One More Soldier

Title: One More Soldier
Author: Marie Sexton
Publisher: Silver Publishing
Genre: Historical  M/M, 1960’s
Length: Novella (16,320 words 69 PDF pages)
Rating: 5+ stars out of 5, DIK

 

 *This review contains what might be considered spoilers*

 Summary Review: A powerful love story that broke my heart but made me incredibly grateful to the author.       

  THE BLURB      

It is 1963. Being gay is a sin against God. And twenty-eight year old mechanic Will meets Bran for the first time.     

Over the years a close bond forms between them despite the seventeen year age difference. Will teaches Bran to swim and helps him with homework. The years pass, Bran drops out of school and moves away.     

Then Bran comes home. Can Will move past their age difference? And if he does, how can he keep Bran in 1970 America?     

A beautifully told tale of love and loss told from the viewpoint of a deeply closeted gay man at the very beginning of the American Gay and Lesbian Rights movement.      

THE REVIEW 

Will and Bran met for the first time at the pool attached to the apartment complex where they lived. Bran had just moved into the area with his mother and sister because his Dad had died and they could no longer afford the rent where they lived before. Bran immediately attached himself to Will, much to his dismay, but he decided not to reject him because he didn’t have any friends. They spent most of the time by the pool due to the Texas heat which was stifling, and Will taught Bran how to swim and even helped him with his homework. However, as he  grew older Bran became much smarter than his tutor who hadn’t gone beyond high school and worked as a mechanic in a local garage. When Bran told Will he was quitting school at 17 because he couldn’t allow his Mom to continue supporting him, Will was very disappointed; shortly after Bran left to work on a ranch in another town. They didn’t see each other again until Bran came back home at 18, a year later, and Will didn’t recognize him because the person who showed up bore no resemblance to the skinny kid he once knew. 
     

They swam and fooled around in the pool like old times but it was obvious that Bran had his own agenda and the games that he wanted to play were more adult, which horrified Will who was very much against having any sort of  sexual tryst with someone he knew as a kid. At 35, Will was 17 years older than Bran and he did everything he could to dissuade him, even offering to take him to the bar he went to every Saturday night so that he could meet someone his own age, but there was only one man for Bran. Will could not understand why Bran would want him since he was young and gorgeous, then Bran told him why he had come home – he had been drafted and in two weeks he would be leaving to fight the war in Vietnam. Will kept saying “”You’re so damn young–” when Bran took matters in his own hands –

 ‘He leaned close, lightly brushing his lips over mine. “Will,” he whispered against my lips. “In less than six months, the US Army will put a gun in my hands and make me a killer. If I’m old enough for that, how can I be too young for this?”
And then he kissed me.’
   

I had no power left to protest. The arms holding me were strong and sure, and the chest I felt beneath my hands definitely belonged to an adult, and any memory I had of the person he had been before fled. Maybe my reasons for saying no had been good, and maybe they hadn’t. Either way I could no longer muster any conviction for them. Here and now he was a man in every way, and he wanted me. He trusted me. I wrapped my arms around him and kissed him back, relishing the feel of his hard body against mine.  

What followed was some of the most tender, sensuous and moving lovemaking, as Bran gave himself to Will.  The thought that this could be all they would ever have made being together even more poignant and heartbreaking, as Bran wanted to experience every aspect of love and sex with Will to store up memories, just in case he never came home again. The war was constantly on their minds and they counted down each day as if it was their last, and they made each one count. 

Because this was a time of war happy endings were almost non existent so there’s no HEA or HFN, but if you pass on One More Soldier you will have missed a powerful love story. Many romance readers do not like to read books where the protagonists do not end up together because they are looking for escapism, but at times we have to remember that reading is all about giving your imagination wings and living in a world that sometimes enchants, but at times it’s like real life with all of its heartbreak and disappointments. Bran and Will were so real they grabbed a hold of my heart and never let go, and the Houston heat was like another character in the story because it was always present.
 
Some books take me out of my humdrum and usually uneventful life into a different era or genre and they have an incredible impact because they are so well written. That was how I felt after reading One More Soldier which was all of 69 pages, and I wondered how the author could pack so much living and loving into such a short book. The majority of books I read are forgettable, however I will remember this one for a long time, and that’s mostly because of the characters and the era. Gays were treated at times worse than criminals – but Bran had a plan for what he was going to do after the war, if he survived. His youthful exuberance and determination to make a difference, with all the odds against him, showed a lot about his character. He made it clear that he was not going to hide his sexuality, unlike Will who was still in the closet at 35; he wanted to make a difference in the gay community and couldn’t wait to get started.
   
If you have read any books by this author you know that her greatest strength lies in her characterizations, and Bran and Will were so well drawn it was as if they were real. This story is told from Will’s first person POV which was distinctive.  
  
I highly recommend this book which will let you live or relive a hated period of American history about which much has been written.  I think you will like the ending.

Author

I live in Canada and I love big dogs, music, movies, reading and sports – especially baseball

Heidi Cullinan

I loved this one. I know I’m acknowledged as biased towards Marie, but I really loved this one.

Wave

Isn’t she great? What a wonderful storyteller. I have to ask Ethan Stone the meaning of the dedication. 🙂

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Wave – First of all, thanks for a great review. I’m glad you liked this one. It’s sort of my forgotten story, so I like to see it get a little love. 🙂 I’ll tell you the story of the dedication. Last spring, Ethan sent me a short story he’d pulled out of his ‘forgotten’ folder and sent it to me and asked me if I thought it was worth doing anything with. His story had nothing to with Vietnam, and his story DID have a HEA. It also had lots of sex (winking at Ethan, if he’s reading this).… Read more »
Wave
Hi Marie I loved this ‘little’ story which I didn’t even know was around – I found it by chance at ARe. It’s really lovely even though the ending is sad, but I didn’t mind because the characters crept into my heart and stayed there. I just loved both of them and I felt that Texas heat throughout the story. As for the stereo, I thought that episode was really hilarious and showed Bram’s determination to get into Will’s pants. And how about those shorts that Bram was wearing? Hot!! Ethan deserves the dedication. lol. I can’t want for your… Read more »
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There is a Matt and Jared short story coming out Valentine’s Day, and then the last of the A to Z books will be released on April 6th.

SusieQ

Have this on my Kindle for awhile now, purchased simply because of the author. Been putting it off cuz I heard it was a sad read. Still not sure I’m ready, but it’s good to know it lives up to what we’ve come to expect from Marie! Thanks for a wonderful review, Wave!

Wave

Susie

I think you will really love this book because most of it is fun and a love story, which everyone tells me they love to read.

I hope you get up the courage to read it and if you do please let me know if you liked the story.

edenwinters

Oh my, Wave, what a moving review. I absolutely loved this story. I’m a sentimental reader, and it’s nothing unusual for me to cry while reading. One More Soldier surpassed them all. I bawled like a baby. I agree with you about the ending. Through his loss, Will gained himself. Dang! I’m crying now just remembering. Now THAT’S a powerful book, if you still cry over it long after you’ve stopped reading.

Wow! Can Marie Sexton ever write!!!

Wave

Hi Eden

I picked up this book by chance a few weeks ago at ARe because it was written by Marie Sexton. I had never heard about it before and boy, was I bowled over.

It’s a very emotional story and I hope that other readers will try it because it’s also a love story.

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