It’s 1942 and Ben is content with his job and his life with his love, Pete. When the two men collided while Pete was dog walking, they became inseparable immediately. Moving in together under the guise of roommates, the men give each other everything they need.
As World War II approaches, Pete joins the Air Force to train as a pilot, leaving Ben behind. The men promise to stay true to each other, but there simply was no other choice as their love is everything they have both always dreamed of. Remaining home in New York has Ben at times scared, unsettled, and constantly worried for Pete’s safety, with good reason on the day the dreaded telegram arrives. Ben keeps busy working and volunteering at a USO club until a chance meeting with a singer sends him to the stages of Europe. When nowhere is safe, the men encounter loss and fight their way to return to their once perfect life back home.
Right Here Waiting is a historical book and it is not a genre I ever read as books set in historical places or times just do not appeal to me. I chose this one with the thought that it would be more character driven. The style of this book was engaging and the book was reminiscent of a 1940s film with the structure and feel of the Golden Age of Hollywood and a true wartime romance.
In its heart it is a true old fashioned love story. The author really captures the time and location with many well placed details. The dialogue is appropriate for the era as the men get “gussied up” for an evening out, joke about “unmentionables,” shout out “jeepers,” and use a rotary phone complete with the sound effects.
Ben is more of the focal character, although we do get point of view from Pete as well. Their initial meeting and early love story is told through flashbacks, but they are portrayed as warm and well loved memories that flow smoothly through the narrative. For as complicated as the times were, their love is portrayed as simple. When Pete leaves to go overseas, all of Ben’s emotions are clearly on display as each day becomes harder for him to function without Pete. In a subtle manner the author was able to show the isolation of the era when a loved one went off to war with only the radio for comfort for those left behind.
The war is the back drop for this story but it’s the love between the men that shines through as was evident when Pete asked Ben to move in with him.
I want you here all the time, every day and every night, and when you’re not here, I can’t help feeling that it’s not really home…. I want to see you every minute of every day, when you’re cranky because the coffee hasn’t been made….And when you’re excited about something, and you glow, and you’re just so fucking beautiful, Benny. I just…I want you. All the time, and for the rest of my life. Just stay with me, live here with me. Please, Ben.
The men write letters to each other throughout the book that add to the emotion of being separated and certainly adds to the era of waiting for that next letter to arrive. The war aspect is described, but it is not overly graphic and Pete’s missions are not highly detailed. Likewise with the intimate scenes, they are not overly explicit but fit the story and the cinematic feel and Belledonne expertly lets their intimacy and love take center stage with well written emotional scenes that perfectly display their bond. There are well placed secondary characters that all fit and have a purpose and the author introduces us to and lets us enjoy characters like Gwen as she tries to make the lives of soldiers just a bit better.
The only area that I had any issue with was the way Pete’s Air Force crewmates were handled. Ben and Pete kept their relationship very private as was necessary for the time. When some crew members of Pete’s did find out about their relationship, every one of them was accepting as well as anyone that Ben chose to tell. While this certainly was refreshing to see, it was not authentic or reflective of the era.
For emotional readers this book could wind up being emotional all the way through, even from areas where you would least expect it. Right Here Waiting was a perfectly paced character driven novel of true love and hope set in the time of war.
This review is part of our September Reading Challenge Month for Genre Challenge Week! Leave a relevant comment below and you will be entered to win this week’s fabulous prize of all 12 books released in September, plus an audiobook, from Less Than Three Press, as well as our amazing grand prize sponsored by Riptide Publishing. You can get more information on our Challenge Month here, and more details on Genre Challenge Week here. And be sure to check out our prize post for more about the awesome prizes!