About the Book
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.
Out of Uniform, book 1
304 e-book pages
“What do you mean they’re not coming?” Zack tried hard to sound like the badass navy SEAL he was now. He’d passed all sorts of interrogation training—there was no reason he couldn’t hide that he didn’t particularly like this guy. Or this fancy bar where he and his nontrendy clothes and military haircut were out of place. He’d agreed to go out for drinks with a group. His friend Ryan had promised him a drink for finishing his SEAL qualification training and getting his trident, and Zack had figured dealing with the rest of Ryan’s crowd wouldn’t be horrible. But tolerable was a far cry from being stranded alone with Pike freaking Reynolds without Ryan as a buffer.
“They blew two tires getting out of Santa Monica and are waiting on a repair truck now. Ryan said to have fun without them.” Pike looked harmless enough—shorter than Zack with a lean build and bright red hair and freckles that made him look too young to drink—but Zack knew from experience he was anything but benign. Pike was the type of guy who would flirt with wallpaper, but he seemed to have singled Zack out for special attention ever since their first meeting at a LAN party.
Which was all well and good, but unlike a lot of Ryan’s crowd, Zack wasn’t openly gay. And what Zack hated was that Pike seemed to see through all his “no, really I’m straight” protests and see things Zack refused to even think about. And a whole night with Pike? Torture. And that was coming from someone who’d been tossed into frigid water with his arms and legs bound. Repeatedly.
But he’d happily endure another round of drownproof training if it meant an easy out of this situation.
“Is Landon coming?” Please say it’s not just us. Surely, Pike’s omnipresent sidekick would be there to bail Zack out.
“Nope. He’s doing research at the Hadron Collider for the next few months. Just us, I think.” Pike grinned at him. “Alone at last, right?”
Zack guessed that the Hadron was one of those supersmart things Pike’s crowd just assumed everyone else knew about. He certainly wasn’t about to appear dumb and ask. “You don’t have to stick around on my account,” he said instead.
“Dude.” Pike smacked him on the shoulder. “I’ve had a shit week. Another three interviews for jobs for the fall, another three fuckups on my part. Don’t make me drink alone.”
“I guess I could do a beer.”
“On me, right? We’re all super stoked that you passed SQT.” Pike gave him another of those disarming smiles.
Ba-deep-deep. Zack’s phone chimed. Sure enough, there was a message from Ryan apologizing for bailing. Have fun with Pike, Ryan ended. But whatever you do, don’t let him talk you into shots. He looks scrawny, but he can drink you under the table. Trust me.
Zack shoved his phone away. Nope, no way was he doing shots with Pike. Last thing he needed was to get drunk and forget himself around the guy.
“So what’ll it be? They have a whole selection of craft beers here.” Pike offered him one of the little bar menus artfully strewn around on the huge antique wood bar.
“A Bud’s fine,” Zack said. He’d never developed a taste for the fancy stuff. This whole place was fancier than he was used to, what with the exposed hardwoods everywhere, the prettified bar food emerging from the kitchen, and the painted inspirational quotes behind the bar. Even the name, Mellow, was a far cry from the hole-in-the-wall places he’d drunk at in college or even Big Ted’s, the little sports bar right off base that his fellow SEALs favored.
Pike signaled the burly bartender, who frowned at them after Pike gave their order for a Bud and some fancy-ass beer Zack had never heard of. “Hand stamps, please. Both of you.”
Zack stuck his hand out, showing that the bouncer had indeed checked his ID. Pike put his arm right next to Zack’s—way too close for comfort. “See, look at us, finding things in common.”
“Getting carded is hardly something to be proud of,” Zack mumbled as he pulled his arm away. Back in San Diego, when he went to the bars with his friends, they never got carded anymore. And he liked that—he was twenty-three now, for crying out loud.
“Of course it’s not for you, Muscles.” Pike did that whole standing-too-close thing again, moving over so others could get to the bar.
Zack really shouldn’t like that Pike noticed what the past few months of training had done for his physique. He’d always been lean, but days of log- and boat-carry drills had carved out muscles he hadn’t even been aware he had. Zack accepted his beer from the bartender, then followed Pike to one of the little high-top tables ringing the bar area.
“Seriously, you are jacked now.” Pike winked at him, giving him the sort of once-over Zack’s buddies gave girls in bikinis. “Look at those shoulders. It even makes you look taller.”
Flattery was not going to work on Zack. Not even a bit. Besides, Pike was the short one, probably five seven or so. But Zack was a perfectly respectable five ten. In your boots.
“Truth, man. I just call it like I see it.” Pike shrugged. And that right there was the whole problem with Pike—he had absolutely no filter and a way too keen sense of observation.
When the opportunity to get my hands on an advance copy of this came my way I jumped aaaaalll over it, purely for scientific reasons.
Okay, not really. See, SEALS aren’t exactly elusive creatures to me. I live in a SEAL town. The East Coast one. These guys can frequently be spotted in the wilds here at bars, the beach, Home Depot. (Except the Home Depot SEALS are likely married, alas.) Still, even if I might be a little desensitized to the whole badass best-o-the-best thing, because I grew up around it….
Who am I kidding? There is no desensitizing. Those guys can seriously make me swoon.
I had a little hope that this would take place in my town, there was a 50-50 shot after all. And while the book took place in California, at least my side of SEALdom got mentioned a few times. (yay!)
Out of Uniform is the first of a new series spun off from the #gaymers series. I didn’t know that until I went digging for more information. I’ve only read the first of the #gaymers books, and that was a while ago, so my chances of picking up on that tidbit were zilch, but it totally makes sense now that I think about it. It’s perfectly safe to say that this book can definitely be read without prior #gaymers experience.
Here we have Zack and Pike (fabulous name). Zack is fresh meat on the SEAL team, and Pike’s a mathematics/statistics guy who ends up in Zack’s town teaching college because what he really wants to do — go to work for a gaming company — doesn’t pan out as swiftly since he needs to pay his bills.
These guys start off as reluctant friends at best, acquaintances with friends in common who seriously don’t have much reason to hang out together. In fact, Zack doesn’t want much to do with Pike for a variety of reasons. Main one being that Pike is unapologetically out and proud and has no desire to live a lie. Zack, being military, being relatively new to the SEAL gig, along with a host of other internal and external factors, is closeted and in serious denial. That kind of combo is like a spark next to a gas pump and can be rich fodder for all sorts of angsty longing while the denier sorts himself out.
The magic starts happening when they agree to be roommates. Then it gets even more delicious when part of the roommate bargain involves home renovations. If there’s anything that can tear people apart, or solidify a partnership, it’s power tools and DIY projects.
The sexy times were, well, nothing short of explosive. Y’all. For all his deeply conservative upbringing, Zack is super-closeted to the point he can’t admit he’s gay and has held himself back from everything he wants. We’re talkin’ a badass Navy SEAL whose passions are unleashed in spectacular ways. And Pike…lordy. Do not underestimate this guy.
I will say that this is riddled with splashes of homophobia. And, that’s a hard and bitter pill for me to swallow in books. It’s easier for me to take if dealt with super quick and in terms that rend the characters spouting such hateful nonsense silent forevermore — or until they change their backward ways. Here, it gets dealt with. But maybe not quite as quickly as I would have hoped. I think about the circumstances, though, and while that doesn’t make it forgivable, makes it understandable when trying to wear Zack’s shoes. The military is taking their sweet time in changing their homophobic ways, regardless of what the SOPs now mandate. And in situations where your life is quite literally in the hands of your teammates, you gotta know they’ll have your back…so swallowing down their slurs and keeping yourself in the closet — I get it. I don’t have to like it, but I get it.
That aside, I enjoyed this immensely. The growth between the MCs was organic and tentative with several minor cases of miscommunication due to nervousness and avoidance tactics. But, they worked it out to all kinds of happy results that made me a happy, happy reader.
Off Base was super entertaining with tons of character growth from both heroes in a coming-of-age way and in learning how to communicate effectively to form a powerhouse of a couple.
And since this series is all about men in uniform, sign me up!
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.
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