Xander has only ever known the military life and now without it, he’s at a loss of what to do and how to be useful, especially with a prosthetic arm. He is also suffering from PTSD and he’s clinically depressed which is making him very angry. He just doesn’t see a future for himself. On top of all of that, Xander had fallen in love with his best friend-with-benefits, Mackey. But than everything changes right before the explosion. Mackey is also dealing with guilt over Xander’s injuries and this complicated things.
Annabeth Albert always does such an amazing job of writing emotional stories where you truly love and feel for the characters and this one was no different. This one in fact was very hard to read because Xander is so depressed and he’s completely given up on himself. It was heartbreaking to see someone going through this and knowing that there are probably hundreds of other veterans in this country that have felt the same way. Xander’s spiral into his final breakdown was so poignant to read and Albert does an amazing job handling Xander’s issues. When they finally start talking things through you can see the true emotions both these men are struggling through.
I did not read the original version of this that was included in the Unconditional Surrender anthology so for me this version with the extended epilogue was the only one I’ve read. I’m so happy that this one had it because it really pulled the end of the story together and allowed us to read a little bit further into the relationship, especially on some of the big issues that weren’t addressed in the original portion of the story. I especially liked that the epilogue included Xander telling his family that he was gay as most of Annabeth Albert’s books have not addressed this situation. The characters usually have already come out to their family and have either been accepted or not accepted. I would have liked Xander’s situation with his father to have been resolved but only because it was so sad to see Xander hurt and I just wanted him to be happy. But in terms of the amount of time this book covers and a more realistic situation, the things going on between Xander and his father are probably more realistic and accurate.
Content Note: depression and suicidal thoughts, amputation/prosthetic
••• Book Details •••
Romance, LGBTQ+, Contemporary • September 27, 2015
Army IT specialist Xander keeps his emotions wired as tight as his NETCOM gear, but when he’s seriously injured by an IED, his whole life unravels. Running out of options, Xander must accept help from his ex-friend-with-benefits, Mackey. However, Xander’s had feelings for Mackey for years, and close quarters only complicates his emotions. Further, Xander doesn’t know which is worse: combating his inner demons or dealing with Mackey’s guilty kindnesses.
Mackey’s always kept his emotions close to his chest, but now he’s got a secret that could destroy his one chance with the man he cares far too much for. Both men will have to heal their wounded hearts to ensure a future together.