I’ll Be Your Drill, Soldier

Title: I’ll Be Your Drill, Soldier
Author: Crystal Rose
Publisher: Dark Roast Press
Buy Link: Still available at SmashWords as of 12/26/2015
Genre: Contemporary M/M, military
Length: Novel (576 pages)
Rating: 5+ stars out of 5, DIK







Ryan Gracin had a good life until he told his parents he was gay. Since they yanked their support for college he had to find a way to pay for it. Little did he know that joining the Army was going to change his life forever. Especially when he was introduced to a Drill Sergeant who was nicknamed ‘Big Daddy’.

Phillip Grabowski had joined the Army to follow in his father’s footsteps; by the time Ryan entered, he had already made a name for himself. He was a soldier’s solider, but Ryan was making it really hard for him to remember that.


 This book was recommended to me by several readers, but to tell the truth it took me a while before I decided to buy it because I don’t read books that are almost 600 pages long. Obviously I bought it but it languished in my TBR pile for a few months before I cracked it open. However, once I started reading I was blown away by the story.

I’ll Be Your Drill, Soldier is a story about four recruits who joined the Armed Forces for a variety of reasons and undergo basic training together for six weeks at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. The story also spans their lives for almost 6 years after they become soldiers and takes us on a journey to see what happens to them as they are deployed in different parts of the world, including Iraq.

Our main protagonist Ryan Gracin soon realized that he fallen for Drill Sergeant Grabowski, the most evil, sadistic D/S in the Army who did everything he could to instill fear in Ryan and his three fellow recruits –  Brendan, Patrick and Kenneth. This mythical Army is a completely different universe from the one we are familiar with since being gay in the military was not against the Armed Forces code of conduct, there was no “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and no one had ever been kicked out because he preferred men.  It’s like an OK Homo world but Drill seemed real in every sense except for the tolerance of gays in the military. The plot takes us into the lives of these raw recruits and shows how they bonded with each other during Basic Training, and details their adventures and misadventures along the way to graduation. You will root for the guys as they overcome obstacle after obstacle and pass incredible tests of human endurance.

This story is partly a tactical playbook for Basic Training in the Armed Forces as the guys are taught how to survive and save the lives of their comrades in dangerous situations; the principles of “all for one and one for all”, brotherhood, loyalty and camaraderie were all part of their training. The book is gritty and real but funny in a morbid sense at times and the readers see the world through the eyes of these characters in every situation, no matter how horrible. Ryan or “Freckles” as Phillip calls him, is 22 years old in the beginning of the story and his lust for his D/S kept getting in the way of duty to his country whenever Phillip was around. Phillip was just as smitten and he made life hell for Ryan by touching him and doing most of the things a lover would do when he wanted to raise his temperature. Because he was Ryan’s superior there was only so much he could do without going over the line, but he walked a razor’s edge as he had fun at Ryan’s expense. These two characters steamed up the pages every time they were in the same room yet Ryan was deathly afraid of Phillip and his reputation as a crazy person, which Phillip cultivated. 😀

All of the characters were well drawn and I fell in love with Ryan and that wonderfully complex man, Phillip Grabowski whose family became Ryan’s extended family because his own hypocritical Christian parents had kicked him out. I think that the supportive relationships, trust and loyalty that developed among the characters over the years was one of the reasons I liked this book so much. The characters kicked each other’s butts when needed but were supportive during the disasters and near misses. War is hell and this book showed  some aspects of that hell. But I don’t want you to get the idea that this book was totally serious. It wasn’t! The ribald humour which filled the pages was a laugh a minute and I have never seen the “F” word used so many times in a book – it was like sprinkling condiments liberally over food ten times over, so be warned.

Drill is warm, funny, gritty and sad and I went through every emotion while reading this book. I never expected that the characters would tug at my heartstrings or have the effect on me that they did.  The emotion at times was so powerful and poignant that I needed a lot of tissues.

Although the story spanned several years it didn’t seem long because the author moved ahead 5 years when we caught up with the characters again after Basic Training. There are too many high and low points to detail in this review but the best part for me were Phillip  and Ryan who were so hot together that at times they had to be scraped off each other. For its length there wasn’t too much sex to overwhelm the book, as Drill was all about the story and the men, their relationships and their families which made this lots of fun and an engrossing read. The author must have done an incredible amount of research to ensure that her story and characters were authentic, or maybe she was in the Armed Forces herself and  wrote from personal experience.

I’ll be your Drill, Soldier is one of the longest romances I can remember reading, at almost 600 pages yet the time  flew by, which is the greatest compliment I can pay an author. I loved the characters, the plot, the world building, the humour and everything about this book and the pacing was incredible. If I had one criticism it was that Phillip’s family members, including his ex, were too darn perfect.

If you want to read a book with lots of hot men in uniform who will take your breath away, wonderfully crafted secondary characters, great man on man action, a plot that will go from the depths to the heights in a split second, and much more fun than you would expect in a story about four army recuits, then I’ll be Your Drill, Soldier should be next on your ‘to buy’ list. Crystal Rose is one hell of a writer!

, , Crystal Rose, Dark Rose Press,


  • Late to the party, but I’m struggling with this story. I’m having trouble with the way Grabowski behaves inappropriately with Ryan. Ryan is a trainee, and I think Grabowski does cross the line you mention, Wave. I’m really bothered by that, and I’m surprised this story has had so many glowing reviews. :sad:

    • Gaye

      I can’t explain, other than what’s in the review, why I loved this story so much. Maybe because it was a lot more about the guys and the bonds of friendship which endured over the years, family, and everything in between.

      The characters are not your usual MCs but I had to remember that this was war where all bets were off. I tried to put myself in the position of the recruits and I could understand their motivations and actions and even Grabowski, who I didn’t like initially but came to love.

      I don’t know if that helps but if it doesn’t, remember that not everyone is meant to like the same books. :)

      • Thanks for your prompt reply. :smile:

        I will “soldier” on … perhaps I’ll change my mind when I get to the end of the story. I see that you didn’t initially like Grabowski, so maybe I’ll get to the point when my feelings change too.

  • Again thank-you Wave, if it wasn’t for this site I would probably not of read this book!

    What a treat this story was…I laughed, cried and simply did not want this book to end. This is now my fave book ever.

    Is there any other books from this author?

    • Hi Jaime
      I’m so glad you enjoyed this book. It’s one of my faves. :)
      I think I did check and the only book(s) that I found were not M/M but I understood that she was writing a sequel to I’ll be Your Drill, Soldier so I’ll check out the publisher’s website.

      Thanks for dropping by and ahve a wonderful day.

  • Hello, I know this is probably somewhat unexpected to read, but it is posts like these that helps me to get through the day, when my boss is shouting at me all the time A couple of my buds told me about it but I didn’t find it for quite a while, so a couple days back you can imagine how pleased I was to finally stumble upon it! Me, I don’t do much blogging because I simply don’t have the time nonetheless I do love to look at other people’s work. I just had to comment to show my appreciation for your blog and I also wanted to let you know that so many authors do not get any credit for their work, credit which is, surely well deserved. Given the topic you might not believe it and maybe even doubt that anyone could like it so much, but I honestly wish for you to carry on with this. It’s number 1!

  • Ok, I have to come out of lurkdom and let you know how much I loved this book. I had seen it, and thought about buying it. Then read your review and said to myself I’ll have to read it now. Am I ever glad. The story was excellent. When it was funny I laughed out loud. When it was tense, you could feel the emotion. Great book read due to a great review. Thanks again.

    • Hi Patty
      I’m so glad to have lured you out of lurkdom even if it’s just this once. 😀
      I’ll Be Your Drill Soldier has become one of my favourite re-reads. Like you, I laughed and cried throughout the book. Crystal Rose take a bow!
      I hope now that you have taken a leap of faith that you’ll be back. :)

      • Thank you so much for this great review Jesse and introducing me to my new favorite author and a spanking good novel. It really was terrific and I know I’ll never forget those guys.

        It looks like the author is going to write a sequel, so now I’m anxiously waiting any news from that direction. 😀

        Again, thanks a bunch

  • Lisa
    I don’t think this book will be out in print, I checked the site and there’s no indication. It is a terrific story and if you can persevere and read it on a computer it’s worth it. I believe it’s available in prc if you have a Kindle.

  • Hi Ingrid
    Please be my guest. I can definitely recommend I’ll Be Your Drill, Soldier and you must let me know, in your usual way, if you enjoyed it as much as I did. 😀
    If you ever see another M/M book by this author please tell me because I have been looking everywhere and nada.

  • I like looong books! Almost to the point that I don’t care what they are about but this actually sounds very good.

    • Lynn
      As you can tell, I really love this book. After I bought it I didn’t start reading it until months later because the length was daunting, but it was worth it. Sometimes the shoe is on the other foot and the readers recommend books to me, which is a great thing.

  • Hi Tish
    I’m very glad you enjoyed the book too. I wonder how many readers were put off by the title which suggests something entirely different to what the story was all about. I fell in love with all of the guys, but of course my faves were Phillip and Ryan. Men in uniform – what a rush!!

  • I also put off reading this book as the title suggests more porn than story. Was I wrong. I really really enjoyed this and I think it is a must read :) I mean who doesn’t like a man in uniform LOL! 😉

    • Hi Lily
      The characters and the story really touched me. As I said in the review I’m not enamoured with books that are so long because usually I find them boring, but not this one.
      I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  • The title and cover aren’t great and the subject matter’s not really my usual…but wow, what an endorsement! I’m bummed the excerpt’s so short. I can’t find a web site/blog for the author (sometimes authors have different or longer excerpts).

    Believe it or not, the length of the book makes it more interesting to me.

    Anyway, I’m seriously considering this one….

    • Kendall
      You’re right – the title and the cover are not that great but the story makes up for that. I, too, tried to find contact information or a website for the author but there’s none available. Some authors write under different pseuds and maybe she didn’t want to set up another site just for this book because I can’t find another M/M book that she’s written.
      I can only say that I loved the book and I hope you will too if you take a chance on it. As I told another reader – don’t be put off by the first chapter because it gets a lot better after that. It’s a pity that the book is not available in paper because it’s very long to read on a computer, but if you have a reader you’re golden. 😀

  • this sounds fabulous! My tbr pile is growing so big, but I will definetely add this to it.

    • Deanna
      I hope you do read the book because I found it really enjoyable. It’s not to everyone’s taste because it’s about soldiers and their lives in Basic Training and beyond, but if you find stories about the military interesting you will definitely like this one.

  • Hi Elaine
    I really loved this one and was only sorry that it took me so long to read the book. Don’t be put off by the first chapter where the “F” word is almost every second word. 😀 It does get better and so does this marvellous story.
    If you like to read about men in the Armed forces and the uniform code, the friendships and loves of the soldiers, you won’t be disappointed. I hope you’ll tell me what you think about this book after you read it.

  • This sounds like something I would really enjoy. Thanks for the insight, as I was also a little put off by the title…..I can’t wait to read it! Thanks Wave!….you haven’t steered me wrong yet.

  • Hi Aleksandr
    I really loved this book as you can tell. I never expected to do so, especially since it was so long and I find that many long books drag. However, I’ll Be Your Drill, Soldier was a delight. If you do buy and read the book please come back and tell me if you enjoy it. 😀

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