Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new contemporary M/M navy romance from Annabeth Albert. SAILOR PROOF is the first book in her Shore Leave series that features naval submarine officers finding love. In this installment, a naval chief looks to upstage his cheating ex and ends up falling head over heels for his best friend’s younger brother.
About the book:
The sexy Navy chief and his best friend’s adorkable little brother…
It’s petty, but Naval Chief Derrick Fox wishes he could exact a little revenge on his ex by showing off a rebound fling. His submarine is due to return to its Bremerton, Washington, home base soon and Derrick knows all too well there won’t be anyone waiting with a big, showy welcome.
Enter one ill-advised plan…
Arthur Euler is the guy you go to in a pinch—he’s excellent at out-of-the-box solutions. It’s what the genius music-slash-computer nerd is known for. So when he finds out Derrick needs a favor, he’s happy to help. He can muster the sort of welcome a Naval Chief deserves, no problem at all.
Except it is a problem. A very big problem.
When Arthur’s homecoming welcome is a little too convincing, when a video of their gangplank smooch goes enormously viral, they’re caught between a dock and a hard place. Neither of them ever expected a temporary fake relationship to look—or feel—so real. And Arthur certainly never considered he’d be fighting for a very much not-fake forever with a military man.
Navy chief Derrick Fox is jealous as hell. His ex was messing around on him with an officer on his submarine–and now that officer has won the coveted First Kiss raffle, which means he’ll be one of the first shore-side men when they dock at Bremerton in days. And, then he’ll have to watch his cheating ex smooch it up all over the place. If only he had someone he could meet up with–not that he has any family to speak of, which is also why he’s so glad to be good friends with Calder Euler, a fellow chief. Calder’s youngest brother Arthur is 25, out and reportedly attractive. Derrick has known him for a decade, but he’d always been young and spindly. With Calder’s assurance that Arthur would not only show up and be a great first-kiss option to try and make his ex and the crappy officer jealous, but he won’t make a fuss about it. Because Arthur has no intentions falling for a navy man.
Arthur’s ready to do a good deed, helping out Derrick. He’d always had a low-key attraction for the man, who is gorgeous. But, neither Arthur nor Calder expected their parents to show up and welcome Calder home. Catching Derrick and Arthur in an intense lip-lock–one that goes viral and does incense the cheating ex–means the world to the folks. They had thought Arthur would remain single a lot longer, and Derrick, to them, is a huge catch. So, now that they think Derrick and Arthur are an item, they want him to join the Euler family retreat.
Ugh. Complication! So, Arthur convinces Derrick to act as his fake boyfriend for the week because then he can get a separate cabin, and not stay with all the nephews and nieces. The Euler family is incredibly competitive, and Derrick is a little taken aback at how they seem to belittle Arthur for not being as physically agile as the rest of his fit military family. They push Arthur into planning the annual kiddos talent show, and he runs with it, with Derrick’s great support, to build every child’s esteem. It’s an almost radical departure from their business-as-usual winner-take-all mentality, and it really makes a big impression on Derrick, who is already pretty enamored with Arthur. The stunning man who met him at Bremerton is not the young, gangly band nerd he’d met years ago while hanging with Calder. No, he’s an accomplished musician with a thriving composing career. Derrick marvels at Arthur’s skill coddling self-conscious kiddos and helping them find their happy places. And Arthur himself thrives on Derrick’s admiration. In fact, well, both men are falling into love while playing out this close-quarters fake boyfriend scheme. So, yeah, they get to have some fun while sharing that tiny cabin with it’s sweet bathtub.
It’s a sweet and sexy story, with the added family drama creating a crucible that melts Arthur and Derrick together. The Eulers are a fun bunch, if a little tribal and low-key toxic. I was so glad to see both Derrick and Arthur call out their competitiveness, and change their viewpoint to some degree. It was so fun watching Derrick, who’s so loving and so isolated, fall so hard for Arthur. Though Arthur’s aversion to being a military partner is strong, his impressions of what it means to be a partner were based on his youthful experience watching his mom put her life on hold for his dad’s career. As an adult, he’s now having real conversations to discover what it would look like to have an enlisted partner. Because, he’s falling just as hard for Derrick, and he wants to support him while also honoring his own needs.
There is an unexpected separation, but it’s good because that break allows for true reflection and the space to plan for a brighter future, together. I’m eager to see what happens in the next book–because I think Calder’s going to find his true love.
About the Author:
Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer.
Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights supporter. In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two children.
Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!