Latakia by JF Smith ~ Review by Caroline

This has been on my TBR pile for so long, and I am absolutely kicking myself for not reading it earlier!! I don’t even know why I left it this long, but thank god someone picked it for me in a challenge because I will definitely be reading it again!!  This goes straight into my favourite pile!

81cSAI8xFuL._SL1280_Title: Latakia

Author: JF Smith

My Rating: 5 of 5 stars

From the Publisher:

Matthew likes his life in Richmond. He has his friends and his softball and his volunteer work. And he has a very good-looking boyfriend, Brian, who he’s been happily dating for over a year now. So what if his friends tend to question just how good his boyfriend is, and so what if Brian tends to have inexplicable mood swings. And so what if Brian seems to invite Matt’s suspicions on occasion. If he just shows a little faith and trust, he’ll appreciate what he has with Brian the way he should. Right?

But suddenly, Matt finds himself in a desperate life-or-death situation on a trip overseas, and he realizes just how much he misses home, and Brian. He’s luckily rescued by a team of US Spec-Ops Forces, only to find out they’re a bunch of bigoted jerks. Worse, a quirk of his situation forces him to spend time with them that he’d rather not. And that’s when he finds out that first impressions can be misleading. When called upon, he steps up when every fiber of his being tells him not to, and discovers something deep inside himself that he didn’t realize was even there. And his life will never be the same. He finds that he can, after all, make some very overdue changes in his own life.

What Matt doesn’t realize is that the bond of brotherhood runs both ways. And he winds up changing the lives of several of the men on that Spec-Ops team as much as they changed his.

All it takes is faith and trust.

My View

This is the story of Matt, whom I quickly fell in love with, but also wanted to throttle over the way he let some people treat him. He is a confident, kind and loving person that anyone would be glad to call a friend. The only part of Matt that fails is his confidence in himself when it comes to his personal life. He doesn’t want to be lonely so for a year he has let his current boyfriend Brian treat him like shit and basically walk all over him. He puts aside any suspicions that Brian maybe cheating and ignores the way he makes him feel and although he listens to his friends advice he still feels he isn’t quite worthy of the man and should try harder. Brian is a really horrible person!!!!

Matt volunteers for Doctors Without Borders and is on his way to Syria to work with a University team on an immunisation programme. In the hope of meeting with a few ex-pats, he spends an evening at a local restaurant but as he leaves he is kidnapped by a group of extremists. He spends the next few days convinced he is going to die. With no water and food, he is at the point where he just wishes to be shot and removed from his misery when a group of Navy Seals storm the building and rescue him.

When Matt is next fully conscious, he finds himself aboard a Navy Ship and is very quickly ordered into a meeting with a man named Wickland. The man shows Matt no compassion and by the end of the meeting he feels as though as has been interrogated. Close to a complete breakdown he leaves the meeting and heads to finally eat for the first time in days when he runs into the 4 men who rescued him. As grateful as he is to these men his mood is further worsened when he realises Petey the giant red head is a homophobic asshole and seems determined to make Matt’s life miserable.

The following day in another meeting with the mysterious Wickland Matt learns the reason for his kidnapping. It seems he looks very similar to a Government worker, and it was a case of mistaken identity. He also discovers that had the group of seals not been sent after the tracking device in this person’s computer he would certainly never been found and rescued. Wickland explains as the leader of the terrorist group behind his kidnapping doesn’t know that their original target is dead it would be very helpful if Matt would return to Syria and act as bait and enable the seal team to capture them. Matt is horrified at the idea and immediately refuses.

Travis, the seal who originally found Matt catches up with him later in the day. He assures Matt that the decision to help them is entirely down to him and he would never be forced into anything but before he makes that decision he thinks Matt should get to know the team a little better. Travis also opens up about living with his own fears. He is a gay Navy Seal and not one of his team mates knows his secret. He has to keep his two lives completely separate. Matt joins the men for dinner that evening and following advice from Travis when Petey starts with the insults he gives as good as he gets. By the end of the meal there has been a shift in the dynamics and although Petey is as obnoxious as ever Matt has earned a little bit of respect from the man by standing up for himself. Matt also gives a very heartfelt thank you speech to each of them for saving his life.

Meeting these men and the respect he feels for them brings around a change in Matt and before he knows what he is doing he agrees to help with the mission. It will be simple….Matt will dine out in the open allowing the terrorists to see him. When he leaves if they try to snatch him again the Seal team will move in and grab the kidnappers.

Of course nothing is ever that easy and when an explosion is set off opposite the restaurant events don’t go as planned and Matt ends up in the back of the van having been kidnapped for a second time. As his fear ratchets higher and higher he hasn’t counted on the promise Travis made to keep him safe and suddenly there are gun shots and dead terrorists. As Travis and Matt sit under the stars waiting for their extraction team something changes for both men.

The next day after time spent relaxing the Seal team have to leave the ship and head out for their next mission. Matt finds it more difficult than he ever imagined saying goodbye. Petey the pain in his ass has become a good friend and almost protective of him and he doesn’t want to look too closely at his feelings for Travis.

Matt is next to leave and a few hours later he is sat in his home with Brian and his best friends. He is unable to tell them about the events of the last week but at least 2 out of the 3 seem happy to see him. Even with Brian refusing to stay the night Matt still believes he needs to try harder to be a better boyfriend and that he is at fault.

A week later this changes when finally Matt discovers just what a cheating horror his boyfriend is and walks away from the relationship. Matt is lonely and down, he emailed the Seals but hasn’t heard anything back so when Brian catches him wandering around the park and gives his usual spiel about how he is the best thing since sliced bread he very nearly starts believing it again. Luckily as they walk back to Matts house his seals have turned up and he is reminded of what good friends he has made. Petey scares the life out of Brian and the man turns and runs! Travis is off visiting his father which saddens Matt but he heads of with the rest of his honorary team to the nearest pub.

As he returns home later that evening a familiar figure is waiting for him. Matt is delighted to find out that Travis has feelings for him. Travis is equally delighted to find out that Matt has given Brian the boot and the two men spend the night together. Even though they know the pitfalls the next morning they agree they will try for a relationship with each other.

Over the next few weeks when Travis isn’t training or on missions the two spend as much time together as possible. When Matt stays with Travis things are more difficult as not only do they have to hide their feelings from the rest of the team but Petey has become more and more protective of Matt and insists that he stays with him when he visits. He declares that Matt is his brother and takes this role very seriously.

Travis has been working with Matt to get over his fear of water after nearly drowning as a child. Although he still won’t go into the water he feels safe going out on a boat so when the Seals annual Labour day fishing trip comes up Matt attends as one of the team. All goes well until 2 of the men, not realising that Matt can’t swim, throws him overboard in a prank. Travis and Petey dive in to rescue him. Matt is unconscious and Travis loses his composure begging the man not to die and declaring his love. When Matt comes round and Travis finally looks up he finds his entire team silently watching him. His two very separate lives have just collided!!

The following hours and how his friends react will decide whether Travis has a life in the Navy to return to but the one thing that he is absolutely certain of is his love for Matt. One by one all his team mates speak to him and tell them how they feel, all except Petey. For all his crude remarks and bullish behaviour, Petey is most upset with Matt for not being honest with him and for the first time ever Matt sees him at his most vulnerable when he cries.

For me, this book was about 2 relationships. Matt and Travis was the love story. Matt and Petey was equally loving but in a very different way. Both of them are very much worth the read!!

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