Sometimes the fiercest battle a man faces is against himself.
In the hidden alleyways of New York City, George “Tank” Tankersley defeated what he believed were demons. But the victory cost too much. Tank joined the Army in the hope of outrunning the guilt haunting him—only to stumble into a vast and deadly conspiracy, the enemies he’d hoped to never encounter again, and the arms of the brilliant, eccentric scientist tasked with saving humanity.
In a world where the line between dark magic and alien science is thin, Dr. Lev Underwood must reverse engineer recovered alien technology to give humans a fighting chance against the extraterrestrial beings who consider Earth nothing more than a petri dish. His old friend, Colonel Clyde Aldrich, wants to protect Lev from entanglement with the scarred and emotionally volatile young soldier, but Lev cannot help the pull he feels toward Tank. Still, his first loyalty is to the secret government program, and love might have to take a back seat to protecting the world. But if he can find a way, Lev wants both.
Dear Lyn Gala,
I have reviewed a lot of your books here at DA and hopefully will review more. Over the years you became one of the most reliable m/m writers for me, but even if I did not like the story much, your stories always gave me something to discuss and something to think about and I appreciate it very much.
I have to admit, that while I obviously expected SF adventure to take place in this book, based on the blurb, the book was nothing that I expected it to be and I think it was a good thing.
For that very reason the review was a bit painful to write, since every other sentence felt like a spoilerish one to me. I took almost all of it now and if the review became too vague, please forgive me readers, but I am very much convinced that you have to experience this story almost entirely on your own.
So, we have a young soldier ( twenty year old) George Tankersley aka Tank joining the army and Tank who spent his formative years in New York gets to join a strange army base in Alaska.
The story is written in third person limited POV and it switches between Tank and Colonel Clyde Aldrich, which to me worked perfectly. I think I understand why the author needed Clyde’s POV in addition to Tank’s - Tank was not a very reliable narrator, but I will be curious to hear what other readers think.
Almost from the outset we learn that Tank has a past, but the author kept teasing and hinting as to what kind of past he had and once again it was *not* what something I imagined. I also really liked that the story of what Tank endured as a teenager kept coming in tantalizing bits and pieces instead of coming as one or two long info dumps. I do not like info dumps, I understand that occasionally those might be necessary, but I still prefer when the writer does something else and creative choice made in this book was something I really enjoyed.
I also wonder what was supposed to be the main theme of the story. Several book buddies of mine found structural problems in the story which I did not see and still do not see, but I think that part of the reason they saw the issues I didn’t was because while I definitely think that the story had an obvious adventure storyline front and center, I think Tank’s journey of self-discovery and coming to terms with his past was the main storyline. If I am right (of course opinions will differ), then everything else (even love story) existed to push Tank’s story forward and I think it was handled very well.
Speaking about a love story, please beware that the heroes fall for each other pretty fast, but once again, to me it felt quite appropriate for this specific book. As I said before, to me the focus was on Tank and his journey, for that reason it made sense that the writer did not really do full blown relationship development. And of course there was adventure, just because I was not sure whether the adventure was the focal point of the story does not mean it was not there. In any event just wanted to be clear that this was one of those rare occasions when Insta! Love did not bother me.
It also helped that I really liked Lev. I thought his character (same as Tank’s) had a lot of depth and his flaws and good qualities complimented Tank’s. Basically the writer made me believe that these two have a shot at staying together long term.
I thought several secondary characters also had a lot of depth and I was eager to get to know them if more books will come later. There is no indication that this is a first book in the series, but considering that stand alone novels are becoming more and more rare and several questions were not answered, my speculation is that sequels may indeed happen.
Even the title of this book feels as close to perfect as they come to me. Here is an attempt at explanation from the book.
"“I should be out there.” Tank looked at the door. If he even tried to leave base, some officer was going to shove him in the stockade and call Aldrich in the morning, but Tank still felt that itch to try. He was tap-dancing through a minefield, but he couldn’t hear the music—and he wasn’t sure which wrong step might lead to failure or more dead friends or alien enslavement. Without someone giving him better directions, he only knew how to keep on flailing and hoping he didn’t set off one of the mines, even while he knew he would. The sense of impending doom was a second skin clinging to him”.
Please beware of the potential line editing issues as often happens with this publisher. As I said many times before I tend to miss a lot of the problems and this is even more true if I loved the book as much as I did this one.