Title: Once Burned
Series: Anchor Point: Book Six
Author: L.A. Witt
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Length: 298 Pages
At a Glance: The too often repetition of the same concerns started to weigh this story down and slow the pacing, but Once Burned is a good story, a solid hit for those who like reading about men in the military, and an impactful statement on the current political climate and how it affects those who serve to keep us safe.
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: Captain Mark Thomas’s world has been tossed on its head: A long overdue but still unexpected divorce. A promotion out of left field. Last-second orders to a ship where careers go to die. As the dust settles in his new home, he barely recognizes his life, but he sure recognizes the loneliness creeping in.
Diego Ramírez wants nothing to do with the military or its men. Not after the Navy burned him both literally and figuratively, costing him his career, his health, and ultimately his green card. Now working illegally in an Anchor Point bar, he keeps the military and its personnel at arm’s length.
But after a single moment of eye contact across the bar, Mark and Diego can’t resist each other. As a one-night stand quickly turns into more, Diego knows he’s playing with fire. Now he can stick around and let things with Mark inevitably fall apart, or he can run like hell and wonder what might have been. One way or another, Diego knows he’s about to get burned. Again.
50% of the author’s royalties from this book will be donated to charities supporting US military veterans who have been deported or are at risk of deportation.
Review: Once Burned, the sixth installment in the Anchor Point series by author L.A. Witt can easily be read as a standalone. Once again we enter the lives of naval men who have sacrificed much for their country and question whether or not it is all worth it in the end. Yet, they stoically forge ahead despite their misgivings and the sometimes reprehensible way in which the government treats its most loyal and brave brothers and sisters. In this case, the author explores the very real dilemma that faces some of our military—the lack of permanent U.S. status and their failure to obtain that citizenship while on active military duty. The question is raised as to what happens to those soldiers who are deployed in hostile military zones and sustain life-threatening injury and are unable to complete the paperwork that will give them their much-needed right to remain in this country. It may seem unbelievable to us, but how often in the past year have we seen story after story on the news about soldiers who have served in the military being deported? Far too often, unfortunately. Once Burned takes both that and the pain and turmoil PTSD have on Diego into account when telling his story.
If he could move on from what he has lost via the Navy’s indifference and unfair assessment, Diego might be happier. He would still be an illegal immigrant and worried that the next inspection at the bar he’s working at might be his ticket to deportation, but he would be happier…maybe. The problem is that Diego finds himself attracted to Mark, a naval career officer, and despite Diego’s vow not to involve himself with a military guy, he is finding it difficult to stay away from Mark and his bed. There is just too much to like about the hesitant, humble soldier. However, Mark represents everything Diego has come to fear and hate, and that is a barrier that Diego may not be able to clear.
Mark is fresh off a divorce from a marriage that had crumbled years before where both he and his wife ended up cheating on each other rather than face the fact that they were not marriage material. Starting over clear across the country, he is the first to admit that he doesn’t do well at relationships. But after meeting Diego and realizing that, in spite of his promise to himself not to rush into things, he really likes the guy. Mark is ready to risk it all to see if they can make it work. These two men fumble their way through a growing relationship that is rife with many minefields such as Diego’s PTSD and hatred of the military, and Mark’s uncertainty as to how to help the man he is falling in love with and not overstep his position in the navy. In the end the real question becomes, can their love survive the mess Diego’s life has become.
The chemistry and private moments between Mark and Diego were so realistic and sincere that their relationship was the real star of this novel. It was definitely believable that Diego could be so anxious and torn apart by his past and the memories that threatened to unhinge him mentally at every turn that he questioned why he should even be with Mark. Mark, on the other hand, wanted to help, but his own insecurity over his failed marriage, and his worry that he would repeat it in a new relationship, became more of his focus than seeing what Diego really needed from him. These men were often like two ships that pass in the night, trying their best to stay on course but often allowing their own uncertainty to derail their course.
My one problem with this novel actually stems from just that plot point. So often I felt that both Diego and Mark worried needlessly over the same issue. I could understand that the author was trying to establish how much Diego was affected by his circumstances, but the too often repetition of the same concerns started to weigh this story down and slow the pacing. Rather than increase my compassion for Diego and his plight, I found myself starting to chafe at what became his rather constant rehashing of the same worries over and over again. After a while, rather than create an air of tension and urgency, I found the repetitive nature of Diego’s stream of consciousness boring and unnecessary. I had gotten the message earlier on and felt the author was pounding the same theme over and over to the detriment of the story itself.
While this was unfortunate, I cannot fault this author’s ability to create intense and realistic characters who worm their way into your heart and stir up real empathy for them and their plight. Once Burned is a good story, a solid hit for those who like reading about men in the military, and an impactful statement on the current political climate and how it affects those who serve to keep us safe.
You can buy Once Burned here:
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