#BlogTour • Operation Better Tomorrow (Rock-Hard Heroes #2) by Brandi Evans + Giveaway & Review
Title: Operation Better Tomorrow
Series: Rock-Hard Heroes #2
Author: Brandi Evans
Release Date: November 29th 2016
Publisher: Loose ID
Genre: MM Romance
Pages: 269 (Novel)
The interview of a lifetime.
When Aaron Strickland’s assigned to write a feature article on Caleb Douglas, the first openly gay soldier to receive the Medal of Honor, he’s over-the-moon. Meet a sexy, real-life hero? Yes, please. And in the weeks leading up to their interview, the former soldier becomes a recurring player in Aaron’s fantasies.
A man Caleb can’t forget.
Years earlier, lost in the throes of depression and PTSD after an ambush left his body and soul scarred, Caleb was on the brink of giving up when a magazine article changed his life forever—an article written by Aaron. Emerging from the depths of his pain, Operation Better Tomorrow—part homestead, part halfway house for those down on their luck—was born.
Tragedy lurking on the horizon.
As the days pass, Caleb and Aaron’s tragic pasts bind them in ways they aren’t prepared for, but it also leaves them vulnerable. Pushing forward means breaking down walls they’ve built to protect themselves, and just as they’re poised on the precipice of happiness, a darkness descends on the homestead, a hatred that will leave one man clinging to life and the other willing to risk everything to save him.
Watch the Operation Better Tomorrow Book Trailer
Resisting the urge to follow Aaron, Caleb unlatched the wicker picnic basket from the left saddlebag, grabbed the thick blanket from the right, and traipsed deep into the waist-high colors. Blues, purples, and yellows dotted the greenery and swayed in the late-summer breeze. The meadow smelled sweet and made him think of peace and tranquility. The area, along with Aaron’s article and daily meditation, were the best anti-depressants Caleb had ever had.
He set the basket and Aaron’s bag down and unfolded the blanket. Considering the height and density of the flowers, laying out the cloth was an exercise in frustration management. A step-and-tug here, an expletive or twelve there, he inched the material down until he created a makeshift hideaway.
Before taking his seat and disappearing into the overgrowth, he glanced around until he found Aaron. The other man was zoomed in on a yellow bud, and Caleb smiled. He liked the idea of sharing this place with Aaron. It was the perfect backdrop to delve into his pain.
He unclipped his walkie and set it on the corner of the blanket before dishing food onto the thin, floral plates that had come with the basket. Thick turkey sandwiches with blue cheese and fresh tomatoes, fruit salad, and oven-baked green bean crisps—green beans drizzled with olive oil, salted, peppered, and then baked until they were crispy. To complement the meal, he’d chosen a Château Timberlay Bordeaux. It wasn’t a full-on red, but it had a deep, lush flavor he really liked.
He uncorked the bottle, removed one of the wineglasses fastened to the inside of the—
“Oh, God, Caleb. Don’t move.”
Caleb froze, Aaron’s soft command triggering an ingrained response from his Army days. When a commander told you to freeze while on patrol, you fucking froze. Period.
No debate. You obeyed or you could die. But what danger was there out here? Had the other man seen a snake or something?
“Don’t move a muscle.” Click. Click, click. “It’s breathtaking.”
Caleb breathed a sigh of relief. Aaron was just taking pictures. “Aaron—”
“Shh.” Click, click. “Not even a muscle. This shot’s gorgeous. You’re fucking gorgeous. I can’t… Your profile’s…” Click, click. Click. Click. “Oh my God, look at yourself.”
Caleb turned toward Aaron’s voice as the other man emerged from the flowers and crawled onto the blanket in an awkward “three-legged” motion, holding out his camera. Blades of grass and broken flower petals stuck in his perfectly messy hair, and his smile was eight times more breathtaking than any Caleb had ever seen. The intensity, the passion on Aaron’s face, matched what was stirring inside him.
Aaron settled beside Caleb and held the camera so they could both see the screen on the back, but Caleb couldn’t take his eyes off the man beside him, watching Aaron as he looked at Caleb’s image on the screen. The pleasure on Aaron’s face, as cliché as it was, stole Caleb’s breath, and when Aaron turned his head, Caleb captured that incredible mouth in a quick, hard kiss.
Caleb pulled back and drew his thumb over the bottom lip he’d just claimed. “Thank you.”
Aaron’s eyebrows drew together. “For what?”
“Just…thank you.” Caleb tapped his lips to Aaron’s again and then forced himself to pull back before the moment spun out of control. He wanted Aaron, but doubt was malevolent, constant. The idea of exposing himself at all was terrifying, but here, in the open, in the light of day, it positively petrified him. Not out here. Not like this. But if ever there was someone to take a chance on…
I love the concept behind Operation Better Tomorrow, what it stands for, and everything that Caleb Douglas has built and created for himself and others like him for a safe and stable environment. He knows what it’s like to be living on the precipice where one move can literally be a life or death decision. Fortunately, he found his way back from living on the edge and his mission in life is to give others the same chance.
Aaron Strickland has no idea when he arrives that the only reason Caleb agreed to finally give an interview after so many years was because one of his articles actually inspired Caleb all those years earlier. Aaron has been preparing himself by researching every bit of information he could find on Caleb leading up to his trip. He knows that Caleb was severely injured in the blast but that does not sway him at all when he sees Caleb for the first time. He is gob-smacked by Caleb’s appearance. He is the sexiest man Aaron has ever seen.
This is my first time reading anything by Brandi Evans and I enjoyed her writing style. She writes with a detailed and descriptive narrative that help to set the scene and it also aided in a visual of the surroundings and I like that when reading. She also was able to tap into the emotions of the characters and show their vulnerability especially Brian, Caleb’s adopted son, who came to the homestead after going through some very hard times of his own. You'll learn of his story, and he'll become one of your favorites, I have no doubt.
Operation Better Tomorrow, or the Homestead, as Caleb refers to it, has quite a few strays or now family members, and each one has a story of their own. I would like to have learned a little more about John, a homeless man that doesn't talk, or rather chooses not too. Maybe his story will come later on. At any rate, with Caleb's mom running the main house, they have a well-oiled running operation and everyone seems to get along well and it flows smoothly.
What I couldn’t accept or pass off as believable was the fact that Aaron was there to do an interview with Caleb and he was going to be staying a week. A week is feasible to learn about him, follow him around, ask questions, interview his family members, take pictures, interview the towns people, etc. but that didn’t happen. They, literally, fell into bed with each other, had sex, a lot, and were jealous of other people. Unfortunately, I kept thinking. . .but it’s only been three days and it was overriding my brain. And-there’s a lot of things playing out in this week-there’s a daughter, ex-wife, mom, dads, fights, drunk step-dad, love. . . it’s a lot of stuff to happen.
If Aaron had done the interview, gone home and come back in a month or two and then he and Caleb had fell head over heels, I know I would have cheered them on. And, maybe it’s just me and some people can fall in love in a week. The story is good, the writing is good, It just bothers me they connected that quickly. And, I was disappointed that we didn't get to read the interview. If the love connection doesn’t bother you then I would definitely recommend it.
The sex is hot and plentiful, the anguish is heartbreaking at times, but there is a lot of love at Operation Better Tomorrow. Unfortunately, for me, with the bulk of the story being Caleb and Aaron falling madly in love in less than a week, I can't suspend my disbelief in contemporary romance. 3.0 3.5Stars
* I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review through http://embracetherainbow.net *
*****GIVEAWAY: Win an Amazon Kindle!!!!*****
About the Author
Brandi Evans was raised by a caravan of traveling Gypsies. She spent her days learning the ways of her people and her nights lost in legends as old as time. Okay, not really, but that's way more interesting than the truth!
In reality, Brandi grew up the oldest child of an ordinary family. Grade school, middle school, high school. Nothing extraordinary happened until she left the nest. She joined the military, went to college, got married, and became a mom. And somewhere along the way, she discovered she liked to read—and write!—stories hot enough to melt eReaders.
These days, she calls The Natural State home where she lives with her hubby, two beautiful daughters, two dogs and a cat who has yet to realize she doesn’t own the place. Soldier. Wife. Mom. Multi-published smut writer. Brandi's life might not be "traveling Gypsy" interesting, but she's had fun. And in the end, isn't that all that really matters?