Lieutenant Apollo Floros can ace tactical training missions, but being a single dad to his twin daughters is more than he can handle. He needs live-in help, and he’s lucky a friend’s younger brother needs a place to stay. He’s surprised to see Dylan all grown up with a college degree…and a college athlete’s body. Apollo’s widowed heart may still be broken, but Dylan has his blood heating up.
It’s been eight years since the teenage Dylan followed Apollo around like a lovesick puppy, and it’s time he showed Lieutenant Hard-to-Please that he’s all man now—an adult who’s fully capable of choosing responsibility over lust. He can handle Apollo’s muscular sex appeal, but Apollo the caring father? Dylan can’t afford to fall for that guy. He’s determined to hold out for someone who’s able to love him back, not someone who only sees him as a kid brother.
Apollo is shocked by the intensity of his attraction to Dylan. Maybe some no-strings summer fun will bring this former SEAL back to life. But the combination of scorching desire and warm affection is more than he’d expected, and the emotion between them scares him senseless. No fling lasts forever, and Apollo will need to decide what’s more important—his past or his future—if he wants to keep Dylan in his life.
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I loved Apollo’s story. I adored seeing how he handles himself at home and with his grief, plus how he finds love again. And oh man the story was so good. Ms. Albert pulls out emotion so you feel things with the characters. You can’t help falling for each of the characters as you read. Including the side characters that aren’t the main part of the story.
Dylan was a total sweetheart. he wanted to take care of everyone around him. He was fabulous with children, especially Apollo’s girls. He had clear goals in his life and I liked the decisiveness in him. You can’t help but feel bad for him as the story progresses and the relationship between him and Apollo has their ups and downs. His heartache and pain from Apollo’s actions/words comes through so clearly in the story. The scene where he and Apollo work out what they want towards the end (trying to explain the scene without spoiling it so that’s kind of vague and confusing; however when you read the book you’ll know which scene I mean!) completely broke my heart. You could tell they knew then what was going to happen. By the end of the story you could tell Dylan had found his place in the world.
Apollo broke my heart and made me want to throttle him at the same time. He missed Neal desperately every day and truly didn’t want to have to live a life without him. But he was in such denial the whole time about Dylan. That denial did make his eventual epiphany that much sweeter since he spent so long fighting it. The way he interacted with his daughters was so wonderful. He doted on them so much and gave them everything he could. That caring and devotion was beautiful and when it was turned on Dylan it became so much more amazing. As buttoned up as Apollo is, he’s also very deep. He is full of emotion but flounders how to express them at times. Once he had set on a course of action though, he was completely all in.
Dylan and Apollo together were wonderful right from the start. They had a long and rocky road to happily ever after. They built a friendship very quickly and I loved they could start there. Even when things got rough and awkward and all wrong, they could go back to that friendship as a foundation. The girls made their relationship interesting and added a fascinating layer that I truly enjoyed reading. As Dylan and Apollo worked everything out, you could see their strong foundation and know they were going to make it long term. Their happily ever after is so sweet. They have such a happy life ahead of them and I would love to see more of them. I can’t wait to see them a little bit in the next story. It’s lovely getting to catch up with previous couples in the subsequent books in the series. I can’t wait for the next book to be out already.
Four and a half
I’m so excited for Ms. Albert to stop by today. She’s here to talk about Apollo and his habit of being organized, especially in regards to meal planning. As a meal planner myself, these tips are great for anyone that wants to start taking the stress out of cooking each night. After checking out the guest post, be sure to read the scene in the book where Dylan tries to take over Apollo’s meal planning. Read and enjoy!
Thank you so much for having me today! In my latest book, AT ATTENTION, Apollo, my widowed navy SEAL hero, loves to cook. Specifically, he loves to cook big batches of food at once. He’s not quite at once-a-month cooking level of preparation and freezer filling, but he’s not far off. Do you like cooking ahead? Wanting to try more of it? Intimidated by the crockpot or insta-pot? It’s actually really simple, with no special equipment needed to start cooking in larger batches and saving yourself time, money, and energy.
Now, in Apollo’s case he’s got his SEAL career and two twin girls to worry about. And to make matters worse, his best friend’s little brother has shown up on the scene to help, but is being a big distraction to Apollo’s healing heart. Apollo needs all the help he can get, and cooking is one thing that saves his sanity.
Here are some of Apollo’s tips for cooking in bigger batches while not ending up eating the same thing every night for a week.
- Have a plan! This is the most important thing. Whether you use an online app, a calendar, a planner, a whiteboard or a binder, you need a plan for what will be cooked when and what will be eaten which night.
- Know your schedule! Apollo is more able to shop and prep on his days off, so he takes advantage of that and does the longer cooking sessions on those days.
- On the days you have more time, look at your plan and do more. Will cooked chicken help you out later in the week? Cook two birds in the oven at once while you do other tasks, then serve one and de-bone the other and freeze the meat for adding to fast pasta and rice dishes later in the week. While the chicken is cooking, chop veggies for later in the week and make a large pot of rice. Serve some with the chicken, and portion out the rest for later in the week. It makes a great burrito filling addition, base for fried rice, and more!
- Keep your freezer and fridge fed with meal ingredients. Freeze cooked chicken and meat for adding to casseroles—even boxed dinners can be improved with some pre-cooked meat. Keep chopped veggies ready to go to add to fast meals later on in the week.
- Double up on your family’s favorites. Love curry? Two pans really isn’t that much more work and you can freeze one batch for a stress-free meal later on. Love lasagna and other casseroles? Most freeze well and re-heat well, so make two and freeze the second.
- Don’t be afraid of buying in bulk, and think outside the box. Turkey? Not just for Thanksgiving. Roast one while you go about your Saturday, then freeze all that meat for the rest of the month. Big pork roast? Cook it up, then freeze the thinly sliced meat along with some juice for adding to dishes later. Ham? Not just for Easter—get it on sale, then portion it up for adding to casseroles, omelets and more. Peppers on sale? Roast a giant batch and freeze for adding color to other dishes.
How about you? Do you like to cook-ahead? Got any tips to share? And if you’re interested in Apollo’s adventures with his best friend’s little brother, be sure to check out AT ATTENTION!
Hamburger. Onions. Pickles. Ketchup. Buns. Buns.
Well, hello, there. Possibly the most perfect specimen Apollo had ever seen was bent over in the bakery aisle at Sprouts, looking at a rack of organic cookies. High. Tight. Round. Attached to muscular legs poking out of board shorts, the kind of legs that suggested a serious investment in a sport or fitness. He wasn’t going to do more than look, but even when he’d been with Neal, he hadn’t been blind, and it was nice to know perfection like this guy existed in the world.
It was like swimming by a perfect coral reef on a dive or the blue of a cloudless sky right before a jump—
Wink. Fuck. The guy straightened before Apollo could look away and caught Apollo staring, and instead of blushing or serving him with the angry glare he deserved, he gave Apollo a saucy wink. It was the sort of wink that a decade ago would have had Apollo crossing the shiny linoleum and getting the guy’s number, but those days were long gone.
Instead he grabbed the closest twelve pack of hamburger buns and one of hot dog buns and headed to the next aisle. Those were the only kind of buns he had any business letting himself be distracted by. He was a father for crying out loud, not some single guy out treating the natural grocery store like his own personal pickup joint. Reflexively, he rubbed his ring with the side of his pinky, making it spin on his ring finger. Yeah. No more looking.
“Apollo! How are you?” Bridget from down the street almost ran her cart into his as he navigated the aisles. Her red-haired toddler waved at him from the basket.
Hell. He knew he should have brought at least one of the girls shopping. Then Bridget could have focused on the kids, and not his least favorite question in the universe.
“Hanging in there.” Apollo gave her a practiced a smile. “Good” would be a lie and no one wanted to hear “same as yesterday,” which was closer to the truth. But what the Bridgets of the world all wanted to hear was that Apollo was moving on—like time was the magic cure for the hole in his heart. “Having some people over for a barbecue later. Apologies if anyone parks in front of your place.”
“Oh, no worries.” Bridget patted his arm. “Having friends is so important.”
“Yeah, it is,” Apollo agreed because Bridget was a nice person, but inwardly his teeth gnashed together. He was so tired of well-meaning people telling him what was good for him when not a damn one of their suggestions would bring Neal back. “I better get on with my list.”
“You do that. And be sure and let us know if you need anything.”
Apollo nodded. Two years. It had been two years of neighbors and friends stopping him like this, making kind offers, but none of them able to do the one thing he wanted more than anything.
Fuck. Snap out of it, Lieutenant. No one wants your mopey ass around on this sunny May weekend. And it was an absolutely gorgeous day, perfect for playing with the girls outside and kicking back a few beers with his friends. He wasn’t on duty and had three consecutive days off for the first time in a long time. No sense dwelling on sad shit. Time to get stuff done.
Find something else to focus on.
Like that perfect ass?
No. Absolutely not that. Like…pickles. Lots and lots of pickles.
He saw Mr. Perfect Butt again in the juice aisle, and it was damn hard to keep his resolution to stick to shopping. The guy was model cute—curly hair falling just so over his forehead, sparkling eyes, chiseled jaw, and a tight T-shirt advertising a British soccer team showing off a defined chest and tight stomach. The guy smiled at him again and looked like he might want to speak, so Apollo grabbed the juice boxes for the girls and got out of there like he’d just launched a flash bang in the guy’s direction.
At the checkout, Mr. Perfect Butt was ahead of him in the only line that seemed to be moving. Apollo very carefully did not look at his butt again and busied himself grabbing some gum and trying to give off “don’t talk to me” vibes.
But those vibes seemed to be an utter failure as the guy turned, offering another movie-star-worthy grin. “You want to go first?” His voice was husky, like every word was a secret.
“I’m good,” Apollo said.
The man nodded, shy smile teasing the edges of his mouth, making his blue eyes dance. “You know—”
“ID please.” The cashier interrupted whatever flirtation the guy had planned as his six pack of beer went across the scanner.
“Oh, yeah.” A faint red flush spread up the guy’s neck. Oh hell. He wasn’t just younger than Apollo. He was a kid. A kid who still got carded, and rightfully so with that baby face. What the hell had Apollo been thinking, admiring his body?
Apollo focused on unloading his own groceries, making neat rows for the cashier, and making sure the buns wouldn’t get squished.
Buns. Nope. Not going there. The kid hung around after paying for his groceries, mouth moving as if he were debating speaking, but Apollo kept his attention squarely on the cashier.
No more looking. Remember who—what—you are now. When he finally looked up, perfect butt guy was gone, and if Apollo felt a twinge of regret for being a bit on the rude side, he squashed it quickly. Wasn’t like he’d ever see the guy again anyway.
Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer.
Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights supporter. In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two children.
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