Rating: 4.5 stars
Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance
Length: Short Story
“When he comes down again, his plane is steaming like a war horse.” With that opening line, we are immediately immersed into the imagery of Germany in 1945 in this story of love amidst war and two men finding each other against overwhelming odds. We meet Felix, a young mechanic who had hoped to one day be a pilot, but instead works endlessly repairing damaged fighters and getting them and their aviators back up into the sky. He is especially drawn to one of those pilots, Baldur Vogt, a man he both loves and hero worships. Felix assumes Baldur doesn’t see him at all, though Felix can concentrate on little else but Baldur when the man is flying a dangerous mission. But when Baldur is injured and takes some days off to recover, he surprises Felix by taking him along, showing the man that only does he recognize Felix’s feelings for him, but that they are returned. Yet the men must go back to the front lines, fighting a futile war to protect their country and the lives of friends and family. As the war draws to a close, things become increasingly desperate for two men who hope to one day find a way to be together amidst the chaos and dangers of wartime.
For a short story, Voinov packs so much in here. From the opening lines, I could get a sense of the time, the place, and the life these men are living. These are not Nazi believers, these are regular men drawn into a war for their country, a war that is clearly not going to end well for them. There is a sense of forboding, of desperation, yet no one can afford to acknowledge what they all know to be true. These men can not accept failure, so they continue on, hoping for the best each day. Voinov depicts this world so clearly with such rich details, from the airfield and the fighters, to the bombed out cities, to the day to day life of the citizens in the villages. It is so rich and well done and it is clear how much time and research was spent to make even the smallest elements feel steeped in history.
I really enjoyed the relationship between Felix and Baldur. These are men living in dangerous times, and they know to reach for their happiness where they can find it. Felix has never been with a man, and he worries about taking a chance to be with Baldur. But he also knows this is the time for that leap of faith, to take a chance on what he wants because no one knows what the future will bring. And that thrill and sense of wonder when the risk pays off is shown so beautifully.
I feel astutely that this is the only opportunity I’ll ever have to risk everything, neck and life and sanity.
If the world ends tomorrow, how will I go? Without ever having risked anything, or having done the one thing I can’t stop thinking about? His eyes are mild, generous. Is that trust? I take his hand, notice his skin isn’t entirely dry, and neither is mine. I straighten somewhat, then stare at his lips.
And that’s when I kiss him.
So quite well done and a really enjoyable short story. We get both sweet romance and the detailed history pulled together into one. And such a romantic ending. Sigh. So definitely recommended, especially for those looking for an interesting and well-researched historical.