Title: Squared Away (Out of Uniform #5)
Author: Annabeth Albert
Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date: April 16th 2018
Page Count: 352
Reviewed by: Ele
Heat Level: 3.5 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
In the wake of tragedy, SEAL Mark Whitley rushed stateside to act as guardian to his sister’s three young children. But a conflicting will could give custody to someone else—someone Mark remembers as a too young, too hot, wild party boy. Even after six years, Mark can’t shake the memory of his close encounter with Isaiah James, or face up to what it says about his own sexuality.
Isaiah’s totally over the crush that made him proposition Mark all those years ago. In fact, he’s done with crushing on the wrong men altogether. For now, he’s throwing himself into proving he’s the best person to care for his cousin’s kids. But there’s no denying there’s something sexy about a big, tough military man with a baby in his arms.
As the legal details get sorted out, their long-buried attraction resurfaces, leading to intimate evenings after the kids are tucked in. A forever future is within reach for all of them, if only Mark can find the courage he needs to trust Isaiah with his secrets—and his heart.
I really liked this! I’m a big fan of this series and Squared Away is actually my second favorite after Off Base.
Six years ago, during a wedding reception, Isaiah James (cousin of the groom) decided that he wanted SEAL Mark Whitley (brother of the bride) to pop his cherry. Things didn’t go as planned and Mark’s rejection set the tone for all their future encounters.
Six years later Uncle Ikey is no longer the party boy extraordinaire but a responsible adult ready to take action, and Unca Mark will have to fight the biggest battle of all: raising his dead sister’s kids. With Isaiah.
There is always a lot of diversity in Annabeth Albert’s stories. Interracial relationships and MCs that belong on the ace spectrum do not get enough representation in MM. Well, you ‘ll find both in Squared Away.
Mark is gray ace or demisexual but there is steam in this book and the steamy scenes were indeed my favorite parts but not because of the sex. During these scenes the amount of respect between Mark and Isaiah, the level of trust, the first fumbling explorations, the sensuality, the intensity and all these FEELINGS made me stop breathing for a while. What a beautiful thing to see.
The kids are so realistically portrayed instead of just being there. And although they ‘re always on the forefront, they don’t “steal” precious time from the main couple. On the contrary, they bring them together.
Other things that I loved:
-Strong comfort/healing aspect (the scene where the MCs meet for the first time after the accident was amazing).
-Great relationship development.
-The conflict of the story is very much real. I was afraid we had a bit of a miscommunication thing going on for a while, but no.
-Cameo appearances of characters from the previous books (but you can read it as a standalone).
-Imperfect/flawed families who are not black and white. They screw up but they try to be better.
-The ending was all kinds of awesome. For any other book it may have not worked. For this book, it was the only HEA there could be.
Needless to say, recommended!