Maritime Men

maritime men 2Title: Maritime Men
Author: Janey Chapel
Publisher: http://dreamspinnerpress.com
Buy link: Amazon.com
Genre: Contemporary M/M (military)
Length: short story (63 pages)
Rating: 4 stars out of 5

 THE BLURB

SEAL candidates Cooper Fitch and Eli Jones are cut off from the outside world and pushed to their physical and mental limits by the demands of the Navy’s elite training program. Their reliance on each other takes an unexpected turn after Hell Week, the most grueling stretch of basic conditioning, when Cooper and Eli surrender to passion fueled by fatigue, horniness, and alcohol. Despite the danger of being discovered, their intense attraction begins to feel like a natural extension of living, working, and training side by side, and neither is willing to give it up, no matter the risk.

THE REVIEW

Basic Underwater Demolition/SEALS training or Hell Week was over and they had survived … barely. Dead on their feet, Cooper Fitch and Eli Jones were catching their breath when their relationship changed.  It started innocently enough, a night out to celebrate with liquor and, of course, women, or as Cooper put it he “cornered a UCSD grad student just after two and had her on her back with her heels in the air by four.” I’ll come back to that comment in my summary.  When Cooper returned to base Eli was still awake and after catching up on their evening’s activities Eli went to the latrine and Cooper followed him … one thing led to another and they had a mutual jerk off session before going back to bed. After a while this became a regular and very enjoyable activity between them and they even managed a 24 hour pass  together where they got naked.

 
The next stage of their training involved airborne drills, specifically jumping out of airplanes, and Cooper was ready to call it quits because he balked at the jumps and saw his career as a SEAL taking a dive. However, as usual, Eli had a solution and took control by talking him through his fear, and performed his own brand of behaviour modification by sucking him off right in the Airborne Instructor’s office, and promising a repeat peformance if he made the jump. Of course Cooper passed with flying colours;) The promise of blowjobs after every jump proved to be an incredible incentive as he made it through Jump Week.

 Cooper and Eli kept up their close connection over the term of their training and eventually passed and became full fledged Navy SEALS. One aspect of their relationship that grew during this time into something much deeper was the initial bond when they went through the Navy’s elite training program together.  

What did I like about the book? The terrific prose and dialogue between the guys and the tight friendship and bonding  as a result of being in such close quarters during their training. The relationship between Cooper and Eli was well done and not over the top, after all they were guys, and a hug was as good as a kiss at times. The story was  moving in parts as all the recruits supported each other and showed how much they cared for the other person, through all the stresses and phases of basic training.

What didn’t I like? The way the young women were portrayed in the story. In the first paragraph I gave you a sense of one of the references and I wonder if the author felt that she needed to project how men in the forces supposedly talk about women. Another example is this one  “Cooper watched her walk back to the bar—legs up to here, hair down to
there?and shook his head. What was wrong with letting a little trim come to you now and then instead of working for it?” I could have done without these comments where the women were treated  as if they had nothing going for them except an ability to suck and f**k. Maybe it’s just me but I felt that some of these observations were unnecessary if the only intent was to establish some form of male bonding.

To sum up – the story and the writing are both good, and the characters were well drawn. If you like stories about men in the military you will definitely like Maritime Men.

Author

I live in Canada and I love big dogs, music, movies, reading and sports – especially baseball

38 comments

  • Janey
    I will definitely read your story The Wild Side. Jenre just posted her review of Reflections of Love today and she thinks very highly of your story.

    Re the issue of women in M/M books – Sean, Jen and I will do a generic post, not highighting any author or books, but asking bloggers for comments on how they feel about the portrayal of women in M/M generally. As I mentioned before, I read M/M for the guys and it doesn’t bother me if there are no women in the books (no girl cooties):) fag hag or otherwise, but as Sean pointed out, there is no gaytopia. I hope you will comment.

    Reply
    • I’ll keep an eye out for it, Wave — it sounds like a topic that will generate a lot of interesting discussion. 🙂

      Reply
  • Sean
    No girl cooties for me:) But if authors are going to insert women into an M/M book let’s have a range of female characters, not the one dimensional ones I have seen in a lot of M/M books. As you say, there is no gaytopia and there are women in your world, and maybe a few sensitive/strong women (mothers, sisters, friends, bosses etc) to counteract all of the negative stereotypes would be a good start.

    Reply
    • Wave, Sean, et. al.,
      I’m enjoying this discussion — it’s always good to get different perspectives!

      Wave, I’ll be interested to hear what you think of Cheyenne, the protagonist’s best friend in “The Wild Side” — that short story in the Valentine’s anthology. There’s some “fag hag” to her, but I hope you will find her to be more three-dimensional than that.

      Reply
  • Wave, that’s so very true. When they’re the only female characters in the story, they tend to stick out – and when they’re negatively portrayed it feels like an indictment against women in general. Just like if you’re watching a film and there’s only one gay character and they’re the villain. Jen makes a good point about how women can be shoehorned into the plot perhaps because the author feels they need women in it – as you both say, people read m/m for the men – but I’d like it to be a realistic depiction of their world as well. Gay guys do not exist in a gay bubble where they only have gay men to associate with. If there is a gaytopia, it’s been left off the map and must be invite only. And no girl cooties, either, apparently!

    And Jen, thanks for what you said about Fran. I really wanted her to come across as less token-ish. I can’t speak on behalf of every queer man out there, but I have plenty of strong women in my life so I like them to be in my fiction as well.

    Reply
  • Hi Sean
    From my perspective I don’t care if there are no women in M/M romances because I read the genre for the men, not for the females, regardless of their roles. In this case it struck a nerve with me because I had read another M/M romance recently where the women were treated in a similar fashion and I wondered – why bother to have females in the book at all if all you’re going to do is denigrate them?

    There is no need to either demonize or portray women as the bitch from hell, or the other character some authors love – the girl who would open her legs 24/7 to any man. In some cases these portrayals might be true to life as a couple of the bloggers pointed out – the “barracks bunnies” and “buckle bunnies” but do we need to read about them in these stories? Why?

    In terms of the male protagonists, I have a gay friend who lives in the same Province I do in Canada who objects strongly to the portrayals of gay men in these books because he feels that the women who write M/M romances portray the men as fuck machines who are mostly one dimensional. I don’t know how you feel about all the sex in M/M books (or any erotic book for that matter) but I mostly skip over it and try to find a story, if there is one. I don’t know if other readers feel the same but lots of times I find all the sex boring and repetitious. Too much of a good thing I guess. Very few authors can pull off a story with lots of sex – it takes ingenuity and imagination to do so. A limited number of authors do it well and the sex enhances and moves the story along, but these are skilled and talented writers and I know many of them because I read and review the majority of their books and they are auto buys for me. Their books tell a story and is not an excuse for two guys to go at it like rabbits.

    Back to female portrayals in these books – as I mentioned earlier, I read M/M books strictly for the men and their relationships, and I could care less if there are women in these books. When I want to read about women I’ll read a het book or general fiction. But if an author is going to have women in M/M books maybe they should wonder how they would feel if their sisters or mothers were characterized the way some of these women are. I’m not saying that female characters should not be portrayed negatively but maybe more thought needs to be given to having fully developed three dimensional characters (with all their flaws and positive attributes) if you’re going to have women in these books at all.

    Having said all that, I want to restate that Janey did a terrific job on the book and I did enjoy it very much. My comments are in no way a reflection on her talent as a writer or the content of the book, but an isolated observation about one aspect of the story.

    Reply
    • I have to say that it’s rare in m/m fiction to find a female character that I like and identify with. On the whole they are made up of stereotypes – the fag hag, the annoying female friend whose actions cause more harm than good, the slapper who wants to separate the heroes, the ex-wife who is only after money, etc, etc. In some ways I agree with Wave, if these are the sorts of women who are going to appear in m/m then I’d rather not have any female characters at all.

      On the other hand, when done well the female character can counteract all the testosterone in an m/m book and is often the voice of sense when things might get a bit heated. Sean wrote a great, sensible friend in Fran from Tigers and Devils and I’ve seen it done well in quite a number of other books. There’s also much scope for sensitive portrayals of family life using mothers and sisters who help the hero through any difficult parts. In fact, I often find that Mothers in m/m books are the best kinds of female characters and less likely to grate on my nerves

      What I can’t understand is why some authors feel that they have to add a ‘token female’ to their books. It’s almost as though they feel that there has to be a woman to make us straight female readers be comfortable. If that’s the case then these authors are misguided. Like Wave I read m/m for the heroes. If I want to read about a woman I’ll go back to my m/f historicals!

      Reply

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