Title: AT ATTENTION
Series: Out of Uniform, book 2 (but stands alone well–different couple for each book)
Author: Annabeth Albert
Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date: April 10, 2017
Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex
Genre: Romance, Military romance, contemporary, age difference, may/december, SEALS
Lieutenant Apollo Floros can ace tactical training missions, but being a single dad to his twin daughters is more than he can handle. He needs live-in help, and he’s lucky a friend’s younger brother needs a place to stay. He’s surprised to see Dylan all grown up with a college degree…and a college athlete’s body. Apollo’s widowed heart may still be broken, but Dylan has his blood heating up.
It’s been eight years since the teenage Dylan followed Apollo around like a lovesick puppy, and it’s time he showed Lieutenant Hard-to-Please that he’s all man now—an adult who’s fully capable of choosing responsibility over lust. He can handle Apollo’s muscular sex appeal, but Apollo the caring father? Dylan can’t afford to fall for that guy. He’s determined to hold out for someone who’s able to love him back, not someone who only sees him as a kid brother.
Apollo is shocked by the intensity of his attraction to Dylan. Maybe some no-strings summer fun will bring this former SEAL back to life. But the combination of scorching desire and warm affection is more than he’d expected, and the emotion between them scares him senseless. No fling lasts forever, and Apollo will need to decide what’s more important—his past or his future—if he wants to keep Dylan in his life.
Book Two of the Out of Uniform series
This book is approximately 73,000 words
Hi! Thank you so much for having me stop by to celebrate the release of AT ATTENTION , my latest romance featuring a widowed Navy SEAL father and his best friend’s little brother. Now, when Apollo first wandered into OFF BASE as a secondary character, I knew right away that he was a badass. Tattoos. Muscles. Attitude. And I also knew that he’d been married once before and was a dad. The last part gave me pause as I thought ahead to a book for him. Some people have Thoughts and Opinions on kids in romance, so I knew I’d have to handle this right.
I did kids in KNIT TIGHT as well, but Apollo was my first real “dad” hero, and I knew his twin girls would be “on screen” so to speak in several scenes. The first thing I did after finishing a draft was get a beta reader who doesn’t really like kids in romance to read the manuscript. With their help, I worked on the twins’ characters—making them less cutesy pieces of scenery and more little people with an arc of their own in subsequent drafts. I also worked with my editor on this issue as well, further refining their presence in the book.
But, even with careful editing, the twins and Apollo-as-dad are integral parts of the book, which raises the question, why do a dad hero at all? Why let kids into a romance? Everyone is entitled to their own preferences in romance—this is an escape after all, and not everyone will like kids in books. However, I spent my teen years reading Harlequin Super Romance and Harlequin American Romance, and I found that some of my favorite books were those with families in them—brothers, sisters, single fathers, single mothers, uncles, aunts. I loved large ensemble casts, and kids were often a part of that.
Later when I started reading LGBTQ romance, I still loved the large ensemble cast, and particularly loved books that featured large families. And kids are a part of that world too. They’re fun to write and read, but they are more than just comic relief—they can show a different side of a hero, reveal hidden parts of himself, both good and bad. Their presence can also encourage healing and moving on from past hurts.
In the end, a family can be made many different ways—large biological families, self-made families of friends, small families with fur babies and two loving owners, or just two people taking on the world together. A family doesn’t require kids, but some families really dote on their younger members and some couples do long for kids. And so I try to reflect that spectrum in my books—some big families, some small, some with kids, some not. And sometimes, the right hero, like Apollo deserves a second chance at happily ever after for him and his kids. Giving him and Dylan their hard-won happy ending was one of my most fulfilling experiences as a writer.
I can’t wait for you to meet Dylan and Apollo in AT ATTENTION. Do you like kids in books? Hate them? Neutral! Tell!
**This is from the first chapter**
Hamburger. Onions. Pickles. Ketchup. Buns. Buns.
Well, hello, there. Possibly the most perfect specimen Apollo had ever seen was bent over in the bakery aisle at Sprouts, looking at a rack of organic cookies. High. Tight. Round. Attached to muscular legs poking out of board shorts, the kind of legs that suggested a serious investment in a sport or fitness. He wasn’t going to do more than look, but even when he’d been with Neal, he hadn’t been blind, and it was nice to know perfection like this guy existed in the world.
It was like swimming by a perfect coral reef on a dive or the blue of a cloudless sky right before a jump—
Wink. Fuck. The guy straightened before Apollo could look away and caught Apollo staring, and instead of blushing or serving him with the angry glare he deserved, he gave Apollo a saucy wink. It was the sort of wink that a decade ago would have had Apollo crossing the shiny linoleum and getting the guy’s number, but those days were long gone.
Instead he grabbed the closest twelve pack of hamburger buns and one of hot dog buns and headed to the next aisle. Those were the only kind of buns he had any business letting himself be distracted by. He was a father for crying out loud, not some single guy out treating the natural grocery store like his own personal pickup joint. Reflexively, he rubbed his ring with the side of his pinky, making it spin on his ring finger. Yeah. No more looking.
“Apollo! How are you?” Bridget from down the street almost ran her cart into his as he navigated the aisles. Her red-haired toddler waved at him from the basket.
Hell. He knew he should have brought at least one of the girls shopping. Then Bridget could have focused on the kids, and not his least favorite question in the universe.
“Hanging in there.” Apollo gave her a practiced a smile. “Good” would be a lie and no one wanted to hear “same as yesterday,” which was closer to the truth. But what the Bridgets of the world all wanted to hear was that Apollo was moving on—like time was the magic cure for the hole in his heart. “Having some people over for a barbecue later. Apologies if anyone parks in front of your place.”
“Oh, no worries.” Bridget patted his arm. “Having friends is so important.”
“Yeah, it is,” Apollo agreed because Bridget was a nice person, but inwardly his teeth gnashed together. He was so tired of well-meaning people telling him what was good for him when not a damn one of their suggestions would bring Neal back. “I better get on with my list.”
“You do that. And be sure and let us know if you need anything.”
Apollo nodded. Two years. It had been two years of neighbors and friends stopping him like this, making kind offers, but none of them able to do the one thing he wanted more than anything.
Fuck. Snap out of it, Lieutenant. No one wants your mopey ass around on this sunny May weekend. And it was an absolutely gorgeous day, perfect for playing with the girls outside and kicking back a few beers with his friends. He wasn’t on duty and had three consecutive days off for the first time in a long time. No sense dwelling on sad shit. Time to get stuff done.
Find something else to focus on.
Like that perfect ass?
No. Absolutely not that. Like…pickles. Lots and lots of pickles.
He saw Mr. Perfect Butt again in the juice aisle, and it was damn hard to keep his resolution to stick to shopping. The guy was model cute—curly hair falling just so over his forehead, sparkling eyes, chiseled jaw, and a tight T-shirt advertising a British soccer team showing off a defined chest and tight stomach. The guy smiled at him again and looked like he might want to speak, so Apollo grabbed the juice boxes for the girls and got out of there like he’d just launched a flash bang in the guy’s direction.
At the checkout, Mr. Perfect Butt was ahead of him in the only line that seemed to be moving. Apollo very carefully did not look at his butt again and busied himself grabbing some gum and trying to give off “don’t talk to me” vibes.
But those vibes seemed to be an utter failure as the guy turned, offering another movie-star-worthy grin. “You want to go first?” His voice was husky, like every word was a secret.
“I’m good,” Apollo said.
The man nodded, shy smile teasing the edges of his mouth, making his blue eyes dance. “You know—”
“ID please.” The cashier interrupted whatever flirtation the guy had planned as his six pack of beer went across the scanner.
“Oh, yeah.” A faint red flush spread up the guy’s neck. Oh hell. He wasn’t just younger than Apollo. He was a kid. A kid who still got carded, and rightfully so with that baby face. What the hell had Apollo been thinking, admiring his body?
Apollo focused on unloading his own groceries, making neat rows for the cashier, and making sure the buns wouldn’t get squished.
Buns. Nope. Not going there. The kid hung around after paying for his groceries, mouth moving as if he were debating speaking, but Apollo kept his attention squarely on the cashier.
No more looking. Remember who—what—you are now. When he finally looked up, perfect butt guy was gone, and if Apollo felt a twinge of regret for being a bit on the rude side, he squashed it quickly. Wasn’t like he’d ever see the guy again anyway.
What will Apollo do when he discovers that Perfect Butt guy is his best friend’s little brother? Find out in AT ATTENTION!
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Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer.
Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights supporter. In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two children.
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