Monday, April 16, 2018

Release Day Blitz: Squared Away by Annabeth Albert (Review+Giveaway)

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.

Squared Away

Series: Out of Uniform #5

Publisher: Carina Press

Release Date (Print & Ebook): April 16. Print, ebook, and audio all available.

Length (Print & Ebook): 80,000 words

Subgenre: m/m military romance

Includes: military romance, insta-family, hurt/comfort, angst, interracial, heroes-with-kids, gay romance, 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.”

“When Wizard first appeared in ON POINT as a secondary character, I was intrigued by him, but it wasn’t until I let myself get into his head that I really saw how complicated he was. I feel honored and privileged to have been able to tell his story.”

“No book gets written in a vacuum and this one is no different. I owe a huge debt on this book to my sensitivity readers who really encouraged me to dig deep.”

Praise for the series:

“Albert delivers a solid hurt/comfort story…” RT Book Reviews on SQUARED AWAY

“Mark and Isaiah’s budding relationship happens with sensitivity and steamy moments…” RT Book Reviews on SQUARED AWAY

“Annabeth Albert's Out of Uniform series is a unique look at SEALs' lives, showing us the insides of their hearts and homes and the love that drives them.” ~Layla Reyne, author of the Agents Irish and Whisky series.   

“Sexy, sweet and heartfelt, Annabeth Albert's Out of Uniform series is a fresh take on Navy SEALs that will delight and entertain romance readers.” ~Layla Reyne, author of the Agents Irish and Whisky series.   


Short #1: To his surprise, Mark didn’t laugh. Instead, he looked thoughtful. “What if I asked you to?” he said softly.

“To put out?” Isaiah’s throat had never seemed drier.

“We’re sitting here. Talking. Like adults. Just a couple of guys. And I can’t quit thinking about your lips, and I don’t know why.” Mark’s voice had a sleepy, dreamlike quality to it, and Isaiah was fully prepared to wake up any second because he’d been dreaming about Mark saying shit like this for years.

“I do.” Moving slowly as to not bang heads or—more likely—spook Mark, Isaiah moved so that their faces were level, inches apart. “You want to kiss me.”

Short #2: 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.

Long #1: Thus, it was much later than he’d intended when he rolled back into the driveway at the house. Past dinner. Fuck. And he’d promised to help. He was falling down on the job already. Cursing himself, he entered through the side door, surprised by how quiet everything was. Were they in bed already?

A quick investigation revealed the truth—they were all in the family room, on the oversized sectional. A kids’ movie was playing softly on the TV, and Isaiah was passed out on the chaise part of the sectional, Liam asleep on his chest, girls sleeping cuddled up on either side of him, the blankets they were seldom without wrapped around them. Half a bowl of popcorn sat on the floor.

That seldom-used place in Mark’s chest pinged again, a deep ache that resonated through his whole torso. This was why he’d accepted the instructor position without much fuss. He couldn’t let it all fall to Isaiah. They’re mine now. Like it or not, these were his kids now, and it was time to start acting like it.

4.5 stars!

SEAL Mark Whitley and Isaiah James got to know each other when Mark's sister, Danielle, married Isaiah's cousin, Cal. Isaiah ended up with a crush on Mark and tried to proposition him at the wedding reception. Mark turned Isaiah down; and for the next six years, he makes a point to avoid seeing or talking with Isaiah, rarely coming back to see his sister and her family.

When the worst happens, Isaiah is there to take care of his cousin's three children. He's determined to be their guardian and keep them together. He knows that Mark is not going to be able to do it as a SEAL and no one else seems interested in stepping up. He's taken care of the kids every time Cal and Danielle lose a nanny, so they know him and are used to him. Mark is a mess. His sister, the last member of his immediate family, is gone and her children need a guardian. He doesn't see how a young guy like Isaiah could want to stick around and take care of them.

Initially, I had no idea if or how this was going to work out. Not only were there three children that no one but Isaiah really wanted, there were a lot of complicated legal issues as well. Most of the extended family thought it made sense to split up the children, but Mark and Isaiah were determined to avoid that. Their shared goal should have made things easier between them, but both men had a lot of guilt and misunderstandings standing between them. Due to the way Mark handled the previous years avoiding Isaiah, neither trusted the other. Their differing opinions about how to deal with the will, the trusts, and guardianship issues plus lack of trust and communication made the situation more stressful for everyone. Mark started really had a lousy opinion of Isaiah and then had to realize that he couldn't always fix things on his own. Being a partner meant that the two of them worked together and supported each other. There were times that I wished both men would have been more honest about the legal situation and what they were feeling as well. Mark tried to hard to protect Isaiah without telling him what he was doing, and it almost cost him everything.

I liked how Isaiah finally realized that he needed help and had lots people around who gave him a chance. It was wonderful to see him find an occupation that he liked. I was so happy to see him confront his father as well. Isaiah does a lot of growing in this book. Seeing Mark begin to understand and accept his sexuality was well done and I loved how Isaiah didn't pressure him or push him on it. It was also nice to see Mark accept help and acknowledge that he wasn't a one-man savior.

The children are portrayed well and were central to the story as Isaiah and Mark worked out their differences; however, they didn't overwhelm the story, either.

While this is the fifth book in this series, only a few older characters pop in and they are introduced well enough that you shouldn't have a problem starting with this one. Personally, this story became my second favorite in this series, just behind At Attention (Book 2).

*** Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie by Netgalley for my reading pleasure, a review 
wasn't a requirement. ***

About Annabeth Albert:

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: 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.

Connect with Annabeth:

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