by Annabeth Albert
Release Date: January 12, 2023
Book #4 in the A-List Security series
Number of Pages: 311
Ages 15 and up
CW: homophobia, military PTSD
I think I’m falling for my bodyguard co-worker. Now I need protection… from myself.
As a former SEAL intelligence officer, I’m supposed to be smart. Unfortunately, those smarts don’t apply to love. I did a nice thing and took my heartbroken fellow bodyguard out for a Valentine’s dinner. Just us bros. But my plan worked a little too well, and a night that ended with a scorching kiss has turned into the most awkward morning at the office ever. Now we’re working together as bodyguards on a remote mountain movie shoot. And we’re roommates.
I’ve never been attracted to a guy before, but something about Avery calls to every protective instinct I have. We’re not dating, but every night alone together, I fall a little deeper. It’s also Avery’s first time with a guy too, and while we’re both enjoying all sorts of new things together, I worry my heart will be broken when we return to civilization.
No matter how badly this may end, I can’t seem to stop wanting Avery. All of him. I want to see who he’ll become if he ever manages to get out of his own way. I want to be his biggest cheerleader, best friend, and the guy he comes home to. But going from secret hookup to forever after is a big ask. Are we both brave enough to take the leap?
Every time I read an Annabeth Albert book I end up with a new favorite couple from her. I swear, if push came to shove, I wouldn’t be able to pick a favorite. But when the story is fresh in my mind, that’s the couple I’ll pick. Malik and Avery are currently holding that spot.
This story starts with a really good look at the type of person Malik is; kind, smart, empathetic, and accepting. Avery is harder to get a read on. He’s young and eager, but also a bit all over the place. What starts as Malik being a friend to Avery turns into Avery showing his immature side which turns into a super compelling scene of self-discovery for both characters. Once that tilt in the story comes, it comes fast. No slow burn for these two. It seems Malik may have always suspected he is pansexual, but he’s only dated cishet females. Avery comes from a household that has a definite touch of toxic masculinity and has never even let himself think about what his sexuality might be. Of course he’s straight! Nothing else is acceptable for his family that is often in the public eye. This one evening turns everything on its head for both Avery and Malik.
Malik is so patient and understanding with Avery. As is everyone that comes into their sphere while they’re on location doing security for a movie. They are off the beaten path, in a world of their own, with only one hotel room to share. Slowly, Avery starts overcoming the internalized homophobia he’s picked up through the years of being an NFL player’s son, then a Navy SEAL. Malik wasn’t expecting to fall for his co-worker, but he’s much more accepting of his feelings from the very beginning. His only problem is Avery’s hot and cold behavior. Malik has such wisdom when it comes to Avery’s fears and he is Avery’s biggest cheerleader and support system. It’s such a lovely and beautiful thing.
Once Avery starts accepting himself, at least in the privacy of their hotel room, he is just as tender and loving with Malik. He is so appreciative of the care Malik takes with him, be it with their meals or in bed or just relaxing in front of the television, and he wants to give that same care back to Malik. Avery grows a lot in this story. He not only comes out to his family, but first he had to come out to himself. What a wonderful story.
I’ve only read one book by this author — Featherbed. I liked it but didn’t love it. This review reminds me I need to try another of her books. You make this one sound so good!
Sounds like this one was a real winner!