Lane Matthews arranges to be deployed to the Middle East in order to find out what happened to his brother, another soldier who has been missing for three months. The heat, isolation, and foreign customs all converge to make his mission, and his life, more difficult. His roommate, an American soldier named Tristan, goes out of his way to help Lane settle in and before too long it is obvious that there is chemistry between the two men. As things heat up, information begins to trickle in from possible sources about the fate of his brother.
This is both a sweet and hot romance between the two. Tristan’s efforts to make it easier for Lane to acclimate are beyond romantic. Still, there is some serious content. Lane is not dealing with his brother’s disappearance well and finds himself trying to do it alone. Tristan has a job to do and can’t drop everything for his new friend. Plus, the investigation takes some interesting turns. This is basically a great Christmas romance read with a suspense twist and a nice HEA.
I am a little confused as to the ultimate point of this story. While the heat is lovely and perfectly attuned to the story, it takes up a lot of story space leaving the investigation and the romantic parts a bit rushed. Ms. Laycock really knows how to tell a story. I would have enjoyed it more if the story happening outside of the bedroom was the meat of the book and not just a backdrop for the sexy bits. This could have been a first class sexy thriller instead of just a sweet quick read love story. Still, it was enjoyable and I will never look at a bottle of maple syrup the same way again.
I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
Book Title: Caught Off Guard
Author: Beth Laycock
Publisher: Rainbow Romance Press
Cover Artist: Free to be creative
Release Date: June 15, 2022
Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance, Military Romance
Tropes: Forced proximity, friends to lovers, brat MC
Heat Rating: 4 flames
Length: approx 40 000 words
It is a standalone story and does not end on a cliffhanger.
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He’d risk his life to find his brother. But he never expected to risk his heart.
Three months since his brother went MIA, and Lane Matthews is tired of waiting for answers from overseas. Calling in a favour from his CO, he gets a posting to Jeddah—his first overseas deployment and where his brother was stationed—and the opportunity to try to find him.
Life in a foreign land isn’t quite as he imagined, and neither are his duties. And while his first encounter with his housemate, Tristan, may be memorable, it’s for all the wrong reasons.
Tristan catches him off guard but falling for the hot—straight?—soldier is definitely not in his future. Tensions rise as Lane gets closer to discovering the truth behind his brother’s disappearance, but even the best-laid plans can get swept off course and lost like a grain of sand in the desert.
This MM military romance from Beth Laycock features an age gap, a bratty MC, forced proximity, hurt/comfort, and of course a HEA.
The driver parked up, and I clambered out of the car as if I were waking from a dream—the heat a slap in the face after the blast of the AC. My CO, or who I assumed was my commanding officer, strode my way, every inch the army man with the stiff walk and straight back.
“Matthews?” He thrust a meaty hand at me, and I shook it as he crushed my palm in his.
“Yes, sir. Lane, Lane Matthews. The Duke of Lancaster’s regiment.”
“Major Tibbins. Glad to have you here. I won’t lie; we struggled to cover the last guard’s shifts when he left, so we’re happy to have you here.”
Guard? What guard? He released my hand and clapped me on the back. I staggered under the weight, catching myself before I stumbled.
“We’ll start you on gate duty in the hut you just drove past, but you’ll probably be able to rotate with the others soon. Anyway, I just wanted to welcome you, but I’ll let you get settled in. Reception has your accommodation details and duty roster. You’re not on until tomorrow afternoon, but I’ll swing by before then. Any questions, just let me know. I’m here to help you settle in.”
He waited a beat, but when all I could do was nod in response, he strode off, leaving me to stare after him, more than a little shell-shocked.
I shuffled into reception and waited as the man behind the counter spoke to a woman with a kid sat on her hip about the nursery. Army wife? Another woman popped up behind the desk before I could give it more consideration.
“Hi, can I help you?”
After a whirlwind of paperwork, I left with a set of keys and a folder of documents. I grabbed the map and followed the tarmac path-slash-road into a housing complex. I wound my way through the houses until I found mine in the corner and fumbled the key into the lock as I finished reading my roster.
After more years than I wanted to consider in the reserves, my first proper assignment would be as a guard. A glorified fucking babysitter. What the fuck? This was not how I imagined my first overseas posting with the army. Not leaving the compound all day. I wouldn’t be a soldier like my brother. How the hell was I going to find out what had happened to him—if he was even alive still—if I would be stuck in a hut all alone?
I needed to find the soldiers he served with, question them. Find out what they were doing to locate Jake. I couldn’t just wander onto their base, and I knew none of his teammates to ask. I was screwed. And I couldn’t help but wonder if Steve, my CO back home, and maybe my dad seeing as he went way back with Steve, had had a hand in keeping me on the compound. Probably with how Steve had helped me get posted here in the first place.
I slammed the front door shut with my foot, still staring at the goddamned piece of paper, and flung my rucksack to the floor. It knocked into the console table and rattled a can of pens. I slapped the handle of my suitcase down so hard the case fell over and crashed against the wall. A groan of frustration slipped out as I slumped against the doorway and buried my hands in my hair.
“You quite finished taking your tantrum out on my home?”
The deep voice had me jerking away from the wall as my eyes flew open. I’d thought I was alone. Why was there someone in my house? Wait, his home? “I wasn’t having a tantrum.”
One thin eyebrow arched in response and, yeah, sounding like a spoilt brat wasn’t my best defence. But then all reasonable thoughts disappeared as the surprise of someone else being there wore off and I took in the man standing before me.
A man I could’ve conjured straight from my spank bank: a couple of inches taller than my six feet and much, much broader than me. With his bare chest, it was all too easy to see just how ripped he was, and I licked my lips in response. His dog tags nestled in the valley between his pecs and my gaze wandered lower over each peak and dip of his abs and traced the veins disappearing beneath the waistband of his shorts.
He cleared his throat and my gaze shot up to his, meeting dark brown eyes that seemed to mock me. Do not blatantly check out guys you’ve just met, Lane. Unless you want to get punched. Especially not a straight guy, if the edge to his glare was anything to go by. I gulped.
“It sure sounded like a tantrum.”
“I didn’t know anybody else was here.”
He smirked and a dimple appeared, softening the sharp angles of his jaw that was accentuated by the hard bristles of his beard. “So, it’s not a tantrum if you’re alone?”
About the Author
Beth Laycock’s books are influenced by her time living overseas as well as the gritty, urban landscape of the north of England where she grew up. She has been reading romance since she was old enough to tell herself that line every book lover does—just one more chapter.
As a teenager, she attempted to write her first novel, and many more since then are still gathering dust on her bookshelf. It wasn’t until she discovered the M/M genre that her muse showed up and refused to quit telling her stories about beautiful men finding love together. She hasn’t stopped scribbling them down since. Beth’s muse usually shows up when she is in the shower, is allergic to cleaning, rarely lets her watch TV, and insists she drinks copious amounts of coffee so she can turn caffeine into words.
Beth’s books range from sweet to sexy, long to short, contemporary to paranormal, but a HEA is always guaranteed.
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