REVIEW: Under the Radar – Lillian Francis

Under the Radar - Lillian Francis

Genre: Historical, Military, Romance

LGBTQ+ Category: MM Gay

Reviewer: Maryann

Get It On Amazon

About The Book

It’s 1942 and after a sexual indiscretion, US Navy pilot Zachary MacKenzie is sent to serve in the Royal Navy’s submarine service—a shockingly harsh punishment for a man who loves to fly. The submarine is oppressive and frustrating for him, and he’s marked out from his peers, publicly by being American, and privately by his attraction to men.

The only bright spot is the company of his steward, sonar operator Gethin Llewelyn. Despite the differences of rank and background, they’re drawn to each other. Gethin’s integrity complements Zach’s casual joie de vivre, and soon the friendship develops into something much more.

As the threats of war increase, the submarine is plagued by potentially hostile vessels, and circumstances lead them to suspect there’s a spy amongst their own crew. Being forced even closer together as they work for the greater good reveals a new awareness, and Zach doesn’t know what is in more danger, the vessel under his charge or his heart.

The Review

“Under the Radar” is a story about life aboard the Royal Navy submarine Taranis, and two men who are distinctly different from one another.

Zachary MacKenzie is thirty-three, a US Lieutenant Commander who loves being a flyboy for the Navy.  Unfortunately, his proclivity has gotten him in hot water. A certain Major want’s Zachary to be punished for his lack of judgement. The worst punishment ever -losing his love of being a flyboy and having to take a step down to (British) Royal Navy lieutenant on the Taranis a submarine.

Zachary comes from a well-off family and has had a good life, but nothing can buy his way out of this punishment.  Or is it a reallu a punishment?

He meets the crew on board – Lieutenants Moore, Grace, Ginger and Carter. Captain Franks, leading seaman Johnny Vincent, radio operator Dipesh Chopra, and ASDIC operator, and Acting Leading Seaman Gethin Llewelyn.  

Captain Franks calls several of the ratings to meet with him privately.  He feels his officers deserve to have a steward. Gethin Llewelyn is willing to volunteer and earn extra money to send home to his mother.

Gethin’s life has been vastly different from Zachary’s. His father was abusive, and Gethin had to help in the fields, herding the sheep and doing with household chores, which his father harassed him about.  He left school at fifteen, but he loves to read every chance he gets.

He also isn’t sure how to deal with his sexuality. He becomes steward to Zachary, and Captain Franks stresses to Gethin to keep a close watch on the new lieutenant (and only Yank) Zachary.

Zachary has no problem with Gethin at all. In fact, he’s very interested in him, and believes he saw him before.  As they get to know one another, Zachary finds that Gethin has many skills, and the potential to become more than his current rating onboard the submarine.  Their relationship as steward and lieutenant grows deeper as time goes on.

When Gethin starts to notice strange readings on the ASDIC, he and Zach start to investigate privately before telling anyone what they’ve discovered. When their investigation becomes serious, they take their findings to Captain Franks.

Zachary and Gethin are sent off to the British Embassy/Consulate.  As their mission becomes more involved, they are held over and have the most perfect accommodations. Something special develops between them.

As Zachary and Gethin become closer, they still have a dangerous mission to complete.  As things become more chaotic, will it end in success? Or will it destroy what Zachary and Gethin have found together?

Lillian Francis weaves a historical tale of war, secret codes, Polari, sexuality, romance and heartbreaking moments. This is a solid story that flows easily and held my interest from page one, a wartime tale of suspense, espionage, and spies. It’s obvious that she did her research with the workings of the submarine, and what life is like for its crew.

It’s a slow burn between Gethin and Zachary, as they learn about each other and begin understanding themselves.  There are so many secondary, interesting characters, and the parts that they played were never boring.  

“Under the Radar” was a first time read and a page-turner for me by Lillian Francis . She did not disappoint!   

The Reviewer

Hi, I’m Maryann, I started life in New York, moved to New Hampshire and in 1965 uprooted again to Sacramento, California.  Once I retired I moved to West Palm Beach, Florida in 2011 and just moved back to Sacramento in March of 2018.  My son, his wife and step-daughter flew out to Florida and we road tripped back so they got to see sights they have never seen.  New Orleans and the Grand Canyon were the highlights. Now I am back on the west coast again to stay! From a young age Ialways liked to read.

I remember going to the library and reading the “Doctor Dolittle” books by Hugh Lofting. Much later on became a big fan of the classics, Edgar Alan Poe, Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker and as time went by Agatha Christie, Ray Bradbury and Stephen Kingand many other authors.

My first M/M shifter book I read was written by Jan Irving the “Uncommon Cowboys” series from 2012.  She was the first author I ever contacted and sent an email to letting her know how much I liked this series.  Sometime along the way I read “Zero to the Bone”by Jane Seville, I think just about everyone has read this book! 

As it stands right now I’m really into mysteries, grit, gore and “triggers” don’t bother me. But if a blurb piques my interest I will read the book.

My kindle collection eclectic and over three thousand books and my Audible collection is slowly growing.  I have both the kindle and audible apps on my ipod, ipads, and MAC. So there is never an excuse not to be listening or reading.

I joined Goodreads around 2012 and started posting reviews.  One day a wonderful lady, Lisa Horan of The Novel Approach, sent me an email to see if I wanted to join her review group.  Joining her site was such an eye opener.  I got introduce to so many new authors that write for the LGBTQ genre. Needless to say, it was heart breaking when it ended.

But I found a really great site, QRI and it’s right here in Sacramento. Last year at QSAC I actually got to meet Scott Coatsworth, Amy Lane and Jeff Adams.

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