This review is of two books which follow the story of David Harrison. The first, Between Love and Honor, is a short story and is part of the Dreamspinner Press Bittersweet Dreams series.
The second story, The Courage to Love, picks up David’s tale as he meets Bernard and needs to overcome his fear if they are to find happiness together.
Between Love and Honor
by E.E. Montgomery
It’s 1914 and David looks up from his Post Office counter to see the man of his dreams. Carl is everything he’s ever wanted, but Australia has laws against ‘deviants’ and the two men must be circumspect. When World War I breaks out, Carl tries to enlist but is rejected. People see his delicate features and stature and assume he’s ‘less than a man’. He’s scorned for not doing his duty while David is applauded for serving his country at home. Public condemnation turns violent, and Carl and David are torn between love and honor.
So what did I think?
This story had a true sense of time and place, capturing the era and the attitudes beautifully . The time is 1914 and David & Carl are dealing with their growing love for one another in a time when their love was definitely not understood, and also dealing with the impact of the war.
I knew this story was bittersweet going into it and almost read it reluctantly, knowing I was setting myself up for heartache. It is only a short story but managed to really draw me in, leaving me with a feeling of sadness and most definitely wanting to keep following David’s story.
Somehow I think it makes it easier to read these Bittersweet series stories when you know there is another book on the horizon. In this case it is The Courage To Love which follows David’s story as he returns from the war.
by E.E. Montgomery
Warning: This blurb is slightly spoilerish if you haven’t read the first book yet so skip to the review section if you don’t want to find out what happened!
In 1915, after his beloved Carl died from a vicious beating, David Harrison enlisted in the Army and went to war. He returns home to find a world seemingly unchanged, while he will never be the same. At Mrs. Gill’s boarding house, he meets Bernard Donnelly, a young man suffering the aftereffects of his own war experiences. David finds himself increasingly attracted to Bernard, but that terrifies him. He blames himself for Carl’s horrific death and fears he isn’t strong enough to lose another love to violence.
Bernard needs David to help him face each day and find a way they can be together without stigma—and without putting them in legal and physical danger—but David clings to his idea that the only way to keep a lover safe is not to have one. His fears threaten to destroy everything, unless he learns that sometimes the risk is worth it and finds the courage to love.
So what did I think?
David’s story started in Between Love and Honor, where David met and fell in love with Carl but they were not destined to have a future together. David is devastated at the loss of his lover and holds himself responsible. The Courage To Love picks up his story once he returns from the horrors of the war.
As with the first story, this book had a wonderful sense of time and place and appeared to reflect what it was like to live in Brisbane in the period after the war– the attitudes, the way of life, the hardship, the illness…
This is a story of fear of loving. And David’s fear is understandable due to what he’d been through– the death of his lover, his guilt, the war experience, his own mother’s attitude. The result is that his love for Bernard meant he kept him at arm’s length, afraid to get too close.
It was a moving story with wonderful characters– I loved Mrs Gill– but I do admit to wanting just a touch more of a physical relationship between David and Bernard. I know that their level and amount of intimacy was appropriate for the story but I couldn’t help but hope.
And after the tears of book 1, thank goodness David got his happy ending!
To find out more about E.E. Montgomery and her books visit her website.