No Flag (After Everything #1) by Liz Borino

@Archaeolibrary, @debbiereadsbook, @LizBorino,

#Contemporary, #MM, #Military, #Romance, #BDSMElements,

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 contract.

Mike agrees, until the army invokes the stop-loss military policy to involuntarily extend his commission and send him back overseas, rendering him powerless and threatening everything he and Will have built. Will, left alone to cope with a new café, must rely on the support of old friends who may no longer be trustworthy.

A horrific terrorist attack on Mike’s outpost changes everything, leaving them both at a loss.

Mike awakens in a hospital with a devastating injury and no recollection of the attack. As the only survivor, his memory may be the key to national security. Mike struggles to cope with his injury and Will struggles with his new role in Mike’s life.

For Mike and Will, “No Flag” meant “come home alive.” Will has Mike back rather than a folded flag, but in the aftermath of war, can they rebuild the life they had before?

*Contains BDSM elements in the context of a loving relationship.*

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Bar Meeting

December 30, 2010

Mike Kelley strode into T&J, the hottest gay nightclub in Philadelphia, or so the online tourist guide told him. Mike had nothing to compare to the loud music fueling the couples on the dance floor, but the energy put a smile on his face as he sat down at the bar. If he was honest with himself, the energy was only a part of the reason for his smile. Since Obama introduced the bill to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell earlier this month, Mike finally felt free to express his true desires without fear of being dishonorably discharged.

“What’ll you have?” the bartender—Will, according to his nametag—asked, meeting his eyes quickly.

You, Mike thought. God, first night on the town and I’m already drooling. “What’s good?”

“Guess that depends on what you like. We have draft beer and top shelf everything else.” The bartender tapped his pad of paper.

“Give me whatever you do well.” As soon as the words left his mouth, heat rose in Mike’s face. But even if he thought of a correction, the bartender smirked and turned around, giving Mike the opportunity to evaluate his rounded backside, which his light jeans hugged perfectly.

A few minutes, or seconds later—Mike lost count while watching the man’s ass—the bartender placed a sidecar in front of him and asked, “Are you new here?”

“Yes, I’m stationed at the army base,” he responded. “Name’s Mike.”

“Welcome to Philly, Mike. I’m Will. Word of advice: If you tell too many people to give you what they do well, you won’t end up with drinks very often, and people around here grossly overestimate their skill level.” Will straightened up. “Enjoy your night and let me know if you need anything else.”

Mike watched him serve the other customers, and every so often their gazes met, making Mike’s pulse race all over again.

“That’s Will.” A man with a high-pitched voice sat on the next stool.

“I know. He introduced himself,” Mike said.

“Well, isn’t that friendly of him,” the man commented. Mike did not need to glance over to know he rolled his eyes. “Oh my Gawd, your tattoo is fabulous.” The guy grabbed Mike’s arm to get a better look.

Mike yanked it away. “Thank you.” Fabulous was an interesting word to describe his chain tattoo with two dog tags to commemorate his fallen comrades.

“Did you serve or just know people?”

“Returned from my second tour in Afghanistan two weeks ago.” Mike shut his eyes when the man let out a wistful sigh.

“Sam, leave him alone,” Will commanded.

At the change of tone, Mike’s eyes shot open, and a satisfied smile creased his lips. Easy men bored Mike. He doubted that would be a problem with Will.

“Own the new boy?” Sam challenged.

“No, but the new boy is too much of a man to babysit you. Get lost.”

Sam half-sighed, half-groaned as he stood. “Hope to see you on dance floor, boy. I’d love to show you what I can do.”

The twiggy man sauntered off, shaking what Mike guessed were supposed to pass for hips. “Thanks,” Mike directed toward Will.

“You looked like you were in pain, a common reaction to talking to Sam.” Will nodded toward the dance floor. “Got a question for you. You served in the army. Why did you need me to tell him to go away?”

Mike shrugged. “I would have gotten around to it eventually. I was trying to think of a nice way.”

“Nice is overrated in this town. Nice men get hurt.” Will’s hazel gaze never wavering from Mike’s.

Smiling, Mike replied, “Says the bartender taking the new guy under his wing.”

“Oh, Mike, you’ll regret mistaking me for nice. Want another?” Will pointed to the nearly empty glass.

“Yeah, you were right.” Mike drained the last of the liquid. “You…I mean, it…is good.”

3 out of 5 (good)

Independent Reviewer for Archaeolibrarian - I Dig Good Books!

I struggled a lot with this book, and I'm not entirely sure why, but I DID finish it, eventually, it just took far longer than a book in this genre would normally do, for me.

I love M/M books, and I love BDSM books, and while this book portrays a side order of BDSM, the Domestic Discipline lifestyle, it doesn't work, for ME. I stress this, for ME it doesn't work. I gather from some other reviews (I'm adding this sentence AFTER I've written mine!) that this is a book that you will love, or you won't: there is no in-between.

The chemistry between Mike and Will also fell flat. It was great that Mike made Will wait for it, but when it happens? I kinda spaced over that bit. I think this book would have been better had it come out CLEAN to be honest! The DD lifestyle was thrown at Will, and Mike made the contract with very little from Will, and I felt that was not right. Some of the things Mike had Will doing WERE very close to the edge, especially with Mike's OCD kicking in.

I DID enjoy this book far more after Mike returns. Maybe because the book focuses more on the emotional and physical support that Mike needs, rather than the DD lifestyle.

I still wasn't sure, even at the end, what the deal with Casey was though!

Both Mile and Will have a say, and I'm glad they did.

Not one for me, I'm afraid!

3 stars

** same worded review will appear elsewhere **

* A copy of this book was provided to me with no requirements for a review. I voluntarily read this book, and the comments here are my honest opinion. *

Liz Borino transcribes the world inside her head onto the page, and shares it with the people who are stuck in the "real world" to makes their lives a little more interesting. Because in her world, heroes fall and stand up again with the help of their partners and friends. Liz's world is littered with formidable obstacles, which her heroes overcome with a fire of courage and passion. The beauty of love between two men is celebrated. Who wouldn't want to live there?

When not with her heroes, Liz enjoys exploring cities, working toward social justice, and editing for other authors.

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