~ 1 star ~
This was a 3.5 star, maybe even a 4 star read for me, until the last chapter.
Apart from the never-ending discussion about whether a love story that doesn’t have "an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending", or in other words: a happy ending (HEA or HFN) can be labelled as a "romance" or not (personally, I think: NOPE), I prefer my MCs at least to be ALIVE at the end of my books. I DON'T want to witness them being slaughtered on the battlefield, historically accurate wartime romance or not.
You also might want to check out this blog post, which perfectly sums up my feelings regarding this issue.
Update: Just to clarify (because I feel awful to give such a low rating to such a nice author):
- as a "romance" novel: 1 star
- as a "(tragic) gay love story": 3.5 - 4 stars
The writing was good, the research was well-done, and the MCs and secondary characters were all very likable.
But I finished this book today with a heavy heart and it left me sad, and that's not what I am looking for when I choose to read a romance novel.
"I fell in love with your eyes," Evan murmured. He smiled as Scott blinked them, letting the tears fall. "They're so blue."
"My eyes have always been blue," Scott said with a broken laugh.
Scott shook his head slowly. "Since when?"
"Since forever. Since I was seven years old and Scott Sparrow was the coolest kid I'd ever met. He still is, you know."
There were two things that stood out in this friends-to-lovers story: the 5+1 writing structure, and chapters that were NOT in chronological order.
While the 5+1 idea (who owes its existence to fan fiction according to the author's note) worked pretty well for me, the order of the chapters did not. Every chapter focused on one of the 5+1 times that Scott and Evan kissed and the order was
Now when I see a structure like this, I feel like there's supposed to be a certain purpose or a deeper meaning behind it. Like hidden clues, that are being mentioned in one chapter and picked up again in another one, or something that gives me a hint in the present timeline, but doesn't make full sense until I get to a flashback chapter.
But that wasn't the case here. The chapters just felt randomly jumbled, but they can be just as well read in chronological order and it wouldn't make any difference. On the contrary, I think that it would have definitely worked better this way, because the story didn't really flow naturally for me because of this and it detached me from the characters and their relationship. I have no idea why the author decided on this kind of narration structure or what its purpose was supposed to be.
Oh, and that final +1 chapter? LONGEST EPILOGUE EVER! It started at 80% and it went on and on and on, and I just wanted it to be over because the story has been told and the HEA has been had and there's always that one point in a story where I'm ready to say good-bye to the MCs because I don't want to know everything about their everyday life after their HEA because some things are better left to the imagination sometimes and now I'll just shut up.