Title: Shadowboxing (Echoes Rising #1) Second Edition
Author: Anne Barwell
Publisher: DSP Publications
Release Date: May 31, 2016
Page Count: 270
Reviewed by: Crabbypatty
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5
2nd Edition – Berlin, 1943. An encounter with an old friend leaves German physicist Dr. Kristopher Lehrer with doubts about his work. But when he confronts his superior, everything goes horribly wrong. Suddenly Kristopher and Michel, a member of the Resistance, are on the run, hunted for treason and a murder they did not commit. If they’re caught, Kristopher’s knowledge could be used to build a terrible weapon that could win the war.
For the team sent by the Allies—led by Captain Bryant, Sergeant Lowe, and Dr. Zhou—a simple mission escalates into a deadly game against the Gestapo, with Dr. Lehrer as the ultimate prize. But in enemy territory, surviving and completing their mission will test their strengths and loyalties and prove more complex than they ever imagined.
Kristopher Lehrer may be a brilliant scientist, but he is somewhat naive and unaware of the importance of the special weapon project he is working on (which may be a nuclear bomb – but is never explained) – until his friend David, who is Jewish, asks “Have you any idea what kind of people you are working for? […] Have you any idea of their real agenda?” Lehrer soon finds himself on the run with Michel, a member of the Resistance, and an Allied team (Matt, Ken, Liang + 2 others) who are tasked with getting the weapons secret out of Germany.
Barwell’s plot is intriguing in concept, but falls short in the implementation. The mission team is like the gang that couldn’t shoot straight. Nothing goes according to plan, and time and again, the team members stop and argue or talk about their feelings … rather than RUN AWAY from the Nazis chasing them with guns and dogs. If this were a movie, you would be yelling at the screen “Don’t stop in the alleyway and discuss the plan …. the Nazis are behind you …. lower your voices … run … no, no, don’t set your gun down – what are you DOING? Just RUN … for the love of god …RUN!”
When the mission falls apart, Kristopher (Kit) goes on the run with Michel, while the rest of the team tries to rescue Matt from the Gestapo. Michel and Kit fall into insta-love, with no sexual magnetism, and no on-page sex or sensuality other than a few kisses. Meanwhile, Ken is determined to save Matt because he loves him, again with no discernible chemistry. And after the initial action sequence, the pace of the book becomes glacial, with background stories for several characters provided, and lots and lots of much ado about nothing.
When the action finally amps up, there is a beyond-belief “wait, what?” coincidence, another round of standing around rather than RUNNING, and a cliffhanger ending — although there is a short preview of “Winter Duet,” the second book in the Echoes Rising series. While I am a big fan of M/M historicals, I cannot recommend this book.
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