Men in uniform—there’s almost not anything better. This anthology focuses on the elite—Marines and Coast Guard. Highly skilled, highly trained, and motivated as hell. But what about their home life? What happens when Marines are not on the battlefield? What happens when a guard’s loved one is the subject of a call? What happens when the man a Marine loves is an officer himself and they haven’t seen each other in years? This anthology is full of drama and fluff and excitement and a few tears. And I enjoyed every second of it.
Anomaly by S.A. McAuley
Rating; 4.75 stars
Staff Sargent Galen Welc has a an extreme talent for detecting IEDs, so much so that he’s better at doing it than the machines the military and its contractors have built for such a task. So for that reason, he’s been temporarily stationed at Marine base Twentynine Palms for the duration of a classified project he’ll be the subject of. And in the middle of hellish traffic on the way to work, while trying a new traffic app for the first time, he encounters Captain America—at least his avatar. Zach Rivera is an aerospace engineer with high hopes of creating the next big IED detector. Little does he know the man that has chatted him up on Waze is the human version. When they are set to face one another in the field, what Galen and Zach have shared in the bedroom doesn’t matter and may not stand a chance of surviving.
I absolutely loved this story. It was a breath of fresh air from this author and for this antho. It was nothing but boy meets boy, boy falls for boy, boys have hot sex involving icing, and boys have fun in competition. It’s an adorably sweet story that I enjoyed the entire way through. In fact, I would love to have more Galen and Zach in the future. They are perfect and hot.
Always Ready by T.A. Chase
Rating: 4 stars
Dean Jacobson and Phil Rhodes have been together for two years, but for a crabber like Phil, life out of the closet is not an easy thing, so they have been forced to spend weekends together here and there. Even as a Senior Chief in the Coast Guard, Dean has never hidden who he was, but he doesn’t want to put Phil in danger so he is okay with their secret rendezvouses. Though after two years of it, Phil is not. Phil is ready to tell his parents, and seeing that his father’s fiftieth birthday party is coming up, he thinks that is the perfect time. But Mother Nature has other plans. When a storm capsizes Phil’s vessel, Dean and Phil face a horrible truth—life is too short. They can only hope the rest of their family and friends are there to support them in the end.
I liked this story. It was very sweet, if a little melodramatic. As always, this author writes a super sweet couple that I adored. I liked Dean’s willingness to defer to Phil’s needs, but I also liked Phil’s desire to be more and do more outside of the closet with Dean. They are a very sweet couple. The melodrama I referred to has to do with some of the things the guys do and say. Like, I’m not sure a Senior Chief would have a pep talk with his guys about remembering that they’ve trained for it, unless the crew was new. It feels contrived. And the endearment—love—I don’t know, it’s probably a personal thing, but for one thing, it felt over used and for another it didn’t fit with these guys’ personalities. Overall I liked the story, the action and the emotion were great, but there were just some parts that didn’t work for me.
A Ring and a Vow by Devon Rhodes
Rating; 4.75 stars
Five years ago, Owen got down on one knee and made a promise to Cary. He promised that one day he would be asking the question for real and that they would be getting married. Since then they’ve barely been in the same place, much less on the same continent. Much of their time together is spent on the phone or on Skype. Now that it’s time for Owen to re-up, they’re trying to figure out a way to see at least be stationed closer. Then Owen surprises Cary by proposing over Skype from Iraq. The Join Spouse paperwork would certainly allow them to see each other more often. They only have a month to plan the wedding, but constant nightmares plaguing him and a growing list of wedding demands, Cary isn’t sure he can pull the wedding off.
I. Love. This. Story. I’ve been a Cary and Owen fan since A Ring and a Promise (a standalone as well as part of His Hero anthology). And finally, they get their happy day. Poor Cary, with his nightmares, kills me. I love the way the author develops this part of this story because I can only imagine the reality of the fear of a military, especially infantry, spouse. But to see the way the relationship has grown between these two, even from such a great distance—I loved it. This story is the perfect ending/beginning for these two. I almost want a full novel for them, now that they live together.
My Marine by LE Franks and Sara York
Rating: 4.25 stars
Marine Intelligence Captain Sean Kelley is intrigued by the local interpreter he’s only recently noticed on base. There’s just something about him, and Sean wants it. But then work pulls them both in different directions until the General visits the base a couple weeks later and Akim is back. After the General leaves, the night is Sean and Akim’s, and once it’s over Sean is determined to find a way to keep Akim forever.
Akim Bijan is more than he seems and he wants to tell Sean but can’t. So when he disappears after their night together, he knows it’s for the best. But when his assignment is over, he plans on telling Sean the truth and hoping the man can forgive him. But then tragedy strikes and they are forced to face the secrets and lies that stood between them before Akim is ready.
I liked this story. It’s a little slow to begin with, but has a really good premise. It’s very insta-love. I mean the guys are both head over heels for one another almost before they know one another’s names. There are some parts that were a bit unbelievable to me, but the twist—Akim’s secret—that caught me off guard, so I have to give the authors points for that. After that turn in events the story picked up and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Overall—a good story with some pacing issues and stretching belief, but still very good.
Soul Sick by Kendall McKenna
Rating: 5 stars
Captain Jamie Anders is back home after a year-long deployment overseas—a time he doesn’t want to think about, much less talk about. The one thing he has to look forward to, the one person he’s missed the entire year he’s been gone is Tucker. Tucker is perfect as always, but being stateside takes adjustment and living with Tucker again will be a work in progress for both of them. And if Jamie refuses to go out or flinches at loud noises—well, that’s his problem to deal with, no one else’s. But Tucker wants to be there for him. When reality becomes too much to bear, Jamie has to take stock of what is truly important if he wants to keep Tucker in his life.
As always Kendall McKenna has put into a few chapters a story that is poignantly powerful. I can’t even with this one. It’s beautiful. The way the author presents real life in fiction, in romance, and makes me love it, makes me love the characters—I love it. I adore Jamie. What he’s going through is difficult, painful and in turn, Tucker is suffering too, and through all of it they still have each other. This is such a heartfelt, heartbreaking, and hopeful story in a very short amount of writing. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Safe Shores by Morticia Knight
Rating: 4.5 stars
When his Coast Guard boyfriend of three years is set for a three month leave, Kirk plans out the perfect way to tell Shane he loves him. After so long together, it’s time they at least speak the words and hopefully start a life together, although Kirk can’t help but feel like he’s tying the younger man down. Shane can’t wait to see Kirk again. He’s ready to declare his love and tell Kirk that he wants to move to Astoria, start a life together, and be partners. When he arrives, things seem perfect, but then a big storm hits and Kirks son is reported stranded at sea. Shane and his team are called out to rescue. Just as Kirk and Shane get their lives straight, Mother Nature may be ready to tear them apart.
I really liked this one. Shane is probably my favorite of the two. I feel he’s the stronger of the couple. He knew what he wanted and was ready to go for it. Kirk, on the other hand, may have loved Shane, but it was only brought to his attention by a friend. I like the character’s inner conflicts, though they were the same. I would have maybe liked a variation of something—work, life, family… something else. The action and suspense of this story is what really makes it good. So, yes, another good story in this anthology.
Overall, this antho is fabulous. It’s one I’d definitely read again. I liked all the stories. There is a variety from funny and fluffy to heartfelt and heartbreaking. I was taken on many journeys throughout the course of this anthology and each of them was well thought out and well told. I definitely recommend Semper Fidelis.