At Attention, while book 2 in Annabeth Albert's Out of Uniform series, can be read as a stand alone.
Apollo Floros is a Navy SEAL, the father of twin girls, and a widower. When Apollo's husband died two years ago, Apollo stopped living, too. He breathes, he goes to work, he takes care of his daughters, but Apollo has no time for himself. Because that would mean time to think and time to examine his life and time to grieve. Apollo isn't ready for any of those things. He's not ready to move on and doesn't think he ever will be.
Dylan is the younger brother of Apollo's best friend, Dustin. He is in San Diego for the summer, after graduating college, to run a local summer day camp for kids. It fits his degree and is a step in the direction of what Dylan really wants to do, which is run after school programs for kids. I really liked Dylan a lot. He's a good guy who knows what he wants and makes strides to get it. Dylan is more than a decade younger than Apollo and has crushed on his brother's best friend for years. But Dylan is all grown up, now, and while the attraction is definitely still there, Dylan sees that Apollo hasn't moved on from his husband, and maybe never would.
Though there is sex-a-plenty in At Attention (the sex in front of the mirror being a favorite of mine), the romance had a slow burn feel to it. I wasn't fond of the way that Apollo kept running hot and cold, but I understood, at least a little bit, where his issues were coming from. He's never allowed himself to really grieve for his husband and he feels guilt for not still seeing Dylan as the kid he was when they met. Apollo's coping mechanism is avoidance.
Dylan, though, knows what he's in for and goes for it, anyway, figuring that if he knows up front that the relationship is temporary, that he could protect his heart. He's also self-aware enough to know he's lying to himself. And while he has trouble with Apollo pushing him away when things got heavy, he gave Apollo the space. And I loved it when the time came for the 'come to Jesus' moment, that Dylan stood up for himself and made it clear that he deserved better than to be an afterthought or second choice.
And I even enjoyed seeing the interactions with Apollo's five year old daughters. I'm not much of a kid person (read: at all), but it was great seeing just how well Dylan was with them. Also, I think the kids softened Apollo a little bit. They humanized the big, tough, grumpy SEAL without taking over the story.
I think I enjoyed Off Base slightly more, but both are pretty on par for me and I would recommend this series to those who, like me, enjoy military romance.
ARC of At Attention was graciously provided by Indigo Marketing, in exchange for an honest review.