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If you consider the time this novel was first out, 1979, and the period it refers to, II World War, Wingmen is a daring novel since it “allows” to its heroes an happily for now ending, something that was seldom read at the time. Novels with gay themes had sometime made their appearance in the past, but most often than not, the heroes were not allowed to be able to enjoy their love. Even in most notorious novels like Gaywick, another release from Avon Books of the ‘70s, the happily ever after was not a 100% one, and not all the gay characters had it.

Having read “From Here to Eternity”, I can recognize the similar theme, but in that novel there was a subtle shame for being gay, and those characters who consciously admitted they were gays, were seen like weak and needing men, beginning sex in exchange of money. Love seemed not part of the equation, and that is the main difference in Wingmen; true, there is sex between Jack and Fred (even if, remember, this is the 1979 and set between 1940s and 1960s, so nothing is overtly on your face), but there is above all love. It’s a great love story, and both Jack than Fred are able to admit they are in love, that is not only basic physical desires attracting each other.

Wingmen is also a good war novel, with plenty of details on the war and war setting; it’s strange because I have always thought to Avon like a romance publisher, but that is probably the evolution they had from the ’70 on, starting to publish the notorious Savage Romance novels. Instead Wingmen is as much a “man” novel as it’s a romance, able to mix the two elements in a perfect combination.

And if someone is wondering on the real possibility of such story happening, I strongly suggest to read Coming Out Under Fire by Allan Berube (re-released in 2010 in a 20th Anniversary edition), many of the stories in that essay are a replica of what happened between Jack and Fred in the novel, and many like Jack and Fred came back from that war changed in many ways, and trying to reconnect with a world that was no more theirs. Some of them managed to be happy forever, some of them for a brief period, but at least they tried, at least they had the courage to fight for their love like they fought for their country.

http://www.cheyennepublishing.com/books/wingmen.html

Amazon: Wingmen
Amazon Kindle: Wingmen
Paperback: 372 pages
Publisher: Cheyenne Publishing (February 10, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1937692086
ISBN-13: 978-1937692087

Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading_list&view=elisa.rolle
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