Their love is forbidden, but their hearts aren't listening to rules and regulations.
Lieutenant Dustin Strauss is a reformed man. No longer a twentysomething hell-raiser, he's his SEAL team's new XO-and a man with a secret. Or seven. He's kept his bisexual identity under wraps for years, along with his kinky side and a fondness for the military-themed semianonymous hookup website Joe4Joe. His latest chat buddy is more than a sexy online distraction-they're taking their very not-safe-for-work relationship into real time.
Petty Officer Wes Lowe has a smart mouth, a take-charge attitude and an uncanny ability for making things go boom. The life of an enlisted man isn't always enough to satisfy him, but one wild, no-questions-asked weekend with his online love comes close. When a transfer order comes in, Wes feels ready and centered. He'll make a good impression on his new SEAL team and keep his growing feelings for Dustin on the down low.
But as they log more time online and some very real emotions surface, Dustin and Wes struggle to pretend they're just a harmless fling. And when his commander introduces Dustin to his team's newest member, they're in for the shock of a lifetime...and a crushing disappointment: their difference in ranks means even a friendship without sexual contact could end their navy careers for good.
With their hearts on the line, Dustin and Wes may not survive their next mission, let alone find a way toward a future together.
Wheels Up is, hands down, the best contemporary military romance I've read this year. I've had a hit-or-miss relationship with Annabeth Albert's books, but let me tell ya, she gets almost everything right here. We get alpha males, some mild kink, delicious chemistry and a happy ending. Breaking the rules never tasted so good.
Wes and Dustin meet on a hookup app -- Joe4Joe -- and they discover that they each has something the other craves. Wes has always wanted to explore his kinky dominant side and Dustin wants to explore his bisexuality and submitting sexually to a more dominant partner. I love this. The whole progression of online friends-with-benefits to real life friends - to lovers just did me right. Add in the whole forbidden aspect of their relationship (since this is fiction and we know they will get their happy) and I'm in heaven.
The military takes its fraternization rules pretty seriously, though. Dustin is an officer and Wes is enlisted, and to make matters worse, once Wes gets transferred, they are in the same chain of command. They both know that they should not stay involved, but... yeah, you know where this is going. Dustin and Wes just can't stay away from each other. The rules are strict, but they're there and if they get caught, the consequences would be dire.
But I loved their chemistry, I loved their smexy-times, and I loved both of them.
My only real niggle doesn't come from the story, at all, but the use of "y'all" as a singular, by Wes, who was raised in North Carolina. I grew up in North Carolina. My husband was born in raised in a different part of North Carolina, and our friend and current housemate was also born and raised in NC. In all our years there, none of us have ever heard anyone, that was from there, use "y'all" as a singular. Maybe it's a new thing, I don't know. I moved away from NC some time ago, so it is possible. But even the times I've visited in the last few years, I've never ever heard that. Now, if Wes had been from a different part of the south, my brain would not have likely short circuited because I do know that some parts of the south do use it as a singular. If any of you reading this are living in NC and "y'all" as a singular has been incorporated into the NC vernacular, let me know, because I'm truly curious.
Aside from that one niggle, I loved the story. Dustin and Wes's romance was strong and they burned up my Kindle a bit, too. The ending was very satisfying and hard fought. LOVED. I can't wait to see what the next book brings!
ARC of Wheels Up was generously provided by the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.
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