Friday, January 24, 2014

Review- Silver Wings by H.P. Munro

Silver Wings

By H. P. Munro

Oct 15, 2013

Lesbian/Era Historical 1940’s/Romance/Multicultural

251 Pgs

Pub: self?

Kindle Edition

When in 1943, twenty-five-year-old Lily Rivera is widowed, she finally feels able to step out of the shadows of an unhappy marriage. Her love of flying leads her to join the Womens Airforce Service Pilots, determined to regain her passion and spread her wings, not suspecting that she would experience more than just flying.
Helen Richmond, a Hollywood stunt pilot, has never experienced a love that lifted her as high as the aircraft she flew…until she meets Lily.

Both women join the W.A.S.P. program to serve their country and instead find that they are on a collision course towards each other, but can it last?

This book was a lucky find for me. In fact, I don’t remember how or where I heard about it, but I’m glad I bought it. It’s one of those stories that crept up on me and left me feeling a bittersweet sadness. Not that this is a sad book, not in the least. It’s an upbeat and beautiful love story as well as an accurate depiction of the time period and history of the W.A.S.Ps.

Lily has lost her husband in the war, and being a pilot, decides to join the W.A.S.P program to help out her country. Coming out of her interview she passes Helen, a beautiful blond woman who somehow attracts her attention.

Helen notices Lily right away and feels the same immediate attraction. She is a lesbian however, so it’s not a strange feeling for her.  Luckily for them, they end up being assigned the same living quarters at the training camp.

The two women become fast friends during their training and slowly little glances and innocent touches start happening between them. They both feel an energy between each other, but circumstances don’t allow them to explore or acknowledge it. It’s especially uncomfortable for Lily because she’s aware of an attraction but doesn’t completely understand the nature of it.

Even though the 40’s was not a time period where same sex couples could be open, and especially it was illegal in many places and particularly the military, it wasn’t that odd if women cuddled or slept in the same bed or comforted each other. This is exactly the situation that Lily and Helen end up in and living and working together in a close atmosphere gives them a chance to get closer and have little touches without attracting suspicion. At the same time, it created more sexual tension between them until they were able to finally express their true feelings. What’s nice about how their romance developed was the fact that their relationship as friends had time to grow as well. So it’s totally believable that they would invest in a future relationship.

While the romance is in the foreground, there are a lot of other aspects to this story that made it a fun and gratifying read to me. First are the other characters who stand out in their own right. The women assigned to bay four are an eclectic mix of women who all have distinct personalities and all come from completely different backgrounds. As the women slowly get to know each other secrets that some are hiding come out. Secrets that could potentially be harmful. But they all accept and stick up for each other and I liked this. It’s actually kind of refreshing to read a story with a bunch of female characters in which at some point it doesn’t turn into a catty bitch fest.

Also on characters, the author doesn’t go for the default, which was also refreshing. Lily is Hispanic and shares an apartment in NYC with an African American woman, both working in night clubs as a musician and singer. Lily, besides being a great pilot, is also a concert violinist in the NY Philharmonic. One of the other women is married to a black man, who is a lawyer but serving in war. She hides that she’s married because her marriage is illegal in Texas but not in her state of MA. So I loved that the author didn’t go with stereotypes, which actually made it more realistic and appealing due to that.

Other issues of the time were addressed as well. A local Texas dept. store wouldn’t serve Lily because they “don’t serve Mexicans.” Racism and sexism of the time are realistically shown but are tempered by the women themselves standing up against it.

The other interesting part is the actual history of what the W.A.S.P.s did. While they didn’t fight in the war and weren’t part of the military, their contribution was great. The author really got the historical facts correct and the small, intricate details accentuated and created an authentic feel that this was set in 1943 and that the women were pilots.  

Ultimately though, it’s about two women who fall in love and try to navigate how to be together during this time period and being separated due to their service and social mores of the time. I liked that the author did both a prologue and an epilogue from current time. It gave a strong feeling of a life- long interesting history of a woman, her love, and other women who had guts and lived what they wanted to.

Heat level: 3- not very graphic written, but several sex scenes. Also, first time to read very erotic foreplay and sex in terms of how one starts and preps a plane for take- off.

Grade: Really liked it

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