My review is posted on Joyfully Reviewed: http://www.joyfullyreviewed.com/new-reviews/because-of-the-brave-antho
“Designated Target” by Laura Baumbach
Carson’s life has been a lonely one since his brother died overseas two months ago. It’s Thanksgiving and Carson is helping out at the local food bank when a sexy stranger catches his eye. China might be acting little odd, but when the muscled Army Ranger saves Carson from another attack by a jerk who thinks he owns him, Carson decides to give China a chance. But just as they start a relationship, Carson discovers China’s been hiding something important from him. Something that could shatter any feelings Carson has for the other man.
Sometimes, people just click, and that’s the case in Laura Baumbach’s “Designated Target.” It’s easy to fall for Carson and China, as Ms. Baumbach has a talent for creating characters you grow instantly attached to. I felt for Carson; his loneliness and frustration were a palpable presence in the story. He’s not a strong Army Ranger like China, but he doesn’t let anyone push him around, ever, which I liked about him. China, in turn, has a certain masculine grace to his actions, which is definitely appealing. All in all, “Designated Target” is a very enjoyable story.
“Jumping Off Places” by Z.A. Maxfield
The last thing Peter wants to do is return to his hometown. But with his mother dying, he really has no choice. What Peter does want is for people to think of him as being just like his dad. To him, that means he shouldn’t come out of the closet. Then he meets Robin, his mother’s caretaker. Attraction burns bright and hot between them, but Robin refuses to be Peter’s dirty little secret. Will Peter risk his career and his mother’s love to have a shot with Robin?
“Jumping Off Places” blends the joy of newfound love with the sorrow of loss. It’s not a “happy” story, but Z.A. Maxfield makes it a strong one. Peter and Robin bring out the best in each other, and Robin doesn’t stand for Peter running away from his problems, something Peter needs. The third important character in “Jumping Off Places,” Peter’s mother, makes as big an impression as the tale’s heroes. There’s warmth and humor in her and her love for both Peter and Robin shines through even the darkest moments of the story. I can’t say I finished “Jumping Off Places” with a smile on my face, but Ms. Maxfield is a very talented author and I appreciated the artistry of her writing.
“Until We Meet Once More” by Josh Lanyon
Army Ranger Captain Vic Black is on a mission to rescue a Navy SEAL in Afghanistan. This wouldn’t be an out of the ordinary assignment, except for the fact that the SEAL in question is Lt. Commander Sean Kennedy, the man Vic loved and lost twelve years before, when they were at Annapolis. Vic can’t let his emotions enter into this operation, but there’s no way he’ll stop looking until he finds Sean.
Josh Lanyon winds up this anthology with an adrenaline rush of a read. “Until We Meet Once More” mixes flashbacks of Vic and Sean’s past relationship with their present-day fight for survival in Afghanistan. I absolutely loved seeing Vic and Sean’s days at the Naval Academy. The sweetness and sexiness of their time together before their relationship falls apart is vital to their present day connection and to understanding each man. Also key to learning about them is the reasons behind their breakup. Both knew from the start that they were career military and Vic feared coming out and what would do to his career. Sean, on the other hand, was idealistic and willing to take a chance. Mr. Lanyon establishes these elements in the past because the present doesn’t leave much time for introspection. Vic and Sean are fighting for their lives and the amount of military detail Mr. Lanyon so seamlessly waves into “Until We Meet Once More” just adds to the realism of the story. There isn’t time for romance when you’re outrunning the Taliban, but that doesn’t dim the power of Sean and Vic’s reunion. The pair’s love story is understated and it works beautifully, making “Until We Meet Once More” an unforgettable read.Because of the Brave
honors soldiers in a way that’s powerful in its restraint. The men in Because of the Brave
are all people you’d be proud to know and that makes the anthology special. With stories from Laura Baumbach, Z.A. Maxfield, and Josh Lanyon, three luminary talents in the world of male/male romance, you won’t want to miss Because of the Brave