Title: Active Duty
Author: Neil Plakcy, editor
Publisher: Cleis Press
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
The military has never been sexier when these hunky heroes serve their country and each other in Active Duty: Gay Military Erotic Romance, an anthology edited by Neil Plakcy. Experience the thrill of romantic trysts in the middle of battle, witness the everlasting bonds that develop between men who have put their lives on the line for one another day after day, and swoon over the charismatic charm and hard bodies that only the most disciplined of soldiers possess. With the abolition of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy, being gay in the armed services has never been more accepted, and this collection has fourteen stories celebrating the freedom of our heroes to love and to lust after whomever they desire.
In Shane Allison’s “Weekend Leave”, a man falls in love with a soldier after a night at a bar, an Air Force captain can finally marry his beloved in “Soaring” by Michael Bracken, and when it comes to hierarchies in the military, rank certainly has its privileges for the Sergeants in Bearmuffin’s “Semper Fi Wrestlers.” The stories in Active Duty are as touchingly honest as they are sexy and will give readers a newfound appreciation for these men in uniform.
“The public displays of affection between soldiers and other men, the first same-sex service academy prom dates, and the first same-sex military weddings serve to illustrate something we have known all along—that gay men are strong, brave and resilient, the very characteristics that make a great soldier.”
—Neil Plakcy, from the Introduction
19 Gay Erotic Shorts. All about our men in uniform who love other men. Most of these authors are new to me, but I enjoyed seeing a little glimpse of each of their styles. Some I will seek out in the future, some I couldn’t finish in the now.
As with most anthologies there are some stories that stand out above the rest for whatever reason. Overall I give this 3.5 one-handed stars (i.e. it is pretty hot). One thing I noticed throughout much of this collection is that, unlike much of what we review here on Prism, this collection was clearly written for men. There is some crude, and utterly eye rolling, language used throughout. That being said; It was an enjoyable enough read, even for this non-male reader.
Some of the highlights and lowlights:
Weekend Leave by Shane Allison 3*
A worthy intro to the collection; it sets the tone well. A sweet little insta-love weekend tryst with a promise of more. The sex scenes were a little anti-climactic, but I enjoyed the connection between the MCs
Letter from Home by Jay Starre DNF
I hade to DNF this one. It literally made my stomach roil. The long and drawn-out, and repeated description of just what kinds of “spit” were being used for lube were just s bit too much for me. I also skipped Starre’s second entry in the book. I am not easily “grossed out,” to use the colloquial, but umm yeah. I couldn’t finish this one.
Do Ask, Do Tell by Julian Mark 3.25*
Do Ask, Do Tell was the first “one-handed read” in the collection. This is just a fun time had by the MC and various other military men he encounters along the way. This isn’t a romance; it is just a good filthy time. If you can get past the use of terms like “joy juice,” “boy juice”, and “cum cream” it is an enjoyable read.
Marine Guard by Dirk Strong 4.5*
This is my favorite of the first half of the book. It is a little M/M romance that spans either side of the repeal of DADT. The main characters are attracted to each other, but one is a Marine. As such, they dance around that attraction for a while. One night the Marine simply shows up at the other’s apartment to celebrate the repeal of DADT… naked… in bed… it is clearly the start of something and not just a hot tryst. I will certainly be looking for other titles from Mr. Strong.
So Then by Emily Moreton 3.5*
Another well written entry in the collection. I am not a huge fan of menage, and I don’t know if this was meant to be a one-off or the start of something more for these three, but it was hot enough. I enjoyed the interplay among the three main characters (even out of bed) and the fact that everything was not perfect in or out of bed. If it had been a longer format, I would like to have known a little more about Daniel’s “injury”, but other than that, no major complaints.
Liberty by Dominic Santi 4*
From the first words, I knew there was something different about Liberty from the first 7 entries in the collection. This one is set sometime in the future and focuses on a military couple who are trying to start a family. There is technology that allows them to mix the DNA of two men. It is an interesting premise, and the “Collection” scene was interesting. Again, you have to get past odd terminology like “asslips” it is a decent read.
A Voice in the Dark by Neil Plakcy 3.5*
One of the more complete stories in the collection, A Voice in the Dark pairs two POWs who happen to both be gay. Not being a military person myself, I don’t know how believable the story is, but giving a guy who hasn’t had a bath in over 2 weeks a blowjob does not sound all that sexy to me. I did have a certain amount of sympathy for the characters, however, and liked that there was a conclusion to the story, not just a hot time.
New Dog, Old Tricks by Aaron Michaels 4*
Another new to me author from whom I would be interested in reading more. New Dog, Old Tricks pairs a soon to be soldier with an existing soldier. It is basically an excuse for a hot time. Well written and enough there that it was not just a romp in bed. We knew a little about the characters first.
Ready Reserve by Logan Zachary 4*
I have heard of Logan Zachary, but have not had a chance to read any stories by this author. Ready Reserve is the story of two older reserves who come together on their two-week training exercise. Again, I don’t know how likely this story is, but it is a somewhat sweet coming together. Ready Reserve is not as hot as some of the offerings in this collection, but it is a worthy read.
Soaring by Michael Bracken 4*
Soaring is the story of a wedding made possible because of the repeal of DADT. An airman and his banker lover meet under the restrictions of DADT and have to find a way to make their relationship work. We start and end on the wedding day and look at the beginnings of the relationship in between. It was an interesting and sweet tale.
Candy Man by Gregory L Norris 3*
I am not entirely sure what to think about Candy Man. It starts with two soldiers meeting again after an unspecified time apart. I never fully understood why or how they got together, nor did I understand how or IF they wanted to be together again. The whole thing just had be off balance, I guess.
Semper Fi Wrestlers by Bearmuffin 2*
This one was pure Erotica, but not all that hot. The premise was just to see how much sex the MC could have. The POV switched among the players without warning and was hard to follow. However, what bothered me the most was the dubcon and abuse of power that was clearly in play in most of the scenes.
Comeuppance by Rob Rosen DNF
Okay so this one was annoying me, then it just got gross. I gave up on it.
The Rainbow Kerchief and the Full Moon by Jay Starre – DNS
After my experience with the first story by this author, I admit I did not even try to read this one.
About the Editor
Neil Plakcy is the author of nineteen novels and collections of short stories, as well as the editor of many anthologies for Cleis Press, including Hard Hats, Surfer Boys, Skater Boys, The Handsome Prince, Model Men, Sexy Sailors, and Beach Bums. He began his erotic writing career with a story for Honcho magazine called “The Cop Who Caught Me”, and he’s been writing about cops and sex ever since, most recently with seven novels in the Mahu mystery series. He lives in South Florida. Find him at his website www.mahubooks.com.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the ARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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