When a SEAL medic inherits three young children, he must battle to keep the family together and keep his long-held feelings for the man challenging him for custody at bay.
Series: Out of Uniform #5
Release Date: April 16th (print, ebook, and audio all available)
Includes: military romance, insta-family, hurt/comfort, angst, interracial, heroes-with-kids, demisexual/gray ace hero, first time, loss, reunion, forced proximity
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.
What Annabeth Albert has to say about this book in her Out of Uniform series:
“I wanted to write a book about the nature of family and how loss and tragedy can shape family, mold it into something stronger, force growth and change. I’m enormously proud of SQUARED AWAY as a result because how I fell in love with this little family.”
The Couples of the Out of Uniform Series
Hi there! I’m so thrilled to be here today, celebrating my new release, SQUARED AWAY, which is book five in the Out of the Uniform series. I get a lot of questions about how these books and their heroes are related. While each book is designed to stand-alone well, there is some cross over. I thought it would be fun to go couple by couple and talk a little about the pairing, how it relates to other books in the series, and what I love about them. And I’ve got little hints about the heroes of book six, TIGHT QUARTERS, and book seven, ROUGH TERRAIN for you!
OFF BASE—Pike and Zack. The first book in the series was actually born as a spin-off of CONNECTION ERROR, book 3 in my Gaymers series, where we meet Zack at the end of the book as a friend for Ryan, that book’s hero. He was a minor character, but he stuck with me, and I wanted to explore where his HEA would lead. Pike too had a very minor appearance in CONNECTION ERROR, and he seemed perfect to challenge Zack in this opposites-attract, roommates-to-lovers story.
AT ATTENTION—Apollo and Dylan. A SEAL Lieutenant, Apollo showed up at the end of OFF BASE, and I knew as soon as I saw his wedding ring and sad face, that this was a widowed hero who needed a second-chance happy ending. A dad, Apollo needs childcare help, and who better to volunteer than his best friend’s little brother? Dylan is all grown up and ready to test Apollo’s will power in the best way. I love their banter and the way these guys who are so different on the outside fit together.
ON POINT—Maddox and Ben. These guys got a single line in OFF BASE, but it’s in AT ATTENTION that we really see their friendship in action, and from their first mention, I knew they needed a HEA together. Long-time best friends, their road to each other is rocky and challenging, but their love is deep and true. Ben was one tough nut to crack, but his heart of gold was well worth the effort to uncover. Maddox’s quiet pining for Ben was so emotional to write. I love these two together so much.
WHEELS UP—Dustin and Wes. My forbidden relationship pairing, Dustin and Wes serve on the same SEAL team where Dustin is a lieutenant and Wes an enlisted man newly assigned to the team. Dustin first appeared in AT ATTENTION as Dylan’s older brother. And at first, I had no plans to give him a book, but then he went and remarked on the attractiveness of another guy and pretty much demanded a book. I knew that this bisexual hero trying to keep his sex life on the down low needed a challenging co-hero and Wes is certainly that for him. Wes is exactly what Dustin’s doesn’t need, and that’s why they’re perfect together.
SQUARED AWAY—Mark “Wizard” and Isaiah. This is the book out now! And wow, never have I enjoyed writing a book as much as I did this one. It just poured out of me, all 80,000 words, in what felt like one gush. Isaiah has a minor appearance in AT ATTENTION as Dylan’s new friend and then showed up very briefly in WHEELS UP. Isaiah is a fun-loving guy who faces a family tragedy with grace and determination to hold his little family together. He steps up in ways that impress Wizard who was the medic in ON POINT. He’s on the same team as Ben and Maddox, and he’s a true hero—saving lives out in the field and dealing with a complicated family situation. I love their dynamic, and their HEA may be my favorite of the series.
TIGHT QUARTERS—Bacon and Spencer . You’ll meet this duo in July, and I’m chair dancing with anticipation for all of you to meet them. Bacon appears in both WHEELS UP and SQUARED AWAY as a secondary character. He’s a good friend to both Wes and Wizard at moments when they need someone, and I knew he was deserving of a book. Identifying as pansexual, Bacon was a fun hero to write who turned out to have a real sensitive side that contrasts with his role as a SEAL sniper. His co-hero is Spencer, a journalist who is lucky enough to get to embed with Bacon’s team. Spencer is a silver-fox of a hero, a consummate career guy married to his work, and he has to cope with the temptation Bacon presents. Bacon gets under his skin in surprising ways. (And yes, we do learn Bacon’s real name in the book!)
ROUGH TERRAIN—Rooster and Canaan. This is the book I’m writing right now. And good lord, I am having so much fun with this duo. You’ll meet Rooster in TIGHT QUARTERS as he’s on the same team with Bacon. He’s an explosives expert with ambitions of eventually becoming a SEAL jumpmaster for the parachuting the team does. I love everything about him—his swagger, his Philly accent, his love of making fitness videos, and his surprising vulnerability. His co-hero is Canaan, a civilian who had a minor role in ON POINT. In ON POINT, all we really know about Canaan is that he’s young-ish, blond, and a student. It wasn’t until I started plotting the book that Canaan really revealed himself to me. And I love him for the complexity he’s brought—a former punk drummer, he’s now studying to be a geriatric nurse. And watching him connect with Rooster on a really deep and meaningful level is turning out to be such fun!
Do you have a favorite couple in the series? Have a couple you’d like to see me do a freebie short for? Tell me in the comments or drop me a line on social media!
It was not a date. Mark had been on those, and they usually made him feel like his clothes were three sizes too small, all buttoned up and uncomfortable. Hanging out with Isaiah was nothing like that. Sure he drove Mark nuts, but he was also fun, making Mark relax in a way he did with few others, and that had been the case ever since their first meeting. And despite himself, despite everything that had happened, he found himself looking forward to the rest of the day. And that was something he hadn’t thought possible.
Damn it. Liking Isaiah was just too easy. He needed to be careful.
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. The #OutOfUniform series joins her critically acclaimed and fan-favorite LGBTQ romance #Gaymers, #PortlandHeat and #PerfectHarmony series. To find out what she’s working on next and other fun extras, check out her website: www.annabethalbert.com or connect with Annabeth on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Spotify! Also, be sure to sign up for her newsletter for free ficlets, bonus reads, and contests. The fan group, Annabeth’s Angels, on Facebook is also a great place for bonus content and exclusive contests.
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 active children.
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Blog Tour Genre: Contemporary Orientation: Asexual (+ace-spec) Orientation: Gay Pairing: M/M Publisher: Carina Press Tag: Friends to Lovers Tag: Guest Post Tag: Military / Uniform Tag: Part of a series Tag: PoC Annabeth Albert Out of Uniform series Squared Away