Author: Osiris Brackhaus
Publisher: Forbidden Fiction
Cover Artist: D. M. Atkins
Rating: 4.50 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 08/06/2013
Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)
Genre: Historical, M/M Romance
The year is 1946, World War II is over, and the Nuremberg trials are underway. US Army Captain Frank Hawthorne is returning to Germany to testify in the military tribunal of former Nazi Officer Johann von Biehn. Despite explicit orders to the contrary, Frank is trying to save Johann’s life.
Three years ago, at the height of the war, Frank had been sent to kill the very man he is now defending. Much to his surprise, instead of the Nazi monster he was sent to kill, Frank found a compassionate dissenter. Johann considered the handsome young American officer the answer to his desperate prayers to save his beloved Germany from the cancerous infection of Nazi rule. What really happened between the two men during those long summer days in von Biehn’s Spreewald mansion must be kept secret at any cost.
With his own government forbidding Frank to reveal anything political that happened during the war, and society forcing him to conceal their personal relationship, Frank will have to find something truly unexpected to prevent Johann’s all-but-certain death sentence.
Lovers in Arms by is an absorbing, compelling and intriguing story set during and after World War Two.
It’s 1946. The most destructive war in mankind’s history is over and world is now in a fervor melting out justice to all those who served the evil Nazi war machine. One of those on trial is Graf Johann von Biehn, a senior member of the Nazi hierarchy. A surprise defense witness is Frank Hawthorne a well-respected and decorated American soldier, a hero. Frank is in Nuremberg to try and save the life of Johann but he can’t say why. Three years before, in 1943, Frank was sent into Germany with orders to assassinate high ranking German officers congregating at von Biehn’s country estate, and even Johann himself should the opportunity arise, so why is Frank now trying to save Johann’s life? What happened three years ago?
Lovers in Arms by Osiris Brackhaus, is a story within a story. What happened between the two men in 1943 is gradually told from Frank’s POV as flashbacks evenly interspersed between the chapters that cover the trial at Nuremburg. I know flashbacks don’t suit every reader but the format works perfectly for this story.
The story is fascinating, I couldn’t even begin to imagine the circumstances that led to their romance but gradually we get to see it all unfold. After Frank’s drop into Germany he has an accident and wakes up to find himself being nursed by Johann himself. Initially he believes himself to be a prisoner but it soon becomes apparent that he is far from a prisoner and more like an honored guest, in fact Frank is Johann’s answer to a prayer. Johann has information he wants to pass to the allies, and Frank will be his deliverer. The attraction between the two men is instantaneous and it’s the wrongness of that which makes the story compelling. Johann is not at all what Frank expected him to be.
I found Johann to be a most unusual character, and if the story has any downside it’s that we see most things through Frank’s eyes so we never get to really understand Johann. I imagined a character very much like Captain Von Trapp in The Sound of Music. A proud upstanding intelligent man who loves his country deeply. A man who will do anything to help destroy the Nazi’s. A man who understands that he is in a position to do catastrophic damage to the German war machine, but in a very subtle way. Unfortunately it’s the very subtleness that is condemning him now, after the war, as Frank is forbidden to reveal what happened during those weeks in 1943, or any details at all of Johann’s work, as it’s all still highly classified.
Frank is a much easier character to understand, quite simply he fell in love with Johann during those weeks on his estate and all he wants now is the chance at a future together, both men have survived the war, done their duty and now he just wants to be with the man he loves. Frank even contemplates trying to rescue Johann if he should be found guilty knowing that would be a suicide mission. He would rather face death than a life.
Johann is defended by Elias, a Jewish lawyer who Johann helped escape Germany during the war. Elias knows he has a battle on his hands to acquit Johann but he won’t give up he owes the man his life. As the trial progress both Frank and Elias become more desperate as they struggle to see a way to save Johann. The scenes set at Nuremburg were very well written, the tension and suspense was palpable and it was easy to picture Johann sitting in the dock, resigned to his fate.
I find stories like this a challenge, they make me think, help me understand that not everything is black and white, that sometimes the traditional enemy can actually be on the side of good. I adored Johann, I still don’t really understand him but I loved him anyway.
I enjoyed this book immensely. I love historicals but the very nature of a love affair between two men on such opposite sides added a certain edge to the story and once I started I couldn’t put it down. I would definitely read more stories like this, and anything by this author. Highly recommended.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
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