It has been two years since Lieutenant Apollo Floros lost his husband and he is still mourning. Apollo is raising their young twin girls by himself and even with all the routine and structure he puts into his life, he still feels overwhelmed going it alone. When his best friend’s younger brother comes into town for the summer and needs a place to stay, Apollo reluctantly agrees to let Dylan live with him in exchange for helping out with the kids.
Apollo may remember Dylan as Dustin’s awkward teen brother, but at 23, Dylan is all grown up. The crush he had on Apollo has not diminished over the intervening years, and he is still hot for the sexy Navy SEAL. But Apollo still seems to view Dylan as a kid. That doesn’t stop Dylan’s fantasies, however, especially when his heart melts at seeing Apollo with his young girls.
As the guys spend more time together, Apollo can’t help but notice that Dylan is, in fact, all grown up and the attraction between them flares. But Apollo is definitely not looking for a relationship; he plans to never get involved again after his husband’s death. Dylan suggests a no strings affair, hoping to have Apollo any way he can get him. And things seem to be going well as Apollo begins to open up and enjoy life a bit more, and Dylan has the man of all his fantasies. But Apollo is still determined to keep things casual, even as Dylan is falling hard. Now Apollo has to decide if he is going to cling to the past and block himself off from loving again, or if he is going to take a chance on happiness with Dylan and a future between them.
At Attention is the second book in Annabeth Albert’s Out of Uniform series and brings us the story of Apollo, a character we first meet in Off Base. I was intrigued with him there and really excited to get his story, especially an age gap tale, one of my favorite tropes. This book plays well with the age difference between the two men, as things start off with Apollo trying to reconcile the teenage Dylan of his memories with the sexy man now before him. Apollo tries to kind of box Dylan away in “kid” zone, using it to keep his distance, but Dylan refuses to let Apollo act like he is still a teenager. Although the age gap is never a real barrier between them, it becomes a way for Apollo to try to keep his distance and justify his attempts to hold himself back from Dylan.
These guys are a great couple in that they fit so well. Dylan is a pretty mature young guy, trained at working with kids. So he is the perfect fit as the pseudo-nanny for Apollo over the summer. Apollo is a guy who has rigid control and thrives on order and structure. Some might find his demeanor too uptight, but it totally works for Dylan who grew up craving structure and responds well to Apollo’s sometimes over the top organization. At the same time, Dylan just sparks with life and is such a fun and lively guy. Apollo has basically been living for work and his kids, never having much fun or really any kind of life. So Dylan is able to not only be a source of support for Apollo, but also helps him open up, relax, and have some fun as well.
A lot of this story focuses on Apollo’s inability to let himself go and accept a relationship with Dylan. Apollo clearly wants him; that is obvious from the start. And Dylan makes it plain he wants Apollo. But even once they start hooking up, Apollo can’t let it be more. He needs to keep Dylan at a distance, and he goes hot and cold over and over. I’ll admit, I found this kind of frustrating at times. The guys hook up, Apollo feels guilty, and then he freezes Dylan out. Dylan is such a likable guy, I found myself kind of annoyed on his behalf that Apollo is treating him this way. Albert does try to show both sides of things here. Dylan wants more with Apollo but lets him believe he is happy with casual because he figures he will take the man however he can get him. So Dylan does bear some of the responsibility here, but in the end, I couldn’t help but be annoyed at Apollo for jerking Dylan around. So I’ll admit it did hinder my enjoyment a little bit. That said, these guys are super sexy together. Apollo is hot and growly and alpha and it pushes all of Dylan’s buttons. They are a great couple and as things resolve, the story really comes together nicely.
So this is another great installment in this series and I am so excited for more. There are a lot of side characters that we have met so far so I can’t wait to see who is up next and what is planned for them all. If you like sexy military men, I would definitely recommend this book and the series.
P.S. Can we talk about that smoking hot cover? Just gorgeous!