Hi there! Today I’m sharing an excerpt and review for a contemporary M/M romance from new-to-me author Leigh Lennon. MY ONLY DEFENSE is the third book in her Love is Love series, and features a guilty sportswriter and the Navy SEAL he fell for but inadvertently wronged.
About the book:
Love sucks! There I said it. I’ve never looked for it, nor do I want it. All it seems to do is cause open wounds. I already suffer from the guilt of a horrific accident. I won’t let love suck me down the rabbit hole. But Murphy’s Law is a diva out to destroy my life. Someone sees me for more than just a one and done and though I’ve pushed men away for years, he’s refreshing. But remember that diva I told you about, she’s sort of a b**** too. Yeah, love more than sucks but since I can’t use the words I want, I’ll just stick to that because the man I want has a connection with me, no one knows about.
I met a man. Sure he’s a little detached and cynical. Though, try telling my heart he’s all wrong for me. I’ve been over it with this particular traitorous part of my body. And, I do the one thing I never do with my hook-ups. I give him a way to reach me. But it’s more—I almost beg him to call me after my next deployment. Oh, yeah, forgot to mention, I’m in the military and am shipping out. I want him to be my welcoming party, when I come home, yet, when I unravel every complicated part of Garrison Fisher, I find more and more I should run from. But I can’t. He’s broken, but after my time in the military, I’m broken too. Can we fix one another and heal the wounds that may very well tear us apart?
How about a little taste?
I haven’t had enough beer or scotch or bourbon or rum to endure the I’m concerned for you speech I get from this crew of people. It should make me feel secure in the friendships of so many who care for me. But it doesn’t.
Making my way through small groups of people mingling together, I see many teammates huddled up, partaking in different conversations. I hear Ryder’s voice carry through the crowd. I’m on my way to him in an attempt to bow out for the night. I’m tired, grumpy, and want to go over some more statistics before I fall asleep with my laptop open.
I have the Uber app pulled up on my phone and blindly walk over to find Ryder.
I’m overcome with this searing feeling I’m being watched. Darting my gaze over to the set of eyes that I can feel are on me, like the sun on a clear day, I’m met with the one person who I’ve been trying to forget for way too long. Charging toward me is the handsome and familiar face of Lawson Solaritez, and he’s anything but happy to see me. Oh, fuck!
I’m paralyzed, unable to move, his eyes piercing me, and the entire group he’s a part of stops, staring at our interaction. With Crush near his husband, I hear him ask, “Did you know, Ryder?”
But nothing fazes the angry Navy SEAL. His entire gaze is ready to set me on fire. With the heat in his eyes, the kind I’m not accustomed to, I turn on my heels, taking my leave. I won’t come clean with him, not in this house, not ever. He’s been hurt enough, and by the flames ready to destroy me, he’s already one step in the right direction. But the memory of his family being lowered into the ground will only hurt him further.
I’m around the corner of this mansion type of home when the strong arms of Law pull me back to him. Six months we fucked, and I’d know his touch anywhere.
We’re just far enough away from everyone, and we have privacy when he backs my body against the farthest wall, his one arm pushing my shoulder against it and the other over my hand.
“What the fuck?” These are his words.
“No hello?” Yeah, I’m an asshole—it’s the only way I know when I’m met head-on with a crisis. “It’s the normal way to greet people.”
“Hello, asshole.” His eyes widen, and his words are just as cold. “Now, with our pleasantries out of the way, want to explain ghosting me?”
I choke on the air, attempting to explain the ridiculousness of his little tantrum. I clear my throat, and I seem to breathe normally again. “Are you serious right now, Law? I believe your words were something along these lines—‘I know this isn’t what we do, but the ball is in your court.’ This is my paraphrase, but I think I’m pretty fucking close. So, don’t act as if you have a reason to be upset.”
He lets go of my shoulder, but his body is still pressed against mine. I’ve dreamed of him every day since saying goodbye to him six months ago. And there’s nothing I’d rather do than allow him to ravage every part of me.
“Give me something, Gary. We had a connection and, by your reaction, I know you wanted more from me. I didn’t give you a chance to answer, but I expected something. Yeah, my words were just words because I felt it, here.” He places his hand on my heart. “Here, Gary—right here. I didn’t imagine anything, and I’m left to wonder why the hell you’ve changed. I have the right to know. Fuck, you know my name. I know nothing about you. Just tell me your name. I know it’s not Gary. Give me something so that when I dream of you, I’ll know it was real, if only for a second.”
“It doesn’t matter what we felt here.” I give myself permission this one time to touch him, and I place my hand over his. “I don’t have any right to care—catching feelings for you.”
Lt Colonel Lawson Solaritez is a SEAL and a twin brother to pro-hockey player Edward. A few years back Edward, who’d long had a drug problem, was the subject of a news piece that also called him out for being a serial adulterer. His distraught, young, pregnant wife fled the home and was killed in a car wreck. Law still feels terrible about this, missing his SIL and the niece that was never born, but he blames Edward for all their trauma–a man who’s dropped out of society and been on the run for the past three years. Law’s recent happiness has come from his frequent connections with a submissive man he knows as “Gary” and he’d hoped to return from a deployment and pick up where they’d left off–but Gary is a ghost, now. And Law is heartbroken.
Garrison Fisher is a sports reporter turned colorman for the Nashville football team. He’s regretted writing the tell-all on Edward Solaritez for three years now. His only bright spot was having incredible sex with Law–until Law deployed and Garrison learned his full name–and relationship to Edward. He’d started to fall hard for Law, but how could Law ever want the man responsible for his family’s tragedy? When he finally reveals his troubles to a good friend, well, that guy totally goes behind Garrison’s back and meddles, but only in the effort to reunite the starcrossed lovers.
It’s tricky, obviously, because Garrison’s a guilt bomb waiting to explode and Edward’s out there, a detonator on the run. Law is finally feeling good–capable of building a relationship–if only submissive Garrison will get with his program. It’s a tangled story, with lots of good secondary characters helping both Garrison and Law find the happily ever after that they deserve. For me, I think the writing was a little convoluted, with odd phrasing at times, and really long, explanatory dialogue. It slowed the pacing for me, and hampered my ability to really connect with the characters. Beyond that, I felt like Garrison and Law were good guys, and I was glad to see how caring and understanding Law was toward Garrison, who is really mired in self-loathing due to the article. It showed that Garrison was really affected by the sequelae from his actions, which was also admirable. I was rooting for these guys, just wishing the prose moved a little quicker.
There’s a happy ending for these guys, but they do have to work for it. And, I liked how their cadre of confidantes really stepped in to support them. Clearly, some of these guys were main characters in previous stories of the series.
About Leigh Lennon:
I am a woman who loves to share all my imaginary friends with the world. My characters become as real to me as those I call family. I am a girl, who loves pretty nails, spikey hair and large earrings. Coffee and wine call to me daily, depending on the time of the day. I am a mom first and foremost and my kids are the breath of my life. I met my husband while serving in the military and I am proud to say he’s kicked cancer’s ass! I write real life issues that reflect a little of my own little world. My family tolerates the seventh member of our family, my computer, as I lug this vital piece everywhere I go.
Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!