As I sit here sniffling back the sobs, I think I should warn folks that this is at least a two tissue read. This will definitely be one of those stories that sticks with me long after I finished the last page. It was all that a story ought to be and rung emotions that ran the gamut from happy bliss to tragic weeping. Well done, Amy Lane!
It was a beautiful WWII story told in a flashback manner involving an old Jewish photographer reminiscing about a part of his life that he has kept hidden for decades. His family honors his annual quirky New Year’s eve tradition of listening for church bells near Times Square not knowing the true significance of his need. This time is different. Nathan Meyer has experienced a stroke that left him paralyzed and locked inside his own mind. He is accompanied by his adult grandson who has something important- someone important- to share with the one family member who would accept.
Nathan looks back on his life to the time he served in the war as a reconnaissance photographer, a Jew and a man who fought his own interest in other men. He was always a loner, but he has made a couple of friends doing similar work with listening devices. Nate would love to do more, but it is his skills at photography that are needed so that is what he does. His latest mission goes haywire when he and the pilot who inexplicably hates him are shot down shortly after spotting an interesting looking installation on the French-German border. A badly wounded Nate is rescued out of the crashed plane by Walter and this begins the unlikely friendship and more between two men isolated to themselves in the midst of a world at war. Unfortunately, Nate still has his duty to get that important film back to Head Quarters and the war can’t be put off forever.
This story sets things up in the beginning with Nate’s current situation and then when it flashes back, to his situation at the outset of the war. I loved the details of Nate’s Jewish life and then also the details of those early OSS workers seeking to bring in information with the best that the time had to offer that included Nate going up in a plane and filming needed pictures of the ground that would be analyzed and used for planning. His best friends were part of the group who flew over occupied areas and listened while undercover operatives radioed information up to them. All so dangerous and daring. I found the attention paid to this setting of the character’s story just fascinating stuff. Most of the story flows at a gentle pace, but there were times that I was just holding my breath too.
I also found Nate’s character and as a narrator, his descriptions of those around him, just so engaging. Nate is so many things, but it was that streak of adventurer and a young man open to other ways that made him so endearing. During his time, people were still a bit bound by ethnic group, class, religion, etc. Nate was true to who and what he was, but he was accepting of others too. I loved that his best friends were Americans that were Hispanic and Irish in origin, poorer class and Catholic to boot while he was an educated middle class Jew.
Then there was Walter. The time Nate spent with Walter was just precious. Walter was another complex character with quite a story. I loved how it came slowly and not all at once just as the relationship progressed. It was just such a precious thing and probably more so because the reader is aware that they will separate at some point and wonders when and what it will be.
In the end, I sat there just staring off still caught up in the story of Nate and Walter. This was a beautiful holiday story that grabbed me up and will probably not let me go for a while if at all. As to recommendations, those who enjoy M/M Historical Romance set during war time.
My thanks to Riptide Publishing for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.