Title: Off Base
Author: Annabeth Albert
Series: Out of Uniform #1
Navy SEAL Zack Nelson wants peace so he trades in the barracks for a fixer-upper rental. What he doesn’t want is a roommate, especially Pike who’s arrival will spark Zack’s teammates to question his own sexuality.
This was wonderful! Zack has never revealed to anyone, even himself, that he is gay. He does everything he can to come off as straight, including allowing himself to be bullied by a homophobic team mate. Zack really has a lot of fear to work though. His parents are homophobic and toxic towards him so he feels he constantly has to appear as perfect, and deny himself. This causes a lot of problems with Pike but eventually he does realize he needs to live for himself.
“I just know that I’m so tired of hating myself every second of every day, and when I’m around you, I don’t hate me so much. I’ve spent the last year trying to make sense of me, but when I’m around you, it feels like the answer might actually be out there.”
Pike is a flirt who loves to tease Zack. What he doesn’t expect is to really like the man behind all the grump. Once he gets to know Zack, and understands his fears at coming out, he really falls for how sweet and caring Zack can be. I really loved how Pike let Zack set the pace for his sexual experimentation, but he didn’t let him use sex to hide his feelings. He pushes Zack to talk about his feelings and fears, which is what he needed.
Zack and Pike had a very emotional relationship that I really loved. I loved how Pike taught Zack to embrace his sexuality and the importance of being himself. These two were super sweet together. Zack and Pike were both amazing characters and I loved seeing them grow as they came closer. Overall, this was an amazing start to a series and I can’t wait to read the next book.
Trigger warnings: homophobia, bullying, toxic parents, near death experience from ruptured appendix