Wheels Up (Gigi’s Review)

Title: Wheels Up (Out of Uniform #4)
Author: Annabeth Albert
Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date: November 6, 2017
Genre(s): Contemporary/Military
Page Count: 320
Reviewed by: Gigi
Heat Level: 5 flames out of 5
Rating: 3 stars out of 5


Their love is forbidden, but their hearts aren’t listening to rules and regulations.

Lieutenant Dustin Strauss is a reformed man. No longer a twentysomething hell-raiser, he’s his SEAL team’s new XO-and a man with a secret. Or seven. He’s kept his bisexual identity under wraps for years, along with his kinky side and a fondness for the military-themed semianonymous hookup website Joe4Joe. His latest chat buddy is more than a sexy online distraction-they’re taking their very not-safe-for-work relationship into real time.

Petty Officer Wes Lowe has a smart mouth, a take-charge attitude and an uncanny ability for making things go boom. The life of an enlisted man isn’t always enough to satisfy him, but one wild, no-questions-asked weekend with his online love comes close. When a transfer order comes in, Wes feels ready and centered. He’ll make a good impression on his new SEAL team and keep his growing feelings for Dustin on the down low.

But as they log more time online and some very real emotions surface, Dustin and Wes struggle to pretend they’re just a harmless fling. And when his commander introduces Dustin to his team’s newest member, they’re in for the shock of a lifetime and a crushing disappointment: their difference in ranks means even a friendship without sexual contact could end their navy careers for good.

With their hearts on the line, Dustin and Wes may not survive their next mission, let alone find a way toward a future together

Take a moment with me to enjoy this cover. Need a close up? I’ll wait.

Wheels Up is the fourth installment in the Out of Uniform Series by Annabeth Albert. The series follows a group of Navy SEALs and their struggles with romance. Wheels Up focuses on Wes and Dustin.

Wes and Dustin meet via a Grindr like hook-up app called Joe4Joe with caters to military men. After 6 months of developing a friendship and some hot and heavy cyber sex, they decide to meet. Neither knows the other is a SEAL, choosing to keep real names and personal info out of their cyber relationship.

Their first meeting is mind-boggling hot. Like melt-the-paint-off-the-walls hot. The men live on different coasts, so they both know this is a one-time thing.

Now, a few weeks later Wes is transferred and I’ll give you one guess whose unit he is moved to. touches nose Got it in one! While the men already have an emotional connection, fraternization rules forbid them having any sort of relationship, including a basic friendship. Oh no… This sucks!

I need to note here that Ms. Albert has an author’s note at the end of the book talking about the seriousness of military fraternization rules. Here it is in its entirety:

As always, I tried to be as accurate as possible in my depictions of military life. However, the reality is that fraternization among officers and enlisted people is a very big deal for the military in all branches, and I had to find a balance between the gravity of the situation and the need to give Wes and Dustin a happy ending. To that end, I consulted two military attorneys as well as several current and former military personnel. A particular thanks to L.A. Witt, who was invaluable with her insights on this matter. Any inaccuracies or liberties are solely my own. Thanks to the military and special-ops boards and blogs that do an amazing job providing information about special ops and the lives of the people who serve.

As Ms. Albert promises, the book takes these rules quite seriously so these boys have to have clandestine meetings, which are filled with passion and a large doses of guilt. This is where the story fell apart for me. Like in LA Witt’s Just Drive, these meeting made me crazy. “We can’t have a relationship! It’s against the rules! One of us could be court-martialed !” hot sex, hot sex “We can’t let that happen again! This is the last time!” Shower, rinse, repeat for 70% of the book. UUUGGG!!!

And I get it. Ms. Albert was going for realism. But that didn’t silence my frustration with these boys coming back to each other over and over and over again and heaping on the guilt each time.

Another problem was the ending. It was HFN and a verbal HEA. After the mind-numbing angst in the last 80% of the book, I needed a rainbows and fluffy bunny epilogue to balance everything out.

So, this book started off great and hot and emotional but quickly went off the rails for me. I’m pretty sure I’ll be in the minority here when more reviews start coming in, but those of you who are easily frustrated with clandestine hook-ups and heavy relationship angst will want to skip this one. Everyone else, enjoy the hot and passionate SEALs goodie!

Out of Uniform Series

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Galley copy of Wheels Up (Out of Uniform #4) provided by Carina Press in exchange of an honest review.

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