Title: Beyond Duty (A Mac and Gunny Novel)
Authors: SJD Peterson
Cover Artist: Paul Richmond
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy Link: Buy Link Beyond Duty, Dreamspinner Press
Genre: M/M Contemporary
Rating: 5 stars
A Guest Review by Sammy
Review Summary: What to do when two military men are confronted with the choice to finally, “come out” to the world after years of hiding?
Blurb: The repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell didn’t come soon enough for Gunther “Gunny” Duchene and Macalister “Mac” Jones, career US Marines who met at boot camp in the 1990s. They’ve been somewhere between best friends and lovers in peacetime and wartime both, but as the clock ticks toward Mac’s and Gunny’s retirements, the guys have much more to worry about than coming out.
Whether their relationship will survive outside of the closet they’ve had to shove it into for over two decades is a big question mark. Gunny questions why a hot military man like Mac—who could get any guy he wanted, including a younger, sexier one—would want him. But as Gunny and Mac navigate emotional waters as choppy as any they saw on duty, they just might learn Semper Fi applies to more than their careers.
Review: Semper Fi. Always faithful, always loyal. Many years ago, career Marines, Gunther Duchene and Macalister Jones made a decision, they would be exclusive and loyal to each other. In a climate where there very relationship could mean the end of all that they love, they hid and made the choice to be with only each other on the rare and treasured times they could spend time together. It was not easy and while familiarity may sometimes breed contempt, on the flip side, long distance often breeds doubt and Gunny has more than his fair share of it when Mac returns to him just a few months shy of their retirement from the Corps.
While both men are grappling with issues over leaving their long and illustrious careers, the fact that they can soon be openly gay and military men presents more worry than one would think for both of them. For Mac, it’s obvious, the two of them must and should make a statement, showing their commitment to each other. The perfect place? Their retirement ceremony. His biggest concern is not that Gunny will want to be his lover and, yes, hopefully his husband for the foreseeable future and beyond, no, it is how to tell his parents and how to convince Gunny to do the same. Poor Gunny, on the other hand, is suffering from the feeling that Mac could now have anyone and that he might be less than adequate for this new role of boyfriend. So, both men have some real hurdles to face as they approach a new life–the question is will they do it together or separately, for the first time in so very long.
Many of you may remember these two fierce and hard loving marines from a short story (of essentially the same name) that author SJD Peterson did a while ago. Then, she gave us a taste of these two unlikely lovers and a hint that their future, while secretive and potentially rocky, was still a reality if both were committed to each other and could endure the test of time and, often, distance. As this story picks up, the intervening time has been spent excelling at their careers and continuing their ofttimes dangerous and clandestine affair. Note that I did not say love–although both men feel strongly, neither has come out and uttered those three important words to the other. Then came DADT and the potential for their relationship to come out into the open once and for all. Now, they must grapple with a lot of “firsts” at the tender ages of forty-something and, oh my, does the anger, passion, angst, and, yes, love flow off the page as they move forward to meet what comes next.
These characters are some phenomenally well-written. Their emotions and inner thoughts pour off the page and create real, living breathing men right before your eyes. The situations they find themselves in at this stage in their life are difficult ones, but they know each other, have a rhythm and flow that allows them to reach beyond the petty things of life that would slow or derail a less stable couple. The compassion and care they show for each other in the little things make this a novel that sings! A dinner prepared, a brush of one finger against a stubbled cheek, a smoldering glance that lights up the page with heat and lust, all these come together to make a heart-stopping read that burrows deep into your heart.
The author wisely gives each of her men second doubts and allows for the one to help the other maneuver past them. There are friends along the way and parents who must deal with the acknowledgment of a relationship that has been staring them in the face for so many years. I was grateful that SJD Peterson opted not to make this transition seamless or easy for Gunny and Mac. For me, the loss of friends, the derogatory and inflammatory slurs leveled at these men lent an air of realism to their experience. Yes, it saddens me to know that this type of bigotry occurs hourly in our world but for an author to gloss over it I feel diminishes the price gay men and women pay daily for the simple right to love whom they choose. The author treated this subject of Gunny and Mac’s coming out with respect and care and allowed for the struggles that arise from it, which made the story even more complete and compelling to read.
I thoroughly enjoyed Beyond Duty (A Mac and Gunny Novel) by SJD Peterson. Not only was it a worthy continuation of the original short story, it was also a beautiful tribute to men who love both their country and each other and the right they should have to do both. I highly recommend this novel to you.