…we're keeping our name but expanding our offerings!
Six years after meeting British soldier Aiden Foster during the Christmas Truce of 1914, Jochen Weber still finds himself thinking about Aiden, their shared conversation about literature, and Aiden’s beautiful singing voice. A visit to London gives Jochen the opportunity to search for Aiden, but he’s shocked at what he finds.
The uniform button Jochen gave him is the only thing Aiden has left of the past he’s lost. The war and its aftermath ripped everything away from him, including his family and his music. When Jochen reappears in his life, Aiden enjoys their growing friendship but knows he has nothing to offer. Not anymore.
While this year I tried to embrace more historical MM romance, I’m still reluctant to read stories set in the World War eras. I am not fond of the bleak feelings from war stories. Heck, I even tend to avoid war movies!! But I was intrigued with the blurb and the cover had the sepia tone that I adore. So I decided to read this one.
Well, the first two chapters made me choke up. The description of the Christmas Truce 1914 was enough for me to imagine the situation (and it was something new for me to learn – sorry, I’m an Indonesian) was beautiful. It was when Aiden and Jochen met … and they got connected with the talk of literature. I got teary eyed reading it. Because it was a testament of hope and humanity in the middle of the war. It was really touching.
But then we got the horrible brutal moments of wars – and Ms. Barwell again wrote how it felt for two young men who were caught up in it, questioning the war, watching their friends die, and caught up under the bullets. Again, I got all choked up. It was heartbreaking – and people, this was why I avoid war stories! *sniff*
The rest was the journey of Jochen and Aiden finding each other again after the war. Each man suffered from the nightmares of war. Although I felt Jochen was the stronger one between the two. Aiden was more sensitive and he suffered in silence because he just couldn’t talk about it to anyone. When Jochen was on his side, it was then Aiden slowly healed.
The downside of this story was the length. Being a novella, I felt that there were moments that I would like to be explored deeper. I would love to see more of the friendship between Jochen and Aiden as they navigated the life after war. Some of these chapters ended in an ‘abrupt’ manner in which the next chapter was a scene of few days after. I didn’t mind the happy-for-now ending but it would have more impact if I was shown their growing closeness before the story ended. Because I felt it was quite rushed near the end.
However, I would still give 4* for this – it was beautiful, sweet (no-sex here), somber, and at times retrospective. I wish Jochen and Aiden the best in life. I hope they heal each other with love and devotion, and that they grow stronger each and every single day.
It’s my 3rd read from Anne Barwell and definitely my favorite of her so far.