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Under the Radar

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  44 ratings  ·  23 reviews
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
Published April 16th 2019
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Average rating 3.98  · 
Rating details
 ·  44 ratings  ·  23 reviews

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Jun 03, 2019 rated it liked it
I've found Lillian Francis' Under the Radar an intriguing historical novel with some very good parts and some aspects that didn't convince me entirely.

I've most certainly liked the unusual setting - most of the book takes place on a British submarine during WW2 - and the author conjured up the stifling and oppressive atmosphere of life on board in a convincing manner. While I was reading certain parts, I've almost started stooping my shoulders together with the characters as if I also had to
This is a nice enough book. It could do with some streamlining, though, and better world building. If you've ever seen the movie "Das Boot" it's just hard to believe that the MCs could spend so much quality time alone together, given the claustrophobically cramped quarters.

I also had a little bit of trouble with suspending my disbelief with regard to the spy stuff because for that time it seems a little fantastical but others may find it easier.
Lillian Francis
Feb 09, 2018 added it  ·  (Review from the author)
It you've read Under the Radar you might be interested in this free bonus scene

If you buy the paperback, this scene is already included as an extra in the back of the book.
What a book! Absolutely recommended to all the historical romance readers, especially those who like some action and intrigue in their dish!

It'a slow burn GFY romance interwoven with a cool spy mystery on a British WW2 submarine - not too angsty, fresh, with great characters and a fascinating setting (I felt very impressed by the research that must have went into it).

The main romantic dynamic is very *opposites attract*, especially at a first glance - American vs. Welsh, playboy vs. an oblivious
Apr 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Historicals are usually not my thing, but this book I couldn't resist and I'm glad I took the plunge. Lillian Francis did a bang-up job taking us into the past with a wonderful slow-burn story that I could not put down. The romance was warm and the intrigue kept me guessing. Zach and Gethin made a terrific couple and the secondary characters added so much to the story. I don't do spoilers, so I'll just say if you're in the mood for a charming romance with some cool intrigue/mystery, grab this ...more
Joyfully Jay
May 31, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: elizabeth
A Joyfully Jay review.

2.75 stars

The first half of this book is a slow, sodden burn that — I think — is supposed to build up a friendship between the two men. However, it mostly came across to me as Zach being useless and lazy and Gethin being a glorified babysitter with a crush. Days (weeks, months?) pass between one moment and the next with no mention of time passing. Mail is delivered, the sub surfaces and dives, occasionally takes on supplies and fuels, but none of that actually happens in
Lisa The Novel Approach
4.5 Stars

Set against the backdrop of World War II, Lillian Francis' Under the Radar offers up a plotty and suspenseful spy drama aboard an English submarine, alongside a romance that presents its own inherent risks for Lieutenant Zachary McKenzie and ASDIC operator Gethin Llewellyn.

Underscoring the espionage and a traitor or two to the crown in their midst, not to mention the enemy forces they must be alert to at any given moment, Zach and Gethin face the very real and personal danger of their
Merissa (Archaeolibrarian)
Under the Radar is a wonderful story about two opposites - An American playboy and a Welsh innocent. They are opposite in other ways too, but that just makes them fit together perfectly. Zachary has been 'expelled' from the US Air Force after an indiscretion, and his punishment is to become a Submariner. A harsh punishment indeed for someone who loves the sky. Gethin is from a farm in Wales, and happy to be on the submarine. These two shouldn't really fit, but they do.

I loved how this story came
Slow, romantic love story with spy elements on a WWII submarine. The focus is on the feels in this one, to the point where it almost feels fanficcy, if that makes sense. The characters... Well, I did end up liking them, but I started out finding Zach extremely unlikeable and pretty much a horrible, entitled, manipulative, self-serving turd, while Gethin was a lot more likeable, but implausibly innocent and oblivious. Zach does change, but I still felt that his characterisation in the beginning ...more
Nov 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
4-1/2 Stars
Under the Radar is my first Lillian Francis story and I can safely and honestly say it won't be my last. I loved everything about this story, the characters, the setting, the drama, mostly I loved the heart.

When a person is forced into a situation they really don't want to be in, in Under that would be Zach the flyer having to serve in a limited spaced submarine, you don't expect to find easy acceptance, either from yourself for your surroundings or from your peers into the
May 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Review

Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

For the full review, visit

From that review:I am a long time lover of historical novels, historical romance included, among them several stories of Lillian Francis. So I knew I was in good hands historical speaking when it came to the era and details of naval mariner life found in Under The Radar by Lillian Francis. As always the author ended up delivering so much more than I anticipated, astonishing me
Amelia Wilson
May 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Under the Radar is an enjoyable historical romance. It’s almost slice of life in the way it deals with life on a submarine and I loved reading the various developing relationships (be they friendly or romantic) between the protagonists and other crew members. Lillian Francis has done a great job of writing a m/m romance whilst maintaining a sense of historical accuracy, for example the use of Polari in dialogue, which basically earned another star from me.

That being said, I did struggle to get
Petronella Ford
Apr 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

WWII spy thriller and romance combined. I totally loved this, the descriptions of being on a submarine are superb, the lack of water, and head room and lack of shaving are all things I had not really considered. I love the little asides passed between the main characters who obviously can't flirt openly, because of rank as well as sex. I thought every character was well thought out and the overall spy plot was a joy. I will be looking for more historicals from this author
It's been a long time since I read one of the first drafts of this story and it's evolved beautifully - the characters are nicely fleshed out, the story has several threads that add interest and the romance is gorgeous. Well done, Lillian. I know this has been a labour of love for you but you've done a wonderful job.
A. L. Lester
Apr 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A slow burn love affair between submariners in WW2. Fantastic historical detail that helps give the the characters depth and breadth. Funny, touching and heart-wrenching with spy-stuff tension, set against the backdrop of life in a cramped submarine. I loved it.
Apr 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Claustrophobic in all the best ways

A really slow burn romance with a mystery attached. This is beautifully observed and something to really get your teeth into.
Apr 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: m-m, historical
3.5 stars.
Oct 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully crafted and written WWII romance

When you start reading this beautifully crafted novel, PLEASE don't let the initial premise stop you from finishing it. It's worth your time and becomes a rewarding experience, with (mostly) likable characters that grow and develop as the story unfolds. The writing is top-notch, with carefully considered details that illuminate character and setting while the pacing kept me engaged, being precision-tuned to the needs of the story.

Admittedly, I was
Angel  Kennedy
Story = 4 stars
Hotness = 3 stars
I was glued as soon as I started reading this..I felt for Zach's situation. This is a slow romance with the mystery of a spy on-board the sub. Zach and Gethin slowly get to know about each other in the mist of hiding their sexuality. But Gethin was straight when he'd boarded the submarine and a bit innocent. I was definitely educated with all the new terms and secret squirrel messages included. This also includes dramas in the engine room. A good book but the
Nov 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
A great wartime M-M romance setting in a submarine! I enjoyed this very much.
Slow-moving, slow-burn romance. I almost DNF'd it but it picked up a bit around the halfway mark. Considering it is set in a British submarine during WWII, the sense of time and place was strangely lacking (other than the interesting use of the Polari language that was adopted by some gay men of the time), and there is very little action until the last 25%. And I never quite warmed up to "handsome, dashing" Zachary, whose initial cold-hearted plans to seduce his steward Gethin somehow turned to ...more
Thank you for the brilliant gift, boggartbub!
Aug 08, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Starts very well but thens drags on around half the book. Couldn't finish it.
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Lillian Francis is an English writer who likes to dabble in many genres but always seems to return to the here and now.
Her name may imply a grand dame in pink chiffon and lace, but Lillian is more at home in jeans, Converse, and the sort of T-shirts that often need explaining to the populous at large but will get a fist bump at Comic-Con. Lillian is a self-confessed geek who likes nothing more