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Posted May 29, 2014
As the blub states, Hagen Friedrichs is the sole survivor of a gang sent to escort his brother on a secret mission. He arrives at the rendezvous to find all the men dead and his brother missing and vows to do everything he can to find his brother. The ambush was carried out by the Americans and in their over zealous care, they beat Hagen's brother so badly he dies before Captain John Nicholls has a chance to interrogate the SS officer. Hagen finds the American camp and in the melee of killing a guard, fighting off John who arrives for an interlude with his lover, now dead, Hagen is captured and interrogated by John, and loses the papers he tried to conceal for his brother and learns about his brother's death.
This is the ultimate enemies to lovers story. This is 1944. John is American, Hagen German SS but in the nightmare that is war the two cross ideological lines and form an unbreakable bond.
John, for his part, isn't a convincing interrogator. It's alluded that he'll use torture but never does with Hagen and I’m never convinced he’s the sort to do so. But this story isn't about that kind of torture and the authors wisely step back from it. The torture both men face is psychological. In addition their own country's hatred of the other, Hagen killed John's lover. John's men killed Hagen's brother. They have a thousand reasons and counting to hate each other. But there is a connection, a spark, that grows after John breaks Hagen, not with torture or deprivation, but with the truth that Hagen's country set him and his brother up as an expendable decoy in its spy game.
I loved this story. John and Hagen are real people playing Russian roulette and more than once find themselves in a position that at best could get John kicked out of the army and at worst dead. But together they fight for each and ever moment with will and sometimes bullets and find an realistic HEA that did my heart good.
After a few disappointing stories from Witt, I'm so pleased this one hit it out of the park. It’s one of the best war time m/m I’ve ever read.
Posted August 1, 2013
Unhinge the Universe (UTU) is a very thoughtful fiction set during WWII. I had my apprehensions when starting a book that stars a Nazi soldier (after all, I had nightmares about Nazi soldiers when I learned about the Holocaust in school). But regardless of my preconceptions and bias, Aleksandr Voinov has taught me that soldiers are an invention of war, and there is still capacity to love despite what soldiers are forced to do. So yes, Hagen is a Nazi soldier, but John (an American captain) fell in love - not to the Nazi, but to the actual PERSON.
Despite the story being set in (mostly) France during WWII, most of the development between our two MCs is done in the span of a few days during conversations and interrogations. There were sprinkles of action towards the beginning and end of the book, but don't expect off-the-seat fighting-for-their-lives kind of action at every corner.
Both characters were loveable, and it was endearing to see their dynamic develop. And best of all: HEA!
Posted July 18, 2013
Aleksandr Voinov and LA Witt have banded together to create an intense and thoughtprovoking historical read that vividly presents the bloodiness, fear, and confusion of what defines the enemy during wartime. From its heartpounding early scenes to the mind games between an American officer looking for answers from a German officer to their unlikely bond that ends the story in an uplifting way, I found myself completely immersed in the action and rooting for someone who history has taught us to hate.
Captain John has been ordered to get vital information from Nazi officer Hagen and what starts out as a by the book interrogation soon morphs into something more personal. John starts seeing Hagen as a man and worthy of living. He sees someone like himself looking for just a bit of comfort and peace, away from the lies they have to keep, amongst the craziness of war and decides to do whatever necessary to keep him safe from other's whose prejudices might endanger Hagen. Hagen starts off seeing John as the enemy but the more time they spend together he soon sees a kindred spirit. He doesn't see John as a soldier but someone who he can be himself with. He knows he can't go back home and continue to live a lie so he'll do anything to protect the one person promising him true freedom. They ultimately have to work together to keep each other safe in some action-packed sequences that end in a heartbreaking manner. Thankfully the authors don't leave us teary-eyed for long as a completely believable and immensely satisfying conclusion soon occurs.
This story kept me on the edge of my seat with my feelings ricocheting as we get to know both John and Hagen more fully. They're both bitter at first scarred by war and the deaths they've seen and caused. It was rewarding discovering the real John and Hagen which is why I was rooting for them every step of the way. The relationship started out in an expected manner but the sexual tension flared quickly, along with one or two very intense sexual encounters, and led to an unexpected and richly rewarding relationship. This time period and these kinds of issues, love between men in wartime, isn't addressed often but is done so in an incredibly satisfying and believable way courtesy of these two authors and I can't recommend this book highly enough!