Title: You Don’t Have to Ask
Author: Mathilde Watson
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Publisher: Silver Publishing
Buy Link: Amazon
Genre: Contemporary M/M, Military
Length: 79 pages / 16186 words
Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5
A Guest Review by jeayci
Review Summary: I think this story might have really worked for me, if only I could believe the characters actually loved each other and didn’t just engage in ten years of booty calls (not that there’s anything wrong with that, but we’re supposed to believe it’s Twu Wuv).
Blurb: Adam never asked if Seth loved him and he sure as hell never told the man how he felt. The military’s policy of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ kept their times together brief and sporadic, making love an irrelevant consideration–until now.
With the threat of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ hanging over their heads, hooking up for a few hot but hurried encounters was all Adam Young and Captain Seth Williams had over the past ten years. Adam could never resist the opportunity to spend even a few hours in Seth’s arms. Seth’s heart was torn between the two loves of his life; the sea and his life of adventure versus Adam who could give him the love he needs to live on.
Now, six months after the repeal of the hateful law Adam is faced with a terrifying question. The chemistry between them is explosive and undeniable but is it only lust or could it possibly be love?
Review: The title of this book might have more appropriately been Oh Hell Yes You Do! At least, that’s what I found myself thinking each time one of the characters uttered the title phrase to the other. It was supposed to be romantic, and if I’d been able to believe they really loved each other, it might have been. The blurb asked if it’s only lust or could it possibly be love? My conclusion: it’s only lust, and I’ll explain why.
This story starts in Adam’s POV, and as we see his relationship of ten years with Seth through Adam’s eyes, I found myself rooting for him to dump the jerk and ride off into the sunset with roommate Dave instead. Apparently Adam and Seth have had an arrangement for ten years, where they meet in a motel room for a few hours every few months, have hot sex, and then Seth disappears until the next time. There’s maybe a little conversation interspersed in there, but the impression Adam conveys is that it’s almost entirely a sexual relationship. Yet somehow, he apparently loves Seth. Personally, I think Adam needs counseling to get over whatever childhood traumas led him to believe being used like that is love.
I get that Seth’s military career and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell are supposed to be mitigating circumstances that explain why Seth couldn’t allow anything more with Adam. But I just don’t buy it. If they had actual conversation when they saw each other, maybe I would. But ten years of “wham, bam, thank you man” does not sound like love to me. Remember when Meg Ryan calls Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally, and she’s a blubbering mess because her ex-boyfriend is getting married? She describes all the years and reasons they agreed they didn’t want marriage, and eventually concludes it wasn’t marriage he didn’t want, it was that he didn’t want to marry her. I don’t believe the real issue here is DADT, it seems to me like the issue is Seth, or Adam, or Seth and Adam; DADT is just a smokescreen.
Despite almost wising up, Adam once again jumps when Seth requests his presence. When Adam arrives at the motel, Seth is already jerking off, so the sex commences forthwith, no conversation necessary. Painful sex, I might add, in which Seth enters Adam so quickly “Adam’s eyes flew open and he screamed. The pain and the unexpected force of Seth’s passion startled all the air out of his lungs and left Adam gasping for breath.” We’ve already seen Seth gripping Adam’s hair painfully during a blowjob, so maybe Adam has a thing for pain with his sex. If so, that’s great. The problem is I didn’t exactly get the impression Adam enjoyed the pain part of the proceedings, and since we’re in his POV, you’d think it should be clear if he did. It comes across to me as inconsiderate and abusive rather than sexy.
Then we switch to Seth’s POV, so there’s a chance to view the situation differently when seen through his eyes. We do learn that Seth apparently loves Adam too and wants a HEA with him. I still don’t understand what this “love” is based on. Adam has never even allowed them to have sex face to face, or looking into each others’ eyes, because that would make him too vulnerable. Ten years of sex every few months – just sex, no conversation, no shared vulnerability – does not sound to me like a formula for a loving and happy ever after. But apparently Seth and Adam do, so the book ends with what is a HEA if you believe that.
There is also a weeping cock, lots of hyperbolic “he’d never seen anything more [beautiful, sexy, fill-in-the-blank]“, and many tears shed by Adam. I think “men don’t cry” is ridiculous, so I’m not pointing out or objecting to Adam’s tears on any sort of principle like that. And certainly some people cry more readily than others, and there’s nothing wrong with that either. If I’d believed in the relationship, believed there was any actual emotion between these men, I might have found the tears completely understandable. But because I never felt or believed in the love, the tears never made much sense to me. And yet, despite all my gripes about this book, I kind of enjoyed it anyway.