Author: David Bret
Genre: MM / Historical (WWII)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (June 10th, 2013)
Heat Level: Low
Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥3~3.5 Hearts
Blurb: 1940s, Paris.
The German occupation is in full swing. Marcel, a famous singer at Levalle’s, grew up on the wrong side of the tracks, and now leads a complicated life. Juggling his common-law wife and his mistress keeps him as busy as his career. But then disaster strikes. Louis Gérard, the man who discovered him, is murdered, and Levalle’s shuts down. Jobless, Marcel ends his relationship with his wife. He can’t see his mistress because her husband is home on leave. Drunk and disorientated, roaming the streets after curfew, he runs into what could be serious trouble.
Jürgen is a young German lieutenant, a pacifist who secretly hates the Nazis and, just as secretly, has admired Marcel from afar. When he sees Marcel in need, he doesn’t hesitate to take him home.
Despite Marcel’s initial suspicions, he and Jürgen soon form a deep bond as Marcel fights his demons to rebuild his shattered career. All the while, the Liberation approaches, bringing tragedy, and glory in equal measure. Hopeless? Probably. After all, neither of them is supposed to fraternize with the enemy, yet they learn to respect and love each other anyway.
Review: Usually I avoid books that their plot is about WWII. That war has a way of affecting me the wrong way and depressing me for days and even weeks for personal reasons. This one did not fail to somehow transfer that slight melancholy (even though it could do much, much more). It is a story that unfolds in France and has that peculiar French air about it, which is so very different from the British stories about WWII.
I found the setting more or less accurate, but lacking the intense desperation of the time. I found Marcel’s story quite realistic in regard to his French hot-headedness, his crude habits and his cussing mouth. The life he led, the womanizer he was and the way his main “wife” was in their relationship were all quite real when compared with rumors of how many artist of that time were. His obnoxious character I did not mind at all. It was charming in its own way. It was what I was expecting from a French character (yes I know I’m generalizing and stereotyping), but I’ve read similar characters by many French authors that has written WWII books not all of them romances either. So the portrayal of Marcel was something that got into me from start to finish and I loved him for his genuine French temperament. Along with him, I loved Loulou and Connie as well, so very real they both were and made this book more tolerable to read.
However, I felt it lacking emotions. The very fact that the writing was an incredible head-hopping caused this story to lose its brilliancy. But, the fact that the author seemed to avoid dwelling and diving in the intense emotions caused by loss, or killings, and even love, ruined a story that could have swiped me off my feet and kept me in its hook for weeks to come. Here we had a character that suffered from incredible mood swings, going from calm to frantic in the blink of an eye, the narrator giving us a very close view of the events that mood could cause. Yet, when the moment came to capture us all with Marcel’s trying period of realizing he’s falling in love with a man (which was quite a shock for him), that period that should have been full of intensity and turbulence, we never got to experience it because it was simply jumped over and then told how Marcel now felt.
So I feel cheated. Each and every single one of the events that were crucial to the story that should have been traumatizing emotionally to read, the ones that could turn this book into a masterpiece were ripped off and I feel cheated. But, then again, I always expect too much.
It’s a good book though, I do recommend the read. It’s not as heavy as many of the style; it has some really good points in there, some funny ones as well if you have a weird sense of humor like I do. The ending is also great and removes even those slight bittersweet scenes that have the power to make you misty-eyed, transforming them to joy.