Sink or Swim by Annabeth Albert

Sink or Swim (Shore Leave 2)
Author: Annabeth Albert
Published: February 22, 2022
Publisher: Carina Press
Readership: Adult
Genre: LGBTQIA+ Romance
Rating: ★★★★

I received a copy of the Sink or Swim from the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Winning and losing are subject to sexy interpretation…

Navy chief Calder Euler loves to win big. His latest score? A remote mountain cabin. Checking it out is supposed to be a quick trip, but Calder’s luck abruptly turns when a freak injury and a freakier snowstorm leave him stranded.

Oh, and the cabin isn’t empty. A silver fox caring for two young girls claims that the property is his, but Calder’s paperwork says otherwise.

Felix Sigurd is on a losing streak, and his ex-husband risking the cabin in a reckless bet is only the latest in a series of misfortunes. He’ll tolerate the handsome stranger for a couple nights–even care for his injuries—but that’s it.

Calder doesn’t know a damn thing about kids, but making pancakes for Felix’s girls is a surprising delight. Trapped in the cabin, the four of them slip easily into the rhythms of a family. But when the ice melts, they’ll have to decide if a future together is in the cards.

I was delighted to be able to read Annabeth Albert’s next instalment in her Shore Leave series (book one was Sailor Proof), Sink or Swim. In this one we follow another Euler brother, this time Navy Chief Calder Euler, who’s working a desk job after recovering from a head injury aboard a submarine. He likes to win, and after apparently winning a cabin in his most recent card game, he heads out to check it out only to stumble upon the actual owner, Felix, and the two young nieces he’s now guardian of.

This book was charming – both protagonists are at different stages in their lives, or at least that’s what they believe at first. Calder has never seen himself as the settling down type and he’s itching to get back on board a sub as soon as he’s cleared for duty. But being snowed in in a cabin with the older, more reserved Felix, the two slip into simple domestic tasks while caring for the two girls. Felix is a delightful character – the older of the two and a geriatric psychologist who’s been through a messy divorce with his former partner after taking on guardianship of his nieces, he’s serious and reserved as he tries to navigate his new life. But he finds himself being drawn to the vibrant Calder, even as he realises that any relationship that starts between the two of them is unlikely to last.

Annabeth Albert has a truly wonderful way of writing well-rounded characters who are dealing with real world problems without making that feel heavy. I always enjoy when she includes kids in her stories, and the two nieces were so fun to read about – serious Madeline and vivacious Charlotte (who was quite possibly my favourite thing about the whole book as she gleefully tries to freak out everyone around her with gross facts).

The book sees Calder and Felix not only navigate their relationship, but the fall out from Felix’s divorce, Calder’s indecision about the future of his career, six children and family members who just want to see them both happy.

I’m always guaranteed a good time with a new Annabeth Albert book, and this did not disappoint.

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