Maggie Blackbird

Romancing Canada's Indigenous People

Today, I am hosting author Beth Laycock’s latest release Caught Off Guard, a m/m military contemporary romance.  Be sure to read my review.  And don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway.

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Book Title: Caught Off Guard
Author: Beth Laycock
Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance, Military Romance
Tropes: Forced proximity, friends to lovers, brat MC
Themes: Hurt/comfort
Heat Rating: 4 flames
Length: approx 40 000 words
Publisher: Rainbow Romance Press
Release Date: June 15, 2022

He’d risk his life to find his brother. But he never expected to risk his heart.

Blurb:  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.  It is a standalone story and does not end on a cliffhanger.

Goodreads

 Buy Links – Available in Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US   |  Amazon UK

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?”

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Lane’s brother is MIA.  So Lane requests an assignment with Her Majesty’s Armed Forces in Jeddah to find out what happened to Jake.  Told in first person, all through Lane’s POV, he meets a soldier by the name of Tristan who is with the US Army.  They are sharing the same accommodations at the base.

I must say the blurb intrigued me.  I don’t know much about the army or the middle east, so I was much looking forward to this m/m romance read.  I am happy to say the author did a great job of blending the romance, mystery, and setting seamlessly, while also giving me strong details about life in the army.

Now, the narrative did get heavy at times with detail, but it didn’t detract too much from the story, because the chemistry between Tristan and Lane was red hot.  Tristan is a man in the closet, while Lane is fully out, and not about to be shoved into a closet.  And this is where the sub-plot happens beneath Lane’s sleuthing through the streets of Jeddah to find out what happened to Jake.

I enjoyed both plots.  Tristan even joins in by helping Lane unearth what happened to Jake.  The secondary characters are also a nice touch to the novel.  They bring to life the stress, loneliness, and danger of being far from home.

Lane’s POV was wonderfully done.  He took me through the streets of Jeddah, let me into his feelings over Tristian, and the pain of missing his brother.  Well done, author.

I much enjoyed the character Tristan and do wish he had his own POV, but the author did a great job with Tristan’s expressions and dialogue to give the reader a good hint of what was going through his head.

This is a wonderful short read that I recommend.  The setting really makes this novel.  Do yourself a favour and get a copy.

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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.

Follow Beth: Blog/Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Newsletter Sign-up | Pinterest | BookBub

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Enter for a chance to win an e-book from the author’s backlist and a $10 Amazon Gift Card.

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