Title // Squared Away (Out of Uniform #5)
Author // Annabeth Albert
Publication Date // April 2018
Publisher // Carina Press
Readership // Adult
Genre // Romance, LGBTQIA+
Rating // ✭✭✭✭☆
I received a copy of Squared Away from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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.
It’s no secret that I adore the Out of Uniform series by Annabeth Albert. They’re romance books with wonderful stories at the core, and Squared Away is no exception.
The core of this story follows Isaiah and Mark as they become parents overnight after the death of their siblings in a tragic car accident. Isaiah is determined to become the full-time guardian of his nieces and nephew, and Mark is used to being the person in control. The strongest point of this book is the way that both men’s concern for the well-being of the children they find in their care is front and centre all the time. Kids don’t go away just because adults want to have alone time; they’re there and they’re a priority, which is fantastic.
I also love the representation in this book (as with the rest in the series). Isaiah is out and proud of the fact. Mark, on the other, hand, is a lot less secure in his understanding of his sexuality and really struggles with that. It’s the first time I’ve read a protagonist that’s gray ace and it was well done, and highlights the emotional state of Mark constantly, which is a great contrast to Isaiah.
There are steamy scenes in here, but the focus is less on smut and more on a sensual and romantic connection between the two characters and that was refreshing.
This is a book that will put you through an emotional wringer, but it’s well worth it. I gave Squared Away 4.5 out of 5 stars.