Thursday, December 13, 2012

Rough Rangers: Battle Buddy

I read both books in the series... Battle Buddy and Tuck & Cover... and adored them both. But today I'm going to focus on Tuck *my favorite* because tomorrow Tyra will focus on Owen. Now if I could only get both of these men to focus on me, I could be a very, very happy girl!

** SJD Peterson has donated a copy of each Rough Ranger book for our 12 Hunky Days of Christmas giveaway which starts tomorrow (since Owen tells us how he and Tuck spent their first Christmas together!) COME BACK TOMORROW to enter the contest. December 14-25, 2012.

Shane Tucker joined the Army to hide behind "Don't Ask, Don't Tell". It was working too, until he was paired with sexy Owen Bradford as his Battle Buddy. If boot camp doesn't kill him, the temptation of Owen's sinful body surely will...

Shane Tucker joins Uncle Sam's Army at nineteen. Tucker is gay, but not ready to be open about his orientation and "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" seems like a convenient way to avoid having to dealing with his sexuality.
The Army suits Tucker; he does well right from the beginning. Things get harder for Tucker during boot camp when he is assigned a "Battle Buddy".  Owen Bradford is a walking, talking wet dream, with no concept of personal space--he especially likes being in Tucker's personal space. Tucker barely survives boot camp living with the constant temptation that is Owen Bradford.
Two years later, Tucker--now in the Army Ranger program--is paired up with Owen once again. Getting through training while ignoring the sizzling sexual tension between him and his "Battle Buddy" might be the biggest test of Tucker's military career.

Harmony Church sounds like a sweet description for a choir singing in tune together on any given Sunday morning. Well, I'm Shane Tucker and I'm here to tell you, Camp Rogers in the Harmony Church area of Fort Benning, Georgia is anything but sweet. No neatly lined pews, stained glass windows, preacher trying to save my soul and no choir singing hymns. In fact, Harmony Church was the first step toward my descent into hell.
At nineteen, I'd gotten this bright idea that joining the army was a great alternative to mucking cow shit and mending fences. I was ready too, or so I thought. I memorized the seven Army Core Values, good thing because I slept, ate, and um... ate some more about those damn core values, all within the first two weeks. I also prepared my body, best I could. I've always been a big guy, six foot two inches by the time I was seventeen, and growing up on a farm insured my muscles were well defined. A few months before I shipped out I'd started running every day, doing push-ups, sit-ups, the whole routine, thought I was looking pretty damn good. In the best shape of my life.
Don't let anyone bullshit you about being prepared for Army basic training, it can't be done. No one can truly be ready for the kind of fucked up training the army puts a person through. The strenuous physical activities, drills, running, push-ups, sit-ups, and even chin-ups are a breeze compared to the psychological shit they throw at you. You find out the hard way you're either mentally strong enough to make it through or you aren't.
The army breaks down basic training into three phrases. Phase I is called the Red Phase, Phase II is White, and Phase III--you guessed it--Blue. Very patriotic of them, huh? Before I was allowed to start Phase I, I had to spend a little time in Purgatory, officially known as The Reception Battalion. Growing up I heard my daddy complain about how slow the government was. He was always bitching about one thing or another when it came to their idea of productivity. I've actually seen how slow the government is up close and in--well, I can't say action--because for the first two weeks, I didn't see a lot of action at all. I'm convinced to this day that The Reception Battalion is apparently where government officials are sent to learn about taking their damn sweet time getting anything done. I waited and waited... and yeah, waited. When I got bored with waiting, I practiced waiting some more. What I learned while sitting around during those two weeks is that if the bureaucrats ever got their heads out of their asses and efficiently organized the intake process, it would take hours instead of weeks. I never shared my theory with them. I may have been young, but not stupid. Those folks just didn't seem like the kind that would be receptive to my innovative ideas. I learned later in training I was dead right about that.
By the time I was finally loaded onto a bus to begin the real training I was looking forward to boot camp. After two weeks of shots, waiting, paperwork, waiting, issued uniforms, waiting, haircut, waiting, I remember eagerly loading onto the bus thinking anything had to be better than the constant fucking waiting. Christ, how naive I was. All my delusions of things getting better went out the window as soon as the drill sergeants came on the scene. I mean, we'd had drill sergeants during Purgatory, but they didn't really yell that much then. My theory was either that only the pansy-ass drill sergeants were assigned to Purgatory, or it's where the sons of bitches that lost their voices were dumped once they couldn't terrorize the new recruits with their hollering. The moment we stepped off the bus, the drill sergeants no longer talked, they yelled, and apparently a side effect from yelling so much was they lost most of their hearing, because they could only hear you if you yelled back at the top of your lungs.
I learned three very important lessons within the first couple of hours after stepping off the bus for Phase I. First, do not, for any reason, call a drill sergeant 'sir'. For some reason that pissed them off, and they would go off on a tirade about how they worked for a living, blah, blah, blah. Second, do not, and I repeat, do not look your drill sergeant in the eye. If I thought he was psycho about being called 'sir'--holy shit--looking him in the eye caused the veins in his neck to pop out and his face to turn bright red while he stared back at me with his eyeball about an eighth of an inch away from mine. You do not want a drill sergeant going psycho and exploding while that close to you. The third thing I learned, and this lesson came as a direct result from my saying 'sir' and 'eyeballing' a drill sergeant, was that their favorite phrase was "Drop and give me twenty". I was 'dropped' many a time during the Red Phase. Individually, paired up with some other poor sap who had the same deer-in-a-headlight stare I had, and as an entire platoon. Actually, now that I come to think of it, there's a fourth thing I learned. Before signing on to join Uncle Sam's Army, I'd always thought of myself as a problem solver, someone who could figure out easier ways to do things, and I always felt like I could keep situations under control. I was confident of being pretty much in control of my destiny and myself. The trainee having any control over anything was a myth in boot camp. The recruiter, who sang to me the praises of army life, failed to tell me that, while the Army might like initiative and innovation, drill sergeants hated it. That would have been a handy bit of information to have before I started boot camp. My advice to any new recruit--leave your need to keep situations under control at home because, whether it's the hard way or the easy way, by the end of the first week, you will have to be able to do what you're told, when you're told, and exactly how you're told to do it.
How I loved this short story... let me count the ways... First, Shane Tucker is perfection. Note EYE CANDY in the form of Jo Peterson's inspiration for his character. I "borrowed" it from her website. Not only is he tough, hot, sweet and is packaged magnificently but on a practical level, Peterson gave his story voice fitting of a small town 19- year-old. The book read very much like a diary and readers hear Tuck's thoughts, live through his perceptions as he is introduced to Army life. His naivete is priceless and sweet - as a mother, I want to pinch his cheeks. As a woman, I want to... *clears throat*... anyway... Tuck is just so likable, I dare readers not to fall in love with this guy.

Second thing I liked is that the military theme had enough detail-without being too much-to make it real. Readers were provided an accurate picture of just what Tuck went through while keeping a steady pacing. Peterson wasted no words. This was a tight manuscript that tied up neatly into the focal point. Tuck. Well, Tuck and Owen.

Third thing I liked was the romance. Readers see it unfold in realistic stages from a man's POV. There's the instant rush of attraction, the ensuing sexual frustration, longing and then moments of forbidden lust. Peterson brings just enough tension in with the Don't Act, Don't Tell policy without overplaying it. The focus stayed on the developing romance between Tuck and Owen without rushing. The fact that they spent time apart lent to the credibility. They just seemed like real men. (I'm not sure they aren't out there somewhere and Peterson is hiding them both to herself!?)

Finally when Tuck and Owen acted on their feelings, it was freakin' H-O-T. There wasn't a lot of playtime for these two but they definitely made the most of their leave. After all that sexual tension (for me - not them... lol!) throughout the book, the hotel scene was sizzling. I could practically feel the sweat on their bodies and the testosterone pumping because the writing was so descriptive.

The story ends at a point that makes you wonder "what happens next?" but Owen gives you more detail in his journal, Tuck & Cover, which Tyra is reviewing tomorrow. So come back and check it out. Then go grab  yourself a copy of these fabulous books.

5 Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries
This book was given to us by the author. Many thanks.

Battle Buddy Buy Link
Even if you can't BUY it today, CLICK THE LINK and "LIKE" her book on Amazon. It's a simple way to spread the word about a great book!
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