Friday, November 15, 2013

Review: NO FLAG by @LizBorino #FridayReads

For Mike and Will, "No Flag" meant "come home alive", but will their love survive what happens next?

Captain Mike Kelley does not ignore his intuition, so when sexy bartender Will Hayes captures his heart, Mike embarks on a mission to win him over to a Domestic Discipline relationship. Will accepts with one caveat: Mike must promise not to renew his Army commission. Mike agrees, and they spend a year building a life together, getting married, and starting a business.

Only days before their café's grand opening, Mike receives news that threatens everything he and Will have built. The Army invokes the Stop Loss military policy to involuntarily extend his commission and send him back overseas. Will, left alone to cope with the café, must rely on the support of old friends who may be no longer be trustworthy. Through emails and Skype calls, Mike and Will keep their love and structure alive...until the day a horrific terrorist attack occurs on Mike's outpost.

Mike awakens in a hospital with a devastating injury and no his memory of the attack. As the only survivor, Mike's memory may be the key to national security. Mike struggles to cope with his injury and Will struggles to support the man who always held him up. Both fear they have lost their previous relationship. Will has Mike back rather than a folded flag, but in the aftermath of war, can they rebuild the life they had before? Especially when those closest to them may not have their best interests at heart?

I almost don’t know where to start discussing this book.  I suppose I should say first that I really, really liked it.  Not quite love, but close.  The story was emotional and drew me right in.  I get the purpose of Stop Loss, but I think it is royally unfair, and only should be used in the direst of circumstances. Mike and Will had everything set to embark on a life together when the government decided to play games with their lives. I support those who step up to serve our country, but that support includes letting them go when their service is over.  Of course, then Mike gets hurt and it made me even angrier at the injustice of it all.  (Angry at the situation, not the book. The book was quite good.) 

I loved the “no flag” catch phrase. I don’t have a whole lot of experience with the military, so I’m not sure if that is a common saying or not, but it tugged at my heart every time the guys used it.

Mike’s rehab and rekindling of his marriage were also very well written. I really felt how devastating and frustrating the whole situation must have been for them both.

Now, I am going to say something about a book that I don’t think I have ever said before in a review --- I wish the book would have moved a little slower.  I know! Really!  It’s just that I felt some of the build of the romance and the character development suffered a bit with the quick pacing. I like to fall in love alongside the characters, but the romance was too rushed for that here. There wasn’t a whole lot of build to the sexual tension/chemistry.  It worked out okay because there was a lot of story to carry me along without it, but the book could have benefitted from about ten pages of romance expansion to fill it out. 

This book is listed in erotica, but I didn’t see it that way -- more of a straight-up M/M romance. The sex is there, but not overly described in long, vivid detail.  The DD relationship added to Mike’s character. As someone who suffers from OCD, he needs exacting structure in his house hold. Will understood this and did all he could to accommodate.  That said, I thought Mike took the discipline a little too far a couple of times. It kind of made me hate him just a little.

Will was a wonderful character. (Mike was good too, but I connected more with Will.) Their character development was fine. But the supporting characters could have benefitted from depth.  The “bad guys”, Mike’s commanding officer and Will’s friend Casey, did not feel real to me. I could guess that Mike’s boss was probably a homophobe, but that was never explored. I wasn’t sure if he enacted Mike’s Stop Loss provision purposefully, or if the order came from someone else. As written, he seemed like a douche for douche’s sake.  I also didn’t buy Casey’s weird crush on Will.  Maybe it’s because I didn’t have a clear picture of her motives. Her actions seemed extreme for someone who didn’t have some sort of fucked up back story. I wanted to know what it was. Seth waffled between clueless and supportive, but I never really felt I knew him. Another ten pages could have been added to flesh out some of these side characters.  For me, that would have elevated this book from a four to a five star. 

Overall, I give No Flag...

Plot - 5 bookmarks
Character Development - 3 bookmarks
Love Story - 4 bookmarks (What was there was wonderful. I just wished it was less rushed.)
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - Wentworth Miller (Mike), Zachary Levi (Will), Ashley Benson (Casey). 

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