Skip to main content

Review of "Off Base" by Annabeth Albert

I've reviewed other Annabeth Albert books in the past and have squeed all over the place about how much I love her writing.  Her books were my introduction to m/m romance and I quickly discovered my go-to trope, of which it seems Ms. Albert writes a lot (of the books I've read, all but one followed this theme).  To be fair, I've only read her #Gaymers Series, so maybe her others have different themes, but Off Base is more of the same.  Closeted man longs for love and a relationship, but doesn't think he is worthy of one.  Then, he meets a guy who challenges all of his ideas about himself and decides that maybe he can have the type of relationship that he wants.

Zack Nelson has always wanted to be a SEAL and he's finally about to see that dream become a reality as he's just passed an important test of his abilities.  To celebrate, he and his friends are going to get together at a local bar.  Unfortunately, he doesn't find out until he's already out that the only person able to come is the one person with whom he doesn't want to spend the entire night alone.  Pike isn't even really his friend--he's only part of the circle because Zack's friend, Ryan, is dating Pike's friend, Josiah (the heroes of Connection Error).  Pike is the total opposite of closeted and Zack is afraid what people will think of him if he's hanging out with him.

Pike Reynolds can't figure Zack out; Zack swears that he's straight, but Pike isn't so sure about that.  When something happens between them the night of Zack's celebration, Pike is even more confused, but also certain that he needs to stay away from the gorgeous SEAL.  He's been hurt before and does not want to go down that road again.

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVED this book.  The chemistry between Zack and Pike was immediate and it was clear that these two were perfect for each other from the first page even if they weren't aware of it.  What really pulled me into this story was the idea that even though Don't Ask Don't Tell has gone the way of the dinosaurs, there will always be homophobic assholes in the military.  A big part of Zack's storyline is coming to terms with the fact that even though he is gay, he has every right to be a part of a SEAL team as his heterosexual counterparts--no matter what those counterparts may think.  This was the catalyst for everything that happened in the book as the one teammate, who is aware of Zack's sexuality has made it uncomfortable (and possibly) dangerous for him to live on base, so Zack decides to find a place off base (hence the title) and makes a deal with one of the highers up to live in a house he and his wife bought rent free so long as he renovates the place on his own.  Zack has never done anything so HGTV, but since he cannot afford to live off base in San Diego any other way, he accepts the offer.  It doesn't take him long to realize that he is not cut out for the handy-man thing.  Enter Pike.

Pike needs a place to stay in San Diego and the only person in the entire city he knows is Zack.  Neither of them are all that excited about living together, but neither see any other option, so with his cats in tow, Pike makes the move from Santa Monica to San Diego.  The guys aren't very comfortable together, especially after the moment they had the night of Zack's party, but quickly become friends and eventually lovers.  This change in relationship felt natural to both the characters and the story.  I loved seeing Zack come to terms with his sexuality and understand that he's more than just who he finds attractive.  The relationship with Pike made him more confident in himself and more willing to accept that he's never going to please everyone.

The one issue I had with the book was its pacing.  The first few chapters happen in June, then suddenly it is August, and finally it ends in October.  I felt like we were skipping over parts of their lives that could have leant more weight to the climax where Zack confronts his homophobic teammate.  I knew that was going to be a part of the narrative and Ms. Albert did a good job of making Zack's relationship with this particular person tense and whenever they were in a scene together, I found myself tapping my fingers against the arm of the couch (obviously a good thing), but I felt like this was somewhat underdeveloped as was the comparison to Zack's older brother, Danny, whom we never meet.  Without giving away too many spoilers, Zack's fear of this other SEAL echoes the relationship that he had with his brother and colors everything Zack does when he is around the team, which is both stressful and at times dangerous.

It is a rare thing for me to worry about the characters post-HEA--the only other time I remember that happening was in Indigo by Beverly Jenkins (because they were both operators on the Underground Railroad prior to the Civil War).  I like my HEA's to last and I have a hard time buying that all of Zack's problems with the team ended with him coming out.  People don't suddenly accept someone because they've confirmed their fears, something that was depicted very well earlier in the book when Zack came out to his parents, so the idea that removing the antagonist was going to make everything better surprised me.

In the end, I did love this book even with the minor issues I had with it, and I am looking forward to the next book in the series, Out of Uniform, which comes out in April and that I've already received from Netgalley.

4 Stars

I received a copy of this book for free through Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.


Popular posts from this blog

Review of "The Other Miss Bridgerton" by Julia Quinn

Title: The Other Miss Bridgerton
Author: Julia Quinn
Series: Rokesby #3
Publisher: Avon
Price: $6.99 (e-book) $5.77 (mass market paperback) $21.55 (Audible)
Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2 I love Julia Quinn.  A few years ago, I stumbled upon Just Like Heaven in the Howard Beach library; I'd heard of Ms. Quinn before, but hadn't actually read one of her books.  Immediately after finishing the book, Marcus and Honoria became one of my favorite hero/heroine pairings ever.  I'm probably going to be diving back into the Smythe-Smith books again soon because despite reading all of the Bridgerton books, the Smythe-Smith series is still my absolute favorite Quinn series.  The Rokesby series is giving it a run for its money, though (I've read Because of Miss Bridgerton at least four times since it was published in 2016).  Is it wrong that I want another book already?  Sure, The Other Miss Bridgerton came out just last week, but one is never enough, right? From the Publisher:
She was in the wrong p…

Fifteen Years Later: Review of "His Sinful Touch" by Candace Camp

Title: His Sinful Touch
Author: Candace Camp
ISBN: 0373789963
Publisher: HQN
Series: Mad Morelands #5
Price: $5.98 (Paperback) $5.99 (e-book) $19.96(Audible)

Most readers remember their first, the first book of their particular genre that they read, whether they enjoyed the book or not.  I have two firsts--the first romance I ever read was a Harlequin Intrigue written by Amanda Stevens.  If you've read my blog before you probably already know this.  The first historical romance I read was Mesmerized by Candace Camp, which was also the first book in her Mad Morelands series.  

I was a senior in high school when this series began and I remember seeing the paperback version of Mesmerized on the shelf at the Target on Queens Blvd (yes, I spent a lot of time on Queens Blvd as a teenager), and was pulled in by the gorgeous cover.  Apparently, that book has had several covers over the last 15 years, but this is the one I remember:

Isn't it pretty?  Of course from the cover I…

It's Not Me; It's You--A Review of "Shelter in Place" by Nora Roberts

Title: Shelter in Place
Author: Nora Roberts
ISBN: 1250161592
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Price: $14.99 (e-book) $16.49 (hardcover) $23.95 (Audible)

Over the last few years, I have found myself reading fewer Nora Roberts novels.  In the past, she was my go-to author, an auto-buy, someone I knew whose work would never disappoint me.  Unfortunately, this is no longer the case.  While her prose is still beautiful and effortlessly depicts all manner of situations, her stories have become stale (recycling plots from other books is a big part of my problem with her) and it seems that she is less inclined to writing actual romances.  I was actually really excited about Shelter in Place because it wasn't like anything else I've read by her--and that sounded like a good thing.  What I got was a book that wasn't really sure what it was or what it wanted to be.

From the Publisher:
From Nora Roberts, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Year One (December 2017), comes…

Happy Bookaversary! A Review of "Edge of Darkness" by Karen Rose

Title: Edge of Darkness
Author: Karen Rose
ISBN: 9780399583087
Publisher: Berkeley
Series: Cincinnati Series
Price: $5.98 (Paperback) $7.99 (e-book) $28.28(Audible)

It seems like I've been reading Karen Rose novels my entire life.  I remember the day I came across Count to Ten in the Duane Reade on Queens Blvd.  I'd finished the paperback I brought with me to school that day while sitting in the Dining Hall eating lunch and needed something for the long bus ride home.  I almost didn't buy it because it was $9.99 and I hadn't gotten my financial aid money yet, but the cover copy called to me.  Not even the 500+ page count could scare me away.

I recently learned that Edge of Darkness is Ms. Rose's 20th book and in a strange way, I feel like a proud mama watching her child cross the stage to get their diploma.  I'm just a big ball of happy nostalgia, thinking back to all of the other books I've read by her and hopeful about the ones to come, so befor…

Blog Tour: Excerpt and Review of "Kiss Me At Christmas" by Valerie Bowman

Title: Kiss Me At Christmas Author: Valerie Bowman
Series: Playful Brides #10
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Price: $7.99 (e-book) $5.98 (mass market paperback)
Christmas Rating: ๐ŸŽ…๐ŸŽ… 1/2

I guess it is that time of year again--it is finally acceptable to listen to Christmas music on repeat!  Yes!  Unfortunately, I read this book in October and was getting a lot of weird looks when people heard snippets of Shake Up Christmas.  Honestly, this wasn't the earliest I've listened to Christmas music.  That honor goes to my review of Snowfall on Haven Point for the Smart Bitches, which I wrote in the middle of one of the worst heat waves in Northern California back in June of 2017.  But you're not here for a recitation of my Christmas music woes, so let's do this thing.

London, December 1818
Lady Regina Haversham’s thirtieth birthday was precisely one month away, which didn’t leave her much time to lose her virginity. Not that she wanted it lost. S…