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Lovers in Arms

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Novel (53,000 words)
Genre(s): Historical Gay Romance

The year is 1946, World War II is over, and the Nuremberg trials are underway. US Army Captain Frank Hawthorne is returning to Germany to testify in the military tribunal of former Nazi Officer Johann von Biehn. Despite explicit orders to the contrary, Frank is trying to save Johann's life.

Three years ago, at the height of the war, Frank had been sent to kill the very man he is now defending. Much to his surprise, instead of the Nazi monster he was sent to kill, Frank found a compassionate dissenter. Johann considered the handsome young American officer the answer to his desperate prayers to save his beloved Germany from the cancerous infection of Nazi rule. What really happened between the two men during those long summer days in von Biehn’s Spreewald mansion must be kept secret at any cost.

With his own government forbidding Frank to reveal anything political that happened during the war, and society forcing him to conceal their personal relationship, Frank will have to find something truly unexpected to prevent Johann's all-but-certain death sentence. (M/M)

168 pages, Paperback

First published June 22, 2012

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About the author

Osiris Brackhaus

22 books54 followers
Even though Osiris was an avid storyteller since he could talk, he only dared to commit his stories to paper after his future wife basically manhandled him to. The two of them are currently living their happily ever after in Kassel, Germany, doing so under the stern but loving surveillance of their cat.
Osiris leads an unassuming day life as a specialist accountant, but in his spare time writes fantasy, science fiction and historical fiction with gay romance themes, having a ball herding plot bunnies with his congenial wife.

Apart from Goodreads, you can find them at their official homepage, where they post all current information about their books: Brackhaus.com
And for completely random remarks & shoutouts, there's their Twitter!

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5 stars
94 (33%)
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98 (34%)
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66 (23%)
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15 (5%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 68 reviews
August 5, 2019

My main issue with this book was the writing. The syntax, certain phrases ... this book read like a translation, but I don't think that's the case. I got used to the flow after a while, but there was a certain awkwardness to the language that made it difficult for me to get into the story.

I'm not a fan of courtroom dramas, and most of the present (1946) was set in a courtroom as Johann is on trial for crimes against humanity, while his lover Frank essentially gives up his life and job to testify that Johann is not a criminal.

The story switches between the past (1943) and present, a style I don't care for. I did LOVE the MCs, especially Johann. He was such a joy: passionate, loving, PRESENT.

I wanted an intimate scene between the men after Johann was released, but the epilogue was lovely even without the steam. Frank was still dealing with internalized homophobia, but that's not entirely unrealistic considering the time and place.

This isn't a long story, and there's a twist at the end that was rather unexpected. I think I wanted more bang, but at least we got a HEA.
Profile Image for Tina.
1,658 reviews1 follower
September 9, 2013

Wow... just finished reading the book. What an emotional experience!

To write a book about the Nürnberg trials 1946 and make a fascinating love story between a former Nazi Officer and an US Army Captain out of it, is unusual and I was more than curious when my dear friend Mark recommended 'Lovers in Arms' to me. :)

Okay, first I was a little reluctant inwardly, since Nazi war novels are not exactly my thing. But I was confident that a German author could do it in the right way. And I was anything but disappointed.

”Maybe one day you'll learn that not all Germans are monsters and not all Americans are heroes.”

The story of Johann and Frank grabbed me from the beginning. It starts in 1946 with Frank arriving in Nürnberg as a witness for the defence of Johann von Biehn. The man that he fell in love with three years prior.

In 1943 Frank is on a secret mission to assassinate high-ranking Nazi Officers. After a failed parachute jump he wakes up in the garden shed at the Manor from Graf Johann von Biehn, one of his targets.
Both men feel the immediate attraction and Frank realises that Johann is not in the least what he has expected. Needless to say that the blossoming love between the two men has no chance at all, right?

”So when I saw you lying in the shed there, I thought that even God couldn't be that cruel. You were everything I ever asked for – so maybe you could also be the love of my life...”

Under brutal circumstances they meet again three years later. It's the time of the trials in Nürnberg where Johann is accused of Nazi crimes. The death sentence is waiting for him. Can Frank save the love of his life?

A part of the story is told in flashbacks. Half of each chapter takes place in 1943 at Johann's mansion, the other half in 1946 at the trial in Nürnberg. I really liked the narrative arc. It was intriguing to read and worked excellently for me.

I really liked Frank's voice but fell in love head over heals with Johann. What a man! :) He's a man who loves his country and NOT the regime that ruines it. He has true reasons for joining the Nazi party and uses his influence for the good of others.

“Whenever doubts become a crime... whenever parents become afraid their children might turn them in; a country where the power of the government is mired inextricably with the jurisdiction and the executive, where you have three secret polices spying on the population and people disappear without a word, that is not my country... My country and Nazi Germany, those are two very different places. And I dearly hope I’ll live to see the day when the latter one falls.”

The love story between Frank and Johann is told very sensitive. Their scenes together at the manson are wonderful, fulfilling, sexy and soooo romantic. I loved how the author describes their love making without slipping down to cheap porn. Beautiful to read.

Oh... and I don't want to forget the smart supporting characters Elias, Benny and Jackson, and the thrilling unfolding of the trial. Well-elaborated !

Yes, I would have liked to read a back story. What have Johann and Frank done in the three years gap?
The term of endearment „Süßer“ Osiris uses took a little getting used to, but in the course of the story I didn't mind it.

5 solid stars for a smoothly written, gripping, sexy, romantic and very enjoyable story. I would like to read more from this author. :)

Ich will mehr, Osiris! Wo bleibt der Nachschub? :D

Highly recommended!

Edit: I almost forgot the nice new cover!

It should be added here on GR. :)
Profile Image for Mark.
357 reviews157 followers
June 23, 2013
This book had me bound up in hope that the good in human nature will prevail.

Two men, a world at war, opposing sides, then something transpires that breaks all the known conventional rules that should never happen.

The world is licking its wounds and clearing up the mess after WWII. We find ourselves at the Nuremberg Trials and Frank Hawthorne, an American GI, has decided to go against the flow of general public opinion. Risking his own untarnished and heroic service record, he returns to Germany to act as a witness in defence of Graf Johann von Biehn who is on trial for Nazi war crimes. What the world doesn't know is that they are lovers and Frank is back to desperately try and save Johann from the impending death sentence everyone wishes to see. Each chapter of the book is divided into two sections which makes for a compelling read and works extremely well with me. This flashback format doesn't work for everyone, but I would like to follow this structure in my review;

1943 The Spreewald near Berlin.
Captain Frank Hawthorne is on a secret mission to assassinate top Nazi officials planning to meet at the Manor from Graf Johann von Biehn. However, after an accident the assignment doesn't turn out exactly as Frank had planned it. Waking up in the garden shed Frank is confronted with the very person he's supposed to assassinate (along with others) who has been nursing him back to health. The attraction between the two of them is immediately apparent. Although convention says that this should never be! Johann is not what he appears to be and it is obvious that Frank has to reconsider and question his orders changing his plans accordingly. Johann is holding the key to help the allies win a major tactical advantage and needs to get this information to them. Johann is your proverbial good German in a country taken over by a madness and gone very wrong. I really felt the shame, pain and love he holds for his country....

"This is my country and I don't commit treason against it when I help in getting rid of the worst plague I have ever seen. Whenever doubts become a crime, whenever parents become afraid their children might turn them in; a country where the power of the government is mired inextricably with the jurisdiction and the executive, where you have three secret polices spying on the population and people disappear without word, that is not my country. My country and Nazi Germany, those are two very different places. And I dearly hope I'll live to see the day when the latter falls."

When the time comes to part and get Frank out of Nazi Germany I was almost reduced to tears at the parting scene. Both sides wanting nothing more than to stay together, but circumstances unfortunately dictating otherwise and driving them apart.

I just wished that this part of the story could have been fleshed out a little more. As beautifully written and plotted as it was I felt there was so much more potential here to develop their story and relationship a little more. Building trust and their attraction a little slower and introducing more mistrust of each other at the beginning. After all even if the hormones are racing, this is an American GI in Nazi Germany and I felt it just moved a little too fast. Considering Frank is caught like a rat in a trap, hiding his true mission and Johann would have to be very gaurded and suspicious of his motives, I just felt that Johann was a little too "full-on" at the beginning and wasn't cagey enough. The constant use of Süßer (sweetie) was a little overdone, especially so early on and gave Johann a somewhat "camp" or effeminate nature to his character which I felt wasn't really in keeping of my image of a high ranking Nazi official. Johann is obviously highly intelligent, if not having a quirky side to his nature. However, these are personal points and also me just being greedy for something I felt had real potential and had wished it lasted a little longer than it did as it was very enjoyable.

1946 Nuremberg Trails
Frank returns to Nuremberg after the war to try and save his lover from the impending death sentence facing him in the trials. For this he risks his good reputation and service record and flies against the face of public opinion. He is helped by Elias a Jewish lawyer who also escaped Nazi Germany. Elias is also critical to the release of Johann and has a hard fight on his hands.

This part of the story was exceptionally well conceived and I could feel the tension in the courtroom and the desperation Frank and Elias were going through in order to get the conviction turned around. Chief Prosecutor Jackson is a hard-nosed lawyer and determined to see justice done. However, he believes in justice and not a circus for the world to watch and becomes a pivotal player later in the trial. The suspense in the courtroom was palpable and I could picture Johann standing there on show, completely resigned to his fate. However, when the courtroom drama takes a swing in Johann's favour I found myself elated and wanting to cry with relief at the same time.

Immediately after WWII the Nürnberg Trials were a showcase for the whole world. The emotional scars were still deep and upon reflection from today's historical standpoint it could be argued to exactly how fair and impartial the trials actually were. Johann is made to appear in his Nazi uniform, therefore perpetuating the monster image the world wants to see.

"They don't let you wear anything else?!" Turning around, Frank looked at Elias. "What is the meaning of this, Elias?"

Well, that's exactly the point! If Johann was allowed to appear in civilian clothing that could make him appear too human. Wouldn't want that now, would we? As exciting as the courtroom drama was it was also a subtle critique on the Nuremberg Trials, cleverly written and very unobtrusive. The writing was tight, well scripted and drew me into the story immediately.

The story is balanced and raises many questions and makes you realise that nothing is good or bad, black or white, but there are always exceptions and you should be careful of stereotyping. As Frank says after being provoked by a group of American GIs,

"Maybe one day you'll learn that not all Germans are monsters and not all Americans are heroes."

Or as he thought while he was with Johann in the Spreewald questioning his own orders,

"he wondered where the difference was between the good guys and the bad guys if their means were all just born out of perceived necessity and their goals by the unquestioned orders they had been given."

I would really love to have known what happened to their lives between parting the first time and meeting again in Nuremberg. Did they stay in contact? Did Johann smuggle more info to the Allies using Frank as a contact? How was Johann treated when he was arrested? What about the stories of him helping Jewish families escape the country? Joahnn obviously has a big story to tell there, not only the one with Frank. Obviously Frank was being forced to keep his information secret from the trials. Maybe Frank was also party to an interview with a Jewish family seeking escape. Maybe Frank could have helped him set up a secure route for the Jewish families. These were just a few very personal thoughts going around in my head that would have rounded the story off for me. If Osiris ever decides to rewrite this story by putting more meat on the bones, filling it out a little, then I would read it again in an instant. Osiris has real talent and feel that things will only go from great to fantastic.

I enjoyed this book immensely and it hit all the right buttons for me. Historical, reflective, questioning values and perceptions, but also emotional and full of hope for the future. Illustrating the good side of human nature. I would definitely read more books from Osiris of this nature.

~ This book was provided by the author in return for a fair and honest review ~
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Profile Image for Simsala.
524 reviews59 followers
August 25, 2012
3 - 3,5 stars for 1943, Spreewald
4,5 stars for 1946, Nuremberg

Very well written and researched story about two men falling in love in Nazi-Germany and one man`s fight to get his lover out of the Nuremberg trials alive.
Great secondary characters, suspenseful trial with unexpected twists and turns that made me chew my nails...
The romance was mostly told in flashbacks - sweet, sexy and believable.
My only niggle - the German endearment "Süsser". I know it fit time and place but I hate this term, it was used often and it almost killed my enjoyment of the romance.
Well, it might be just me and I`m sure it won`t bother non-German readers.
Profile Image for Macky.
1,830 reviews233 followers
June 25, 2013
My first words to anyone who isn't attracted to the book becase its based around war is DONT LET THIS PUT YOU OFF. PLEASE !

I'm not drawn to wartime romances generally because they're either too heartbreaking or they're too one sided in their depiction of said war, depending on who is writing them. I also find myself zoning out when strategies are discussed in depth, its all gets too factual and I like my fiction to take me away from Real Life.

So I have to be honest. I loved the sound of this story after reading a fabulous review from my great friend Mark ( who I trust implicitly ) but I was a little bit apprehensive as to whether this would end up being a dud for me personally. Well I'm extremely happy to say that my fears were completely in vain. What a lovely story and so easy to read despite its premise. I mean how on earth do you make the romance between a high ranking Nazi officer and a tough patriotic American Black Ops soldier/assassin work. Read this and you'll find out exactly how Osiris does it and you'll find out how he makes Graf Johann Von Biehn one of the most endearing characters I've come across in a long time.

The story starts in 1946 with Captain Frank Hawthorne arriving at Nuremberg Castle as a witness in one of the trials being held there. Only he isn't a witness for the prosecution, he's there as a witness for the defence of Johann Von Biehn. The man that three years earlier he had been sent to kill, but who is actually the man he ended up falling in love with and so starts a story, told in flashback that charts both the romance in 1943 and the ongoing trial in '46.

So I suppose you can say its a story of two parts but for me the whole thing melded beautifully and what emerged was a tender and most romantic love story between two strong charismatic men with the excitement of the trial running alongside it with the "will he / won't he manage to save the love of his life" aspect keeping you on the edge of your seat. The war is there but it doesn't swamp the story because primarily this a story of soul mates finding each other under extreme circumstances and the true love they discover with each other, surviving against all odds. I really loved it.

I loved Frank but I adored Johann and their scenes together, when they first meet at Johanns manor are delightful, charismatic, sexy and very very romantic. Then you also get the touch of intrigue around Johanns true reasons for joining the Nazi party and how he uses his influence within it for the good of others. This is a man loyal to his country and his love of Germany shines through and I loved that Osiris didn't make this a story of all the Germans being the "bad guys" ( because they werent ) and all the Allies being the "good guys". ( They weren't either! )

This would definitely have been a 5 star read but I have to agree with Mark, I would have loved to have had just a little more back story as to what they both endured after leaving each other in 1943 to meeting up again at the trial so in all fairness I'm just dropping it slightly but I can highlly recommend it to all you romance lovers out there. A lovely engaging book. Thanks Osiris for showing me that as the saying goes, ' You shouldn't judge a book by its cover! " Absolutely a keeper. :)

Profile Image for Alex Akira.
Author 7 books43 followers
April 21, 2013
This nicely detailed wartime romance story surprised me in a good way. Expecting more “arms” in terms of wartime violence, I was pleased to find it more of an action-filled cat and mouse, chess match. The blurb is pretty much right on. I entered the tale to find Frank, a veteran of the United States World War II effort, returning to Germany to attend the Nuremberg trials. He’s hoping his testimony will save one of the top German officers, a man who still holds his heart. Well, this got my interest right away, an American and a top ranking German…in love? I was very curious as to how the author was going to make this boat float.

I’m happy to say Osiris Brackhaus did a very fine job. Not only did the boat float, it cruised, then sped up and showed off its stylish lines, beautifully detailing an insta-love that was not only believable but was skillfully underplayed. Told largely from Frank’s point of view, captivating hindsight scenes of the two men’s romance, provides a nice balance for the stimulating mental games played during the “now” scenes of the trial. In short order I found out that Captain Frank Hawthorne was an assassin during the war and had been assigned to parachute into Germany under the cover of night. The Allies had intel that the top ranking brass of the German military are scheduled to gather in one place to attend an big meet. Frank has been ordered in to take out as many as he can, starting with the most important. One of his intended targets was Johann von Biehn.

Johann is, among other things, a brilliant strategist whose work has helped the Nazis stay ahead in the war effort. Tall, blonde and handsome, Johann could be the poster boy for the Aryan race, and is seriously smart and creative. I really enjoyed Johann, he had quite a few eccentric quirks which were skillfully revealed throughout the story and despite my initial misgivings…I found him quite lovable.

Frank on the other hand was fantastic. He started as kind of a soldier with a “Don Draper” (Mad Men) type casualness that had me wondering if he had the right stuff to be an assassin. Well, within a few pages, I and some young GIs got the answer to that question. Later, during the romance, well, I’ll just say…Frank is hot. Shortly after a scene in which the idyllic private spot where the men’s romance takes place, is invaded, Johan orders Frank upstairs to hide. There is a brilliant portrait in words of Frank smoking a cigarette that had to be the sexiest non-sex scene I’ve read in a while.

But the real surprise of this lovely piece is that the masculine edge of the romance and lovemaking is matched, if not beat, by the clever unfolding of the trial and the solid characterizations of the supporting players. There is a lot of smart storytelling within these pages and they kind of sneak up on you. By its end, I was sorry to let the story go and days later found myself mentally replaying bits. This let me know…I’ll be reading this one again. Thank you, Osiris Brackhaus, for this sleek, edgy wartime romance; in a word: smart.
Profile Image for Alona.
671 reviews12 followers
May 6, 2015
I loved it!
Another WWII enemies to lovers... What's not to like!!??
I loved both MCs a lot, and their love was just so magical and it touched me deep in my heart.

I give it 4 stars for few reasons:
1. I hate jumping back and forth between past and present.
2. It was too quick of an instant love
3. The beginning was a little slow.
BUT, in the great scheme of it, these are only minor issues, the story is just beautiful, and I was hooked!
Profile Image for Feliz.
Author 58 books107 followers
August 25, 2012
A sweet romantic story withvery smoothly veiled critic about the Nuremberg processes.The political aspect takes quite a backseat to the romance,though. Beautiful sense of place and time, including a very realistic rendition about the dangers of being gay even in post-Nazi Germany. The flashbacks part was more fantasy than history, but then, I didn't care, it was a good story, and smoothly written. Very enjoyable.
Profile Image for Elisa Rolle.
Author 142 books222 followers
November 1, 2015
2013 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention (5* from at least 1 judge)

Before talking of why I loved this story, I should tell you a little one myself: when my mother was only a child (she was born in 1942 in full wartime), she lived in an occupied city, Padua, by the Nazi Army. Most of the people was living in barns right outside the city, and near where they were there was a garrison of German officers; my grandfather, after years and years of wartime (he was enlisted in the Africa campaign and then Greece, and he had already lost a 3 years old child to pneumonia) had deserted the Italian army, and to be able to help his family, he was tending the German officers’ animals, mostly mules; one of these officers took sympathy on my mother, she was red-head and curly, and he said she remembered him of his own daughter, back in Germany; he brought chocolate to her and what food he could to my grandfather and grandmother; when the Army started to recede to Germany thought the Alpes, they took my grandfather with them, to tend the animals; but it was clear that he wasn’t to come back, as soon as they were at home, my father, an Italian deserter was probably to be sent to prison if not worse; the German officer told him to stay at the back of the group, and to wait for his signal; as soon as it was possible, he signaled my grandfather to run away. We don’t know what it was of the officer, we don’t even know his name, but we know he saved my grandfather’s life.

So this story of a high-ranked German officer who fell in love with the American assassin who was sent to kill him rang true to my ears. Not only that, I’m always a little weary of war stories cause they are usually tragic, with little hope for an happily ever after, and instead this one was very romantic, as light as it could be due to the matter, and yes, full of hope and with an uplifting feeling that lulled and comforted the reader during all the course of the story.

The plot develops in parallel, the story of Frank and Johann when the met, and that of 3 years later, when the war is over and Johann is under process at Nuremberg for crime against humanity. There is little Frank can do, he for sure cannot admit he was Johann’s lover and he cannot disclose his former mission; to the world’s eyes, Johann was an high-ranked German officer who was primarily involved in the Germany’s war strategies.

The love story between Frank and Johann was sudden and immediate, I did wonder if a trained assassin could really fall like that, I was always expecting for him to turn and betray Johann; on the other hand, Johann was like a romantic hero, talking of love and being the perfect lover, trusting Frank totally only for the reason he was in love; again, I thought he was maybe a little naïve, but I really liked his romantic streak, and for once, it was a joy to read a war story, and not a “tragic” experience.

Profile Image for Xing.
362 reviews239 followers
January 20, 2014
Rating: 3.5 stars

Lovers in Arms is a romanticized historical fiction taking place during the 1946 Nuremberg trial, where Captain Frank Hawthorne stands witness to the defense of his lover, Johann von Biehn, a Nazi officer. Each chapter shares two different moments: the present (1946) and a retelling of how these two enemies meet in 1943.

I really enjoyed this novel, because it was a fairly painless reading. I expected a lot of heart ache, some violence, and to be crying gushing amounts of tears. Now there was a little bit of heart ache due to the circumstances between these two guys. Pretty much no violence (the war is over by 1946, and the setting in 1943 was actually peaceful), and I got a bit teary at some points. So my expectations weren't completely unfounded.

While I have enjoyed every historical book I've read, one thing I felt lacking in Lovers in Arms was the world building usually evident in these types of novels. Descriptions were kept pretty general, and it was difficult at times to feel like I'm reading a book taking place in 1943-1946.

But asides from that, I enjoyed this book. The romance was a bit too romanticized, if that makes any sense. A little too "love at first sight" and the development between these two guys happened pretty smoothly without much of the complications you would expect in the enemies-to-lovers trope. But in the end, I was charmed by Johann's brilliance and Frank's courage. These two guys deserve the rest of their lives together, and I was happy to share in the experience.
Profile Image for Rebelexmachina.
96 reviews11 followers
May 22, 2019
3/5 stars.

Lovers In Arms was a promising concept, and I did like it somewhat. Unfortunately, the insta-love between American Frank, and Nazi Johann didn’t feel believable to me. I couldn’t imagine an American soldier during ww2 would so easily fall for the charms of a Nazi without a heavy dose of existential hand-wringing.

There seemed to be too many flash forwards that ultimately served very little purpose, and I couldn’t help but wonder if the words would have been better spent developing a slower-burn romance instead of the insta-love the book is based upon.

The writing was okay, but could have used some tidying up, with quite a lot of tell and little show, which prevented me from engaging completely with the story and characters.
Profile Image for Day-thief.
401 reviews11 followers
July 28, 2013
4,5 stars
This doesn’t happen often enough in m/m books: two MCs you can happily root for and a plot that makes you squirm and hope for a HEA. Pure heaven! Despite the “Hollywood” feel of the story and an abundance of endearments (although I could imagine an aristocrat, even though he’s a high-ranking Wehrmacht soldier, who calls his love interest “Süsser” sort of daringly or ironically or - in the end - lovingly).

I won’t say much more because this review does a wonderful job already.
Profile Image for Ottilee B..
597 reviews25 followers
March 23, 2019
This is a four point five read. I liked the story and the premise: that's what got me interested in the first place. I can see/imagine soldiers from opposing forces looking deeper into another's soul and seeing a person rather than an enemy combatant. I took half a star off as the ending I don't see happening. (I DO in my mind, but not at the Trials.) Still, a great story.
Profile Image for Ulysses Dietz.
Author 15 books622 followers
July 28, 2014
This lingered on my Kindle backlog for quite a while because the premise worried me. How was Brackhaus going to pull off the story of an American army officer trying to defend his Nazi lover at the Nuremberg war trials?

Frank Hawthorne, war hero and hired assassin, never expected to fall in love with an aristocratic German Wehrmacht officer who was on a first name basis with Reichsmarshall Goering. But Johann von Biehn was not what Frank expected. War, even a clear-cut war against an enemy like Hitler, is not always black and white.

This would, in a different world, make a beautiful movie. Brackhaus unveils his story in a carefully structured series of flashbacks between Nuremberg during the notorious war-crime trials in 1946 and the summer of 1943 in the German Spreewald region at von Biehn’s ancestral manor house.

This, being a romance, never lets us get too deep into the psyche of either Frank Hawthorne or Johann von Biehn. Brackhaus gives us just enough to understand who these men are and what motivates them for the purposes of the story. There is not very much beyond that—only faint fragments of their past and their sense of what being a homosexual in the 1940s means to them. But we get just enough to believe in them, and that’s really all we need. Similarly, several key background characters, the Nuremberg prosecutor Jackson and his assistant Benedict, play crucial roles in the book and thus we get fairly vivid sketches of them to make them real enough to matter.

But this book is not about personality, it’s about unexpected love. It is not, in the end, meant to be realistic. And that’s fine.

Brackhaus uses all of the clichés of the genre, but he uses them well and writes nicely. As I said, I kept envisioning this in black and white as a film starring Rock Hudson and Helmut Berger (who are the wrong ages to have ever acted together, but hey, it’s my imagination!), so clearly the author pushed the right buttons in my brain.

Again I note, as I am wont to do, that the narrative is compelling enough and the emotional pitch strong enough that I really didn’t need the explicit on-page sexual interaction between the main characters. There were aspects of Frank and Johann’s physical relationship that provide emotional and psychological benchmarks for the reader, and Brackhaus handled the sex nicely. But, for me, the overall romantic story outweighed everything. I am not one to romanticize the Nazis, ever, but I do like the idea that, all through Hitler’s psychotic rule over Germany, there were good Germans who resisted and tried to save their country from the clutches of the madmen who ruled her. In this Brackhaus has found the key to the success of his novel.

As a final note, I must say that I’m intrigued to find a straight, married man writing gay romance novels. This seems to be his only book so far, but I’m hoping he’ll continue.
Profile Image for Vivian ♪(┌・。・)┌		.
628 reviews64 followers
December 2, 2013
”Maybe one day you'll learn that not all Germans are monsters and not all Americans are heroes.”

Summed up in --undoubtedly-- my favourite quote of the book, Lovers in Arms speaks of the capacity for humane and monstrous deeds in each and every human-- regardless of race, gender or religion.

This sweet and romantic story follows the ultimate forbidden relationship between a high ranking Nazi strategist, Johann, and American officer Frank. Despite the cruel and unforgiving circumstances, the romance which develops is surprisingly gentle and angst free.

Prior to actually beginning the novel, I admit I was expecting a little more... oomph. The set-up is quite literally the epitome of forbidden love and in context of such a infamous and tragic event, I believed that more emotions and thoughts could have been evoked. Simply put, the story fell a little flat. The overall message of the story -- summarised in the quote -- was illustrated well, however the romance, as sweet and lovely as it was, lacked any spark and the characterisation didn't have enough depth to place me in each character's shoes.

As mentioned in some other reviews, the structure of the story was quite off-putting at times. The past and the present plots were developed concurrently in alternating intervals and consequently, it didn't allow for much tension or suspense to build and there were many times where I was only interested in one plot line. The two plot lines were the Nuremberg trials of 1946 and 1943 with the meeting of Johann and Frank and the subsequent romantic development. Although I have no problem with flashbacks, I find that many authors fail to execute them properly by maintaining interest in both of the story-lines.

However, despite my criticism, Lovers in Arms was an enjoyable read. It was a pleasure following their romance develop and bloom and persevere in an environment that allowed for none to occur. It's quite miraculous that the author created a lovely feel-good book in such a difficult setting; not once did I doubt their Happily Ever After. If you're looking for a warm and relaxing read with an interesting context, I would definitely recommend this to you.

Rating: 3.25 - 3.5 STARS
Profile Image for Kelly.
149 reviews11 followers
July 7, 2012
This was such a beautifully written love story. It was really easy to come to care about Frank and Johann. I found myself really invested in their story and how things would work out for them. While there are explicit scene in this book, they are done in a way that is lovely and not porn for the sake of porn. There is emotion. There is the sense that Frank is coming to care for Johann despite the circumstances.

This story waffles back and forth between events that happened in the "past" and three years later - the present. The breaks between the time lines are well done and make sense. I never once got "lost" or confused as to where I was in the story. The author is very careful to allow the story to unfold without prematurely revealing important story points that would ruin the "future" scenes.

Overall, I found this to be a very good read. I would highly recommend this gem to other readers of the genre!
March 22, 2016
Absolutely beautiful ! History and love all in one. Smexy scenes, we're well written. Good chemistry. This book is so well written ,I found myself having nice chills. A totally enjoyable story so well worth it!
Profile Image for Jennifer Lavoie.
Author 4 books59 followers
August 12, 2013
I have no idea why I didn't think to look for other historical, LGBT romances before. I've always stayed with England in the 1800s and that's it. I didn't know there were other time periods explored out there until this book, and now I'm spoiled, because this book has everything: soldiers on opposite sides of the war, World War II, assassins, secret plots, love. What more could you want?

Frank and Johann's story is told in the past and "present" of the book, when they first meet in 1943, and again in 1946 when Frank attends Johann's trial at Nuremberg.

Johann is the love of Frank's life, and when he attends the trial, he'll do anything to make sure Johann is set free. But it's not as easy as it sounds. Though he knows the truth of what happened during the war, he can't tell for two reasons. First, the mission he had been on is classified information and the government will not allow him to reveal the truth, and second, if he explains to the court that he's fallen in love with Johann, he will be an unreliable witness and his testimony will be thrown out. But what else can he do?

In a time when same-sex love was punished by jail or death, especially in Nazi Germany, the stakes are high for these men. What I loved the most about the book was that it's not all happiness and flowers. They are very aware of their situation, and they know that, though nothing is wrong with their love for each other, society will not view it that way, and they may never be able to be open about it.

A brilliant book that takes pains to remain historically accurate. I loved all the little details, and the brilliance of the men. I would read anything by Osiris Brackhaus after this!
Profile Image for Mati.
988 reviews1 follower
September 9, 2013
It was simply must have in my bookshelf despite tingling feeling that it would not be very good book.
I liked it a lot, but...

The historical setting is not accurate and there is huge problem with characters and their acting which is completely off, but both men are so sweet and fluffy and kiss, kiss, kiss types that I overlooked everything.

The plot was simple captain Frank Hawtorne was sent to kill oberst Johann baron von Biehn. Yes, you guessed it correctly. There was proverbial "make love no war" thing. Frank had bad landing and Johann nursed him to the health, while seducing him and giving him very good reasons no to continue with original mission. Frank soon learn that his lover was utter genius, philanthropist and practically planed the invasion...yes Normandy. Do not ask me, ask author why he wanted him to be on friendly terms with Hermann and Adolf and in the same time helping Jews, Frank and other people in need.
The whole love affair was told in context of Nuremberg trials and yes Johann was in deep troubles, look he was so good that there was no proof that he was actually using his influence to save everything he could.
The tension was really page turner and one wish only one and only happily ever after ending. It came...with marriage proposal.

The plot - ridiculous, but utterly sweet
Characters - behaving like modern men, but go to the hell with it, they were perfect and sweet and everything.

Overall - this book is simply must have, because of above mentioned things. Buy it and support author :)

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
16 reviews7 followers
June 2, 2014
This was great, but certainly not what I was expecting at all...

I have a fascination with WWI and WWII historical fiction and was expecting story much heavier historical aspect after reading the blurb. This story is above all a touching romance, the WWII and Nuremberg Trial themes are mostly relegated to being a backdrop.

I would normally consider this romance to be a bit too insta-love for my tastes, but it seems to work well here and is necessary for the plot. Johann von Biehn's eccentric and romantic personality results in some sappy scenes that some might find excessive, while those hopeless romantics out there will have hearts about the burst.

I'm surprised there's not more reviews and ratings for this novel. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Deanna.
2,555 reviews63 followers
June 28, 2013
An intriguing story set during the Nuremberg Trials after WWII. A decorated US Officer defies his superiors to testify for one of the German officers on trial. He is risking his career to do this. The Nazi on trial saved his life but is that enough to set the Nazi free? Is there more under the surface or is the American officer blinded by love? This story took hold of me and would not release me. Well worth reading.
17 reviews
December 20, 2012
4.5 stars..
a bit too short, but otherwise an excellent read
Profile Image for Manfred.
747 reviews41 followers
October 16, 2019
Oh my God, what did I just read here?
This was intense and had me hooked from page one.
I don't know when I cried so much reading a story.
I am just happy, I knew that there would be a happy end from other reviewers, or I would probably have had a heart attack during that trial.

The story of a German Wehrmacht officer in World War II, on trial in Nuremberg and his American lover, trying to save his life was incredible, I could not put the book away, and when I absolutely had to, it remained in my thoughts constantly.
I am just glad the book wasn't too long, or I might not have survived this.
Be aware that this is as much courtroom drama as it is a love story, for me this was absolutely perfect, I loved every single page. Still, I think it is necessary to point out that this is not your usual fluffy m/m romance, if that is okay for you, you might love it as much as I did.
So, was it flawless? No it actually wasn't, Johann was definitely too good to be true, saving hundreds of Jewish families, without personal gain, even buying there valuables back for them and single handedly instructing the applied forces where to start their invasion in Normandy was really too much. Also, if he had those good connection with the French resistance, why did they do nothing to help him? Not everything made a lot of sense, but honestly, I didn't care, it was such a beautiful book and such an epic love story, definitely one I will reread again in the future. No doubt this goes on my favorite shelf and clearly 5 stars from me!
Profile Image for GymGuy.
300 reviews19 followers
June 20, 2013
I had high hopes for this book. Unfortunately it was not to be.

As I've said before, I HATE*HATE*HATE flashbacks unless they are absolutely necessary for telling the story and then there is generally only one or two in an entire book. This book flipped back and forth as regular as a pendulum. Every one of the 14 or so chapters was split almost evenly between "then" and "now." Back and forth, back and forth. There were two basic stories: one during WWII in Germany and a second during the Nürnberg trials. There was absolutely no reason why these two stories couldn't be told in series instead of in parallel. This rhythmic oscillation, i assume, added to add interest. I found it just highly annoying and disruptive to the flow.

The love affair between the two MCs was pure fantasy. I found the characters two-dimensional and rather boring. The Graf was just a caricature and Frank I found to be just another run-of-the-mill characters.

So, starting out with a 3 star for an average plot, deduct at least 1 star for boring and stereotypical characters and an unnecessary plot flow, I'm down to 2 generous stars.

P.S. Oh yeah... Why the hell was the Johann calling Frank "Süßer," aka "Sweetie?" Damn, that was irritating. I was about ready to give him a good slap.
Profile Image for Onyx.
161 reviews36 followers
October 21, 2014
Meh. This was a very predictable, one dimensional story. I never really became attached to either character, and

One star for the passive commentary on the nature of justice. Thought-provoking stuff. I wish that the whole book could have been an exploration of this morality vs patriotism, vengeance vs justice, and the difference between personal and collective responsibility... with the added bonus of sex, of course. And speaking of the sex, it was painfully awkward for the MC to refer to the other one as "his lover" whenever they fucked. Because, I'm sorry, the progression of their relationship moved at supersonic speeds. I just didn't buy it.

Another star because have you seen the cover? If only the book's characters expressed as much emotion as that loving gaze in the coverart...

In a completely unrelated note, it made me want to visit the Spreewald next time I find myself in Berlin.
Profile Image for Dm Atkins.
5 reviews2 followers
June 22, 2012
From the first time I read "Romeo and Juliet," I've always been fascinated by "lovers who should be enemies" stories. Osiris Brackhaus does that very well here with the American soldier falling for the not-what-he-seems Nazi he was sent to kill. Beautiful love story, set against the backdrop of one of the most difficult periods in history. Homosexuality was illegal, they meet under circumstances that should have made it impossible, and, yet, Frank and Jonathan find each other and struggle to make something more come from all of it. It's sexy, smart and heartwarming.
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