For Jacob and Daniel, two young gay men aboard a US Navy ship in WWII, the risks are high. Not only the risks of injury and death from Japanese planes and submarines, but the risk of discovery. Only a special kind of love is worth taking that chance. But from the moment Daniel meets Jacob’s eyes across a battle-scarred deck, he knows he has to try. Being together requires figuring out what it means to be gay in an era when they could be discharged, imprisoned, or worse for admitting the desires of their hearts. Their relationship is measured in stolen moments and rare days of precious leave, with no guarantee there will be a tomorrow. And, if they survive the war, they will need even more luck to keep their love alive through the years to come.
When I first read this story I was so taken with Daniel and Jacob. Kaje Harper has a way in telling a story where you feel as if you’re right on the ship swaying back and forth on the water.
Daniel joins the Navy because his father wants to make a “man” out of him. Maybe the Navy will wash away his homosexuality. Daniel has always realized there was something different about himself but he dutifully joins and finds himself on a ship trying to stay alive and stay sane.
Jacob also knows something is different about himself and he wishes it weren’t true. These two meet and it really is instant chemistry. They bond during their time on the ship and sneak off with each other to try and be as close as they can. They realize that they truly care for each other and are determined to be together after the war is over.
They both go through many different emotions while on the ship together. Jacob has many firsts with Daniel and comes to realize that he is gay. Daniel somehow gives Jacob strength and their feelings for each other deepen.
Daniel comes to terms fairly quickly as he has always known that his attraction has always been towards men. They encounter tough times on the ship and during an attack Jacob is wounded and ends up going home before Daniel.
Kaleo Griffith is a new narrator for me but certainly won’t be the last. He nails the narration and is able to give voice to Jacob’s nervousness about being caught and how people will think it’s wrong to love another man.
He also voices Daniel’s strengths and initial feelings when the two men get together. He manages to give a sweetness to their stolen moments on the ship and when they have leave. He also manages to show how each of them are feeling especially Jacob’s hesitance to accept who he is.
Jacob and Daniel live through the war and have 60 plus years with each other going through ups and downs in their relationship, dealing with PTSD and living through different societal changes.
Kaleo brings maturity to their voices as Jacob and Daniel grow older and it’s absolutely breathtaking to hear these men go on their journey. He does such a wonderful job when they are both in their eighties. He just does it perfectly. I challenge you not to have a big lump in your throat by Chapter 13 of the story.
I remember first reading this story and thinking I can’t take it if something bad happens to either one of them but alas there is a wonderful HEA and I look forward to listening to more of Kaleo’s work.
5 of 5 stars
Copy Purchased for Review