REVIEW: The Lieutenants’ Online Love by Caro Carson
What happens when your internet crush…
Shows up in real life?
First Lieutenant Thane Carter has experienced great success as the senior platoon leader of a military police company at Fort Hood. But tbh, his love life stinks. Thane wishes his maddening—and off-limits—new coworker, Lieutenant Chloe Michaels, could be more like his online friend “BallerinaBaby.” It’s complicated, all right—especially when Thane learns that his workplace nemesis and his internet crush are one and the same!
Dear Ms. Carson,
The title is a little twee and the cover is cute but what grabbed my attention when I saw this book is the fact that you are a West Point grad, yourself. That’s when I knew that at least the military stuff would be done properly. And thank you for not including a delta force officer or any black-ops. Note I didn’t say SEAL – I knew you wouldn’t use one of them!
With the exception of one little bit, I loved this book. The part about being matched by an app has to be swallowed whole in order to get the action off the ground but once past that, I was in.
“Today I was desperate for tater tots.”
Chloe’s opening line in the story tells me that she and DifferentDrummer have communicated for a long time since she’s being that honest about craving salt laden bits of potatoey artery cloggers. They’re way past trying to impress with kale or artisanal beer in order to look good. These two are being real. Then we see Chloe getting ready for her day with little hints about how she has to dress for work and the types of people with whom she works. She’s the new LT on the block and she knows she’s going in with two strikes against her from the start: she’s a woman in the military and she’s a West Point grad (and honestly I had no idea that most of the US Army officer corps is not). But this has been Chloe’s dream for the years of preparation it took to get accepted into the USMA and the hard work that got her through it. Starting now, Second Lieutenant Chloe Michaels gets to be a badass.
First Lieutenant Thane Carter is desperate for sleep. With the platoon being down a lieutenant until the new assignment arrives, they’ve all been pulling extra shifts. Which has only added to his sucky love life. The low number of women in the army plus long hours combined with the rigid army rules against fraternization pretty much narrow his dating options and chances to zero. This is why he cherishes his online exchanges with BallerinaBaby. Time of the day doesn’t seem to matter, he doesn’t have to worry about rank and they feel free to talk about anything while trying to slip in quotes and references for the other to catch.
But they realize that good as their online relationship is, they need friends in the real world so Drummer and Ballerina challenge each other to separately go out one evening to group events and mingle. It’s there that Chloe and Thane meet and feel an immediate connection. A “this could be the one” connection. Just after Thane has asked Chloe out two things happen: she tells him she’s a new MP at Fort Hood and they’re almost caught together by one of Chloe’s soon-to-be subordinates. Just chatting might have been okay but Thane knows that Chloe is about to be judged as the new LT in town and anything negative will ruin her reputation before she’s even got started. Plus no fraternization. Devastated, he cuts the connection and desperately tries to avert disaster but unknowingly hurts Chloe in the way he does it.
Pouring her heart out to Drummer later, Chloe gets some guy advice about how to handle the – vaguely described – situation and puts this into practice when she rides along with another LT in her platoon to learn the ropes. Yep, guess who that is. Knowing that he needs to keep Chloe’s probable immediate reaction to him hidden from the others in the platoon, Thane tries to defuse the tension but Chloe is having none of it and the two are off to a rocky start. While they behave with military precision, there is no love lost.
Oh, if only they knew.
Anyway, we then get to see them being MPs, facing danger, being professionals while Chloe starts to slot herself into the platoon and make good impressions. Soon her first sergeant has taken her under his fatherly wing and Chloe uses her smarts and organization to rearrange the call schedule to a far less time-brutal one. And this is the start of Thane realizing that he’s let his initial interaction with Chloe – when she called him on not telling her at the pool that he was an MP – make him less of the mentor he knows he should be.
He also decides to push Ballerina a little for an emergency contact in case the old app that brought them together stops working on their phones. When they realize they live in the same area, they eventually take the plunge and decide to meet face to face. The results are – not good. What’s going to happen now and is there a chance for the relationship to actually work?
I love the little things that Chloe sees as her freedom – while still in the military. After four years at the Point, she never has to face a room inspection again, she can choose where to live and – who-hoo – she only has to pin her hair up in a ballerina bun while she’s at work. Hair freedom! She and Thane both have great Sergeants First Class to work with (the scene where these two discuss that their respective LT’s had bad weekend dates is hilarious) and all the other military things are seamlessly worked into the story in ways that help the narrative and plot.
The one thing that bummed me was Thane’s reaction to meeting Ballerina. I get that he was shocked and afraid of being catfished but it takes him a while to realize how hurt Chloe truly was and then make amends. But once he decides what’s in his heart – and that’s to woo this woman he thinks is amazing in every way – he’s all over it. He even engineers a triumph over the Army rules against fraternization with a surprising good fairy.
“Apparently my brigade is full of a bunch of sappy, damned romantics. Everyone seems to think you and Michaels would make a perfect couple. They’re all rooting for you.”
To hell with it. Thane smiled.
I hope you’ve got some more military romances up your sleeve because I really liked this one. B+