This book was just so good I couldn’t wait until the release day on 15th December so I’m going to share my review with you now. This is one book that should be read for any number of reasons.
We will also be gifting one lucky reader a Kindle eBook of The Bells of Times Square on its release day!
The Bells of Times Square by Amy Lane
Title: The Bells of Times Square
Author: Amy Lane
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release: 15th December 2014
Genre: M/M (historical)
Every New Year’s Eve since 1946, Nate Meyer has ventured alone to Times Square to listen for the ghostly church bells he and his long-lost wartime lover vowed to hear together. This year, however, his grandson Blaine is pushing Nate through the Manhattan streets, revealing his secrets to his silent, stroke-stricken grandfather.
When Blaine introduces his boyfriend to his beloved grandfather, he has no idea that Nate holds a similar secret. As they endure the chilly death of the old year, Nate is drawn back in memory to a much earlier time . . . and to Walter.
Long before, in a peace carefully crafted in the heart of wartime tumult, Nate and Walter forged a loving home in the midst of violence and chaos. But nothing in war is permanent, and now all Nate has is memories of a man his family never knew existed. And a hope that he’ll finally hear the church bells that will unite everybody—including the lovers who hid the best and most sacred parts of their hearts.
I should have known! I really should have known! Pick up a title with Amy Lane written underneath and for me personally I know that at some stage I’m going to be reaching for the tissues, red wine, chocolate, comfort blanket, basically anything that I can cry into. I had only read the first chapter of this book and knew I was going to be in deep trouble sooner or later.
This book takes on a journey, a journey of memories, some beautiful and some not so beautiful, but all the same knowing however extreme the circumstances are, wanting to be loved and being loved by someone is the most basic human need there is.
Present day - Nathaniel is a WWII veteran, now an invalid after suffering a severe stroke and wheelchair bound. We learn that he has an unusual custom of taking a walk by himself every New Year’s Eve to Times Square and he has done this all his married life, family and all. Always New Year’s Eve and on his own. Now his grandson Blaine takes him to Times Square and this year Blaine’s boyfriend, Tony, is with him. Blaine has not told his parents and he talks to his Grandfather as he feels safe and comfortable doing so as his grandfather can’t respond. But his grandfather understands him more than he would ever know or could ever tell.
“And because Nate couldn’t talk, couldn’t condemn, Blaine also talked about Tony. Nate lived for Blaine’s monologues about Tony”
Although we know that Nate can’t respond we read his thoughts, his anguish at not being able to talk to his grandson and tell him what he would like to. To tell him about the fact it is OK, at least with him. So in chapter one we already have a scene that is tugging at my heart strings, just thinking about this loving young man taking his grandfather out to Times Square wrapped up in a blanket in his wheelchair as until now he has always gone by himself. Blaine knows how important this is to his granddad so has the chance to talk freely about and show him his boyfriend Tony for the first time. There is just so much good family love happening in that scenario alone it got me all weepy, let alone what was to come. So why the New Year’s Eve visits to Times Square and why always alone?
We are taken back to WWII where Nate was serving as an OSS officer taking photographs for military intelligence. On a mission his plane crashes, but he survives and is rescued by an American GI who had escaped from being a POW and is hiding out in an abandoned house in the middle of the woods. Walter has been in hiding ever since his escape and now nurses Nate back to health. Then you start to get an inkling that there just maybe something more behind all this caring. Walter puts up this front that he is just so happy to have company after all this time, but deep down we know, we feel there is more to this and so does Nate. Being Jewish Nate has been brought up with very strict beliefs that men loving men is a mortal sin. So rather than put himself into such a conflict he decided he would never have a lover. My how all that changed once he meets Walter. At the beginning you could just feel the sexual tension in the air with neither one of these guys giving an inch on admitting the attraction permeating the very air, but bit by bit that ever present wall comes tumbling down and denying such a strong attraction is totally futile. When they do eventually fall into each others arms, it just feels so right despite the period and historical background. This is what I so loved about this pair and I felt Amy gets it just right; the combination between sexual attraction, emotions and the internal conflict of attitudes all struggling with each other in a less enlightened time.
This was such a beautiful thing between these two guys and could now understand where Walter was coming from. I fell in love with Walter myself. This house, in the middle of the woods, was almost like a sanctuary to him where he could make believe that he and Nate could live together and be happy in a time when no one would really understand their relationship. This was so heart wrenching in itself. The house also has a story to tell which we learn about or at least why it was probably deserted by its family fleeing quickly with the threat of invasion from Nazi Germany. Here they were in this deserted, desolated house and as threatening as the situation was you almost got the feeling these two could really be happy there if left undisturbed.
I loved the balance in character. Nate the least experienced sexually but the stronger when dealing with emotions and real life. Walter, dear Walter, I so lost my heart to him and could totally understand what Nate saw in him. Although a lot more sexually experienced and for all his self-sufficiency, at heart he was just like a lost child, trying to live a dream in a broken world, a world gone mad and ravaged by war. Nevertheless, Walter still sees it for what it really is, nothing but a beautiful dream. Something like this would never work and he has a hard job in believing Nate when he tries to make him see that he really does love him with all his heart and soul. Nate’s attempts and pleas to persuade, make Walter try and see that they could make a future together even after the war is over takes a lot of convincing from Nate, but he does manage it in the end. Walter didn’t have a happy childhood or upbringing and knows the reality is very different to his dream. I got such goose bumps with these two, I felt they had loved as much in that house in the space of a few weeks than some people do in a lifetime. But alas as is the nature of war they couldn’t stay there undiscovered forever and their ways inevitably have to part. Geez, this was so upsetting. I mean seriously upsetting. Yes, at this stage I hit the chocolate, red wine and tissues!
“Together,” Nate said softly. “Don’t you want to be together?” Walter closed his eyes. “It’s a pretty idea,” he said. “Nothing I can believe in, but it’s pretty.”
Nate escapes and goes back to working in military intelligence until the end of the war. During his time there and through his keen eye to analyse photos discovers the atrocities Nazi Germany is up to especially regarding The Holocaust. Here I had my own personal paradox as this hurt, really hurt to read about those things we all know about and no one would ever deny. About a country in the grip of an evil regime that had no scruples. About a country blinded by a madman. I have dual nationality, born British but also now German and it hurt to read about this on a whole different level. Why? Well, the Germany of 70 almost 80 years ago is now a far cry from the wonderful country that I now live in and have come to love as much as my country of birth. A country that is now a shining example of equality, freedom and human rights within the world today. Can the past hurt? Yes, it can! Can we learn from the past? Yes, thank goodness we can and if there is one country that exemplifies this and will do everything to make sure such atrocities never happen again then it is the one I am now living in. This period never let anyone really grieve, you had to get up and keep on going, no matter what your personal situation was. However, when the war was over Nate breaks down in one heart wrenching scene and so did I with him! So this story for me was also a dedication to all the men and women who fought so bravely on all sides to make the world a better place and rid it of a disease that engulfed the whole globe.
We are back in present day Times Square and now know why Nate has gone there every New Year’s Eve on his own. We know what this means to him and why it is so important to go to Times Square and listen for the bells. So by the time we get to the end of the book, I’m hearing the bells with Nate and sobbing buckets into my Kindle once again surround by a pile of tissues. Thank you very much Ms Lane - you do it to me all the time! ;-) A story that ends on what I can only say is a very bittersweet note. A story that is sad but also gives hope at the same time. A story that made me feel! A story that shows us the rights and freedoms we have today should never be taken for granted or lightly. The rights and freedoms that have been fought for so hard and still need to be fought for every single day. Was I sad at the end of this story? No, not really. It left me reflecting for days though on the things I have mentioned before. Thankful to all those that sacrificed so much during WWII and thankful for what we have today.This truly is a beautiful story, impeccably written, well researched historically and carries a message that is as relevant today as it ever has been.
Meet the Author
I am creative, distracted, and terribly weird. I love my children to distraction, and I love my hobbies even when they piss me off. I come from a double line of extremely creative, intelligent people who hated authority so much they dodged higher education, and I married a wonderful man who is quiet, conservative, devastatingly funny, and perfect. Our children are constant reminders that God and Goddess have a profound sense of humor, and that all of the things you dislike most about yourself but pretend don't exist really do come back on the karmic wheel to kick your ass when you least expect it. My family keeps me young and humble and I try every day to make them proud. I've written seven books, VULNERABLE, WOUNDED, BOUND, & RAMPANT which are all part of the Little Goddess series, BITTERMOON I and II, and Keeping Promise Rock, found at Dreamspinner Press. I write to placate the voices in my head, profanity is the element I swim in, and knitting socks at stoplights has become my twitch.
Pre-Order Purchase Links
Sinfully Sexy will be gifting one lucky winner a Kindle eBook copy of The Bells of Times Square on its release day on 15th December. Just enter the draw below.
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