Elijah Jackson (EJ) is in some trouble. He’s been in the Air Force for eight years, but he’s coming home from Okinawa with a decision to make. After he was discovered in a gay relationship, the Air Force has offered EJ an honorable discharge, or a chance to re-enlist with very little hope of promotion (By the way…the man he was in a relationship with, rather than being kicked out, is put on the fast track for promotion).
After a week at his friend Teddy’s house, EJ’s still not let his parents know he’s back, and he is refusing to discuss what’s going on, telling Teddy he needs time to sort through things. A frustrated Teddy suggests EJ see a counselor, but thanks to two failed romances with doctors, EJ wants no part of that.
Doctor Dale Chenault is also coming off a failed relationship and has started over working at a new counseling service called Changes. He had to get as far away from California as he could after catching his former partner (in life and in work) cheating on him. Small town Sayville, NY is just about perfect.
One night, Teddy is able to talk EJ out of brooding in his apartment. There’s a Christmas party at the home of a coworker, and it promises to be fun. When they get there, EJ meets a man and hits it off right away. Everything is going swimmingly until EJ discovers Dale is not just Teddy’s coworker, he’s the doctor running the show. It seems Teddy played a hand in getting the two of them to meet. He meant no harm, but EJ’s angry. However, he realizes he and Dale had a chemistry that was undeniable and agrees to go on a date with him. They have a lovely time, and things move along quickly. Will everything work out for the men, or will EJ’s past come back to put a roadblock in their path to happily ever after?
The final week of Reading Challenge Month is all about self published authors. I liked this idea from the beginning because I have a special place in my heart for self-published books. When I read the blurb for Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, I was immediately drawn in. I liked the idea of a story taking place in the middle of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell military period. I’ve read a lot of books that take place after so I thought it would be an interesting change of pace. I’m sad to say I didn’t connect to this one, and it left me feeling a bit disappointed.
EJ and Dale are nice guys, but I didn’t really feel much for them and I had a difficult time believing in their romance. Sure, there’s a such thing as love at first sight/insta love, but I felt like their relationship began and went on at a breakneck speed. I don’t think I had enough time to feel invested in them as a couple. I will give Dale some credit for planning a romantic first date, and I admire the men for deciding not to jump into a complete sexual situation even though they really, really wanted to. However, I didn’t get a sense of attachment like I’ve had with other couples.
Some flashbacks were used to find out what went on with EJ in Okinawa, but they weren’t very clearly defined, especially at the very beginning. Several switches from present to past went from one paragraph to the next. I got a little confused at a few points. The transitions were not very smooth at all. EJ’s flashbacks were interesting enough, but while I learned plenty about James (the other Airman he was in love with), I got next to nothing about the first doctor who broke his heart and sent him running to the USAF in the first place. Teddy called him “Dr. Douche” but that was about it. I felt the same about Dale’s back story. There was a bit of exposition, but I don’t think it was nearly enough. I wanted to know more.
As the story rolls along, there is a giant coincidence and I had to suspend belief. I suppose it’s all theoretically possible, but too many stars aligned for me to actually buy it. I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say EJ and Dale have a connection to each other, and Dale has a connection to EJ’s family. It was nice, and it all worked out, but well…yeah. It was a lot to swallow.
The ending worked out predictably, but with a bit of a twist, and I’m not sure I cared for it. I thought long and hard about it, read it aloud to my husband, and then went back and read it again. Once again, I don’t want to give too much away, but the words “too soon” and even “exploitative” came to mind. I think I know what the author was trying to do, but it left kind of a sour taste in my mouth. As I always say, though, this is only my opinion. Others may feel differently, and that’s ok.
Even though Don’t Ask Don’t Tell didn’t turn out to be my cup of tea, I would cautiously recommend it to people who like military MCs and instalove. Also, I wouldn’t hesitate to read another book by Miski Harris.
This review is part of our Reading Challenge Month for Self-Published Book Week! Leave a relevant comment below and you will be entered to win one of the great prize packs of self-published books donated by some very generous authors. Commenters will also be entered to win our amazing grand prize sponsored by Dreamspinner Press (a Kindle Fire filled with Dreamspun Desires/Beyond books, plus a 3-month subscription!). You can get more information on our Challenge Month here, and more details on Self-Published Book Week here, including a list of all the books in this week’s prize.