Dogtagged – James Brock (Beau to Beau Books)

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Buy it at Amazon.com

Military adventure-romances are not every
reader’s cup of Joe. They are mine, however. I read them, write them and, when
a good one comes along, I want to blow the bugle and wave the flag.

Dog Tagged, by James Brock, charts the repeated collisions,
separations and reunions of Army drill instructor Clayton “Clay” Norris and an
enlisted basic trainee, Chevy “Banksy” Banks. Starting on day one, it’s love at
the first set of pushups. But Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is in full force and
neither man is willing to make a move or say a word, not at first. Norris, a
muscular, hard-charging sergeant, vents his frustration first on a couple of
male “skanks” he picks up in an off-base bar and later, when he’s about to be
deployed to Iraq (the initial separation between the two main characters), on
Evan, an amiable, unselfish sales clerk he meets while wasting himself on booze
and boys in Las Vegas.

Banksy, a golden-haired, corn-fed farmer’s
son from Ohio, although every bit as ripped and ambitious as his mentor, is
much more loveable, a natural squad leader, a friend to all and mystified when
his drill instructor is summarily reassigned halfway through the training
course (a point that’s neatly cleared up later).

Before deployment to Iraq, Norris is sent
to officers’ candidate school and earns a commission as a lieutenant. Banks
rises quickly to the rank of sergeant.

Then the almost inevitable Big Coincidence
occurs. In Iraq, the two are assigned to bases only a few miles apart. The men
meet for chow, later in a deserted field shower. Rising excitement gives way to
declarations of love and a breathless series of ecstatic but sketchily detailed
couplings in Clay’s tent.

Disaster interrupts the desert honeymoon.
A deadly, nicely foreshadowed accident happens. Banksy, accepting blame,
declares himself unworthy of love and refuses to resume the affair with Clay.
Another disaster happens–to Clay. Evan and the Banks family become involved and
the novel moves on to a satisfactorily happy ending.

Neither of these guys is a candidate for a
PhD in psychology. Still, they’re fun to be around and easy on the eyes. Nor is
the novel a deeply felt, top-shelf male/male wartime classic on the order of
Ensan Case’s Wingmen, Jeff Mann’s Purgatory or Charles Nelson’s The
Boy Who Picked the Bullets Up
.

Brock, a journeyman author I’d not heard
of, has published romantic fiction involving movie stars, vampires, murder on a
cruise ship and businessmen with big secrets, as well as autobiographical works
and countless short stories. His military service did not include time in Iraq.

Dog Tagged is beach reading, light fiction that can be
finished in an afternoon, a randy romp studded with blood, sweat, tears,
passionate kisses and presidential medals for heroism. What’s not to like? Go
buy.

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©, 2013, Elliott Mackle

www.elliottmacklebooks.com

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