Title // Wheels Up (Off Base #4)
Author // Annabeth Albert
Publication Date // November 7, 2017
Publisher // Carina Press
Genre // Romance, LGBTQIA+
Rating // ✭✭✭✭
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.
Wheels Up is the fourth instalment in the Off Base series by Annabeth Albert, following the lives and relationships of Navy SEALs. This particular story follows Lieutenant Dustin Strauss (old brother of Dylan, who was a main character in the previous book), a newly minted-XO with a few secrets: he’s kept his bisexual identity a secret for years, as well as his recent online relationship with a man he knows only as ‘Wes.’
Wes turns out to be Petty Office Wes Lowe, an enlisted officer and explosives specialist: both of which are revealed when he’s unknowingly transferred into Dustin’s unit, putting both their careers in jeopardy due to strict non-fraternisation rules within the Navy. Thus begins the push-pull relationship that spans 80% of Wheels Up.
First things first: I really enjoyed Dustin and Wes’ chemistry. They’re both very endearing characters. Dustin’s trying to figure out who he is and where he fits in his life with his secret side and that internal struggle is really interesting to read. Wes, on the other hand, is a very smart, confident, family driven guy who recognises his attraction to Dustin is more than just that but is caught up in the rules of their careers. There were plenty of very steamy scenes between Dustin and Wes, as well as some very touching scenes, particularly between Wes and his sister.
That said, the constant back-and-forth, no-we-can’t-yes-we-can moments between the two main characters seemed to drag out a little bit. They had every reason to put the breaks on their relationship and they constantly broke their own decisions, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but I felt it through the pacing of the story off a bit. I understand that it was a decision made to reflect the real rules that these characters might have to navigate in reality, but it didn’t feel as tightly written as previous books in the series.
Overall I gave Wheels Up 4 out of 5 stars: a good story, with great characters. This series continues to be a favourite.
I received a copy of Wheels Up from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. All thoughts are my own.