A guest review by Sirius
Summary: Unusual holiday story made a very lasting impression on me.
Making love inside a Nazi POW camp is impossible. Falling in love is not, but death by slow starvation is a grim proposition, so when two U.S. airmen prisoners see their chance for escape they take it. Success will require much courage and faith in each other, plus a little help from an unexpected guide.
Okay, first of all a warning: this story does not have a happy ending, or I suppose I should say it has a very short-lived happy ending. I cannot say more without spoilers — I think I have said enough already — but since I am the kind of reader who always wants to know in advance when a story ends tragically, I want to practice what I preach. 🙂 It had me crying pretty much from the first page, and this may give you a clue that despite being a holiday story and very fitting one in my opinion, it is sad.
I initially tasted Jardonn Smith’s writing when I read his other short story from MLR, called Caricature from MLR as well. To say that I loved that story would be an understatement. It was about the life of two American soldiers, which started during the Second World War, but the larger part of it was taking place during our time and both guys are around sixty years old. I really enjoyed the story and characters, I also thought that the sex scenes were unusually sensual and hot — unusual not because the story was about mature characters, but because I find so many sex scenes in m/m romances to be mechanical and boring. I ate up every single one in that story. Anyway, when I saw that this writer had another short story about American soldiers during the Second World War out in the MLR holiday line up, I had to get it.
As some of you may know I usually prefer to read the stories that end happily — or at the very least do not have one (or both!) of the main characters dead at the end. Sometimes however I will make an exception when it is written so beautifully that I do not want to stop. This was one of those stories. I could have stopped reading, because we know how it ends from the very first page, but I could not make myself to stop.
I was trying to think what this story reminds me of, and I think that I would call it an ode, not because it is written as poetry, but because it is so poetical and beautiful and it pays respect to two heroes during the Second World War, who fought bravely with the Nazis and who discovered that they loved each other while being imprisoned in Nazi concentration camp. I have read enough documentary testimonies about extraordinary heroic acts during that war to accept what happens in the story at the very least as something believable. I also thought that for such a short story the author managed to show the essence of the characters to us pretty well.
The only issue I have in regards to the characters’ motivations and actions were the actions of the “good shepherd” in this story. I absolutely know how smart these guys are and how they often manage to surprise us and show that they are much smarter than human beings sometimes give them credit for, so it is not like I completely disbelieve. The author also did a very good job telling the reader just how unusual those actions were, how much of an exception to their regular behavior it was, but I still could not help but wonder whether the “good shepherd” desire to escape *at that particular moment* was not making him a bit too much anthropomorphic, that’s all. I ended up thinking that considering that it was a Christmas story, the author just wanted us to believe in a little miracle and that line of thinking worked for me.
The story is definitely recommended.