The Marriage of True Minds by Jamie Freeman
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Historical, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (74 pgs)
Rating: 5 cherries
Reviewed by Phlox
In April 1945, soldier Charlie Blanchard met a handsome Canadian captain named Danny Farnham in a small village on the Rhine River and reluctantly found himself falling in love. As they stole time for themselves, Danny asked Charlie a question: if a djinn appeared and offered him one wish, what would that wish be?
Fifty years later, Charlie is alone in his home facing a hurricane, inundated by memories. Looping through the details of his life, his thoughts always return to Danny. As the storm escalates, Charlie realizes this may be the end—the end of a love affair that has spanned decades.
Transported, whisked away, and completely caught off guard—that’s what happened when I read this story. I often avoid the combination ghost story and romance. Things get a little odd, or they’re simply tragic. Here, the author lets you know up front that the love interest died long ago. Never fear. You still get your happily-ever-after ending. This is merely a jumping off point for this heart-seizing romance.
With depth of feeling and wonderful description, the reader travels back and forth with Charlie between his old age in Florida and his youth in WWII Germany where he and Danny, both young officers, meet. The tale gently leads us into the mind of this man, a man who has tried to live his life as honorably as he could, but who has always been left with a sense of being incomplete and restless. His inability to live in the present except with Danny, who now haunts his Florida house, runs as an undercurrent to the romance, beautifully illustrated by this passage:
“I felt disconnected to the world around me as if, at least for the moment, nothing mattered outside the room. It was a rare occurrence for me, to live so intensely that my life narrowed to a single point. No past, no future, no worries, no speculations. Just Danny and me.”
Yes, the sex is hot and steamy but written with a tenderness that tugs at the heart, with desperate emotional poignancy. I felt in the moment as well, reading the WWII passages. Freeman’s portrayal of the period is rendered successfully because of the little details, what sorts of buttons have to be undone, what sorts of songs might be in a German record collection of the time. Having been forced to watch too many hours of WWII documentary, I’ll confess I’m not an avid fan of the era. Usually. But this story has nothing to do with generals and troop movements, and everything to do with conquests of the heart, a look at the conflict from a more human level, tragedy and all. Freeman demonstrates an excellent grasp of the short story medium. Some writers are more comfortable in the short form, but I would be intrigued to see what this author might do in a longer work.
Charlie and Danny’s story is one that will stay with me for a long time, most likely always. Pick an afternoon when the significant other won’t pester you, shoo the kids out of the house, and give yourself a couple of uninterrupted hours with this beautifully crafted story. Immerse yourself in it, and I promise you’ll feel uplifted and fulfilled at the end.