A well-written heart-rending historic m/m novel about two men struggling to find love and survive in the 1940s – 1950s. Be advised that this novel is based in a highly turbulent times and scenes of near-rape, Russian interment prison/concentration camps are described.
Juvven is a Finnish Saami conscripted into the Russian military service. Andre is a French tailor. They meet as Olympic sharpshooters for Russia and France respectively and draw close due to their mutual lust and ultimately find themselves falling for each other. They meet clandestinely throughout their time at the Olympics and due to circumstances like Russia holding Juvven’s papers, go their separate ways afterwards.
Andre realizing that he is deeply in love with Juvven decided to enter Russia to find Juvven to see if his feelings are reciprocated. Tragically he is arrested not soon after entering Russia for being a homosexual and imprisoned with a 5 year sentence. Luckily he is placed in Juvven’s Gulag. Unfortunately the head criminal boss in his team wants him to serve as his mattress with a hole in it. Fortunately Serjei saves him by paying this crime boss a premium in tobacco.
Juvven schemes with Andre to escape the imprisonment and Russia during one of the Gulag’s move to another worksite. In the midst of their preparation, Andre is nearly raped but was saved by sirens blaring due to a theft incident in the Gulag. After another harrowing incident, their escape was successful and they join up with Juvven’s family.
Serjei’s kindness is not forgotten and Andre’s mother sends a package and letter to Serjei hinting at the safety of her escapee son. Hope blooms in the midst of horrific times whilst in a Gulag. My heart is bittersweetly bleeding in my chest after reading this novel of finding love in a painful, torturous, inhumane times.
A free copy was provided to me in exchange for an honest review.