Anthology, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Sammy, Totally Bound

Review: Semper Fidelis – A Totally Bound Anthology

24058781Title: Semper Fidelis

Author: Anthology

Publisher: Totally Bound

Pages/Word Count: 213 Pages

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: ‘Anomaly’ by S.A. McAuley

Warning: Untested chemical reactions in process…

When Staff Sergeant Galen Welc is handed Temporary Additional Duty orders that move him to the Marine Corps base at Twentynine Palms, he thinks he’s prepared for what’s to come. Known for his uncanny ability to spot improvised explosive devices, he’s pitted against the latest in defense technology. He trusts his instincts and his training, but they may just be leading him somewhere—and to an explosive reaction with someone—he could never see coming.

‘Always Ready’ by T.A. Chase

Making a living on the Bering Sea is hard enough, but throw love into the equation, and things can blow into a hurricane.

Senior Chief Dean ‘Jake’ Jacobson loves his job as a Coast Guard rescue swimmer. Saving lives is the second best thing he could ever do. The first is loving Phil ‘Rhody’ Rhodes.

Phil is a third generation crabber who fishes the Bering Sea. Being gay and in love with Dean isn’t something he talks about, especially not with the six men he lives with on the Angela Kayla for weeks on end. But he’s been happy with his life.

Until one day the Bering Sea reminds them that she is a dangerous place to work. As her icy waters surround them, they discover one truth. Dean and Phil must always be ready to love each other because life can be taken so easily when one works on the sea.

‘A Ring and a Vow’ by Devon Rhodes

Every promise must someday be fulfilled, and the best way Owen knows how to reward Cary’s faith is with a vow.

It’s been nearly five years since Owen went down on one knee with his Academy ring and promised Cary he’d someday do it for real. With Cary being a Naval aviator and Owen a Marine officer serving in Iraq, they’re rarely on the same continent, let alone together.

About time for them to fill out paperwork to re-up, Owen realizes that if they were married, they’d have a much better chance of being stationed nearby. But time is not on their side, so he’s forced to compromise on his proposal in order to make it work.

Cary has been waiting for Owen for years—there was no chance he’d ever say anything but yes. Owen is coming home at last, and wants to make a home with him. However, between the chronic nightmares he’s been fighting and the ever more complicated wedding plans, the next month could be anything but a dream.
Publisher’s Note: This book is the sequel to A Ring and a Promise.

‘My Marine’ by LE Franks and Sara York

For a man who made his career in intelligence, falling for an Afghani national in the middle of a war zone wasn’t the smartest thing a Marine could do.

Marine Captain Sean Kelley loves his country and the men he serves with, but when he meets Akim, he’s tempted to throw it all away for the mysterious man. He knows better than to chase after a local, but repeat encounters culminating in a moment of passion leave him reeling—he’ll do almost anything to figure out how they can be together.

Akim Bijan has a secret of his own—one large enough to get more than just himself killed if it’s revealed. But from the moment he first lays eyes on the handsome Marine, he’s tempted to do just that rather than hide his growing attraction to the man. Being a translator allows him access to the base and he finds Sean alone one night. They take things farther than he ever intended. If only he could tell Sean everything, but his lips are sealed.

When tragedy strikes, Akim is afraid he’s lost Sean for good and he’s forced to make a decision that will change both their lives. Will love win—or will Sean and Akim be separated forever?

‘Soul Sick’ by Kendall McKenna

Jamie thought he made it home to Tucker, leaving war behind. Now, each day he battles to fit into his own life, and save the love that saved his life.

Jamie is a captain in the US Marine Corps who carried a photo of Tucker with him throughout his deployment. His body and his heart both make it home, but he isn’t sure about his sanity. It no longer feels as if his own life even fits.

Tucker is a reformed bad boy who has an advanced degree and an important job but still sports long hair and tattoos. He missed Jamie while he was deployed, but he couldn’t stop living his own life. Now, they’re struggling to learn to live with each other again, and things are going downhill fast.

Jamie wants everything to be the way it used to, but his anger and self-destructive behavior begin to push Tucker away. Too much alcohol and a night of violence inside their home take them nearly to the brink. Tucker is willing to fight alongside Jamie to keep it all from falling apart, if Jamie can learn to accept the help he needs…before it’s too late.

Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of domestic violence.

‘Safe Shores’ by Morticia Knight

Kirk’s Coast Guard lover, Shane, is the only person who can save his son from a vicious storm—if he’s not too late.

Fishing is the only life Kirk has ever known. Born and raised in a small town on the Northern Oregon Coast, coming out of the closet was a struggle. Fortunately, he’s been lucky to find an amazing man to be with who serves in the Coast Guard. But he can’t help but wonder whether Shane wants more than just a shore leave romance.

Shane loves the Coast Guard, loves the sea. That’s one of the main things he has in common with his fisherman lover, Kirk. He just needs to make sure that Kirk knows how serious he is about their relationship and what he plans on doing about it.

Shane and Kirk’s joyful reunion is interrupted when an unusually vicious gale storm threatens the coast. Kirk has to stand by helplessly and wait while his lover battles the raging seas to save his son. In an instant, Kirk could lose everyone he holds dear.

Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of BDSM.

Dividers

Review: Anomaly by S.A. McAuley

Staff Sergeant Galen Welc has a nickname—Magneto. He has this strange ability to uncover IED’s before they take out his brothers in arms. When he is sent to a training facility to pit his abilities against that of new military drones, the last thing Galen is expecting is to meet a man who pushes all his buttons in just the right way. When he finds out that the man he has just met is the scientist behind the creation of the latest drone, sparks fly!

While I liked the promise of this story, it was so short that I found myself wondering who these guys were and how they could ever really match up beyond their love for the challenge of being the fastest man to uncover IED’s. The romance element never went beyond a seeming one-night stand and I had to make the leap from that to a potential relationship by story’s end. I just really wanted to get to know these guys more, and we ran out of story before I could do that. 2.5 stars

Always Ready by T.A. Chase

Jake is part of the Coast Guard whose one job is to save lives on the open sea. Phil is a crabber—on the Bering Sea where storms and gale force winds are not uncommon. One man lives for the danger, the other for the rescue. Each lives for the other. But Phil is in the closet and afraid to tell his family that he is deeply in love with Jake. Two years of hiding and torrid, fast hookups on a rare weekend a month have left both men wondering about their jobs and the distance it forces between them and whether they can go on living so far apart.

For a short story, I felt there was such depth to these characters. Their love for each other was as apparent as was their love for their jobs. How to rectify the great distance between them that gave them only a weekend a month to be together was an overwhelming concern for both of them. I felt the real pull that Jake felt for his job versus his lover, Phil. Jake rescues people for a living and he loves his job—despite the real fact that sometimes mother nature wins and Jake cannot save everyone. Phil is poised to take over a many generation boating legacy and already feels strongly for his crew—viewing them as a captain would. But Phil is so tired of hiding his love for Jake and while Jake would never push Phil to come out, his own disastrous coming out story shadows how he thinks. Well written, the story of love and respect that these two men have for each other is palpable and told in such a way as to also prove to be a loving tribute to those who keep our waters safe. 4.5 stars

A Ring And A Vow by Devon Rhodes

First, let me say that reading this short sequel has made me go off and purchase the original novel this short story is based on. Secondly, I am hoping that a major plot point is somehow addressed in the initial book, as I felt it was the only weak spot in an otherwise lovely finish to the tale of two young men so very much in love.

Cary is a pilot in the navy, Owen is in the marines, and at the opening of the story is deployed in enemy territory. They have spent the five years since the academy, where they met and fell in love, being stationed apart and longing for each other. During that time, Cary has been plagued with violent nightmares of Owen’s death. One month prior to coming home, Owen finally makes good on his promise, given years before, and asks Cary to marry him. Cary accepts and the rest of this story describes their time together in small vignettes leading up to their actual wedding day.

I was smitten with these two young men right away. The story balanced both their inner thoughts and fears against their love and support for each other. I felt so drawn to them and enjoyed how each chapter seemed to be another peek at their whirlwind wedding preparations and their new assignments in their various branches of service.

However, I never felt that the near paralyzing nightmares that Cary had been experiencing were fully addressed and indeed, they just seemed to disappear altogether. While I know that having Owen home would and should relieve Cary of his dreams, I also know the author chose to have Cary plagued by a last nightmare after Owen was home and in his arms their first night. For me, never really stating that Cary’s nightmares were gone left a major plot point unfinished and was, absolutely, the only flaw in an otherwise lovely story. 4 stars

My Marine by LE Franks & Sara York

Sean Green has seen the Afghani interpreter, Akim, come and go on the base and has taken notice of him. If only he could speak with the man, find out more about him. But this is wartime and while the interpreter is aiding the US, he is also the enemy. Then one chance meeting, and lust and yearning take over, and suddenly Sean knows that when he is finally sent stateside again he will do everything in his power to bring Akim with him. But what if Akin is not who he says he is? What if he is hiding a secret that will tear the two men apart?

My Marine was a sweet story with a few interesting twists and turns. When Akim’s secret was revealed I must admit I was pretty surprised and to be honest, understood Sean’s reactions completely. And it was just here that the story fell apart a bit for me. Sean began with strong sentiments about how Akin had lied to him. He admitted to himself that it was like he never really knew Akim, so why the sudden and swift capitulation at the story’s end? I felt that both men should have worked a little harder at reestablishing trust and not moved into intimacy immediately. There had, up to that point, been a plausible and very interesting story—if only the ending had been just a bit more drawn out. 3.5 stars

Soul Sick by Kendall McKenna

Jamie brings more than external scars from shrapnel home from deployment. Inside he is still trapped on the battlefield, and he is rapidly losing ground. Tucker has been waiting a year for his lover, but the man who comes home bears little resemblance to the one who left, and Tucker is worried that if Jamie doesn’t seek help soon, more will be lost than their partnership.

This was a very raw look at the effects of PTSD on a returning soldier. Jamie simply comes unraveled, going as far as physically threatening Tucker. Jamie wants to have everything as it was, but even the smallest of things picks at him, making him bleed a little more each day. It is both sad and scary watching Jamie devolve into a madman who cannot always be reasoned with before he lashes out.

My only regret with this story was the way it jumped, seemingly without a segue, into the future, where Jamie was apparently beginning to turn things around with the help of counseling. Admittedly and wisely, author Kendall McKenna did not allow Jamie to be instantly “fixed”; rather, we saw his ongoing turmoil right up to the end. But it was the abrupt way in which we were thrust into this future time of recovery that jangled a bit. Suddenly we were there and made to understand that during this unmarked time, Tucker and Jamie had actually been sleeping apart. Because the ending seemed to thrust us into a future that had no explanation, I felt the story rushed to the end and we never had a sense of healing or, more importantly, rebuilt trust between the two lovers. 3 stars

Safe Shores by Morticia Knight

Months go by before Kirk, a small time fisherman, and his lover Shane, a coast guard diver, are able to see one another. But their relationship has only gotten better over the last two years, and this visit finds both of them contemplating saying those three little words that every one yearns to hear. But Kirk is older than Shane by ten years and has a son by a long dissolved marriage that keeps him tethered to the small town he grew up in. Can these two make a go of it when distance and time seem intent on keeping them apart?

Safe Shores is a full out love story between two men who are ready to take the leap at a future they both desire. Even though both feel deeply for the other, saying I love you does not roll easily off the tongue, and both Shane and Kirk are worried that the other may not be ready for such a huge commitment.

I really enjoyed this story. I felt immediately drawn to these characters and felt completely invested in their story as a result. I particularly liked how both the men were very strong in their own right—while BDSM was a brief part of this love story, it was done with strength and truth, making it very erotic. All in all, Safe Shores was a nice way to end this well done anthology. 5 stars






Semper Fidelis is currently available for purchase only from:

Totally Bound

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