3.5 HEARTS--Well it's actually rated 3.375 Hearts to be exact. This anthology covers not only Marines but soldiers from the Navy and Coast Guard as well. Were the stories steamy? Some more than others. I finally got to read two authors, I was anxious to read. Some stories were over the top, some were sweet, some were plain hot - a mixed bag for potential readers.
Anomaly by S.A. McAuley - 3 Hearts
Hmm...this was an interesting take on a Marine MM story. Is it romance? Not really. But there is room for more. It ends with a HFN-ish ending, a little abrupt BTW. Galen is a Marine who is used to find anomalies on the battlefield. He's better than drones, gaining the nickname, "Magneto". And guess what else he likes? Comics. He's a geek and it's cute. I'm not interested in drones but that didn't affect my rating. It's more about the rough progression through the short story. The ideas were cool though, basically this story was hooking up through Waze. That's right, the app. Galen sees a cute boy, who turns out to be a rocket scientist named Zach. The story started to open up once the Waze flirtation started. The breakout star? Secondary character, Linc! I'd read a romance starring him. He certainly livened up this story. There was a sexy cupcake infused handjob rolled into a one night stand (we only got the handjob on page). I liked that but it seemed a little weird on how those two got to that point. Something about it seemed too soon and I'm not sure if it was true to how the main characters were introduced. Could also be I didn't get a lasting enough impression of Zach or Galen.
The ideas though: possible Marine submission (wish we got to explore that), the geeky Dom(?), the two MC starting a relationship, LINC - the wisecracking ginger aspiring pop singer...those things would have been awesome.
Always Ready by T.A. Chase - 3.5 Hearts
Established couple alert! Ginger Silver Fox alert! Also, cool setting alert: Bering Sea, Alaska...someone's a Deadliest Catchfan, maybe? I dunno. What I do know is that a crab fisherman and Coast Guard diver finally come out as a couple officially after two years of being private and sneaking off once a month or when time permits in their busy schedules. This story had some things going for it: ginger, older lover who had a believable refractory period, a cute blond, younger lover who finally wants the world to know about him and his man, some decent sex (maybe 3 out of 5). But there were a couple of things that didn't work for me - the weird action twist, the way it all ended so neatly. All that was missing was a bow. Oh and there were editing issues.
And this butt hole descriptor: "rose-shaped hole". Now bear with me a minute...I've encountered a number of buttholes in my lifetime and I've yet to buck up on a rose shaped hole. The name isn't as bad as "palsied channel" *coughs Mexican Heat*coughs* but rose-shaped hole?
Here's a refresher for the anus:
As you see in this edible chocolate anus, these are for sale BTW (and you're welcome), there isn't a rose to be found anywhere. Maybe a ridged chip, wrinkles and tightly squeezed valley but not a rose for that anus bouquet.
So the story was semi memorable (pretty much have only rose shaped holes on my mind)...the characters were likable enough, not much depth. Established couples really ain't my gig. But I liked.
A Ring and a Vow by Devon Rhodes - 3.25 Hearts
Another established couple story except this is a follow up to a novella (which I did not read nor plan to because I already know how it pans out). It was very sweet. And it could be read as a standalone, I guess. It just felt like all the characters had a back story. A Navy soldier and a Marine finally get married in Virginia. There were military terms and happiness for finally being able to get married after 5 years of separation. There was a shower handy-j and honeymoon night special. And a saber arch, the guys walked down under their friends swords (no this isn't me being slick) at their wedding and it read like sugar flaked butter cream. Memorable, not really. And there wasn't a description on how the main characters looked (i.e. hair color, etc) which I guess means I should have read the first book. I kinda wished that was here in the story that probable first time readers would read. The author did their research with the terms and laws. It ends with syrupy epilogue where they have a cavity inducing HEA. Good for them.
My Marine by L.E. Franks and Sara York - 2 - 2.5 range (for math purposes: 2)
A great idea - Marine subterfuge, spying, Afghani setting for steamy hooking up. But there were too many factors that ruined the experience. With a plot twist I saw coming a mile away, Marine intelligence (which I question) officer, Sean Kelley falls for Afghani interpreter after first glance. The start of the story was interesting, I thought this was finally going to be a hot one. But the instalove, over the top declarations and long quotes while sexing ruined this story for me. There was potential but everyone was too tolerant - the general helps them out so easily? Really? How about the main characters calling each other "beauty", "the other half to my soul", getting all alpha jealous after fucking once. It's a case of magic dick and jizz wizards but it was hot. I'll give it that. I tried to love this story but after the flamboyant male military nurse calling Kelley, "sweetie", flirting and he"sashayed" out of the hospital room...I couldn't take this story seriously. It'd probably would have worked if the pretty descriptions were toned down (these are Marines we're talking about, not civilians who forget to do their job because they're dickmatized), there wasn't such an ease from all the secondary characters and more length to develop an actual relationship. Shame really.
Soul Sick by Kendall McKenna - 3.75 Hearts (barely)
Cherry popper read for me. And this was one of the stronger stories in the anthology...but that's not saying much. I am still wearing a 'WTF just happened' face after finishing this. This was like reading a condensed novel in a short story. It kept the longer sex scenes, introduced interesting ideas and cut out the middle. Are there missing chapters somewhere? I feel like there are missing chapters hidden in an encrypted part of the eBook and I missed it. This could have been a home run - reunited lovers (yes, an established couple again but they were separated for a long period of time) Marine captain Jamie and his tattooed, ex-bad boy now brilliant drug counselor Tucker finally reunite to have long (and I mean long) sweaty sex in between Jamie's PTSD and domestic violence episodes. Jamie's PTSD was always turned up high, I know each survivor reacts differently but maybe if this story was longer, it wouldn't read so OTT at times.
And where were the scenes to see how Tucker handled all of this? And Tucker as a counselor, on one hand I applaud him for sticking up for himself but on the other hand, he's not Superman. Jamie could have seriously hurt him. Just telling someone to "fix it" isn't the normal route to go...I expected something more than that from a counselor. And the piecemeal feel to the entire story...I wish there was more filler in this, everything was so damn fast, I'm still turning my head back properly. I'd read from this author again to see how she handles novels. Oh the potential for this one...I'm surprised this was released as a single novella.
Safe Shores by Morticia Knight - 4.5 Hearts
""Tie me down. Show me how much you want my tight, hot hole." Yeah, he knew he was a power bottom."
Another cherry popper author. Another Coast Guard/fisherman, established couple and large age gap story. And that's the end of the similarities because this story blew the others out of the water.
Finally, a short story that was complete and gave enough meat to carry the story through. We have a fisherman/cook divorcee who came out later in life by the name of Kirk. He's my kind of character, not very demonstrative in how he feels but when he puts his mind to proving to his lover how he cares, it's well known.
"He didn't light candles or play soft music when they made love. He would hold Shane down, slam into him over and over, bite his upper back, force dick into the back of his throat and hold him there--but he didn't recite poetry or take him to chick flicks. They were more likely to spend the evening doing raunchy things to one another then gutting a Coho salmon they'd caught out on the river to eat for dinner."
Shane was a sexy, power bottom Coast Guard PO who liked to submit. And liked to be tied down. *growls* And the BDSM was in no way heavy: some bondage and light D/s. Me likey lots. I would have read a full novel of these two and the places they'd tie Shane down and fuck. The fucking? Rough and hot. *grunts* And some ass play! *skips and twirls*
The two men take their relationship to the next level by finally admitting those three words. The moment gets interrupted by Kirk's family and a bonehead move. There was some action and a HEA. And manhandling ass pounding! Romance too! *claps* Obviously, this was my favorite. (I wonder if this will be released as a single novella - it read the most polished) Most definitely reading more of this author, I need more of her writing in my life. Oh yes!!
A copy provided for an honest review.