Wingmen

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Title: Wingmen
Author: Ensan Case
Cover Artist: Alex Beecroft
Publisher: Cheyenne Publishing
Amazon Buy Link:Wingmen
Genre: Historical (1940s)/Action/Adventure/Romance
Length: 408 paperback pages
Rating: 5+ stars out of 5

A guest review by Sirius

Summary: I was mesmerized by this book about the navy pilots during the Second World War and the love between two of them

Blurb:

Jack Hardigan’s Hellcat fighter squadron blew the Japanese Zekes out of the blazing Pacific Skies. But a more subtle kind of hell was brewing in his feelings for rookie pilot Fred Trusteau. As another wingman watches—and waits for the beautiful woman who loves Jack—Hardigan and Trusteau cut a fiery swath through the skies from Wake Island to Tarawa to Truk, there to keep a fateful rendezvous with love and death in the blood-clouded waters of the Pacific.

Review:

UPDATED REVIEW: Hi guys, as some of you may have heard before and as the blurb tells us, this book is being re-published by Cheyenne Publishing as an ebook and in print format, and I don’t know about you, but I cannot be happier! Now readers who are interested can at least afford to try it.

Because of this re-release, I was asked to update my review of this wonderful story. I read the ebook very carefully, and even skimmed my old — and expensive — paperback, wanting to see if there were significant content revisions done. While I did not have the energy to do a page-by-page comparison, I did not notice any differences, and if I am wrong, please correct me. Everything I loved about this book was still there. Accordingly my review is 95% the same as the previous one, except the warning to follow and a little expansion on one point. Also, I can see that the cover is different, this one done by Alex Beecroft; while I like this one better than the one which I had to copy on my initial review, I do not care for this one nearly as much as I love the cover on my paperback unfortunately. I guess I should say I love the top part of the old cover as it features what I consider the culmination point of the book, I do see how the lower part is a bit busy. But then I always love covers which feature a moment from the book. This one is not bad, and obviously they are pilots, but I like human stuff better than the technical one. :)

Now for the warning: there is a het sex scene in the book and it is right there on the first two pages of the book. Since I had purchased this book on my own, I completely forgot that we don’t review books with explicit het sex in them here and I neglected to include this information in my original review, mea culpa. Luckily Wave is a forgiving girl and she said “okay” about keeping the review up. :) Anyway, if m/f is not your cup of tea, you can skip right over it, or bypass the book altogether, though I think that is not necessary as it is such a small part.

Now on to the review…

I saw a review of this book on Erastes’ site and just knew that I had to read it no matter what. You know what they say about “be careful what you wish for”? Yeah, I may have regretted the “no matter what” part just a little bit when I saw that Wingmen [was] out of print and of course the Amazon third party sellers charge pretty inflated prices. But if you ask me whether the reading experience was worth it, I will answer that it was worth every penny.

This is a book about American navy pilots during the Second World War and the love between squadron commander Jack Hardigan and twenty-one-year-old ensign Fred Trusteau. The book has plenty of technical details about airplanes, the Navy, their training and fights with Japanese pilots. I have absolutely no idea whether it is correct, whether author had been in the military, whether he did good research or not. All that I know is that while some of the technicalities were lost on me, most of it sounded believable, interesting, exciting and fun. But if you are going to read this book primarily for action/adventure — and there is a plenty of it — I guess I am not qualified to tell you how authentic it is.

I have read a gazillion books about the Second World War, but mostly about the Great Patriotic War part of it. Those books differed from the books which had been polished by Soviet propaganda to realistic, gritty books written by writers who actually spent five years of that war in trenches fighting the Nazis and who certainly told as it is what the war really was like for soldiers and civilians. Such books were rarely allowed to be published in the Soviet Union before Perestroika times, but some were overlooked by censors even prior to that time.

However I still have not read many books about what the war was really like for American soldiers and I am filling that gap every opportunity I can when I know that the way a book is written will suit my tastes. It was very interesting for me to take a look at the soldiers who actually had a choice whether to participate in the war. No matter how different the perspective was, I get a book about every day heroes — very realistic, very matter of fact heroes — many of them very young men who took the jobs which included the possibility of dying every day simply because it was the right thing to do. I really liked most of them and of course since the war is a job here, in every job you have bureaucrats and idiot bosses, whom I could not help but want to send home the first chance I could.

But we also have Jack Hardigan, a professional pilot for whom the task of teaching his new hires — inexperienced pilots — as much as he can in the short time they spend teaching them. He wants to teach them disciplined flying, disciplined radio communications and just to make sure they know as much as possible in order to bring as many of them home alive as possible. I could not help but love Jack from the first page he appears on, when he has to battle stupid paperwork while he could spend his time doing more useful things.

The connection between him and talented young pilot Fred Trusteau is unmistakably clear on the page the moment he is transferred to Jack’s squadron, but it is also so very subtle. We do not hear them spending pages and pages agonizing about their feelings because they are too busy teaching and learning and practicing and actually fighting a war, but we do hear them and their feelings of love, which are stronger and stronger every time we read about it. It is in their actions and in their thoughts. I want to re-read this book and savor every sentence of it, because to me it was so well done.

“He would do anything for Jack Hardigan. But before he forced his mind back to serious business at hand, Fred wondered if the skipper felt anything at all for him. He couldn’t answer the question and a sad, lonely feeling clung to him all afternoon.”

But again, this sentence does not transform into pages and pages of angst, which I really appreciated. Their feelings happen in the in-between stages of training and fighting, and it is really quite well done.

It is also interesting how the author lets us know that Jack and Fred really do have similar personalities in some ways. They are both mostly well liked (except some people, of course), but the author notes at one point or another that Jack sometimes feels lonely when he is with his pilots and at some point in time we see that Fred has a moment of loneliness as well.

The POV switches between Jack , Fred and another pilot, who is Jack’s friend, Duane. I actually thought the switching was not shaky, and did not feel like head hopping to me at all. I thought it was quite elegantly done, actually, but your mileage may vary. I did wonder, though, what Duane’s motivations were for watching Jack and Fred and just needing to know? I guess that did confuse me a little bit, especially upon rereads. Jealousy of Fred? I did not think it was very clear from the narrative. Just general dislike of gay men? I did not feel that either.

And of course when their love reaches culmination point, I wanted to cry and cry.

Lastly, I do think that the Scrapbook chapter of the ending was an unnecessary extra, though, not because of what happens at the end, but because the letters and memos exchange style really did not work for me. I wish the book stopped in 1944 at its emotionally high point. I remember the reviewer at Erastes’ site and those on Amazon expressing similar a sentiment actually, but I am not copying them, I just feel the same way.

Highly recommended.

65 thoughts on “Wingmen

  1. Pea

    Wellll, okay – I had a 10% off coupon for Abebooks.com (always a good source for OOP and hard-to-find books), and I found a copy for under $30, so I’m going to try it. (The seller describes the book as being in “standard used condition” What the heck is “standard used condition”? I guess I’ll find out.) This is certainly not a book I would have found on my own. Thanks for the review!

    1. Sirius

      Pea, I am keeping my fingers crossed that you will like the book. I also have no idea what standard used condition means, sorry. I am used to “New, like new, good, acceptable”. Thanks for the commenting.

      Am nervous, because if you will be dissapointed, it will be more than usual since you are paying higher price for the book. Please let me know what you thought when you have read the book.

      1. Pea

        With the discount, the price was about what I would have paid for a new hardcover book. A splurge, but not a terrible one. And unlike Kit Fisher’s Paper Flowers (which goes for hideous amounts on Amazon but which I discovered is actually still available from the publisher at the original cover price!), I figured I’d have a hard time finding a copy of this at a mass market paperback price. (I think the non-standard description “standard used condition” worries me more than anything else!) I don’t think there’s any book that you’ve rated 5+ that I haven’t liked. I will let you know, once I have a chance to read it.

        1. Sirius Post author

          Yep, definitely let me know. I actually decided to do a search to find out whether this author ever wrote anything else, and at least under this name nothing came up. Which is too bad really if you ask me.

    2. Sirius

      Oh Pea thank you for letting me know about Abebooks.com. I will definitely check it out, there are several out of print books I would love to get, but prices on those are completely crazy on Amazon.

      1. Pea

        Abebooks started out life as the “Advanced Book Exchange”. I think it’s primarily used as a site for book collectors (yes, you can find that first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone for $45,000.00 on the site), which means the booksellers do generally know their market prices on everything – but you can still often find OOPs there for less than at Amazon. alibris.com offers a similar service.

        1. Sirius Post author

          HA! I am a huge Harry Potter’s fan, but $45,000.00 is a little bit (just a tiny bit) over my budget ;)

          Thanks again for letting me know about this site, I am pretty sure I will be using it soon :)

        2. Feliz

          I second Sirius’s thanks about Abebooks. Just found an oop book I’ve been hunting after for a while which goes for an insane prize on Amazon and here was under 40 Euros. Thanks!

  2. rdafan7

    This sounds like a very good story, I’ll have to check it out when/if I can find it at a reasonable price. Too bad its OOP…
    Thanks for a thorough review!

    1. Sirius

      Hi rdafan, I completely agree. I hope this book will be back in print and as ebook too one day. It is an awesome story in my opinion.

  3. Leslie

    Okay, I just spent $41 for a used paperback. I must be insane! Seriously, reading this review and a couple of other reviews here and there, this sounds like the type of book I’ll love, so I plunked down the money. Like you, I’ve read a gazillion WWII stories so I’m looking forward to this one, too. Thanks for the review, Sirius.

    L

    1. Sirius

      Eeeek, $41? Please do not kill me if you end up not liking the book Leslie :). I really hope you will enjoy it. Now I do not feel as scared to confess that I paid $32 :)

  4. Stuart

    Sirius-

    I read this book back in High School in 1980 when I was just coming out. Along with “The Front Runner,” by Patricia Nell Warren and “The Catch Trap,” by Marion Zimmer Bradley, “Wingmen” was part of a small collection of novels that introduced me to men falling in love.

    The scrapbook ending was important to me. As I recall, the ending emphasized for me the importance of coming out and the cost of never learning to be comfortable with yourself. Wingmen, The Catch Trap, and the Front Runner all helped me explore the possibilities, dangers and opportunities of coming out. If “Wingmen” had ended on the emotional high, I don’t think it would have been as meaningful for me.

    My copy of Wingmen is gone, however, I tore all my gay books into small pieces and snuck the incriminating garbage bag into the trash as I packed to leave for college.

    Being a gay teen-ager in the late 70s was an…adventure. What is angsty when I was 17,now seems hilarious as I approach 50.

    I highly recommend Wingmen. Thanks for reminding me of it, Sirius

    -Stuart

    1. Sirius

      Hi Stuart, thanks so much for commenting. I think I should clarify that when I said that scrapbook ending did not work for me, I did not mean that the content did not work for me, it did. The way it was done did not work for me – scrapbook style. Have you read “Almost like being in love” by Steve Kluger? I am not comparing the subject, but IMO writer utilized diary, scrapbook, memo to the perfection in writing his story. In this book I guess I feel that the ending made the characters a bit more distant for me? Just a little bit, not much since I had a whole book to fell in love with them.

      And Front Runner is waiting for me on my book shelf when I will be in the mood to read it.

  5. Stuart

    Hi Sirius,

    I have read “Almost Like Being in Love”. Steve Kluger does a good job with that style.

    When you read “The Front Runner,” I wonder if you’ll be disappointed. I re-read the book last year and, for me, the novel did not age well. The world of the book that seemed so revolutionary and liberating to me when I read the book in 78 or 79 now struck me as depressing and somewhat absurd. But perhaps that’s the fate of most things from the 70s: like Leisure Suits and Bean-bag chairs. As a historical document it was interesting to me but I wonder how you’ll respond to the novel as a novel.

    Did you ever read “The Catch Trap”? That was EPIC.

    -Stu

    1. Sirius Post author

      Hi Stuart, I will definitely let you know what I thought about “The Front Runner” when I will be in the mood to finally read it. I have “The Catch Trap” waiting for me on my Kindle, but have not read it yet either.

  6. Pea

    My copy of Wingmen finally arrived (and in VG condition, too, which was a nice surprise)! Despite the setting, I would have to say that this was one of the most romantic books I’ve read in some time. I really enjoyed it – how the two protagonists hesitantly gravitated toward one another over the course of the book (without, as you said, getting bogged down in angst) was really well-done and was so well-integrated in their day-to-day wartime lives. I really enjoyed reading all of the details about the pilots, too. After a while, Duane’s POV really started to grate on me, though – that’s really the only bit I felt was ultimately too heavy-handed. I agree about the epilogue (I felt pretty much the same way about the movie “The Piano” – it should have ended after she had decided to live and had been hauled to safety in the boat). Having said that, the little business of Fred finding out after Jack’s death that wartime detail worked for me and made me want to cry (although, is it really likely that they wouldn’t have discussed it at some point?). Thanks – it was well-worth the read!

    1. Sirius Post author

      Yay, I feel much better now Pea, knowing that you liked the book for the most part. Jack and Fred are now moving to my top ten favourite couples in this genre.

      I was trying to find whether this writer wrote something else and could not find anything unfortunately.

      I am thinking about Duane’s POV now and wondering, what do you think author tried to achieve with looking at the guys with his eyes as well? Just to make them more nervous, or make them even more interesting characters?

    2. Sirius Post author

      Okay, I knew I was not crazy and remembered correctly that somebody said it hehe. Anyway, I reread Wingmen over the weekend and I loved the book just as much upon reread. However, I totally agree that after a while Duane’s POV started to grate upon me as well. I am not sure why it happened, because first time it was not so. I mean I did not really care for him the first time around, but this time after a while I wanted to slap him. Pea, what did you think motivated him? What motivated this annoying “need to know” I mean? Jealousy? Surely if it was jealousy it was the jealousy of the fact that his friend, comrade was not spending enough time with him as friend, not that he wanted to sleep with Jack himself? I am just a bit confused now I guess? This confusion is not enough to make me love the book any less, but I certainly want to get rid of this confusion :) Thanks Pea.

  7. Mark Probst

    Thank you for updating the review, Sirius. In answer to your question about any changes, there were only minor editing corrections made, mainly typos, and a few technical mistakes. There were no changes to the plot whatsoever.

    Mark

  8. Elliott Mackle

    My review of Wingmen on Speak Its Name helped get this bandwagon rolling so I feel I need to add a caution here. Actually, the novel contains two fairly explicit m/f incidents, not one as noted in your update. Their point is important, however: that Fred feels little or nothing with a woman, he’s following a conventional track. Passion enters his and Jack’s lives only when they are in each other’s arms.

    1. Wave

      Elliott
      Thanks for clarifying this for other readers. I had no idea about the explicit m/f content when Sirius reviewed this book the first time as I hadn’t read it (and still haven’t) and it was only last week that I was told there was one instance of het sex in the book. At that point, since Wingmen had already been reviewed on the site some months ago, there was no point in not updating the first review. However your comments will help other readers to decide whether they want to read this book which, from all accounts, is excellent.

      As you know, this site only reviews M/M books with no on-page heterosexual sex and the very few times when we post a review for a book that is an exception to this policy is usually for historical books.

      1. Elliott Mackle

        Wave,

        Glad to do it. Let me also add my take on Duane: He’s jealous on a number of fronts, granted. The last scene also makes clear that he’s conflicted about his own sexuality, his feelings for Jack and women. Though he’s not terribly likeable, in some ways he’s a more complicated character than either Jack or Fred.

        1. Sirius

          Hi again Elliott, see I think your take on Duane makes a lot of sense, and those are the conclusions I would have made as well, it’s just I needed more of his thoughts processes to be absolutely sure that he was jealous of Jack and Fred. I especially did not conclude after last scene that he was conflicted about his sexuality. The only thing I am sure of is that he just needed to know. I do not mind figuring intentions of the character with the help of subtle clues which author leaves for me as a reader and I will happily agree that your interpretation makes sense, but I needed more clues. I still think book was excellent, but I wonder what it would have lost if Duane just was not there. IMO of course.

          1. Elliott Mackle

            I may be reading too much into Duane’s professed love for Jack, his status as divorced but bringing up his kids, and that he’s been lurking for years without ever bothering to look Jack up. Duane is important to the narrative as foil, as a threat to the lovers (at the Moana and elsewhere) and as rival, Iago Lite, if you will, all useful points that keep the story humming along. IMHO.

            1. Sirius

              Oh yes, of course I agree that he is definitely important as a threat and a rival, sorry what I meant when I questioned his importance in the narrative was his importance as the character, not just the plot point. Am I making sense? The way I see it we can put any character in his place to fulfill the same plot points. I also thought that he loved Jack as best buddy and wanted his time with him, and of course wondered if there was more behind that, but when I was looking for more, I was wondering if it was there. But yes, I guess him being divorced and bringing up kids can be read as him being somewhat insecure in his sexuality. I also really do not want to sound as if my questions mean that I enjoyed the book less, I have not. I actually started to have those questions when I reread the book for the first time. Initially I just accepted Duane as needed plot point – rival, threat to the lovers, etc. IMO.

    2. Sirius

      Oh shoot, thanks Elliott, yes my wording makes it sound as if there is one. Yes, I read your review and wanted to read this book very very badly. :)

      1. Elliott Mackle

        Just for fun, Serius, take a look at my review of the inspiration for Wingmen, The Last Tallyho by Richard Newhafer, also posted on Speak Its Name. It’s seriously ineligible for Jessewave but a good read if you can stomach the homophobia.

  9. Cayce

    Thank you for the great review, Sirius. It’s my first time hearing about Wingmen. The story sounds really good. (I’m not a fan of m/f in my m/m, but that’s not a deal breaker for me)
    $30-40 is a little too much…that $7.99 for the ebook sounds much better :)

    1. Sirius

      Oh I am so hoping you will enjoy this book. By the way guys I can’t check it before I get home but do the links take you to out of print paper back edition? Amazon sells new ebook for 7.99 as well and new paperback is 17.99 I believe.

    1. Sirius

      Hi Gaycrow, could you please let me know if my review was not a dissappointment after you have read the book :)

      1. Gaycrow

        Where to start! Sirius, no, your review wasn’t a disappointment. I’m glad also, that there were some spoilers in the comments, so that I knew how the story was going to end.

        The scrapbook and the epilogue worked well for me, even though I was expecting to feel the same way you did. I agree with Csean97. I would’ve felt lost without knowing how things turned out for Fred and Jack. I liked the way the scrapbook showed both the timeline and different points of view regarding their relationship.

        About Duane – I felt he was jealous of Fred, not necessarily in a sexual way, but because Jack had been Duane’s friend first, and he felt pre-empted. I imagine during the war there were a lot of very close friendships between men that were platonic, but very strong nevertheless. And of course, Fred was PERFECT! Everything he did worked out well, which would’ve added salt to Duane’s wounds. I think Duane’s character added spice to the story. His story arc showed that even though Jack and Fred were more than careful, their feelings for each other did show to a close observer, which only made me love them more.

        And I did love Fred and Jack very much indeed. The subtle revelation of their feelings was a delight to read. I would’ve loved it if their romantic encounters were presented more explicitly, rather than the fade-to-black scenes, but I now understand why Ensan wrote them that way.

        (As a side-note, I don’t read het romance nowadays, and thought those scenes would be off-putting, but they didn’t worry me. I can see why they were included. They demonstrated very well what Fred had to go through to prove himself one of the boys.)

        To sum up: I’m very glad I read Elliott’s review and yours, Sirius. “Wingmen” is a wonderful story, which will stay with me for a very long time.

        1. Sirius

          Hi Gaycrow, thank you so much for coming back and sharing your thoughts about the book. And thank you so much, because your interpretation of Duane’s behavior makes so much sense and to me the most supported by the text. I do not know why I did not think about him being jealous of loosing a friend, you know? I guess because in my brain he did not really loose a friend to that friend’s lover, but to Duane, of course he can see it as loosing the amount of time he can spend with Jack if nothing else. So I just jumped into Duane being jealous without realizing that he may love Jack more than platonically and then thinking that I do not see enough support for it in the text and being irritated because I could not figure it out :) Thank you and I am so glad you enjoyed the book.

  10. Hellga

    Heh, remember reading your first review and passing the book, because I do not like paperback. Time to make up for my omission now :-)

  11. Ensan Case

    Hello, Sirius,
    Thanks for all the interesting analysis of Wingmen. If I can clear up any particular points your readers have, I will give it a try. As to the cover art, when Harper/Collins reversed the rights to me, they specifically excluded the cover art. So we had to have a new cover. I discussed it with Alex Beecroft and she produced this great piece of art. I never liked the original cover, since I don’t like to put a detailed face on my characters, preferring to leave it up to the imagination of the reader. Also, Jack and Fred are never actually in the water together. Jack is in a raft, and pulls Fred to safety into the raft with him. Alex’s cover acurately portrays the night interception off Tarawa beginning on page 235 of the repub, arguably one of the more important passages in the book, as it is that action that finaly convinces Jack to take the relationship to the next level.

    Again, thanks for the feedback. Your review was one of those I found when I first started looking last year.

    Ensan Case

    1. Wave

      Ensan

      Unlike Sirius I actually prefer Alex’s cover which I think accurately reflects the name of the book.

      I do have a question. I haven’t read Wingmen as yet (I’m saving it for when I go on vacation in just over a week), but one reader (Natasha) mentioned that she was disappointed because the sex between the MCs was subtle. Yet my understanding is that the hetero sex in the book was very explicit. Why the different treatment? Isn’t this supposed to be a romance between two men? I don’t mind subtle or fade to black but I just wondered if there was a specific reason.

      1. Sirius

        Great question, but while I am curious to hear the answer, I am now wondering if I am being completely dense as to what constitutes “explicit” sex. Of course I had known for some time now that we do not review the books with on page description of m/f sex (and not likely to ever forget it ever again :)), but does explicit always mean graphic and detailed? Because while I am quite nervous to say it now, because I wonder if there was an accident I missed, but the second accident to me while definitely on page description, is very very short. Obviously it is not an answer to your question, but I am wondering if the second one counts as explicit as in graphic, long and detailed. What I am trying to say is that I would probably equal second accident with whatever few sentences we have about Fred and Jack being together in bed, which is to me definitely very subtle and beatiful (Fred and Jack being together that is). The m/f sex in the beginning I would definitely count as explicit.

      2. Mark Probst

        While I’m sure Ensan can give you a definitive answer, you’ve got to remember that in 1979 there was a double-standard, and a major publisher like Avon, known for their het romances, thought they were being brave just telling a gay love story, and so explicit gay sex was taboo, even though they had no problem being explicit with the m/f sex.

        1. Wave

          Thanks Mark. I guess I was wondering why Ensan wrote such explicit het sex in a book that’s a gay romance. Both het sex scenes could have been fade to black just like the gay sex. But perhaps Avon insisted. :???:

    2. Sirius

      Hi Ensan, oh thank you so much for writing this book. I really loved it if you could not see it from my review. As to the cover, well I figured that something like that might be the case. It is just my personal preference as a reader. I usually really like covers done by Alex, I think she is a very talented cover artist and writer :), and I did not hate this one, but I definitely preferred the first part of old cover. I guess my ideal cover would be the first half being a complete picture. Again, thank you for writing.

  12. Natasha

    I read this in one sitting!

    It is brilliant. I normally skip pages but I read every word and will do so over and over again. It is so real and I love they way the author combined the external war and the internal one together. It has some heart pounding moments that made me not want to turn the page in fear. I became that invested.
    My only complaint is the sex… But I’m an in your face kinda girl. Subtle doesnt work for me. Hey! I’m a girl… I like details :grin:

    It is in my top 5 reads of all time.

    1. Sirius

      Yay Natasha, so glad you loved it. I really loved what you said here : “I love they way the author combined the external war and the internal one together.”. I think it is a great characterization of what was happening with Jack and Fred, they were both battling their internal war before they were ready to acknowledge their feelings for each other. I was okay with no explicit sex, or I guess I should say no explicit sex between them.

      It is definitely amongst my most beloved books in this genre, proobably ten or maybe even five.

  13. Raine

    Thanks Sirius- I really enjoyed these characters so much, even as you know, some things about the ending caused me real sadness. A very memorable book.

    1. Sirius

      I know and I am so sorry about that, it seems that I keep goofing up in regards to this book :(. But I am glad you enjoyed the characters, I promise to give you more spoilers next time, when I am enticing you with the book I loved :)

  14. Natasha

    PS.
    I read the ebook version from Amazon uk. The print book will be released this week. Which I have already pre-ordered :grin:

    1. Sirius

      Natasha believe me, even after spending a lot of money for old paperback, I am VERY tempted to get a new one. Some pages on the old one are so thin that I do not want to reread them again (did once before shortly after I did my first review) and I want to reread this one again in paperback.

  15. csean97

    Allow me to chime in on one point. I’ve read several reviews now where it is said that Wingmen would be a finer novel if it had simply ended in 1944. I strongly disagree. By the time the novel ends, the reader has made a huge emotional investment in the lives of the MCs. To end the novel in ’44 would leave this reader, at least, feeling grossly shortchanged. The scrapbook (and epilogue) does more than just wrap up loose ends, it gives insight into the lives the MCs made together. And that’s hugely important. IMO, the scrapbook is rather more subtle than it appears at first read: gone is the omniscient narrator who observes and tells us what the MCs are doing and feeling; in his place, we get to read what the MCs are saying to each other, IN THEIR OWN VOICES. It works for me.

    1. Sirius

      Hi csean, I guess I thought that epilogue took too much chunk of their after war life and tried to squeeze it in too few fragments. As much as I was upset by the ending, I wonder if it would have worked better for me if it jumped right towards the end? I dont know. Dont get me wrong, I wanted to see their after war life, but this was just a teaser for me and left me a little unsatisfied, and I was so very satisfied emotionally before epilogue. Again, dont get me wrong, I totally GET the ending and thought it was moving and realistic, I just thought epilogue itself was a bit choppy. I have nothing against the style, as I mentioned previously and I am sure you know Steve Kluger wrote the whole book in this style and it worked perfectly for me.

      I dont know, maybe it is simply because I loved these guys so much and did not want to say good buy to them so soon?

      1. csean97

        “… I loved these guys so much and did not want to say good buy to them so soon.” Exactly! Which is why I would have felt cheated had the novel ended in ’44. So we have the scrapbook. A kind of lingering goodbye. Which helps to make the epilogue bearable. All good things eventually end, but between ’44 and ’69 Jack and Fred were able to make a happy and successful life together. As an early reviewer wrote, “Three cheers to two who dared!”

        1. Sirius Post author

          Hi csean, I totally understand where you are coming from and I also would not consider ending exactly tragic, as you said they at least were able to built a life together. There was a moving true to life sadness, how hard secrecy was on Jack, but it worked for me as well. As I said all that I am debating with myself is whether scrap book style worked for me.

  16. Ensan Case

    Mark is right. It was 1979. I figured a major publisher would balk at more explicit m/m sex. I also thought the m/f sex would keep the mainstream reader interested and let me tell Jack and Fred’s story. If initial sales of the book are any indication, I guess I wasn’t particularly successful at the time.

    As to the scrapbook, it allowed me to tie up a few loose ends–Admiral Berkey, Jack’s book, Bagley’s article about VF-20–and contrast the satisfaction of a successful relationship with the lingering pains of Fred’s injuries. It allowed me to drop a few glimpses of their postwar lifestyle–the Los Gatos estate, the California Suite at Jessie Beck’s in Reno, new cars, Jack’s foray into local politics. I see the points made by some readers, but I still stand by the scrapbook. It worked well for me.

    1. Wave

      Ensan
      Thanks for the explanation about why you included explicit het sex in the book. I do understand the mindset of publishers in the late seventies who balked about including explicit gay sex. BTW fade to black doesn’t bother me because I’m just as interested in the plot and how the romance evolved, sans sex. :)

  17. jslasher

    This is a great novel. I read it upon its release. I have read it many times since. It never fails to impress. Everything about the story gels. I do not like the new cover, however.

    1. Sirius Post author

      Hi jslasher, since I posted my first review I have reread this book twice more and I do agree that it never fails to impress. Thanks for commenting :)

  18. Majken

    *Adds to the to-be-read pile* I just need to finish one of my current readings but I’m very curious about this one :)
    Thanks for a great review

    1. Sirius Post author

      Hey Majken, as I mentioned to you before, I can certainly relate to ever expanding TBR pile :). Thanks for commenting.

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