Matt Knytych has worked his whole life to be a Navy SEAL and now it’s time to start BUD/S training. Matt is in peak shape, mentally focused, and determined to succeed where so many others fail. He doesn’t need any distractions, and certainly not from a sexy fellow candidate. But after meeting Shane Hovland, Matt can’t get him out of his mind. Determined to keep his focus, Matt pushes Shane away and concentrates on his training and making it through the grueling process.
Despite his attempts to keep Shane at a distance however, Matt can’t help but be drawn to him. Shane offers Matt the friendship, support, and understanding he doesn’t find many places. Soon the men begin to grow close, and the interest is there on both their parts. But with SEAL candidates dropping out right and left, the men don’t have the time or energy to pursue a relationship. What’s worse is that even once they make it as SEALs, the opportunities to be together will still be slim. Now the men have to decide if the chance to be together, even in a limited way, is worth taking the leap into love, or if they are better off staying apart and focusing on their jobs.
I have heard great things about Melanie Hansen’s military stories and so I was excited to give this one a try. I found this story really engaging and, despite it being a longer book, I read through it quickly. What is most prominent here is the rich detail into the SEAL training process. Hansen really immerses the reader into all aspects of training and I found myself wincing and shivering along with these guys as they face one challenge after another. If you ever want to feel lazy, read a few pages of what these soldiers do on a daily basis. I really enjoyed delving so deeply into the military side of things, as I found the process kind of fascinating. But if you are not into military stuff, I do think this portion may feel a little too drawn out. Even as interested as I was, I found so much focus on the training process to be somewhat overwhelming, especially with such a slow burn romance.
On the romance side, I really liked Matt and Shane together. Each of them are interesting, complicated men and their backstories really help develop them as characters. We can see how strong, determined, and dedicated these guys are, and it shows in not only their training, but the way they interact with one another. I liked how well these two fit each other, how they were able to be just what the other needed during the more difficult times. It was a lovely partnership and I really enjoyed their relationship, particularly when things really get moving in the last portion of the book. That said, again this is a slow burn romance and most of the book is focused on their training and not their relationship. While it is clear the guys are hot for one another, and Hansen gives us some great chemistry and sexual tension, the relationship really takes a back seat to the military side of things for most of the book. Part of me really appreciated the realism here; the fact is that two men with this type of schedule aren’t going to have a lot of time to be together, and when they do, they are likely to be too exhausted to move. But from a romance end, I felt like things keep getting pushed back and I missed seeing some of that development. Part of the theme of this book is what is like “loving a warrior” and the sacrifices that come on both their parts. Yet, we barely see these guys officially together to watch that play out. While we get an epilogue, I would have loved some time where we see how these guys make it work on page.
So I definitely enjoyed my first foray into Hansen’s work and I found the military aspect of this just fascinating. I really liked Matt and Shane and enjoyed watching them grow and develop throughout the story. If I hadn’t found the training end of things so engaging, I may have not enjoyed this quite as much, but despite wishing for more time with the guys together, this one kept my attention and I just flew through it. It looks like this will be the first in a series, so I am really looking forward to following along with more in this world.