Semper Fi is another unique story by author Keira Andrews. One thing I really enjoy from Keira Andrews is her ability to create backgrounds that have not been done before. This story is set in the 1940's and is split into two time periods. Each chapter is split screen. We see the two main characters in 1942-1943 when they're first meeting as Marines in boot camp and then as they go through World War II together. We also see them in 1948 after the war is over and they've returned to their regular lives.
Cal and Jim meet when they are headed to boot camp. They are close friends throughout the entire war. Cal is gay and over time falls in love with Jim. Jim is straight and married and does not know about Cal's homosexuality. When the war finishes they each go home. Cal goes back into business with his father in New York and Jim heads back to his wife and children and their apple orchard. After Jim's wife dies Cal comes out to help him run things. As time goes on Jim starts to realize his feelings for Cal are something more than friendship.
The world building was detailed as we saw the MC's in both the past and the present. It painted a very good description of what life was like during that time period. It showed how difficult and stark things could be for homosexual men during a time period where they could still be jailed for being gay. Cal is cautious but has long ago accepted who he is. Jim on the other hand has always repressed it and is terrified of his feelings. He believes it is a sin that he will go to hell for and he is scared of the legal ramifications if he should get caught. He is a single father with two children that he could lose if anyone should find out. The author did such a good job of painting a picture of his feelings that honestly I found it kind of depressing. What a horrible way to have to live your life. My heart really went out for these two men and the very sad situation they found themselves in.
The writing was flawless and I have no complaints over that. The characters were well developed, the plot was interesting and I was emotionally attached to both of the MC's. What made this not great for me was the split between the past and the present. While I liked the idea in theory it did not work for me. There was way too much time spent in the past and not much happened. I would have been much happier with just a prologue that set up their history and their friendship and then the rest of the book focusing on the present. The first few chapters were alright but once their present story started getting more complicated I found myself getting annoyed that it would break and go back to the past. It broke up the flow of the current story. I had a hard time not skimming the past sections so I could get back to what was currently going on.
I wanted to love this book because in general I love this author's work. It was hard to rate because I disliked the past story but loved the present story. In the end I would recommend this book. The unique back setting and the complicated but beautiful love story between these two men makes it worth the read.
The war is over. The battle for love has just begun.
As Marines, Cal and Jim depended on each other to survive bloodshed and despair in the Pacific. Relieved to put the horrors of war behind him, Jim went home to his apple orchard and a quiet life with his wife and children. Knowing Jim could never return his forbidden feelings, Cal hoped time and an ocean between them would dull the yearning for his best friend.
But when Jim’s wife dies, Cal returns to help. He doesn’t know a thing about apple farming—or children—but he’s determined to be there for Jim, even as the painful torch he carries blazes back to life. Jim is grateful for his friend’s support as he struggles with buried emotions and dark wartime memories. Then Jim begins to see Cal in a new light, and their relationship deepens in ways neither expected. Can they build a life together as a family and find happiness in a world that would condemn them?
Note: Contains scenes of violence and post-traumatic stress. 95,000 words.