Release Blitz ~ At Attention (Out of Uniform, book 2) by Annabeth Albert (Reviews + Giveaway)
Title: AT ATTENTION
Series: Out of Uniform, book 2 (but stands alone well--different couple for each book)
Author: Annabeth Albert
Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date: April 10, 2017
Heat Level: 4 - Lots of Sex
Genre: Romance, Military romance, contemporary, age difference, may/december, SEALS
SynopsisLieutenant Apollo Floros can ace tactical training missions, but being a single dad to his twin daughters is more than he can handle. He needs live-in help, and he's lucky a friend's younger brother needs a place to stay. He's surprised to see Dylan all grown up with a college degree…and a college athlete's body. Apollo's widowed heart may still be broken, but Dylan has his blood heating up.
It's been eight years since the teenage Dylan followed Apollo around like a lovesick puppy, and it's time he showed Lieutenant Hard-to-Please that he's all man now—an adult who's fully capable of choosing responsibility over lust. He can handle Apollo's muscular sex appeal, but Apollo the caring father? Dylan can't afford to fall for that guy. He's determined to hold out for someone who's able to love him back, not someone who only sees him as a kid brother.
Apollo is shocked by the intensity of his attraction to Dylan. Maybe some no-strings summer fun will bring this former SEAL back to life. But the combination of scorching desire and warm affection is more than he'd expected, and the emotion between them scares him senseless. No fling lasts forever, and Apollo will need to decide what's more important—his past or his future—if he wants to keep Dylan in his life.
Book Two of the Out of Uniform series This book is approximately 73,000 words
**This is from the first chapter**
Hamburger. Onions. Pickles. Ketchup. Buns. Buns.
Well, hello, there. Possibly the most perfect specimen Apollo had ever seen was bent over in the bakery aisle at Sprouts, looking at a rack of organic cookies. High. Tight. Round. Attached to muscular legs poking out of board shorts, the kind of legs that suggested a serious investment in a sport or fitness. He wasn’t going to do more than look, but even when he’d been with Neal, he hadn’t been blind, and it was nice to know perfection like this guy existed in the world.
It was like swimming by a perfect coral reef on a dive or the blue of a cloudless sky right before a jump—
Wink. Fuck. The guy straightened before Apollo could look away and caught Apollo staring, and instead of blushing or serving him with the angry glare he deserved, he gave Apollo a saucy wink. It was the sort of wink that a decade ago would have had Apollo crossing the shiny linoleum and getting the guy’s number, but those days were long gone.
Instead he grabbed the closest twelve pack of hamburger buns and one of hot dog buns and headed to the next aisle. Those were the only kind of buns he had any business letting himself be distracted by. He was a father for crying out loud, not some single guy out treating the natural grocery store like his own personal pickup joint. Reflexively, he rubbed his ring with the side of his pinky, making it spin on his ring finger. Yeah. No more looking.
“Apollo! How are you?” Bridget from down the street almost ran her cart into his as he navigated the aisles. Her red-haired toddler waved at him from the basket.
Hell. He knew he should have brought at least one of the girls shopping. Then Bridget could have focused on the kids, and not his least favorite question in the universe.
“Hanging in there.” Apollo gave her a practiced a smile. “Good” would be a lie and no one wanted to hear “same as yesterday,” which was closer to the truth. But what the Bridgets of the world all wanted to hear was that Apollo was moving on—like time was the magic cure for the hole in his heart. “Having some people over for a barbecue later. Apologies if anyone parks in front of your place.”
“Oh, no worries.” Bridget patted his arm. “Having friends is so important.”
“Yeah, it is,” Apollo agreed because Bridget was a nice person, but inwardly his teeth gnashed together. He was so tired of well-meaning people telling him what was good for him when not a damn one of their suggestions would bring Neal back. “I better get on with my list.”
“You do that. And be sure and let us know if you need anything.”
Apollo nodded. Two years. It had been two years of neighbors and friends stopping him like this, making kind offers, but none of them able to do the one thing he wanted more than anything.
Fuck. Snap out of it, Lieutenant. No one wants your mopey ass around on this sunny May weekend. And it was an absolutely gorgeous day, perfect for playing with the girls outside and kicking back a few beers with his friends. He wasn’t on duty and had three consecutive days off for the first time in a long time. No sense dwelling on sad shit. Time to get stuff done.
Find something else to focus on.
Like that perfect ass?
No. Absolutely not that. Like…pickles. Lots and lots of pickles.
He saw Mr. Perfect Butt again in the juice aisle, and it was damn hard to keep his resolution to stick to shopping. The guy was model cute—curly hair falling just so over his forehead, sparkling eyes, chiseled jaw, and a tight T-shirt advertising a British soccer team showing off a defined chest and tight stomach. The guy smiled at him again and looked like he might want to speak, so Apollo grabbed the juice boxes for the girls and got out of there like he’d just launched a flash bang in the guy’s direction.
At the checkout, Mr. Perfect Butt was ahead of him in the only line that seemed to be moving. Apollo very carefully did not look at his butt again and busied himself grabbing some gum and trying to give off “don’t talk to me” vibes.
But those vibes seemed to be an utter failure as the guy turned, offering another movie-star-worthy grin. “You want to go first?” His voice was husky, like every word was a secret.
“I’m good,” Apollo said.
The man nodded, shy smile teasing the edges of his mouth, making his blue eyes dance. “You know—”
“ID please.” The cashier interrupted whatever flirtation the guy had planned as his six pack of beer went across the scanner.
“Oh, yeah.” A faint red flush spread up the guy’s neck. Oh hell. He wasn’t just younger than Apollo. He was a kid. A kid who still got carded, and rightfully so with that baby face. What the hell had Apollo been thinking, admiring his body? Apollo focused on unloading his own groceries, making neat rows for the cashier, and making sure the buns wouldn’t get squished.
Buns. Nope. Not going there. The kid hung around after paying for his groceries, mouth moving as if he were debating speaking, but Apollo kept his attention squarely on the cashier.
No more looking. Remember who—what—you are now. When he finally looked up, perfect butt guy was gone, and if Apollo felt a twinge of regret for being a bit on the rude side, he squashed it quickly. Wasn’t like he’d ever see the guy again anyway.
What will Apollo do when he discovers that Perfect Butt guy is his best friend's little brother? Find out in AT ATTENTION!
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Apollo Floros has been raising his twin daughters on his own since his husband died with help from his mother and his in-laws. Now that his mother is going away on a cruise for the summer, though, he's left in a bind. One that his best friend Dustin knows how to solve. His little brother Dylan needs a place to live while he is in San Diego working at a summer camp. It would be a good plan, if Apollo didn't feel so attracted to Dylan and if he was actually ready to move on from his grief.
I loved Dylan, he was such a sweetheart, mature, responsible, great with kids. He was amazing with Apollo and with the girls and really seemed to be perfect for them, even accepting all of Apollo's eccentricities without any fuss. Now, while I liked Apollo, I was absolutely frustrated with him. Yes, he was still grieving the loss of his husband, but his hot and cold routine was kind of infuriating. It was like he'd decided to stop living, just going through the motions, but then he got a jumpstart due to his attraction to Dylan before he remembered he should be grieving and shut him out again. No matter how good Dylan was, it was never enough for Apollo, and by the time he realized what he was doing, I almost didn't care. I actually would've liked Dylan to have moved on by then, which seeing as it took up to nearly 90% of the book is not that difficult to understand. It really is a pity, because when Apollo wasn't being a jacka** to Dylan, they had sizzling chemistry and their scenes together were hot, hot, hot!
The twins were absolutely adorable and it was lovely catching up with Pike and Ryan from book 1 in the series.
As always, I love Annabeth's writing, it was enthralling and emotional, and despite my misgivings regarding Apollo, I know there are a lot of readers that will love this book. Recommendable!!!
*** Copy provided to the reviewer via NetGalley for my reading pleasure, a review wasn't a requirement. ***
*** Copy provided to the reviewer via NetGalley for my reading pleasure, a review wasn't a requirement. ***
*Copy provided to the reviewer via NetGalley for my reading pleasure in hopes of an unbiased opinion, a review was not a requirement.*
At Attention is Book 2 in Annabeth Albert's Out of Uniform series. You could probably read this book without reading Book 1, but characters do appear in both books so I think it'd be more enjoyable to read the series in the appropriate order. In Book 1, Off Base, we met Lieutenant Apollo Floros and from that brief introduction, I could not wait to get his story! But, Apollo is not an easy man! He's very set in his ways, has a very structured life and is unwilling to bend or consider doing things differently. I wavered between finding Apollo ridiculously frustrating to being sympathetic to the man trying to find a way to live again. At many times, I wanted Dylan to just move on and leave Apollo to his schedules.
Apollo and Dylan were complete opposites. Though Apollo was only in his 30's, he acted like an elderly man throughout most of the book and seemed to think of himself that way. Apollo had been married and lost his husband in an accident, resulting in Apollo raising their daughters alone and being fearful for everyone he loved. Dylan is only 23 and seemed pretty typical for his age group. He had never had a serious relationship and has had a crush on Apollo since his teen years. He's easy going and able to fit into Apollo's life with no struggle. He handles Apollo's moodiness and brooding really well.
I did find it disappointing that almost all the book was spent on Apollo's hot and cold routine, and that he didn't finally get it together until the last 10% of the book. That's probably when I went from sympathetic to frustrated with him and wanted Dylan to just move on. Once Apollo got his act together, we only got 5% of a story with them as a couple. I would have loved more of them having a relationship and less of the constant back and forth. Regardless of Apollo's annoying behavior, I really did enjoy this story! If you enjoy opposites attract, age gap, single fathers, adorable twins, a sweet main character, and lots of military supporting characters, this is a series you need to check out!
Rating: 4 stars
Another decent outing in this series, with glimpses of the leads from Book 1 living their HEA.
This book can be read as a standalone, as there's only a tiny mention of the leads in book 1 living their HEA. It's a little bit of an unusual tale due to the host of characters in it - no Spoilers - and it's very well done, very believable, even though one lead does need to let up and relax a lot, lol!
I liked that both leads were confident in different ways - the younger, Dylan, was upfront and open about wanting Apollo and a future with him and his kids, and that he was prepared for their relationship to be on Apollo's terms, at least in the short-term. Apollo was confident professionally, but if I'm honest, was portrayed as protective to an almost OTT-degree; it kind of did and didn't mesh with the father/widower and tough professional that he was, though as the tale progressed, his...way of doing things became clearer. Not sure I could have lived in his house, though, lol!
I liked all the characters, especially Apollo's twin girls, and once again, AA has done her research on things Greek and portrayed Apollo, his mother and mention of his family, pretty authentically (believe me, I have some experience).
The tale ends in the leads at the start of their HEA, and that continues in the background to the next tale in the series, which I've also had the pleasure of reading. Book 1 so far remains the best in the series, as the two leads were so, so not suited and yet AA did so well with them, but this is a close...second.
ARC courtesy of Carina Publishing and NetGalley, in return for my reading pleasure.
Meet the Author
Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer. Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights supporter. In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two children.