No Flag

No Flag - Liz Borino 3.5 stars

When Mike and Will begin dating, Will cannot figure out why, after two months, the sexual part of their relationship is not progressing. Mike has wanted to take things slow citing honor, respect and a desire to get to know Will better so that the relationship will mean something. Mike has OCD and after growing up in foster homes found that he structure of the Army suited him. He needs to be in control and have everything in order at all times. As far as relationships he tells Will “The only thing that should be equal is the respect they show each other. One partner leads while the other follows.” When Will finally confronts Mike, he tells Will what he wants and the two agree to enter into a domestic discipline relationship. Mike is the leader and Will follows the rules and takes care of the household, while going to classes at Mike’s urging and trying to set up his own business. If rules are not followed, Will agrees to be punished by spanking. Will’s only requirement of Mike was that he not return to the Army after his current term ends.

After about a year together, Mike and Will are married and are about to open their own business. With just weeks left on Mike’s US Army commitment however, he is forced to return to active duty in Afghanistan for one year. This was the one thing Will most feared when entering into the relationship, but in this instance Mike has no choice. While in Afghanistan, the men keep in touch through Skype and Mike continues to do what he can to help Will with the business and household decisions. Will’s friends Seth and Casey are working with him and Seth has moved in as Will’s roommate while Mike is away. Casey, however, has ramped up her inappropriate affections toward Will, and Will is unsure how to handle things. When Casey breaks into Will’s computer and discovers the DD contract, the two friends confront Will about it and tensions between the three worsen. About five months after being sent to Afghanistan, Mike is seriously injured in an attack on his base, in which he was the only survivor. Mike returns home both physically and emotionally wounded, worrying he will not be able to take care of Will as he has promised.

I enjoyed Mike and Will as a couple and for the most part liked the direction the story took. I also think the author did a good job portraying Will’s anguish at Mike’s redeployment. The DD relationship was a necessity for Mike and Will was aware of his submissive side before the two got together. It worked for both of them and while it sometimes seemed on the face of it to be imbalanced, the love between the two men is obvious.

Casey is possibly one of the worst “friends” ever. Mike quickly sees her true nature but for both Will and Seth, who have been friends with her for years, it is not as easy.

What stopped me from giving this book a higher rating is that I felt that Mike’s recovery was rushed through and as a result I did not really feel that it was a large hurdle they had to overcome. It almost seemed too effortless. Another big issue was the extremely poor editing, especially in the beginning of the book. Frankly I almost didn’t get past the first 20 percent because of the numerous errors, including words left out of sentences, that kept taking me out of the narrative. Somewhere around a quarter of the way through the book it got better, but it did continue throughout. Whether this was just a result of my reading an ARC of the book remains to be seen. Update 10/27/13 - I am told by others that the editing issues seem to be a problem with the ARC I had so it is not part of my star rating.

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.