Title: Off Base (Out of Uniform #1)
Author: Annabeth Albert
Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date: January 9th 2017
Page Count: 304
Reviewed by: Ele
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
After trading the barracks for a fixer-upper rental, navy SEAL Zack Nelson wants peace, not a roommate—especially not Pike, who sees things about Zack he most wants to hide. Pike’s flirting puts virgin Zack on edge. And the questions Pike’s arrival would spark from Zack’s teammates about his own sexuality? Nope. Not going there. But Zack can’t refuse.
Pike Reynolds knows there won’t be a warm welcome in his new home. What can he say? He’s an acquired taste. But he needs this chance to get his life together. Also, teasing the uptight SEAL will be hella fun. Still, Pike has to tread carefully; he’s had his fill of tourists in the past, and he can’t risk his heart on another, not even one as hot, as built—and, okay, yeah, as adorable—as Zack.
Living with Pike crumbles Zack’s restraint and fuels his curiosity. He discovers how well they fit together in bed…in the shower…in the hallway… He needs Pike more than he could have imagined, yet he doesn’t know how to be the man Pike deserves
This was magnificent! One of my favorites, if not the favorite, by Annabeth Albert. I can tell that this is going to be an amazing series.
This story is a spinoff from the #gaymers series. Pike is Josiah’s friend, and Zack is the douchebag that shared a hospital room with Ryan, all the while spewing homophobic insults. You know what they say for those that complain too much, right?
Zack is so deep in denial, he is completely lost. And then his insistence on keeping Pike his dirty secret was frustrating (but very understandable). There is something very genuine in his story, and his journey towards self-acceptance, though. It all happens so natural. Not easily, but in a very realistic way.
Zack and Pike are polar opposites. Zack is the big, bad SEAL (he’s soft as a marshmallow inside, despite the shitty attitude, I swear), and Pike is the funny, out and proud nerd. He’s also a ginger (freckles and all) and we all know how I feel about them.
There’s fire between Zack and Pike from the beginning, but nothing can come of it. Zack will not accept this part of himself, and Pike will not be someone’s experiment. Never again. But when these two become roommates, everything changes. And it starts with the hottest shower ever!
Be prepared, there is a lot of homophobia in this book that comes from Zack’s environment. His overly religious parents, his bully of a brother, and some of his SEAL teammates. I always read these stories with a heavy heart, but this one tugged on my heartstrings a little more and made my stomach churn. Because imagine all this hate coming from the people that are supposed to have your back in the battlefield. I can’t even imagine the vulnerability Zack must have felt. It’s no wonder he didn’t even want to consider the possibility of coming out at first.
But despite all this, the story didn’t feel overwhelmingly angsty. On the contrary, it is very …readable. And the last part of the book is downright hopeful. When Zack decides to take action and claim his man and the right to happiness, he realises he’s not alone. And he finds much more than he thought he would.
There are some pretty interesting secondary characters and I’m hoping for a story about Lieutenant Appollo. I also loved Pike’s teaching storyline and the way it played out in the end.
Great writing, multi-dimensional and complex characters, and a beautiful HEA. I might be wrong, but I have the feeling that we ‘ll see more of these two in the future, even if it’s a short story or a cameo appearance in someone else’s book.