Title: Tuck & Cover
Author: SJD Peterson
Cover Artist: Paul Richmond
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy Link: Buy Link Tuck & Cover, Dreamspinner Press
Genre: M/M Romance
Rating: 4.75 stars
A Guest Review by Sammy
Review Summary: A story about two Army Rangers who meet and fall for one another under the oppressive climate of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT).
Blurb: Battle Buddy
At nineteen, Shane Tucker joins the army. Tucker is gay but not ready to be open about it, and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell seems like a convenient way to avoid dealing with his sexuality. The army suits Tucker; he does well from the beginning. Then, during boot camp, he’s assigned a “battle buddy,” Owen Bradford. Owen is a walking, talking wet dream with no concept of personal space. Tucker only survives the constant temptation by venting to his diary. Two years later, Tucker—now in the Army Ranger program—is paired up with Owen once again. Getting through training while ignoring the sexual tension between him and his battle buddy might be the biggest test of Tucker’s military career.
Tuck & Cover
You may have read Tuck’s diary entries, but they don’t tell the whole story. Tuck will argue the point, but he definitely got a few details wrong—not that I blame him. He was, if you remember, a little sexually frustrated at the time. He probably wasn’t thinking straight. I’ll never get tired of teasing him about that. Anyway, here’s what really happened.
Review: The novella Tuck & Cover is a re-release of two separate stories as indicated above in the blurb write-up. By pairing the two, author SJD Peterson, sets up an amusing foil in the vein of a “point/counterpoint” with the character of Shane Tucker “Tuck” relating his viewpoint first and the ever cocky and over achieving Owen Bradford responding.
I must say, this was a very clever move by the author. First, the author makes the great choice of choosing to first introduce the slightly naive Tuck, a country boy who thought he had army life fairly figured out only to find it was near impossibly hard on both body and spirit. He is so very young–just 19 and a virgin to boot. Gay in a time when the army did not want to see or hear it had a gay contingency in its midst, Tuck falls hard and fast in lust with Owen.
Owen was born military. His grandfather and father, both former army men, raised Owen in an atmosphere that had him eating, breathing and sleeping the military life from a very young age. His goals were clear–be the best, be a Ranger, come out on top–always. Then he saw Tuck get off the bus at basic training and his world turned upside down.
The lust between the two men was palpable and the nonstop humorous situations where they were paired up as “battle buddies” frequent. However, Owen played the straight man well, being used to hiding who he was from his family, and Tuck took offense often where none was intended. The result is one near sexual miss after another and miscommunication became the norm, until their long awaited two week leave where Owen’s persistence pays off by tracking Tuck down to set his Ranger straight.
There were two really standout elements in this delightful duet. First, the pacing was near perfect. We were tossed into rapid fire vignettes in the first story where we heard and understood Tuck’s point of view. Later in the second installment those same situations were given a bit more flesh by allowing us to see them through Owen’s eyes. Here, humor was layered over the heated and, ofttimes, angry responses by Tuck and the scenes were broadened, allowing us to learn just a bit more about each character. Due to the wildly different viewpoints of each man, the flavor of each moment only deepened and grew richer, making the story seem more complete with the retelling.
The second brilliant move, in my opinion, was not resolving the story line. Now before you get worried, there is a definite HFN (happy for now) ending but the author keeps this novella firmly on the side of reality. This was a tale of two soldiers in an era where being gay in the army meant possible court-marshall and definite dishonorable discharge–in other words, shame and disgrace. Neither of these men would ever settle for that–not for themselves or for each other. Plus deployment was imminent and for them to blithely sail off into the sunset in love and happy simply would have not been realistic. Instead the author made a brave move and allowed the rangers to be exactly what they had trained to be–army men who chose to stand and fight. In short, that decision made the story that much better.
Perhaps the only less than shiny spot in these stories was the slight underdevelopment of the secondary characters–in particular Thompson, who obviously figured out that Owen was gay and lusting after Tuck. I felt like this was a missed opportunity to add a bit of danger to the story–give us a keener idea of how pervasive DADT was and how it ran Owen and Tuck’s lives. However, this was really a minor point and didn’t impact my enjoyment of the story much at all.
Overall, if you are in the mood for a hot and amusing tale of two army buddies, then Tuck & Cover by SJD Peterson is the book for you! I enjoyed it immensely and hope you do as well!