Reviewed by Kat
AUTHOR: Richard Compson Sater
PUBLISHER: Bold Stroke Books
LENGTH: 308 pages
RELEASE DATE: November, 15, 2016
Integrity. Service before self. Excellence in all things. The U.S. Air Force core values matter to Second Lieutenant Harris Mitchell, out and proud since the military ditched its “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. But though the Air Force may be gay friendly, Harris isn’t so sure about his demanding new boss, Brigadier General Seamus O’Neill—unit commander, cargo pilot, perfectionist, infidel—hiding behind bluster, a magnificent mustache, and a secret. Harris is certain that General O’Neill hates him. So what’s a lieutenant supposed to do when he discovers that he’s fallen in love?
I got to meet this author when he was a key-note speaker at Gay Romance Northwest in Seattle. I was intrigued by his speech and curious about his first published novel. A military book in the gay genre is one of my genres I truly enjoy. I was fortunate enough to get chosen to review it. I was then a bit worried, taking on a first time author, on the heels of two of my favorite authors that released the next in their series. It was how the schedule fell. I had no reason to be concerned. This novel shone with all its own glory.
Second Lieutenant Harris Mitchell is a thirty-year-old out and proud gay man in the US Air Force. He had served once before, for four years, under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. After a short career as a College Professor, he re-enlisted when “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was abolished and it is legal and accepted to be openly gay in the military, something that is extremely important to him. He has returned from a week’s leave, for Christmas, to his post in the Military Personnel office, to which he is assigned. He feels that he is not living to his fullest potential when, not moments later, he is summoned to the office of Brigadier General Seamus O’ Neill, Sixth Air Force Commander, his boss’s boss’s boss. The General has a habit of burning through aides at an alarming rate, the last one barely lasting two months! Brigadier General Seamus O’ Neill is a demanding and brash man who’s answer to any question is “Because I am a General!” He can also be a bit of a self-pronounced “prick”, his own words. He also has a pretty big secret. A secret that is eating at his very core. “Rank” is the story of these two men, a general and his aide, and the journey they embark upon when they start to really get to know each other.
I had great respect for Harris. It’s hard to call him that because he is so rarely referred to by that name by the general. Instead it was a rapid and changing list of nicknames the general calls him. Harris knew exactly who he was from the moment he came out at seventeen. He was proud to be openly gay. That was the whole reason he didn’t re-enlist at the time his first tour of duty ended. He has to be true to himself. The general was a whole different can-of-worms! At fifty one, you couldn’t find a person further in the closet if you tried. To the point of being married to a woman for over ten years to gain acceptance and promotions. Career always comes first and foremost for him. When he finally meets up with Harris and gets to know the real him, strong and proud, he has to be with him, in secret of course, but bending his rules and taking risks.
The thing I had the most respect for in Harris was after the final straw, the restaurant incident, he held his position and wouldn’t budge. I had total respect for his backbone and self control. Harris is the type of person of person you can look up to and be proud of. I understand the general’s position however. He comes from an era where respect and position were the only things that mattered. He had a harder field to plow than Harris did. All in all, I had great respect for both men in the end.
This book was very informative and extremely well written, as you expect from the author’s credentials. Getting to see the inside of how the transition from “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to an openly gay serving was so informative. Having high ranking military in our family, I am not sure of the legitimacy of a Second Lieutenant and a General risking so much for the fallout that could have occurred if their liaison had been discovered. But true love has a way of clouding one’s judgment, even strict military men. I can’t recommend enough giving this book a chance. It was a pleasure to get to read and review. I only hope that we might get some kind of epilogue novella in the future.