Series: Forgotten Soldier #2
Author: Jessie G
Genre: M/M Romance
After devoting eighteen years of his life to the US Navy, Petty Officer First Class Shane Parker is struggling with the very real possibility of becoming unnecessary. If he doesn’t make Chief Petty Officer before his twenty—and it doesn’t seem likely that he will—he’ll be retired from active service and placed on the Fleet Reserve list until his mooring lines are officially cut forever. While it would all be very honorable and ceremonial, he simply wasn’t civilian material.
Before even swearing-in, Julian Brand knew he wasn’t cut out to be a soldier, but refusing wasn’t an option. Generations of Brand man made careers in the military and the expectation of every Brand son was to follow in those prestigious footsteps. Though the prospect of being rolled back dodged his every step, somehow he made it through boot camp and did his time. Six years after not reenlisting, Julian still struggles to find familial acceptance as he fights to live life on his terms.
On the surface, they couldn’t be more different, but when Jared Ramos calls, neither are capable of refusing. If they can find a way to work together, they might be able to save a wounded warrior and each other in the process.
NOTE: The first story in this series is a 6K word short story originally written for an anthology. While it's a different couple, I'm happy to provide that to reviewers as they have a brief appearance in the new book and are central characters to this benefit series.
Bookobsessed - “Wonderful read”
Donation Page: https://donate.garysinisefoundation.org/jessiegbooks
10% of royalties earned from this and future books in the Forgotten Soldier series will benefit the Gary Sinise Foundation, but I'm not content to stop there. I've set up a fundraising page directly on the Foundation's website and I'm asking for your help in reaching (and maybe surpassing) my goal. Every donation of $10 equals 1 entry to win signed books. If you donate more than that, every multiple of 10 will be an additional entry (so $20 = 2 entries and so forth).
1 Grand Prize Winner will receive all my paperbacks signed (8 books)
4 Runner Up Winners will win a signed copy of Treading Water
Seeing Sean fall apart was something Shane wasn’t likely to forget. Never could he have imagined a single scenario that included this big, strong, strapping sailor curled up in his blankets sobbing. As Julian climbed back onto the bed, absorbing that pain as if it were his own, Shane feared he was the wrong man to help them. He was barely treading water and the overwhelming emotions coming off both men were like a rip tide threatening to pull him away.
Over the years, he heard Sean worry over his cousin’s emotional stability enough that he thought he was doing the right thing by offering Julian a safe place to vent. It wasn’t like his own emotions were in danger of getting involved—he only had a couple and none of them were tied up in a man he didn’t know. The same couldn’t be said for Sean. They were more than friends, more than the honorary brothers, and this breakdown had his own eyes itching in an alarming way.
Were those tears? It had been decades. For sure, never in his adult life. Not since…no, it was best not to think about that now. Talk about being useless. If he went down that path, Sean and Julian would be taking care of him.
A warm hand slid along his and the ease in which their fingers twined gave him pause. Cautiously, he looked over and found brown eyes filled with understanding and invitation. He had promised Julian he wouldn’t be alone and the quiet reciprocation had been nice, but nothing he expected to count on. Without consciously thinking about it, Shane found himself sitting on the edge of the bed. Though it wasn’t built for three grown men, he was able to wrap his arm around his little unit and was surprised how right it felt.
“We’re going to get through this, Sean. Will you let us take care of you?” Julian was still speaking when Shane felt Sean nodding against them.
For better or worse, they were in it together now and Shane refused to let them down no matter how uncomfortable it might get for him.
Talk about a story to tug at your heart...Treading Water was everything I've come to expect from this author, and is a perfect example of why I read her books. It has the ideal balance of serious and emotional while giving the reader a realistic, if abbreviated, insight into the issues facing military personnel. Not only do we get to enjoy Julian and Shane's journey to each other, but we also get an inside glimpse into Sean's turmoil as well as his revival.
When I first started the book, I thought I might have gotten my characters mixed up as Jared and Aiden are front and center, but then it transitioned to the real stars of the story after the background and setup (oh, but please tell me we'll be getting more for Jared and Aiden...please!). Julian is so sweet and an emotional person, with so much capacity to feel. Shane is the opposite, keeping things quiet and inside, controlling his emotion instead. Perfect complement? Definitely. And their physical attraction and strong chemistry added in makes for the complete package--as long as Shane is ready to hop off the hookup mentality.
Then we also get to follow along with Sean as he is adapting to his new reality, and honestly following along with his part of the story doesn't at all detract from the relationship development between Julian and Shane. Sean is the reason the two of them had the opportunity to come together, so having his story included fit well with the rest of the story for me.
The writing was excellent, clear and concise while easily conveying what all three men were going through. Everything flowed so smoothly that I didn't realize the time passing as I read. I was quickly pulled in to the story from the start, and was fully engrossed until the very end.
I loved Treading Water, and it's getting a full 5 stars from me. I highly recommend this book to any M/M romance fan, particularly if you love stories involving military men. It does set a good stage to continue on with more stories, and I'm hoping we get to see a lot more from this series going forward. This book is meant for readers 18+ for adult language and sexual content.
I am a firm believer in marriage equality, love at first sight, power dynamics, and happily ever after. I'm a lover of strong secondary characters, and series filled with families—biological or chosen. All are themes you'll find throughout my books.