Wingmen By Ensan Case By Ensan Case

Nothing wrong with it.

Just realized that I can't do with just It's romance, but not really type of book.

I need my good dose of romance, and this book just doesn't have it. English Gerry B's Book Reviews -

You may have noticed I have a passion for WWII-vintage stories, and have reviewed several in the past. I like the era in general. It was a time when the free-world was drawn together by a war in two theatres, and men bonded together as warrior brothers—and sometimes more. Wingmen by Ensan Case (a pseudonym) [Cheyenne Publishing, 2012] captures the latter phenomenon with remarkable clarity and credibility. It is, in fact, one of the best war stories I have read.

Ensign Frederick “Trusty” Trusteau, one of two wingmen assigned to “skipper,” Lieutenant Commander J.J. “Jack” Hardigan. Trusteau is a handsome, capable aviator, who has honed his reputation as a “whoremaster” because that was (and is) the gold standard among predominantly male societies. It was very often a sham, or cover-up, but it was better than being considered the “odd-man-out.”

Jack Hardigan is a hard-drinking, hard driving skipper, who is dating a wealthy widow in Honolulu, but apart from a certain level of affection, there is no evidence of sexual activity between them. Therefore, there is no grand regrets when she breaks off their relationship for someone else.

The relationship between the two men starts, as it usually does, with earned respect on both sides; in this case as pilots of the famed Grumman Hellcats flown off the deck of a carrier. The bond grows stronger with each mission—warrior brothers—until it inevitably ends in a hotel room in Honolulu, where the line between brothers-in-arms and lovers is finally crosssed. However , if you are looking for a torrid, sexually erotic scene between two horny flyboys, you (gratefully) will not find it here. This scene is definitely sexy because of the circumstances—and the fact that we’ve been waiting for it for nearly two-thirds of the story—but in 1979 you didn’t write that sort of thing if you wanted to find a publisher—even an avant-garde one. Nevertheless, I think it is made a more realistic story because of it. This a story about men in love in war, and not about sex per se.

Of course the story wouldn’t be complete without an appropriate setting, and Case has provided it on board a fictional aircraft carrier, the Constitution. You can almost smell the sweat and testosterone in these scenes as they jostle aboard her. His apparent knowledge of naval aircraft is an asset as well, with just enough detail to help the reader understand without bogging the pace down in the process.

For those into WWII nostalgia there are also well-known battles, i.e. Wake Island, Tarawa and Truk Lagoon, where most of the Japanese Imperial fleet was wiped out—60 ships and 275 airplanes. Case has also provided an insight into the gruesomeness of war in some tense scenes where men are shot down, blown apart, and drowned mercilessly in the fray, and in the end Jack risks his life to save his lover.

Nevertheless, I agree with several other reviewers that the story should have ended on a high in 1945. The last part is interesting, mind you, and wraps up some loose ends, but it is anticlimactical. Given the excellence of the preceding, however, I’m not letting it dampen my overall impression. Five bees. English the yearning bro…. THE YEARNING….. 😭 😭 😭 GAYS WIN GUYS English If you consider the time this novel first was out, 1979, and the period it refers to, II World War, Wingmen is a daring novel since it “allows” to its heroes an happily for now ending, something that was seldom read at the time. Novels with gay themes had sometime made their appearance in the past, but most often than not, the heroes were not allowed to be able to enjoy their love. Even in most notorious novels like Gaywick, another release from Avon Books of the ‘70s, the happily ever after was not a 100% one, and not all the gay characters had it.

Having read “From Here to Eternity”, I can recognize the similar theme, but in that novel there was a subtle shame for being gay, and those characters who consciously admitted they were gays, were seen like weak and needing men, beginning sex in exchange of money. Love seemed not part of the equation, and that is the main difference in Wingmen; true, there is sex between Jack and Fred (even if, remember, this is the 1979 and set between 1940s and 1960s, so nothing is overtly on your face), but there is above all love. It’s a great love story, and both Jack than Fred are able to admit they are in love, that is not only basic physical desires attracting each other.

Wingmen is also a good was novel, with plenty of details on the war and war setting; it’s strange because I have always thought to Avon like a romance publisher, but that is probably the evolution they had from the ’70 on, starting to publish the notorious Savage Romance novels. Instead Wingmen is as much a “man” novel as it’s a romance, able to mix the two elements in a perfect combination.

And if someone is wondering on the real possibility of such story happening, I strongly suggest to read Coming Out Under Fire by Allan Berube (re-released in 2010 in a 20th Anniversary edition), many of the stories in that essay are a replica of what happened between Jack and Fred in the novel, and many like Jack and Fred came back from that war changed in many ways, and trying to reconnect with a world that was no more theirs. Some of them managed to be happy forever, some of them for a brief period, but at least they tried, at least they had the courage to fight for their love like they fought for their country. English I've been meaning to read this for over ten years, and now that I finally have, I feel like it will take another ten for it to worm it's way out of my brain.

I'm uncertain what precisely to make of it, but the uncertainty is positive. Intrigued. No wonder it made its way into a reprinting decades after its release.

The plot is simple. In the final years of World War II, Fred “Trusty” Trusteau, a skilled pilot, comes to serve under Jack Hardigan, a competent and experienced officer, and sparks fly - both around them and between them. Thrown together in tight quarters as they travel the Pacific Ocean to engage the enemy, they come to rely on each other and, eventually, fall in love.

While the romance is certainly the heart of the novel - and the main goal that the narrative strives towards - it happens against a backdrop of military operations during the height of war, and Ensan Case does not skimp on a single detail. I can't attest to the accuracy of his depictions of navy operations or aerial combat, knowing precisely nothing myself, but it's written so convincingly and with such bold confidence, that I have to believe it's been researched to some degree. Case himself served in the navy, so that explains part of it, but if he’s simply bullshitting knowledge of the second world war, well, I will never know.

Anyone going into it expecting a romance by the standards of romance novels today will be rather disappointed. For the most part, this is a novel about men at war with lengthy paragraphs on military operations that my eyes lightly skimmed. The fight scenes are well-written however, and honestly had me a bit on the edge of my seat.

That said, it's also a surprisingly sympathetic and soft depiction of... men's feelings? The three point of view characters are Fred, Jack and Duane, a close friend of Jack’s. Each have their own struggles, with each other, the world and themselves, and each deal with them in different ways. Duane may be the very ideal of a macho man, but even he has nuance and complex emotions. In fact Fred and Jack often lament the lack of depth of feeling amongst the other men, but even so none of the side characters felt particularly one dimensional to me.

Most of all I'm astounded at how tolerant the novel is. It’s rarely derogatory and it doesn’t belittle characters, not even ones that perhaps deserve it. There's no internalised homophobia and there's no external homophobia either, not in passing and not aimed at the characters. Not even from Duane when he discovers what Fred and Jack are up to. It exists, but as a remote cause of concern, not an immediate one.

Despite them being up against the Japanese, there’s a lot less racism than you might expect. And while there's a degree of sexism amongst the men, it's never nasty or unpleasant, and it's honestly never supported by the book itself. It’s mostly outweighed by the inclusion of Eleanor, a young, but wealthy widow, who's out to get a fucking man and have some fun. I adore her.

'It’s a good thing you came when you did,' [Eleanor] said. 'I’ve refused eight drinks, four dances, and two proposals of marriage.' Jack laughed. 'And that was from just one stranger.'

While the sentiments of the novel feel very modern, the writing does date the book a bit, as does the inexperience of Ensan Case as a writer. In an odd turn of events, the story felt a little like fanfiction at times, leading me to consider if it might not be the other way around. Women reading books such as these, using that language in fanfiction, and fanfiction, to this day, carrying that fingerprint with it. If only it wasn't the undying fingerprint of calling characters the older or younger man.

There's also the absolutely incredible way Jack realises he's in love with Fred. When Fred's plane is damaged, he's forced to land on another ship where he gets some help from a friendly admiral on where to sleep for the night. Jack has some feelings about it:

[Jack] was deep in a mental turmoil triggered by the ridiculous picture of Fred Trusteau sleeping with Admiral Berkey. It had been replaced in Jack’s mind with the next logical step: Fred Trusteau should have been here, sleeping with Jack Hardigan.

I'm honestly a little astounded that Ensan Case can take something as melodramatic (I say this with genuine fondness, I love that scene) as that and make it seem in character for a man as measured as Jack Hardigan. It works because Case himself is rather measured in describing it. No one is ever overtaken by emotion, whether negative or positive, which can make the story - for anyone expecting a full-blown romance - seem a little underwhelming, but I think it's a savvy move. It gives real weight to the things they do and feel for each other in the rare moment they have time to think of and act on it.

Sometimes the language feels clunky, scenes can get a little confusing, and occasionally the point of view shifts oddly between characters, but despite these debutant problems, I think Ensan Case has a truly good thing going. He writes emotionally coherent characters, he engages with those emotions, and he uses them actively as driving forces, while telling a sweeping tale of heroics that feels remarkably realistic and engaging, if, perhaps, at times a little bogged down by military jargon.

It's also, at times, pretty funny.

Hey, Trusty,' said Patrick, sitting in the chair next to his. 'How do you spell ‘funeral’?' He was writing a letter.

The thing that had me stumped for a while was the ending. Jack and Fred end up together after the war, and spend 25 years running a business together, while hiding their relationship, until Jack dies of a heart attack. At the funeral Fred reconvenes with Duane, who married Eleanor. Duane was almost certainly also in love with Jack, but refused to see it. Fred admits his and Jack's relationship, and Duane shows no anger, but uses the opportunity to sing Jack's praises.

And then Fred, internally, confesses something about his time with Jack. As time wore on, Jack got increasingly paranoid due to their relationship. He was afraid and anxious, to the point where it dulled his wit.

At first this felt so entirely out of character for Jack, I struggled to understand the intent behind it. It could have been a modified “bury your gays” scenario, an unhappy ending for the censors, but I’m not quite buying that either.

Being afraid is a perfectly rational, albeit tragic, response to a society that very much wanted to erase your very existence. I don’t think it’s a “being gay is bad” statement, rather a “being gay is hard” one.

And as I puzzled over it, something else dawned on me. Despite Jack’s fear, despite his anxiety and paranoia, despite how difficult it got: He never left.

Jack had a choice, at one point, to keep flying and land safely back at the base. Or to crash his perfectly functional plane into the ocean to save the life of the man he loves. He would have known it was not going to be easy, and half his fear is certainly for Fred instead of himself.

And he doesn’t leave. For 25 years he doesn’t leave. It isn’t easy, and it isn’t pretty, and it’s such a bittersweet conclusion, such an unfair hand to be dealt.

And yet they stay together.

It’s unfortunate that this novel wasn’t more of a success, because I think Ensan Case, with some practice, could have written some truly great novels. I will look for them in my dreams. English

4.5 stars for the audiobook version of this book.

I haven't read all that many historical fiction books, but the ones I tried were really good and this one is no exception. I was provided a review code for this audiobook and listened to it, while I was working on folding 17,000 letters. It's the kind of work you don't need to concentrate on and it would have been very boring, were it not for this book.

It quickly sucked me into another time and I found the story of the main character quite fascinating. This is a well-written historical fiction story and while it is not explicit and the focus is not on the romance per se, I really loved the focus on the relationship between the main character and his boss and wingman.

It starts as professional respect and turns into friendship and eventually more. It is slow-building and subtle, but very intriguing. I loved the unique perspective and really liked the main characters and secondary characters. The book never tried to simply the complex nature of the war or the characters. It is not black and white. There are characters who change and some who will never be likable, but are more than mere one-dimensional villains.

Without claiming authority on the time period (at all), the book felt authentic.

Merely the end felt kind of rushed to get to a bittersweet ending. It felt like there was an entire second novel that is scratched at in passing, but it would have been beyond the scope of this book to explore it in detail. Still, I couldn't help but feel a bit stunned at the quick end after the 'main stoory' is left behind and readers et to the epilogue.

All in all, though, a great audiobook and story I can highly recommend! English 3.5 stars

First thing's first: this is NOT a romance, so anyone reading this as a romance is going to be very disappointed. This is a war story with some romantic elements, but those elements make up a very small percentage of page time. Really, it's more a story of a squadron of pilots, focusing on three of the men, two of whom just happen to be gay and start a relationship with each other, but for the most part that relationship is between the lines.

HOWEVER, all that said, I still really enjoyed the story. I could tell that a lot of research went into this. The lingo, the fight scenes, the war diary, the protocols - I can't attest to how accurate anything is but it sure sounds legit. (Though the military lingo was a little too much at times. I even had to go back and relisten to the first few chapters because I was losing the thread of the story. Once I got used to it though, the story flowed well.) I thought many times while watching that this would make a great war movie, perhaps directed by Ron Howard, and I would've liked for the story to keep going after since I wasn't invested in the relationship as much as I was the squadron as a whole. So the ending felt a little anti-climatic. The epilogue covered about twenty-five years after the war's end, highlighting the major events in Fred and Jack's lives together. But even though this isn't a romance,

Keeping in mind this was originally written in 1979, it's no surprise then that this is not the gay-ok revisionist history that you get in too many m/m romances today. I get why people want their protags to be happy, but I always feel like it disrespects the men (and women) who had to live through those times. I really did like that aspect of it, and just the fact that this was published when it was is an example of all those little steps over the decades that brought us to where we are today.

The narrator does a good job, though I wished he'd made the voices a little more distinctive. My issues with the audiobook isn't because of him though. The editing was less than stellar. I lost track of how many times sentences were repeated, but it was easily over a dozen. This should've been caught before it was released and since I've had experience with this from Audible before, I doubt it's going to be fixed any time soon.

I do recommend this one if you're a WWII buff and enjoy action/adventure stories, but readers wanting Romance (™) should look elsewhere. English Re-read on 2021: Brain was like read something that makes you happy so I read this. There's no words to explain how much I cherish this story.

Re-read on 2019: I'm glad i revisited this book this weekend, it was the kind of book i needed to just get by. I was glued to the pages as if it were the first time i read it, wanting so bad to know what happens next. God...wish i had the three editions in paperback.

Original review sums up what i like about the story.

Original review (June 2017): Oh man this book is something else, I regret no reading it right away when I discovered it. But it's never too late, right?

People don't lie when they say this book is a classic war story, I could put it alongside with The thin red line, All quiet in the western front, Das boot, The naked and the dead, and many others. The only difference is that unlike in the others, the protagonists of this book are two men that fall in love with each other. Also, unlike in some of other war books, in here the homosexuals aren't depicted as erratic men, creepy, or a mess. On the contrary, they are role models for the flyboys in the squadron. How radical is that for a book published in the 70's?! I love it.

The story is enthralling and the descriptions of air exercise and combat are easy to follow and the author clearly knows what he's talking about. Even if nothing of importance happened I was glued to the book. The camaraderie on the ship is palpable, the struggle Fred and Jack have due this feeling that they don't quite belong socially with this group of men and still do things to just fit in is so real. The interactions between the characters is full of chemistry, and the ways they both discover in their own way about what made them different from the other men is just so heartwarming to witness.

This story overall has a subtle or not so subtle message about men's behavior in wartimes, criticism about the military regard to the soldiers and a positive message about how every single men can be as heroic and professional in the military as any other regardless of their sexuality.

The only thing that left me with a weird feeling is the ending, i got the feeling the couple had a good life after the war but also not due to an incident that marked Jack forever. And it's a bit sad...but if i give more thought maybe the author had a reason to end things the way he did. Considering that after the war there was a war within the military regarding hunting down homosexuals because they suddenly didn't need them to serve in a war...what Fred said in the end makes sense.

Amazing book, goes straight to my favorite reads of the year!. English Written in 1979, this novel stands alone in the m/m genre. Written before such low expectations have become the norm, Wingmen soars above 99% of what is out there today. I'd give it 10 stars if I could. By contrast, it shows how far writing has sunk from the days when books were actually edited and screened before being published. This can hold its own with the best of Naval Air Battle books.

Wingmen is not a true m/m romance by today's standards. It is mostly a WWII story taking place in the battles of Tarawa, Kwajalein and Truk. And yet it is a seriously engaging story of two men who find each other and fall deeply in love: the old-fashioned way. They earn it. There is a tremendous amount of detail. You feel like you are actually in the planes with the pilots and can smell the hot oil deep in the guts of an aircraft carrier. The energy and testosterone are palpable. The knowledge of the author is obviously first-hand. On the m/m side of the equation, this is far more of a growing-to-love story than just a romance.

Trusteau is the young ensign who is assigned to the older and far more experienced Hardigan, who has never even considered his lack of interest in women as anything other than simple disinterest. Trusteau on the other hand is aware of his gayness but, because of the time period is at first unable to define it.

The story progresses on multiple fronts. “Trusty” becomes the epitome of the Greatest Generation: courageous, humble and true to his country. “Skipper” is the true leader: strong, wise and willing and able to do whatever it takes to get the job done. Both have the honor code of Navy pilots to uphold, both in the air in bed.

However, as their relationship develops from respect to admiration to “father/son” to “brothers” to hidden lovers, the tension grows ever stronger. Trusty at times is the lovable puppy-dog who worships at the feet of the Skipper. Hardigan is big and strong and fearless...on the surface...while carrying deep inside the realities of death and loss.

This is a character driven story yet is mostly action. It is a love story yet filled with restraint. There are only two intimate scenes in the entire book and both are generally only alluded to, yet the love and respect burn to the soul.

My only complaint, which also has been indicated in other reviews, is that the ending falls terribly flat. It's as though the author felt compelled to tie up the loose strings at the end. Life is a continuum. There are always loose strings. Often it is best to set a story end naturally, and it does at the second-to-the-last chapter. If you read this book, my suggestion is this: Skip the last two chapters.

Tighten your cockpit harness and enjoy the ride! This story will have you biting your nails and crying at the same time. English OMG, this book was great! Just awesome! I loved every page of it and I suffered with Jack and Fred. The precious moments between them were so sweet, so touching.
I also loved the history in this book and the detailed description of the maneuvers, it was exciting and it reminded me of the cruelty of this horrible war. I also felt sad and in the end I cried for both of them, my feelings were mixed.
This book is unique! English

FREE DOWNLOAD Wingmen By Ensan Case

Jack Hardigan's Hellcat fighter squadron blew the Japanese Zekes out of the blazing Pacific skies. But a more subtle kind of hell was brewing in his feelings for rookie pilot Fred Trusteau. As another wingman watches - and waits for the beautiful woman who loves Jack - Hardigan and Trusteau cut a fiery swath through the skies from Wake Island to Tarawa to Truk, there to keep a fateful rendezvous with love and death in the blood-clouded waters of the Pacific. Wingmen By Ensan Case