Series: Forbidden in Uniform
Author: W.S. Long
Genre: Contemporary, Military
Length: Collection (Novel + Novella, 306 pages)
Publisher: JMS Books LLC (6th March 2019)
Heat Level: Explicit
Heart Rating: 💖💖💖 3 Hearts
Blurb: Two of W.S. Long’s best-selling gay romance stories are now available in a box set! Fall in love with Pad and RJ’s love story. Contains the stories:
Ask and I’ll Tell: Raised by his aunt, after his mother died, Pad McLaughlin enlisted in the Air Force to see the world, and save money for college, but he didn’t expect to fall in love with his supervisor, RJ Davis, a handsome, dashing officer. Rather than return home right away after his tour of duty in Saudi Arabia, Pad gambles on love by joining RJ in Bangkok, despite the government’s policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” When Pad realizes RJ doesn’t love him, he returns home broken-hearted only to be distracted by Wayne, another hunky airman, who keeps secrets from Pad.
When RJ finally realizes after Pad’s gone what Pad means to him, is he too late? Will Pad choose the officer or the airman? Set in 2008, this love story takes place before the end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” when gay men who loved each other were forced to remain in the closet and deny themselves happiness.
Splendidly Ever After: Seven years after they meet, and more than four years since RJ initially proposes, RJ and Pad are back. The wedding invitations have been sent again and the date is set. This time, both men are more committed than ever to each other and willing to make their relationship work.
But old issues surface that cause conflict before their big day. Will RJ’s recent diagnosis of sexual addiction disorder tear them apart? Can they weather the growing disapproval from their families over same-sex marriage before they walk down the aisle? Will RJ and Pad finally tie the knot?
Review: Forbidden in Uniform Box Set is the collection of the two books that make the Forbidden in Uniform series, Ask and I’ll Tell and Splendidly Ever After, by WS Long. This is my first encounter with WS Long, so I had no idea what to expect, but I was attracted by the fact that this was a military type romance. I’m a bit of a sucker, even when (or especially because) of those based around DADT, where the romance holds a forbidden element (hence the name of the series, I suppose).
I’m going to give a quick review for both the novel and the novella which is featured in this collection. However, I’ve not rated them individually because for me they both get the same rating, whether individually or bundled together.
To me they weren’t really individual stories as such, the second book carries on from the first (about the same couple) and is completely dependent on the reader having read book 1 first (lucky it’s a box set). With that in mind, I find it really easy to make a number of overall comments about the story and treating it as one.
The first book starts when your two MCs meet. This is the romance between enlisted Air Force person, Pad McLaughlin, and Pad’s supervisor/commanding officer, RJ Davis. Pad has had a crush on his supervisor while they have been both stationed in Saudi Arabia, but DADT means that Pad could never act on his feelings. Not only that, he has no idea if RJ would be receptive. A little bit of scheming on Pad’s part and they end up in Thailand, indulging in a wild time of sex. But things get messy when emotions become involved. RJ, as an officer is in a difficult place, too, as any misstep could spell the end of his career. Meanwhile, Pad is moving to the base in Tampa, Florida and desperately wants to make a relationship with RJ work. However, when Pad realises RJ doesn’t love him, he goes back to Florida alone and picks up the pieces. Obviously the story doesn’t end here, because RJ has to get his shit together and the bumpy journey to a full fledged relationship continues.
The second book, Splendidly Ever After, picks up seven years later. RJ and Pad are still together and they are on their way to get married, with the stressful lead up wreaking havoc on their relationship. They’ve already been engaged and almost married once, but they broke up and got back together and (I hope) they’re stronger than ever. This is another serving of angst. Once again it seems that RJ is the cause of conflict, he suffers from sexual addiction disorder and his addiction to porn put a strain on their relationship.
I’m going to be upfront. While I didn’t dislike the book and didn’t have any trouble finishing it, I felt a little disappointed by the general feel of the book. I’m not sure if it is writing style or if it comes down to the details that were given to the reader throughout the book. However, I really struggled to feel the emotion between the two men, as well as struggling to get a firm hold of the attraction between them. Don’t get me wrong, the attraction was there but I felt there was something missing. I don’t think the fact that this is very much an insta-love type of situation helped, because I felt as though a lot of emotions, besides anger and heart break, were being muted by the fact that things seemed to be glossed over and told. In the end I feel I didn’t know the MC’s all that well.
The other thing is, I think it’s an interesting angle and I liked the struggle between the characters. However, I felt that it was a missed opportunity that the author did not go into further detail. The disorder wasn’t explained properly and the mental issues that RJ has gone through were not really brought out well. I know that sounds like an odd criticism, BUT I recently listened to an audio book of an MC who suffered sex addiction and used his work as an escort to help his treatment, that was pretty awesome.
TL;DR: I easily felt all the negative emotions and struggled to feel more out of the positive emotions.
This is probably the type of book for someone that likes insta-love, angst, heart break all rolled up into a military romance.