Monday, March 27, 2017

[ARC Review]: "At Attention"

romance novel covers, m/m romance, contemporary romance, Royal Pick, At Attention by Annabeth Albert
At Attention by Annabeth Albert
Publisher: Carina Press (April 1, 2017)
Series: Out of Uniform, 2
Genre: M/M Romance -- Contemporary / Military

Lieutenant 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.

Where to Buy*:
More Info:

Reviews of Albert's Previous Novels:

Status Update (#1) -- TBQ
Beta Test (#2) -- TBQ
Connection Error (#3) -- TBQ

Treble Maker (#1) -- TBQ

My Review:

Guilt is the only thing I should be feeling here—you’re too young, you’re my best friend’s little brother, and I’m widowed. And fuck it, mainly I feel guilty because all that guilt isn’t enough to keep me away, isn’t enough to chase away other feelings.”

Apollo and Dylan first met years ago, when Dylan was still a teen. Dylan is the younger brother to Dustin, one of Apollo’s friends and a fellow SEAL. At the time, Dylan had a crush on him, but he never returned it and within a few years of that, Apollo met Neal. They eventually married and had twin daughters (through a surrogate). But two years ago, Neal was killed in an accident, leaving Apollo lost and grieving.

When the story starts, Apollo is at the store and notices one man’s fine ass. He’s not happy that he noticed this, as he firmly believes that he will never have another relationship or hookup; he promised Neal forever, after all. So he quickly leaves before the other man can say anything to him. If only it were that easy, of course. At the party later that day, he realizes why the man looked vaguely familiar – it’s Dylan, all grown up (very nicely so). Of course this triggers another layer of “Shit, I shouldn’t have any of these thoughts” because now it’s not just thinking of another man besides Neal, it’s thinking about his best friend’s younger brother, and that’s a no-no.

“Hey, Apollo,” Maddox called. “We were just talking. If Dylan can’t stay here, Ben and I could rearrange some stuff, see if he could stay with us.” 

Hah. Apollo knew the “rearranging stuff” would undoubtedly include jockeying for whether Dylan shared Ben’s bed or Maddox’s by summer’s end and just…no. Something angry and surprisingly protective unfurled in his gut. 

“He’s staying here,” Apollo said firmly before he could recall the words. 

The girls sent up a delighted squeal, and Dustin grinned widely. Ben winked at him, and Apollo knew he’d been had. Fuck.

Dylan is in town to work at a summer camp -- he likes to work with children at camps and after school programs. But since Apollo’s mother, and main support system, is going on vacation for the summer, Dustin decided that Dylan should help Apollo out with the girls while he’s in town. Apollo, who is no longer deployed on missions but does keep very busy with training exercises and whatnot at the base, doesn’t like asking for help -- from any one. And especially not from Dylan, who’s stirring up emotions and feelings that he thought died when he buried his husband. Apollo’s set to tell Dustin and Dylan hell no, but then he sees Dylan chatting with another friend of Apollo's, and a burst of jealousy changes his mind. Dylan can stay and help, but that’s all it’ll be . . . Until, of course, it’s so much more than that.

So we have an older widowed SEAL who’s a bit grouchy and a younger hero who also happens to be the brother to Apollo’s best friend, as well as the emotional angst of grief and starting over, and the sweetness of a friends to lovers type story? Um, HELL YES PLEASE AND THANK YOU! I loved these two men and their story was such a lovely treat, both sweet and steamy, which Albert always pulls off so well.

“Date? Me? Like really date?” 

“Like really date,” Apollo confirmed. He’d done a lot of thinking on this. “It would be too easy to beg you to move back in, but that’s not what either of us needs right now. You need to know that I want you for more than what you bring to the family, and we both need to go slow.” 

“You do have a thing about slow,” Dylan grumbled. 

“I want to take you to my favorite places around here. I want…” He took a breath, not sure he could voice this part of his plan aloud, but not able to keep it in either. “I want us to fall in love. Like actually fall in love. Like be a real couple—” 

“Too late.” Dylan kissed him. “I’m already there. And we don’t need flowers and dancing to be a real couple. Give me fish taco night and Netflix after the girls are asleep anytime. Just give me you and I'm happy."

"Really?" Apollo rolled him underneath him, looming over him. 

"Really." Dylan stretched up to meet his mouth. "And take all the time you need, all the  dates you need, hell, I'll follow you to the zoo if that's what it takes, but . . . " Dylan's voice dropped to a whisper. "Yes, let's fall in love. Fall in love with me."

"I will." 

I loved watching these two together, their moments watching TV after the girls were in bed, their small conversations and the many ways that Dylan would try to help Apollo, even when he was a bit grumpy about the help. I have such a weakness for seeing the domestic side of a budding relationship, especially when the couple is still adamant that there’s nothing going on; it makes it, I don’t know, sweet and charming, so those parts weren’t at all boring to me, they were enjoyable. I loved seeing them slowly dance around each other, loved how Dylan realizes that the young man he once had a crush on is not the same as the strong father he’s falling for now. I was glad that Dylan’s old crush didn’t really factor in too much, because after all those years and life experiences, Apollo is a different man, and Dylan’s grown up from that point, too, so they really did need to see each other as they are right now, not who they first met nearly a decade ago. (By the way, the age difference is just under 10 years, if I recall correctly; Apollo is about 35 and Dylan is 23 or so.)

While I loved all the sweet parts to Apollo and Dylan’s story, you know me: I’m all about the dirty. And damn, but Albert never fails to bring the heat! It does take a bit for these two to start anything (remember: Apollo’s grief plus the “no touching my buddy’s brother” feels), but when they do . . . Oh, man, it’s sexy as hell. Here, have a little sneak peek:

"Fuck. You. Are. Amazing." Apollo moaned between words. It wasn't just that it had been so long for him--it was Dylan and how damn...joyful he made this act, laughing around his cock before he doubled down on the licking and sucking.

He shifted around and then his arm brushed Apollo's calf, an unmistakable bump-bump-bump that told Apollo that Dylan was jacking himself while he sucked him.

Simply knowing that was almost enough to get Apollo the rest of the way there. "Wait," he panted. "Want...something for both of us."

"Oh, trust me, this is." Dylan grinned up at him. "Hell, I'm having a hard time making sure you come first."

The scene with Dylan on top, and Apollo making him go teasingly slow for so long, all while watching him in the bedroom mirror, was deliciously dirty. As were all the other scenes. Stop me or I'll just start posting ALL THE SEXY BITS and that's not a very helpful review on its own, now is it?

As I said, there’s angst as Apollo works through his grief before finally accepting that it’s okay for him to have another partner, that doing so doesn’t take away from what he had with Neal. I loved seeing Dylan taking care of the broody “I’m tough and don’t need a hand” SEAL when his old injuries flared up. I just loved these two together, period. All the happy sighs. (And all the face fanning – did I mention they’re hot as hell together?!) Their grand HEA moment at the end was so perfect and left me with a smile on my face.

Maddox and Ben’s story is next – YAY! – and I cannot wait. I actually have the ARC on my Kindle but since it’s a June release I’m trying SO HARD not to jump in this early. I’m not sure how long I’ll be able to hold out though, because A) MADDOX AND BEN, and B) Albert is a top favorite author, period, and I can’t get enough. I swear I need a hit every month; no pressure, Annabeth, but, well, write faster! If you’re not reading Albert yet, you must. She has a few different series going and I recommend all of them; I’ve yet to be disappointed by any of her titles, and most of them end up making it to my Royal Pick list for a reason.

4 1/2 STARS! 

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I received an e-ARC of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley.

*Note: The quotes used belong to Annabeth Albert; TBQ's Book Palace does not claim them. Any mistakes or typos in the quotes are my own fault.

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Want to see what other quotes I highlighted? Check out my Twitter HERE.

Remember, since this is a Royal Pick, come back on April 27th for a chance to WIN an ecopy of your own!


Until Next Time,


  *TBQ's Book Palace is a member of both the Amazon and Barnes and Nobles affiliates program. By using the links provided to buy products from either website, I receive a very small percentage of the order. To read my full disclosure on the matter, please see this post!

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