Reviewed by Tori (Vicki)
TITLE: Afraid to Fly
SERIES: Anchor Point #2
AUTHOR: L.A. Witt
NARRATOR: Nick J. Russo
PUBLISHER: Riptide Publishing
LENGTH: 9 hours 22 minutes
RELEASE DATE: August 31st, 2017
Once a fearless fighter pilot, Commander Travis Wilson is now confined to a desk. It’s been eight years since the near-fatal crash that grounded him, and it still rules his life thanks to relentless back pain.
Lieutenant Commander Clint Fraser almost drowned in a bottle after a highly classified catastrophe while piloting a drone. His downward spiral cost him his marriage and kids, but he’s sober now and getting his life back on track. He’s traded drones for a desk, and he’s determined to reconcile with his kids and navigate the choppy waters of PTSD.
Clint has been on Travis’s radar ever since he transferred to Anchor Point. When Clint comes out to his colleagues, it’s a disaster, but there’s a silver lining: now that Travis knows Clint is into men, the chemistry between them explodes.
It’s all fun and games until emotions get involved. Clint’s never been in love with a man before. Travis has, and a decade later, that tragic ending still haunts him. Clint needs to coax him past his fear of crashing and burning again, or their love will be grounded before takeoff.
We met Travis briefly in the first book in this series, and this time he gets his own story. Travis lives with constant back pain and PTSD after he ejected from a plane he was attempting to land on an aircraft carrier. This led to the ending of his marriage. He’s repressed his attraction to men after a past relationship ended badly. He’s barely able to pass his semi-annual physical test to keep his career going. Even though he has been with men since his divorce, he’s very limited in what he can do in bed due to his back. Which makes having a long-term relationship challenging. He’s been attracted to a man in his office, but assumes the guy is straight until the night of the Navy Ball.
Clint has his own collection of baggage. He was involved in a mission as a drone pilot that ended badly, and has left him with a severe case of PTSD that he’s not able to get help for due to the classified nature of the event. This left him self medicating with alcohol, which combined with the PTSD led to the ending of his marriage and his disconnection from his children. He’s now at Anchor Point, trying to rebuild his life, and rebuild a relationship with his kids, even though they aren’t there. He’s ready to make his bisexuality known at work, and chooses to come out by bringing his alcoholic boyfriend to the Navy Ball. This goes well in the sense that no one cares he brought a man, but badly in the sense that he realizes at the ball what an asshole his boyfriend is. So he takes him home, dumps him, and goes back to the ball to see if his crush, Travis, is still around.
The two make a connection at the ball, particularly when Travis’s pain gets the best of him, and his date (his daughter!) has had too much to drink to drive him home. Clint offers them a ride, which combined with the chatting they did earlier in the evening, starts the ball rolling for the two of them to further a relationship. First as flirty friends/coworkers, then finally as lovers. We follow the two as they navigate dating as Naval officers in the same office, dealing with pain and PTSD, and dealing with their family issues.
There was certainly a lot I liked about this book. The two men are older and more experienced at life, love, and heartbreak. They both have issues, leveling the playing field of their relationship. The sex proved to be hot, even with the limitations Travis has. Sex scenes in m/m tend to be very focused on anal sex, and these guys can’t do that. Seems reasonable that not all couples can or prefer to perform that sexual act, so I liked seeing a realistic sexual relationship. I liked the Navy setting, and L.A. Witt knows her stuff. I liked the inclusion of friends and family in to the story.
Unfortunately there were things I didn’t like about this book as well… It’s really focused on Travis’s back pain. There are lots of long scenes describing his pain, his physical limitations, how he deals with life on a day-to-day basis, what he can do, what he can’t do, it comes up all of the time. Yes, its realistic, I get that having my own chronic pain issues, but it went on and on. Clint’s PTSD got to be a bit repetitive too. Until it finally came out between them, what had happened, and he started to deal with it. I guess there was just so much internally going on with each of them, the family issues, the pain, the PTSD, it kinda overshadowed their emotional bond. This plot is all about the PTSD and the pain, and not much past that. There was a big thing that happens toward the end that brought some drama in to the story, which I liked. I wish it had been more difficult to resolve, but it did give some umph to the plot.
But overall I liked this book. This author knows her military details, knows her PTSD details, knows her chronic pain details, and writes a good sex scene. I wish there had been a little more external drama, and a little less redundancy about the pain. I feel like the author created really great characters but didn’t quite utilize them to their fullest potential. I’ve been a fan of L.A. Witt for years, and this is series is a good one. I am looking forward to the next book in this series.
If you like older military men with issues falling in love, then this one is for you! You could read it as a standalone, there are two characters from the first book in here, but not knowing them won’t affect your understanding of this story.
I love Nick J. Russo’s voice! His voices for Travis and Clint were perfect, they sounded like older men. I could tell who was who in a conversation, and I heard the emotional depth to their voices. The sex scenes were hot without being too much, you can hear the passion but he doesn’t get carried away with the moans and groans. There were not many accents and only a couple of female voices, but those worked well. He was a great choice for this book.