Every New Year’s Eve since 1946, Nate Meyer has ventured alone to Times Square to listen for the ghostly church bells he and his long-lost wartime lover vowed to hear together. This year, however, his grandson Blaine is pushing Nate through the Manhattan streets, revealing his secrets to his silent, stroke-stricken grandfather.
When Blaine introduces his boyfriend to his beloved grandfather, he has no idea that Nate holds a similar secret. As they endure the chilly death of the old year, Nate is drawn back in memory to a much earlier time . . . and to Walter.
Long before, in a peace carefully crafted in the heart of wartime tumult, Nate and Walter forged a loving home in the midst of violence and chaos. But nothing in war is permanent, and now all Nate has is memories of a man his family never knew existed. And a hope that he’ll finally hear the church bells that will unite everybody—including the lovers who hid the best and most sacred parts of their hearts.
Nate, a Jewish American recruited during war time to take surveillance photo’s over Europe. And Walter a wartime nurse, that came to Nate’s aid when Nate’s plane was shot down. We also have Nate’s Grandson, Blaine and his boyfriend Tony.
This story starts out in present time, with Blaine and Nate about to head out to Time Square in hopes to hear the Church bells ring. This was a promise, meeting made by Nate and Walter during the war. That Nate has been ding ever since. Tony is meeting the Grandfather for the first time, which is a big step in the secret relationship that Tony and Blaine have. Since the Grandfather has played such an important role in Blaine’s life. Blaine has been telling Nate all about Tony, but unfortunately, several years ago Nate suffered a stroke so all of he’s thoughts are done like inner dialogue. And Nate was never able to tell Blaine about Walter. As we wait for the church bells, Nate starts his flashback to 1946, before he meets Walter and the crash. The rest of the story is the lead up, crash, and afterwards. And the very end is back to present day for a page or two.
First, I have to say, I’ve not read a huge amount of this authors work but the ones I’ve read I’ve enjoyed. So giving this one a 3 was hard. But I was disappointed by it over all. I understand that it must have been a hard subject to write and research. Gay men, Jewish, military in during 1946-47. And I applauded those efforts. And the details of the fight and plane being shot down was amazing. However, over all I just wasn’t impressed, touched or moved emotionally by the story or the characters.
I’ve always believed that little moments make up a romance. In this case, we see Nate recovering from his illness—and also getting to know the companion who pulled him out of the wreckage and saved his life.
Nate admires him—very much—but it’s important to remember the day and age they were living in. Both men have made a study of keeping the parts of themselves that would get them in trouble hidden deeply inside. They give each other hints throughout the first month of their relationship, each one hoping the other will pick up on the hint but afraid to give more.
In this case, we know Jimmy admired Walter’s body, and Nate has felt horribly alone. It’s not enough, not now, but it adds up. Eventually it will add up to love.
But he didn’t want to get up yet, because he would need help, and he didn’t want to wake Walter.
Morning sun made its way through the boards on the windows and illuminated his companion’s face. Eighteen— young—and terrifyingly resourceful. He’d applied himself to Nate’s convalescence with an astounding single-minded resolve. The abandoned house in the woods gave them many amenities—Nate would be the first to recognize that
without shelter and clean water he would have been better off staying in the plane and hoping for rescue before he stopped breathing.
But Walter had nursed him through the fever, fed him broth made from old salt and a new rabbit, and brought him an empty can to piss in. He’d wiped down Nate’s body, giving an efficient, welcome sponge bath. Once, when Nate could smell his own sweat so strongly it troubled his stomach, Walter had washed his hair using warm water and some soap he’d found in the bathroom cupboard. Nate could still smell the perfume on the milled soap, and he hadn’t sweat as much since the bath, so the smell remained comforting.
He’d laughed with Nate, as well—or at him—but then, Nate remembered being foolish often in the throes of the fever. But the fever was gone, and he was no longer foolish.
Tired, and his body ached but not excruciatingly so. He wasn’t foolish, only a little bit in awe.
“What’re you looking at?” Walter muttered, rolling to his side to talk to him. “You been burning holes in me for about five minutes now.”Nate grimaced. The man was admirable, but he was also blunt.
“I have to relieve myself,” Nate said with some embarrassment. “I would rather use the washroom than the mason jar, if that is all right with you.”
Walter grunted and swung his legs around to sit up. “That’s fair enough. But I been using outside. There’s still an old outhouse there. They had a running water line to the bathroom, but it’s been turned off—water closet doesn’t flush.”
Nate blinked and smiled slightly. “What is this place?” he mused.
“I been thinking about that,” Walter said, standing up and stretching. He wore pants, tailored for someone much taller and larger than he was, with suspenders to keep them up, and he had folded the cuffs multiple times and tacked them, probably with the surgical thread he’d used to stitch Nate. They seemed to float around his small waist, almost like clown pants. Nate eyed the boy critically, wondering if watching his own mother tailoring his clothes was enough to give him the expertise to fix Walter’s.
Walter stretched his hands over his head then, in a curiously catlike gesture, and the knit undershirt he was wearing hugged what appeared to be a trim, almost-gaunt little body.
Walter lowered his arms and grinned at Nate, not abashed in the least at another man’s regard. “I’m scrawny, I know it.” He smirked. “I got the body of a turnip in a drought, or that’s what . . .” His smirk faded, and he swallowed. “That’s what Jimmy used to say.” It had cost him to finish his sentence. “Sorry. Didn’t mean to get sad on you.”
“Not at all,” Nate murmured. “There is no shame, I think, to miss a friend.”
Walter glanced at him sharply. “That sounded all Jewish and stuff. Is that like . . . like a saying or a proverb or something?”
Nate searched his mind. “No, I don’t think so. I think it’s mostly common sense.”
That grin came back, stretching Walter’s cheeks, making him look about ten years old. “Well, it’s good sense, but it sounds awfully damned Jewish.”
Nate grinned back and sat up creakily. He envied Walter’s scrawny body and the ease with which he moved. “I take it you haven’t met many Jews.”
“In Beauchamp, Iowa? Are you kidding? Indians, yeah, we got some of them, but they mostly stay on the reservation.” Walter’s face fell. “Seemed a shame. There’s a bunch of kids near us when I was growing up. Liked to play stickball. My dad was a real bastard to ’em, but they let me play anyway, when I could get away from him. So, like, I heard about the Jews getting shut up in ghettos, and I thought about them kids on the reservation, except not ever getting to come out. They were nice kids.” He smiled uncertainly at Nate, as though he wasn’t sure how this bit of information would be taken.
“I’m jealous,” Nate said, because honesty had served him well thus far with Walter. “You had peers. Children to play with. I was always . . .” Too shy. Too different. Too Jewish for the goyim, not Jewish enough for the Jews. Too afraid of looking too long at the wrong person. “Alone,” he said after that pause.
Walter grimaced. “Yeah, well, I’ll bet you wish you could be alone to take a leak, don’t you? C’mon, let’s go.”
Amy Lane exists happily with her noisy family in a crumbling suburban crapmansion, and equally happily with the surprisingly demanding voices who live in her head.
She loves cats, movies, yarn, pretty colors, pretty men, shiny things, and Twu Wuv, and despises house cleaning, low fat granola bars, and vainglorious prickweenies.
She can be found at her computer, dodging housework, or simultaneously reading, watching television, and knitting, because she likes to freak people out by proving it can be done.
a Rafflecopter giveaway