No Flag by Liz Borino

No Flags Published on 23 October 2013
Published by Lazy Day Publishing
Copy obtained for review from publisher

I feel I need to put a giant disclaimer at the beginning of this review, so here it is: I AM AN ARMY WIFE.
That is out in the open, now I will expand just a bit on why I need to confess. I have been around the military my whole life. I was the child of a soldier, I am the wife of a soldier. I watched my dad retire and I will do the same with my husband next year. I am not new to the lifestyle and I know the old and the new Army. This can be a blessing and curse when it comes to military stories. I have a tendency to stay away from most of them for two reasons, the discrepancies in how the services can be portrayed and the service member is usually over the top alpha male. When I read the synopsis for No Flag I knew I had to set aside my preconceived notion and read the book!

No Flag is written chronologically beginning with Mike and Will’s first encounter. I like that Borino moved the timeline rather quickly. We only get events that are pertinent to enhancing and moving the story along. I found the pacing to be perfect. Numerous, short chapters made for a very quick read. I finished No Flag in a day, I love when that happens! Even though the pace is fast, we do not have insta-love. Mike is pretty traditional and wants to build a relationship with Will. It is several (frustrating for Will) months before they do anything more than kiss and that comes after declarations and commitments.

Mike and Will do not have a traditional relationship, theirs is a bit more unique. They enter into a Domestic Discipline (DD) contract. I wouldn’t call it a strict BDSM contract. DD is more along the lines of schedule, structure and order. It is the perfect situation for a OCD dominate and a submissive who needs discipline and punishments when out of line. It is basically a more vanilla D/s lifestyle. The only kink that occurs in No Flag is spanking.

Mike is a Captain in the Army. He is a little over a year out from fulfilling his commitment when he meets Will. Poor Will, he is smart and has goals, he is just all over the place. Mike’s obsession with order does help Will get himself together and on the road to owning his own business instead of being a bartender the rest of his life. As their relationship develops and they are moving toward commitment and their DD contract, Will makes it known he does not want to do so if Mike is deployed. It really is a fair concern. Will doesn’t want to become dependant on Mike and have him deploy for a year and possibly never come home. This is a very real concern for Will and EVERY MILITARY SPOUSE! Believe me, I’ve lived it! It is no fun and the feelings I had Will also had.

As often happens to soldiers, Mikes is totally screwed over by his commanding officer and a few weeks before he is to be discharge he is put on stop-loss and is set to deploy to Afghanistan. Mike and Will are devastated. They manage to work though the emotions, figure out how they will set Will up for success and make it through the year separation. The schedule whore Mike, is a blessing because he keeps Will focused so he is able to function well and keep it together! When Mike’s schedule varies and starts to conflict we see the impact it has on Will and home life. This is so true! I like how Borino uses the DD to show how the stress can build for Will just as it can for a partner with kids. Eventually, everything that could be done a few months prior, alone, suddenly cannot be done anymore. This actually happens! There comes a point when one just doesn’t want to do one more thing. We just can’t be brave anymore. What we really want is to yell, scream, throw something, break something and cry! Will, I could feel your pain!!!! The breakdown, the resentment and whole gamut of feeling the deployment causes Will are very, very real.

Tragedy strikes in Afghanistan, Mike and Will suddenly have the challenge of a disability to face. These guys were so strong.They are always there for each other, open communication and really working through any problems that arose. The level of support was through the roof. They did all the right things to keep their relationship healthy as they faced one of the most difficult things they probably ever would in their life together.

This was the first book I’ve ever read that had a DD situation. I didn’t find it to be any different from reading a book with BDSM or fetishes. I thought Mike and Will were very respectful of each other and loving. I liked them both and wanted to see them maneuver the tough terrain they encountered post Afghanistan. Hands down this was one of the best military m/m books I have read!



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