiden. Aiden’s still shaken up after his recent fight, but he can’t pass up the opportunity to see where things might go with his newest acquaintance.
Connor Bradshaw knows its dishonest not to tell Aiden who his father is as soon as he meets him, since Aiden is clearly military, but he knows as soon as he does, Aiden will run for the hills and Connor wants him too much to let that happen. He keeps the secret to himself and focuses on trying to win Aiden over instead, hoping that when Aiden does find out who his dad is that it won’t matter.
After meeting at the falls, Connor and Aiden fall into an easy relationship, until Connor’s dad follows him to Aiden’s apartment one night. General Bradshaw warns them about how detrimental it could be to his and Aiden’s careers if it gets out that Aiden is dating his son. He tells them both to stay away from each other.
Despite the strident warnings, Aiden and Connor feel too strongly about each other to stop seeing one another. They continue dating secretly, and even though his feelings for Connor are strong, Aiden begins to have doubts about the risks involved. He breaks things off with Connor, but immediately knows it’s a mistake. Aiden wants to try again, but Connor has already started to move on. Aiden must convince Connor to give him another chance before it’s too late.
So, I have been waiting for Aiden’s story since I read the first book in the series, Conduct Unbecoming, and it didn’t disappoint. I had a few little issues with this one, but overall it was an emotionally satisfying story that revisited a universe I absolutely loved.
Let’s start with that—the setting. I was so drawn in by Witt’s descriptions of Okinawa in the first book, and this was just more of the same. The descriptive text reads like the lovechild of a travel magazine and a love letter to the island. It’s so rich and so beautiful and after reading this book I’m about to the point of selling organs on the black market to afford a trip to Okinawa; I have to see it, and I’d kill to see it the way these men do. It’s clear that these characters love the island and find it fascinating, and the island itself is almost like another main character in the narrative pushing the story forward and bringing our men together.
As for the characters themselves, I have to say that these are not the personality types that I usually find myself drawn to, but they really worked here. They were both a little too sweet for my tastes with no hard edges, but I know that appeals to a lot of readers. Truthfully though, I did like them a lot. Certainly more than I thought I would. Connor I think is so very sympathetic as a character, because he’s struggling so frantically to find his place in the world. He feels grown and mature, but he’s still under his father’s thumb and it chafes. He longs for freedom and companionship and love, and he’s not above a little deception and misdirection to see those needs met. Aiden is a little harder to pin down as a character. He came off a touch flat to me, sort of stereotypical “nice-guy,” but it kind of worked on him. He’s definitely exactly what Connor needed to walk him through his first real relationship and first attempts at intimacy.
As far as the plot goes, I’m a little up in the air about it. Truthfully, not a whole lot happens in this book. It’s mostly just meeting, then secret dating, then more secret dating, the breakup, and then the resolution. Which, I think works for a story like this, I just think maybe the beginning was just a touch drawn out. I think there was just too much of the clandestine meetings, at some point it started to feel a little redundant. I also thought the main conflict was a touch forced. I think I’m just biased though, because the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back for this couple is actually Connor’s age, not any of the other myriad things going on with them, and I’ve always found the age argument to be pretty stupid. That being said, there were certain events in this book that had me squealing with delight and gasping in surprise. There was a lot to love here, but there was also just some stuff that flat out didn’t work.
One of my favorite things about this book though, is that we finally get a resolution for Eric and Shane from book 1. I loved that story to pieces, but the ending was pretty ambiguous for them, so it was great to see them get their happily ever after.
If you enjoyed Conduct Unbecoming, then I’d definitely recommend this one. Also, fans of L.A. Witt and military men should check it out. Oh, and those of you who really enjoy virgin heroes that have great first times with a caring partner.