Shadowboxing

Echoes Rising - Book 1

by Anne Barwell

Shadowboxing - Anne Barwell
Part of the Echoes Rising series:
Editions:Kindle - Third Edition: $ 4.99
ISBN: 978-0-473-54818-6
Pages: 306
Paperback - Third Edition: $ 12.99
ISBN: 978-0-473-54816-2
Pages: 338

Complete their mission or lose everything.

Berlin, 1943

An encounter with an old friend leaves German physicist Dr Kristopher Lehrer with doubts about his work. But when he confronts his superior, everything goes horribly wrong. Suddenly Kristopher and Michel, a member of the Resistance, are on the run, hunted for treason and a murder they did not commit. If they’re caught, Kristopher’s knowledge could be used to build a terrible weapon that could win the war.

For the team sent by the Allies—led by Captain Bryant, Sergeant Lowe, and Dr Zhou—a simple mission escalates into a deadly game against the Gestapo, with Dr Lehrer as the ultimate prize. But in enemy territory, surviving and completing their mission will test their strengths and loyalties and prove more complex than they ever imagined.

Author’s note: This is the third edition of Shadowboxing. The first and second editions were released by another publishing house

This book is on:
  • 2 To Be Read lists
  • 1 Read list
Published:
Publisher: LaceDragon Publishing
Editors:
Cover Artists:
Genres:
Tags:
Pairings: M-M
Heat Level: 2
Romantic Content: 2
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 26-35
Protagonist 2 Age: 26-35
Tropes: Enemies to Lovers, Friends to Lovers, Hurt / Comfort
Word Count: 89906
Setting: Berlin, Germany
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Continuous / Same Characters
Excerpt:

This was his chance to put things right, to make sure the project did not go further. He hurriedly shoved the file back into the case and then froze. What exactly was he going to do? Only one complete copy existed as far as he knew, but he wasn’t certain if the Nazis were aware he was capable of replicating the information. He would have to destroy the file, then disappear.

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That wasn’t going to be easy. The Nazis had spies everywhere, and he did not know anyone who would help him. He wouldn’t ask Clara, nor would he consider death as an option. He couldn’t do that to her, not after she’d spent so much of her energy taking care of him. Someone had to get the information about this device out to the rest of the world. He had helped to create it. He would make sure the project was only ever used for the benefit of all mankind, but where the hell was he supposed to find the people he needed to ensure that happened? How could he trust anyone now, let alone convince them to trust him?

Click.

Kristopher turned. The office door was opening. In one fluid movement he gripped the briefcase firmly beneath one arm and bent to retrieve a piece of broken glass, holding the jagged edge in front of him in a feeble attempt to defend himself.

The newcomer took in the situation at a glance, one eyebrow raised in an unspoken question. His eyes flickered onto what had once been Kluge, then back to Kristopher, and finally came to rest on his precious cargo, the briefcase containing the culmination of a dream now better described as a never-ending nightmare.

Kristopher debated for all of a second the chances of his success if he tackled the man head-on, then decided against it. Apart from the extra height, Schmitz’s uniform probably disguised a well-developed physique. He also had the advantage of military training and the gun he held. Kristopher’s opponent possessed some degree of intelligence. That much was obvious by the inquiring look on his face and the way his eyes seemed to penetrate Kristopher’s, searching for an answer. For an instant, Kristopher was sure he glimpsed a depth to those eyes, and the man behind them. He edged back a step, taking comfort in the solidity of the desk digging into the small of his back, the sensation grounding him while he attempted to place the pieces of the puzzle together.

How much had Schmitz seen? His expression did not reveal anything.

If Kristopher surrendered now, everything would be over, and the Nazis would win. He wouldn’t give up, no matter what the odds. He gripped the glass fragment tightly, ignoring the sharp pain as the rough edges scratched against his palm, the red liquid seeping into his shirt cuff already stained with the blood he’d earlier unsuccessfully attempted to stanch. He took a step closer, trying to look menacing, fully aware that on a scale of one to ten he wasn’t achieving even a one.

They stood staring at each other, or rather Kristopher stood staring. Schmitz leaned back casually against the door without shifting his gaze. After a few moments with Kristopher’s ragged breathing the only audible sound in the room, the Obergefreiter pulled himself to attention and took a step forward. He lowered his gun and placed it in its holster before holding out his hand for Kristopher’s makeshift weapon.

“Herr Dr Lehrer,” he said softly, the tone of his voice low, an expression of disbelief fleeting over his features. “You’re one of the most brilliant minds in this institution, and yet this is the extent of your plan?”

 

COLLAPSE
Reviews:Mark on Sinfully MM Book Reviews wrote:

WWII is understandably not everyone’s favourite period of history for all the obvious reasons, let alone when someone tries to write a romance in this period as there was nothing romantic about it for sure. However, in a time when emotions and the stakes were high Anne Barwell manages to write a convincing M/M romance full of nail-biting action at a time when you could only really ever live for the present as trying to build and plan a future was next to impossible. That for me was one of the main messages that runs through this book, live for and enjoy every moment of the present as tomorrow is too uncertain to worry or even think about.

Kristopher (Kit) is a scientist and working on a project that as far as he is concerned will help solve many problems on a humanitarian basis. He is key to the project as only he has the ability and all the information with the secret equations and formulas that can complete the project. However, when he finds out the hidden agenda of the project that the NAZIS plan for the use of his work then it puts him into a personal conflict of conscience. His own personal anguish here was heart-breaking. Unknown to him he has been under observation from the resistance for sometime and when he can no longer keep his conscience from doing the right thing decides to tell his boss what he knows. This brings him in direct conflict with the system and due to an unfortunate accident raises the attention of the NAZIS. They only have one agenda at that is to finish the project for other advantages and now need to convince Kristopher to bring the project to a close. The NAZIS have a funny idea of convincing and is subsequently hunted and persecuted. Kristphoer only has one option left but to run for it, this is where the resistance then exposes themselves to him and help him flee.

This leads to the traditional cat and mouse style chase between Kristopher with the resistance and the Gestapo. This may sound somewhat clichéd but I assure you that due to Anne’s excellent writing and story telling she takes us through the hell that was the WWII. OMG, it must have been horrific to have lived under a regime that anyone who disagreed with their agenda and politics would have been persecuted and disappear overnight. What I liked very much was that Anne didn’t go entirely good guy / bad guy, she also showed a balanced view that despite the cruel regime that Germany was under at that time there were also others, also Germans, who were risking their own lives on a daily basis to fight against an evil that swept the country. This for me was important as all too often it would have been too easy to have gone down the “Hollywood style” road where there is no in-between, only good and bad end of story. Anne brings us a story about people putting their lives at risk everyday and some unfortunately even losing their lives for believing in a better future.

Kristopher knows he is different and has tried to ignore his feelings for a long time until he feels attracted to the resistance fighter, Michel, that is helping him to flee Germany. They have to get him to Switzerland or in the hands of the allies for his own safety. Michel is also drawn to Kristopher and a love builds up that is as forbidden as it can be. I mean shit, two guys, one French and one German, already on opposite sides of the fence anyway, but then to have these feelings at a time when homosexuality would never have been understood either for me makes the anguish of the hopelessness of their situation and love absolutely heart-breaking. They love each other and all they can do is live for the few fleeting moments they have together alone when they are not on the run. These few moments I personally found gut-wrenching. It really is a lesson in living for the moment as tomorrow you might not even be alive and only dreaming about what is effectively an impossible future. It is a slow burn romance, but then when writing an historical novel then I believe you also have to stay within the realms of credibility too and Anne does this very well. You could feel the intense love these guys had for each other, but never really being able consummate it due to time and circumstances.

Not only do we get the main romance between Kristopher and Michel, but also a second one develops between two of the other resistance fighters Matthew and Ken. These guys too have their story to tell and eventually the emotional guard breaks down and they finally admit to each other how they feel for each other. I had wondered first about the necessity of having a second M/M romance running through the story, is it too much? But Anne manages this very well and writes a believable scenario, that doesn’t interfere or take away the spotlight from Kristopher and Michel, but actually adds to the story.

I just loved the whole concept of this book from beginning to end. Realistic scenarios, resistance fighters and nail-biting situations where you feared for their lives. The book ends with a kind of closure, so could be read and left there, but this is the first part of a trilogy and I for one need to know whether Michel and Kristopher reach safety and if they’re chances of a future together can be realised.


About the Author

Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand.  She shares her home with Kaylee: a cat with “tortitude” who is convinced that the house is run to suit her. To date it appears Kaylee may be winning the discussion.

In 2008, Anne completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra.

She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth. She also hosts and reviews for other authors, and writes monthly blog posts for Love Bytes.  She is the co-founder of the New Zealand Rainbow Romance writers, and a member of RWNZ.

Anne’s books have received honourable mentions five times, reached the finals four times—one of which was for best gay book—and been a runner up in the Rainbow Awards.  She has also been nominated three times in the Goodreads M/M Romance Reader’s Choice Awards—twice for Best Fantasy, once for Best Historical, and once for All-Time Favourite M/M Author.

 


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