REVIEW: When Skies Have Fallen

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April 23, 2016 by kitmoss

whn skies.pngWhen Skies Have Fallen by Debbie McGowan

Publisher:  MM Romance Group / Beaten Track Publishing (July 7, 2015)



For many in war-torn 1944, love blossoms in the dance hall, and airman Arty Clarke is no exception. He’s a thinker and a dreamer; however, it’s not the beautiful, talented dancer in his arms—his best friend Jean—who inspires his dreams. For when his gaze meets that of Technical Sergeant Jim Johnson, Arty dares to imagine a different dance.
Their love is forbidden, by both the armed forces and the law, but with Jean’s cunning and support, Arty and Jim try to bridge the distance between them and find true love despite the danger and a life-threatening disaster that could destroy Artie’s dreams for good.
Can the pair stand strong together, no matter how many skies have fallen?
* * * * *
Part of Love is an Open Road (Don’t Read in the Closet 2015)
Based on the prompt:
Life isn’t a fairy tale. These two know that better than most. These men are survivors. Against all odds, they made it through hardships, separation, and war. They clung to hope where little existed and, as the skies fell around them and the world was torn apart, found strength in loving each other.
Suddenly, the war was over. Battlefields lay silent and troops prepared for the journey home. These two were more than ready. They had experienced enough loss, grief, and pain to last ten lifetimes. The country they left behind may not have been ready to accept them, but they were prepared to live no matter how many skies had fallen.
You can tell me the story of how these men met, but what I really want to know is what happened to these men after this photo was taken. Did their love endure the trials of a return to civilian life? Were they able to overcome the trauma of war and find peace together?
REVIEW by Christopher Hawthorne Moss

This novel has a ton going for it. It is first of all realistic. The two men in love are very much part of their time, facing not only censure but more servere punishment if their love is found out. In fact, Jim does wind up going to prison for a year and a half for a crime he admits to even though the charges were cooked up just because he loves Artie and wants to protect him. Their friends by and large accept their love, but Artie’s parents do not and openly condemn him and Jim in a most heartless way.

It is the realism that drew me to this novel. The young men have to curtail their physical love, at first lacking any privacy to speak of. Therefore they actually get to have a sort of honeymoon when they finally are reunited after World War II. They have to postpone it, though, to let Jim, an American, get immigration papers to England. I must say I was surprised at how much Jim loved Artie that he did move to England and put up with all the cultural differences.

The activism of the two men is fascinating to watch. Jim always has felt a sense of what would constitute fair play. For one thing, he decries the fact that soldiers in POW caps wind up in prison when they are brought home to England. That riled me up plenty. I had heard of the open victimization of gay men in the 1950s and into the 60s, but to read how they could have someone search their homes in the middle of the night was appalling. I appreciated the author’s frankness about it. It was painful to watch Artie grieve over his time lost with Jim when he considers suicide rather than live without him.

The times are well represented in other ways as well, as with the awareness Artie has of the controversy of D. H. Lawrence’s work.

The story has a happy ending, for the most part, but no more details since those would constitute a spoiler, but besides the sweetness of the two men’s relationships with each other, their friends, and most notably the cat family, and Artie’s realistic recovery from crushed legs, really make this book something particularly special.

Proofread by One Love Editing.

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