Promises Made Under Fire by Charlie Cochrane


Promises Made Under Fire by Charlie Cochrane
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Historical
Length: Short Story (63 pgs)
Other: M/M
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Cactus

France, 1915

Lieutenant Tom Donald envies everything about fellow officer Frank Foden–his confidence, his easy manner with the men in the trenches, the affectionate letters from his wife. Frank shares these letters happily, drawing Tom into a vicarious friendship with a woman he’s never met. Although the bonds of friendship forged under fire are strong, Tom can’t be so open with Frank–he’s attracted to men and could never confess that to anyone.

When Frank is killed in no-man’s-land, he leaves behind a mysterious request for Tom: to deliver a sealed letter to a man named Palmer. Tom undertakes the commission while on leave–and discovers that almost everything he thought he knew about Frank is a lie…

Sometimes a letter is enough to get you through a war. Set during WWI, fellow officers Tom Donald and Frank Foden strike up a friendship. Tom loves to hear about the various letters Frank gets, from his mother and aunt as well as from his loyal wife, Veronica. When Frank is tragically killed during a skirmish, his last wishes are for Frank to deliver two letters, one to his mother and another to a friend named Ronnie. Tom soon figures out there is no Veronica, only Frank’s lover Ronnie. Ronnie and Tom begin to write to each other as Frank and Ronnie did, something Tom clings to during the harsh times of war.

Promises Made Under Fire is a sweet historical romance with no explicit sex. The main character, Tom, is engaging and much older than his mere twenty-three years would seem. Struggling to carve a life and relationship for himself amid serving in a seemingly never-ending war, Tom is at first shocked to discover Frank’s double life. As he learns more about Frank and Ronnie, Tom maybe wants some of that love and companionship as well. The novella is a lovely, lyrically written tale about a young man in search of romance. However, it’s not as simple as that either. The characters of Tom and Frank are fully three dimensional and interesting from the start.

The story uses several clever antics including the letters between Tom and Ronnie. This really shows how the two men develop their own relationship without the specter of dead Frank. There’s no explicit sex but enough euphemisms to get the idea. Although the relationship between Tom and Ronnie feels a bit forced, it has a charm and romance that’s appealing. More than that, the writing is so engaging from the very start. There’s a lovely sense of old world elegance in the prose, even amid war, death, and dying.

Although this is a shorter novella, it’s easy to recommend. It’s a perfect blend of historical, sweet romance, and charming writing.

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