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I'll Be Your Drill, Soldier

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Ryan Gracin had a good life until he told his parents he was gay. Since they yanked their support for college he had to find a way to pay for it. Little did he know that joining the Army was going to change his life forever. Especially when he was introduced to a Drill Sergeant who was nicknamed 'Big Daddy'.

Phillip Grabowski had joined the Army to follow in his father's footsteps; by the time Ryan entered, he had already made a name for himself. He was a soldier's soldier, but Ryan was making it really hard for him to remember that.

69,653 words.

252 pages, ebook

First published July 2, 2009

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About the author

Crystal Rose

18 books419 followers
I've been married for fourteen years to my wonderful husband. We've got two beautiful girls that makes me proud every day.

Pretty boring to be honest but hey, bored mind gives way to creative tenancies..not going to complain about that!

Arrgggh, somehow I am being credited for the book Turning Point. I deleted it before but it's back. I am not the author of that book!

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5 stars
2,277 (42%)
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1,696 (31%)
3 stars
919 (17%)
2 stars
298 (5%)
1 star
131 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 698 reviews
Profile Image for Heather C.
1,470 reviews213 followers
June 13, 2011
Holy fucking shit! That book was fucking awesome. What the fuck time is it?? 2:30am? And I have to fucking work tomorrow??!!

What a fucking roller coaster ride! FUCK! I was laughing my fucking ass off because it was so fucking funny, and then I was crying my fucking eyes out when it got all fucked up! Then I was fucking laughing my fucking ass off again. Next thing I know, I'm laughing my fucking ass off WHILE I'm crying my fucking eyes out!!!! Whiskey Tango Foxtrot??!!

Every-fucking-body better read this fucking book, like right the fuck now!
Profile Image for Gigi.
2,156 reviews1,049 followers
June 18, 2017

While it took me longer than most to get around to reading this book, I finally made it a priority and, fuck, am I glad I did! It was absolutely wonderful and made it right onto the fuck yeah, 5+ stars shelf. I have a soft spot for military men, but the stories and/or writing and/or characters are usually crap (with the notable exception of the marvelous Strength of the Pack) so this was a welcomed surprise.

Everything you need to know is in the blurb. This book is definitely a MUST READ and highly recommended for any M/M romance fan. It is not to be missed. (I am slowly but surely making my way through what I believe are a list of those MUST READs and plan to compile a list for folks just being introduced into this fantastic genre.) Do yourself a favor and read this one now if you have not already. You will be delighted.

I leave with our boys having a little wrestle and a little Etta James.

This review is also posted at Gay Book Reviews

860 reviews231 followers
October 15, 2012

2.5 Stars

Ok, let’s just deal with the elephant in the room:

I am, indeed a 15-year old boy…at least I feel like I am every time I giggle at this title. Kekekeke.

This book is just silly. It called on every generic trick in the book. When it tried to be funny and “banter”ful, it fell flat. When it tried to be serious, I rolled my eyes. When it tried to be hot…well…I gotta admit, it was hot.

Still, it read like a book written by a Writing 101 student…whose reader has never read a book before and needs to be spoken to in short sentences w/o any conjunctions to keep it simple. Don’t patronize…

Honestly, I did like the characters. Ryan and Phillip are attractive…if not entirely unbelievable. But I just couldn’t get past the writing…

…and, *giggle* *giggle*…the title.

Yet another time I stand alone on my review. I hate when that happens.
Profile Image for Kade Boehme.
Author 35 books1,050 followers
March 14, 2012
Good holy godz! Philip Grabowski is hott as hell. What can I say... I like em mean. And big. And uniforms never hurt. And did I mention tall? Wow. And a great family?

..... am i drooling? .....

That's embarrassing.

Ryan and Phil took a long damn time to get it together and it was sure fun seeing the sexual tension through the bootcamp days, but once they got together it was sweet, sweet music. I loved the way the story was also about a whole group of guys who survived boot camp and war together and in the end found all kinds of happiness. This book gave me all kinda hope... and a wierd desire to jump the nearest thing in an army uniform with some serious enthusiasm.

But I digress.

I think this was one of the more realistic and believable stories of this specific subgenre of the M/Ms. So far none have come close, though Keeping Promise Rock was an almost (and I'm obsessed with Amy Lane) I still found it to require a bit of suspension of disbelief to get to the HEA while this one was believable and not over the top angsty like many others including military men tend to be. It especially feels right to think of it in our new post-DADT military climate. Another plus is that it's a full length novel... long enough to cover the whole story and not leaving you feeling like you missed anything like the damned novellas that seem to be the only thing released at all lately. (Seriously? I don't get the fad)

And Jesus if the ending didn't make me weepy like a kindergarten girl with gum in her pigtail! If you like M/M this will make you very happy. If you like boys in uniform AND M/M... you'll be ecstatic. MUST READ! Only annoying thing is that it's not available for Kindle, had to get it on my Nook APP (wtf is up with that?). Not cool.
Profile Image for Heather K (dentist in my spare time).
3,861 reviews5,639 followers
January 13, 2013
3.5 stars!

Oh how I love M/M military books! I have a special special place in my heart for M/M books that involve our forces... it just gets me every time. I liked this book a lot in spite of a few flaws. First of all, I understand some people's complaints with the writing style. It wasn't smooth or flowery, which I don't mind, but it also didn't have the deliberate crispness that I like in my books with more stripped-down writing. It came across more as an amateur effort. But writing style aside, I liked the story that the author told, and I especially loved the emails back and forth between the guys. The one "dirty" email that Ryan accidentally sent to everyone instead of just Phillip ::LOVE::.

My main issue, and this could just be my personal preference, was that the book tried too hard to be Macho (with a capital M). I mean, I know military guys might not admit their feelings readily but the guys in this book were across the board almost comically MANLY. It isn't feminine to admit that you care and love someone, and it honestly didn't feel realistic because I don't know ANY guys that are that stoic with their emotions, gay or straight. This book felt more like drinking buddies banging. Even the ones that got married, it was like "I guess I'm going to marry this F-er because I F-ing love him" ( cue head noogie). I wanted more depth and more feelings.
Profile Image for Jilly.
1,838 reviews6,164 followers
January 31, 2021
I just had a hard time seeing a drill sergeant asshole as a sexy hero.
But, there were some funny moments.

Profile Image for *J* Too Many Books Too Little Time.
1,921 reviews3,444 followers
March 28, 2016
I'm going to stick with 4 stars on this one.

The first half I was all set to give it about 3/3.5. There was definitely a slow build to this one. But the second half really picked up and made the build up in the first half make a lot more sense. And by the end I really liked these guys.

I do agree with a lot of the other reviews that a big part of this book was about the bonding of the soldiers. The 4 guys that became best friends, that would put their lives on the line for each other.

Within that came the relationship between Ryan and Phillip.

I loved the e-mails back and forth. The dynamics of all of the relationships.

This was another one of those books that got lost on the TBR shelf that I'm really glad I dusted off and read!
Profile Image for ElaineY.
2,122 reviews68 followers
November 3, 2010
I have never heard of this author and can't find anything else by her but if I could give this book 7 stars, I would. It was hot, it was emotional, it was funny. I laughed and cried as I journeyed with this bunch through five-plus years of their lives in the US Army.

I loved every man in this book even though at the start, I wasn't quite sure I would even like Ryan. But Drill Sergeant Grabowski - loved him the moment he appeared even if he was a little scary and that first sex scene between him and Ryan...I wasn't sure about that except that Ryan did want it, too. Because of their respective positions, it was a little too close to sexual harrassment/rape except for the fact that Grabowski had been featuring in Ryan's dreams as much as being a nightmare in waking life.

But Grabowski turns out to be as sexy as Ryan thinks he is, he's soft inside and as the story moves along, you find that Grabowski himself wasn't proud of that sexual episode himself. Their romance develops slowly but surely even though they don't verbalize their feelings. When they finally do, it was oh-so-satisfying.

There's no mystery, murder or intrigue in this MM romance. The suspense is in the relationships between these men, their early days in the Army and the relationships forged during those scary days and which last for years after that.

There's that last exchange of emails between the men that cracked me up as no book has for a long, long time. The men are trained up, sent out, return and are shipped back out again. I held my breath when one of the men back home hears knocking early in the morning and doesn't want to open the door, knowing such visits always brings bad news.

Since the author is new to me and I've never bought anything from this publisher before, I was rather apprehensive about the ending. Would someone not make it back from Iraq? No, please don't make it Ryan or Grabowski.

You'll have to read this book for yourself to find out the ending but you know me...if there wasn't at least a strong HFN after everything, I'd be cussing and swearing, right?

Instead, I'm wanting to give it 7 stars.

I gave this book the maximum of 5 stars when I first read it last year. On my second reading, I enjoyed almost as much and give it 4.9 stars. I still enjoyed IBYDR more than most of the books I read this year but compared to the first time, I felt Ryan's and Philip's relationship could have been given more page space rather than all the day-to-day journaling of their basic training. That said, if there were no size constraints for the author, I would have been happier, this second time around, with a slightly longer book if I could have gotten more time with Grabowski and Ryan away from the army. I wanted to be with them when they weren't "working". R&R with Grabowski would have been hilarious, I think.

Overall rereading pleasure: not as much as my reread of Mexican Heat by Baumbach and Lanyon.
Profile Image for Karla.
986 reviews1,094 followers
July 16, 2012
4 Stars!I loved the storyline, the ideas and world the author created, adored the men, these wonderful brothers in arms, and took all the lessons learned to heart. So, why only 4 stars? At times the writing was basic at best. It didn’t flow as well as it could have, the writing seemed a bit choppy. The constant use of the phrases, “smaller/larger man”, “older/younger” man, “other man”, made the scenes where they were used to describe the characters, feel very impersonal. I’m not one for flowery prose or overly descriptive writing, but had the author embellished a little more, stayed with the point at hand, injected some more mature dialogue, polished it up…ding, ding, ding…it would have been a winner!

However, the underlying plot was sweet, the characters so endearing. We can only hope that someday sexual orientation is not used to judge someone’s character. I found myself having a hard time believing that everyone could be so accepting in the book, but then I read this and understood what the author was writing and I applaud her for allowing us to imagine what it could be like.

”Note to readers: Although this reads like our Army and our war, this is purely fiction. This is set in a world where everyone is treated the same regardless of sexual orientation-- like it should be.”

The book is filled with some laugh out loud moments, unexpected relationships, smokin’ hot sex, anxious times, the unfortunate realities of war, and the most upstanding wonderful group of soldiers. They accept and support each other no matter their sexual preferences, which was a breath of fresh air. The story spans over years and rounds out nicely, comes back full circle to square one! It made me smile.

Drill Sergeant Grabowski

Profile Image for Mirjana **DTR - Down to Read**.
1,390 reviews652 followers
May 4, 2017

***3 Stars***

Damn, this is a hard one to rate.

When it comes to the romance aspect of the book...sadly, I wasn't invested that much. I'd probably put it at two stars...and what's worse, I was more connected to Mark and Patrick, who were a secondary couple in the book. I liked Ryan and Phillip, but I just didn't feel their connection...at least nothing beyond physical attraction.

Also, the writing style just didn't work for me. It's very choppy and awkward. The narrative and flow was very disjointed. I get that these are badass, army men...and I am NO prude when it comes to swearing, but this book just took it to the next level. It's almost as if the author is yelling "Just because you're gay, doesn't mean you can't be a testosterone fueled, macho man!" I get it, I get it. I don't think that...no need to shout!

However, where this book excelled was connecting you to the camaraderie and sense of family and brotherhood that these men shared. I was fully invested in this merry band of crazy asses! When it comes to that aspect of the book, this is easily a four star read.

But what I picked up was a romance, not a general tale about army life. So I guess the best way to do this is to split the rating down the middle: 2 stars for romance, 4 stars for brotherhood = 3 stars overall.
Profile Image for ȷαεlα.
674 reviews
June 6, 2016


I'm having mixed feelings about this book. Sometimes it was very very good, other times it was very plain.

I'll start by saying that the cover is gorgeous. Damn! Soldiers and their six packs. Yummy!

This is the story of 4 boys who join the US Army and become friends. Ryan is the main character, but there are multiple POVs in the book.


Ryan is gay, but coming out of the closet wasn't what his parents had imagined about their son, so he decides to join the Army as the best possible choice for a "career", since his parents disowned him and cut every financial support.

During his time as a "soldier to be", Ryan (22) meets Phillip (27), his superior, who is "sex on stick" and has a crush on him since then. Phillip Grabowski makes Ryan's life hell with all the trainings and hard work. There is sexual tension between them. They both want each other. They act on it, but I didn't really get the feels that are usual for the mm romance books. It looked like Phillip took advantage of his position, even though he doesn't force Ryan. It didn't feel natural. But it was Hot, nonetheless.

A very good element of this book were the letters exchanged between all the characters. They were really beautiful. So emotional. Being a soldier is so difficult. I can't even imagine what the people waiting every day for them feel. It has to be so consuming.

A thing that I didn't like was that we learn very little about the characters. Even after the ending, I'm not sure I like any of them. There isn't enough personal material to get attached to someone.

Something that annoyed me was the unrealistic relationship between Phillip and his ex-wife. I cant't understand how a woman could be so cool having her ex making out with his boyfriend in front of her or their daughter. All this is very strange. You could be the most open-minded person on Earth, but still, this is unimaginable.

I know the Army many times ruins soldiers' life, makes their life tough and they are never the same again. I was expecting something much more emotional and heart-wrenching. I didn't get any strong feels at all. Even the relationship between the 2 MCs didn't really work (in my opinion). They were many many times interrupted on what they were doing. Sex scenes were minimal.

It wasn't a bad book, but it could have been much more better.

3.3 stars

August 23, 2014
This is clearly a very awkward case of "it's not you; it's me." I'm obviously in the minority, though, considering the many stellar reviews by friends whose opinion I value.

I found the writing to be poor and amateurish; there were multiple grammatical errors and a LOT OF CAPITAL LETTERS that made my eyes hurt. The writing was choppy, and the plot jumped around manically. At one point, the story leaps five years ahead with nary an explanation. Rose attempted to integrated the use of emails, but everyone's voice just sounded the same, so I often couldn't tell who was writing (or saying) what.

All the characters seemed the same, and they were insanely macho. There was so much ribbing and swearing and good ol' boy shitting around, and yet we're in this pseudo military world where being gay is fabulous and accepted (a nice fantasy indeed, but one that did not mesh with the way these men acted). Plus, why invent fictional wars? Is it that hard to do some research and place fictional characters in a real setting?

I couldn't ever get behind the relationship between Phillip and Ryan. It seemed superficial and unearned. Plus, the epilogue was just confusing. Can someone explain to me why
Profile Image for Wendys Wycked Words.
1,557 reviews3,815 followers
May 24, 2018
I am so sad that I finished this book. I fucking loved it !! It was so funny and sweet and hot and, did I mention how funny it was ??

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I loved all the characters in this book, I loved the banter between them and how they were so close !! They really stood up for one another.

I loved that there were no "being gay" issues. It was a lovely fluffy and funny read with some sad parts in between.

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Ryan and Philip were awesome together..yummy..,but I also liked the interaction between Mark and Patrick.
I also loved all the emails back and fort....especially the one that got send to everybody by accident.

My only complaint is that it was too short for me. I could have read this books for days and be happy :)
I would have loved to read about Philip being the bottom...sigh...

And for those of you who want to know...yes, there are some nice steamy parts ;)

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4,5 stars from me...I will defenately read this one again some day
Profile Image for Annie .
2,442 reviews814 followers
March 1, 2011

Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuck!! This book is fucking awesome! Fuck. :)

I’ve never read anything by this author before so I wasn’t sure how good this would be. I also don’t read as much M/M so really, I have little to use as comparison.

But THIS BOOK IS FUCKING HILARIOUS! I don’t think I have ever laughed so fucking hard and as much for a single book in my life!

Here’s a really great part:
“THIS IS MY WEAPON!” he shouted, holding the M16 up high. “This is my gun!” He took his dick in his hand and shook it in front of them. “This is for killing.” The M16 surged up, again. “And this is for fun!” He shook his cock.

These guys have so much chemistry when they’re together and I was grinning from ear to ear while reading this!

Speaking of chemistry, Ryan and Phllip’s first kiss was a HOT one! Everything was hot about this book! Rose really brought the sexiness, but there was also heart. There are really great moments between Ryan and Phillip but I won’t say more than that!

The only thing that made this book less than perfect was the beginning. I felt it drag on a little too long for me. But other than that, it was a highly entertaining read! I need to thank UKSandy for this recommendation! Xoxo

Bottom line? If you’re into M/M and haven’t read this yet, then what the fuck are you waiting for? An engraved invitation?
Profile Image for JenMcJ.
2,155 reviews313 followers
September 28, 2009
A great story. Sort of epic in its scope because it follows the group of boys and instructors for about 6 or 7 years. They go from raw boys to seasoned men from basic training through several tours in Iraq/Afghanistan. It's an idealized version of the current military with no DADT or anti gay bias. It was a fanciful and idealist approach but wonderful to read just the same.

I found myself reliving some of my basic training days while I read the first half of this book. I usually roll my eyes at this kind of stuff because very few authors get it right but I didn't see anything that I could point to and say "yeah, right, like that's the way it really is!" It was spot on (even if my basic training experience was Air Force instead of Army) except for when they called the drill instructor by first name even in their thoughts or as a narrative. Basic trainees would never think of their DI/TI by first name. Not even if they were fucking them. Seriously, I just don't see that happening...and I do have some idea of what I am talking about here.

**My Training Instructor was a gorgeous man. Truly a walking, yelling, muscled, good looking, to die for, wet dream. I could relate to Ryan like you would not believe. I had no problem picturing Ssgt Grabowski at all.**

My complaints:
While it had a great ending in many ways, I still think it ended a little abruptly. I would have liked a lot more info on the gang and how things turned out for everyone. A more robust epilogue would have been great.

Additionally, in ebook format some of the email communication style of writing was difficult to follow. Who was emailing who was a bit distorted and had to be looked at carefully. But hilarious email snafus do arise.

And last, since the POV changes and the characters refer to each other by first names, nicknames and last names at various times sometimes it was difficult to figure out who was who and who was doing the thinking or speaking.

Profile Image for Rossy.
219 reviews244 followers
November 18, 2015
Six years later and the story is just as good. I can actually appreciate it more because it's so rare for me to find a book where there is nothing I don't like.


Oh wow i knew this book was going to be good based on some reviews by some of our good friends here, but it was better than i expected. The story was VERY well written, the romance was perfect and the sex scenes were HOT! Seriously there's nothing i can complain about at all. I couldn't stop laughing and crying in almost every page. Couldn't stop a goofy smile from appearing in my face when i read the ending either. I loved the main characters just as much as the secondary ones, this is one book i'll be re-reading in the future.

Now someone has to track this author down and get her to start writing. I want more and it doesn't have to be about these guys!
Profile Image for Kaje Harper.
Author 75 books2,514 followers
April 3, 2012
For a book with so much potential for angst, this was wonderfully fun. Great characters, lots of laugh-out-loud scenes, interspersed with real pain and truly touching moments. There were times I wished I was in someone else's POV, especially in the second half. But that would have been a different book. The choices the author made kept this from diving deep into emotional territory, while still ending up as a story that will touch your heart. And the end was perfect, that one little reveal that said everything about where Phillip and Ryan ended up. This story is set in a military where being openly gay is just one more version of normal. Maybe now that DADT is over, the real world will move one step closer to that ideal.
Profile Image for Julio Genao.
Author 9 books1,989 followers
November 30, 2013
fun, and mildly weepy.

also pretty funny.

*crickets chirping*
Profile Image for Trisha Harrington.
Author 2 books124 followers
September 16, 2014

This is one of the most amazing books I have ever read. It was funny, hot and just perfection. I read this on a rainy afternoon when I had nothing to do. To this day that was one of the best afternoons I have had. Reading this book made me emotional and fall in love. I found myself wishing for more. And this is not a short book. It's long and detailed. I devoured it.

Ryan Gracin joins the army on a whim. He can't finish college and needs to do something with his life. What he doesn't expect is to make three best friends and meet the hottest man he has ever seen. Philip Grabowski AKA Big Daddy is a scary motherfucker. He drives Ryan insane with lust. But one event changes things. From there we get to see a struggle between Ryan and Philip that is full of sexual tension.

I loved that about this book and I thought Crystal Rose did an amazing job with all that. It moves along and on the graduation day. After that scene we get a time jump and some contact between Ryan and his friends through letters. A few years later he and Phil catch up again and a relationship begins. The relationship was something that had to happen, and was fantastic when it did.

Some of this book made me laugh so hard I had tears in my eyes. Then we had a couple of scenes that made my heart ache. Both were done extremely well. Every macho aspect of this book was so good. I wanted it to keep going and even during the tough scenes I was desperate for it to not end. The nicknames and the secondary characters and the plot just had such a nice place in the story. I loved Sandy and Sherrie especially. They were fanfuckintastic!

The ending gave me so much to smile about. Recently I saw the author is planning a sequel, which made me smile and jump up and down. I am super excited about it. I think everyone will like something about this book. Even if you are not a fan of military stories, you might just enjoy this book.

Highly recommend it. GO. BUY. IT!
Profile Image for BevS.
2,723 reviews2 followers
April 3, 2021
***Re-read April 2021. Yes, there are a shedload of typos, grammatical and punctuation errors, but the characters are SOOO good 😉.***

Well, I know this book has had mixed reviews, but I absolutely loved it.

I laughed, I cried, I cringed because I knew what was going to happen, but most of all, I just adored the love between Phillip and Ryan, the fact that they took it really slow....6 years in fact when you work it out, and through it all, the heartbreak and pain of not being able to be together because they kept being posted to different places, their attraction to each other didn't waver...indeed, grew stronger. And, as usually happens, just when they finally had the chance to be together, s**t came and dumped itself on them....

Yes, I had a few niggles with the writing style, but once you got used to it, it was OK. The emails going back and forth....one in particular was sooo hot, and was unfortunately sent to everyone on their emailing list....and don't tell me you haven't had that happen to you at some point.

A total keeper for me, and yes, I loved the change of name at the end.
Profile Image for Catherine.
1,572 reviews232 followers
December 18, 2017
I won't deny the amateurish editing or the plethora of weirdly capitalized words, but I still got sucked into this story, the characters, their relationships, and the brotherhood that was born out of boot camp.
Profile Image for .Lili. .
1,169 reviews260 followers
August 3, 2013
This book was simply-
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I'll Be Your Drill, Soldier is the story of Ryan Gracin and Phillip Grabowski- but to be honest it wasn't just about them. It was about a group of men fighting for their country.

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I loved reading their emails. Reading their hardships and fears. It also wasn't just a story about romance. It was a story about friendship, family, and loyalty. This book was steamy, homourous, and emotional. This is a book I would recommend to EVERYONE. It's a story that we can ALL learn something from.

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5 Awesome Stars!
Profile Image for Cadiva.
3,353 reviews308 followers
May 27, 2018
Oh Lord that ending! I never wanted this book to finish because I could have read about this bunch of guys forever.

Philip and Ryan are a perfect pair but they're also surrounded by a perfect cast of supporting characters too.

The humour is also wonderfully crafted along with the tensions a military service brings and the author doesn't pull punches with the hardships and pains either.

I hope we get more from this series, I'd love to read Mark and Patrick's side of things and find out if Brendon ever finds true love.
Profile Image for Starla.
262 reviews92 followers
June 5, 2021
Oh, no, what happened?! 2010 me loved this book! I was invested! I wanted a sequel with Brendon and Mackenzie! Okay, I still do, a little. Granted, it was also around the time I was obsessed with that one Buffy/Spike military fanfic, but still!

Apparently this just...isn't very well written. Most of the time it's like a parody. I can't decide if this story doesn't take itself seriously or it does, but it's failing. A lot of the stuff I loved, and thought was funny but maybe a little cringey, is now just cringey. So many caps, and group emails. I still like the MCs, even though they got a little boring at some point, but that's when Mark and Patrick stole the show. Actually the story and the characters had a lot of potential, but the execution wasn't that good. And the sex is still hot.

I'm just shocked. I'll give it a 3 for hot it is, and for sentimental reasons.
Profile Image for Lori .
116 reviews213 followers
December 30, 2014
I loved this book. My only issues were that I wish there had been more glimpses into the growing intimacy between Phillip and Ryan. Not necessarily sex, although that would have been nice, but we didn't really get to see their relationship grow. It just kind of did while we weren't looking. I also felt really cheated that we weren't allowed to be a fly on the wall when Phillip finally bottomed for Ryan. I would have liked this to be two books so that more time could have been spent with them behind closed doors.

The ending was very clever and let you know the final outcome for Phillip and Ryan but again....it's like we went from A - Z without really being able to enjoy the ride as much as I would have liked to.
Profile Image for Martin.
746 reviews410 followers
February 14, 2017
This wasn't at all what I expected.

Endless pages of telling instead of showing, no emotional reasoning, no character development, insta-lust and a -what felt to me- unrealistic depiction of the US Army...

Ryan joined the Army and arrives at a boot camp to start his basic training. (Around the 70% mark we learn that his religious parents threw him out for being gay - which is why he joined, but that INTERESTING DETAIL is not something he spends any time thinking about, so the reader stays in the dark about his feelings). And while other men in his situation would torment themselves over their place in life and the loss of their family's love, Ryan spends his days ogling his Drill Sergeant Philipp Grabowski, who is a hot guy that he feels attracted to even though the guy constantly yells at and insults him and his mates. 

But of course, everyone takes this in stride, because the drills are turning boys into men, after all...

Sure enough, Grabowski also feels an urgent case of insta-lust toward his recruit and kisses him (or rather molests him in a restroom!!), rubs against him during training and finally has sex with him - which he doesn't find at all questionable. The other soldiers even push Ryan to start something with his drill sergeant, because as the author says in her note to the reader: This is set in a world where everyone is treated the same, regardless of sexual orientation - like it should be.

Awesome intention, but any military realism sails out of the window at that...

As if Ryan would dare say no to his drill sergeant, right?

But it's okay, since Ryan wants him anyway, so he might as well abuse his position of authority. 

No biggie.

Besides, Philipp and Ryan aren't the only drill sergeant/recruit couple that fuck during basic camp, so it's alright. Actually, only the straight recruits seem to have a dry spell there, because there are no women recruits in sight...

5 years pass - and while some team mates got killed in the war, the insta-lust connection between Philipp and Ryan never broke off and they go at it again, this time with reversed roles.

Everyone is accepting of their gay team mates, with even the straight soldiers making silly jokes worthy of "Not Another Gay Movie". 

Basically, this is a gay fairy tale that has as little connection to reality as a magic wand wielding fairy godmother riding on a pink unicorn.

Ryan could count on one hand how many times he bottomed, but he knew this time would probably be the best.

Not to mention the sex scenes, OMG... 

Philipp's cock throbbed unmercifully.

Unmercifully? Really?! What else?

It burned and was a little painful.

You don't say!

Compared to other military romances with similar themes (and there are some VERY good ones, I'm looking at you, Marquesate ;-), this felt really lacking and I think an editor would still have a field day with this text. 

I did like the email exchanges, though. They're a nice way to bridge a time jump in a story and were actually quite endearing. 

2 stars!
Profile Image for Audrey.
379 reviews97 followers
February 27, 2012
3.5-4 stars.

I laughed. I cried. I cringed at the numerous editing oversights. That pretty much sums it up.

Don't let the title fool you. This is actually a very good book that benefits greatly from its funny, tongue-in-cheek, honest main narrator, Ryan. His account of basic combat training/boot camp - and his impossible crush on his drill sergeant - is engrossing. The friendships and bonds that he made during basic combat training with the others in his squad are lifelong, and I loved seeing the other characters and how they developed later on in the story.

Structurally, the book focuses on the basic combat training for the first ~40%, then moves forward five years through letters between the friends, picking back up around 2006. We then see the group of friends reunited, and Ryan and his drill sergeant, Phillip, are now in a position (heh!) to pursue seriously their mutual attraction for each other. They date and are basically hunky dory until they are deployed (in the same unit) around 80% into the story. The narrative POV shifts away from the two main heroes at that point to take the POV of one of the secondary characters who is still "back home" and stays with that character up until about the last 10%, at which point we go back to the main heroes. That was an interesting choice, and I wasn't sure how I felt about getting into another character's head at the time. Looking back, I think it worked.

Note that, unless you were in the military or memorize acronyms for shits and giggles, you will probably need this Wikipedia list of U.S. government and military acronyms or this Acronym Finder website to help you figure out the meanings of the multiple acronyms that are scattered throughout the narrative.

Basically, I really liked this story, but the editing issues detracted from my overall enjoyment.
Profile Image for Ana.
81 reviews51 followers
November 19, 2013
4.25 Stars

Nearly a week after reading this book, I have the end still engraved in my retinas, ears and heart.

I did not expect that this book, at first light and funny, it was going to become so emotional.

This is my second experience in military readings, I had not read anything after Special Forces, and this has nothing to do with the rawness of SF, although I have to say that SF is my favorite series so far.

The first part of the book focuses on the U.S. Army Basic Training that a scary and aggressive Drill S. Grabowski, carries out for eight weeks, over Ryan, a young man who joins the Army being disowned by their parents after coming out, and his buddies.

The first half is filled with military training, which causes the beginning of a great camaraderie between the guys, including a lot of funny moments, and a high UST between Ryan and Phillip, which has an unexpected past.

When training ends, each one starts his career on his part, and it is not until years later that all meet again after having had different experiences in the Army.

This part is full of emotional moments; Ryan and Phillip try to start a serious relationship, trying to move away from that strong sexual attraction that brought them together during training. And then relying on his buddies after the fate hits again, converted all one big family.

Etta James-At Last
Profile Image for Bubbles  Hunty Honest & Direct Opinions .
1,314 reviews271 followers
April 16, 2011
This was really fucking slow

They spent way too fucking much time a fucking part

I got really fucking bored

God the fucking formatting was so fucking bad, fuck, it was like heller fucking Keller fucking formatted this. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Naked nuts.

Fuck man, I'm not really a fucking fan of fucking military books anyway and, fuck, this was way fucking to army for my fucking tastes.

This fucking book fucking said the fucking F-word way fucking too much to be fucking appropriate.

I'm fucking writing this way after I fucking read it and can barely fucking remember it. So two point three six fucking stars.
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