On a deserted island in the Pacific, surrounded by the enemy, two very different men learn to rely on each other for survival. Mike is an uneducated rascal, one step ahead of prison and a court-martial. He’s given one chance to redeem himself: if he wants to stay out of jail, he has to keep Professor James Hamilton alive. No matter what.
James is everything Mike isn’t–suave, educated, intellectual, and rich. He’s also a conscientious objector and he’s made a deal with the army–three months on the island breaking codes as long as he doesn’t have to kill anyone.
Mike is Catholic, the son of immigrants, and has never acted on his desires. James is Jewish, the son of Boston society, and experienced in love between men. During their hazardous stay on the island, they teach each other about life, friendship, and survival. With only them to say what’s right and wrong, the men make a deal: Mike must give himself to James for one day, submit to him completely, and James will allow Mike to take him whenever Mike wants to slake his sexual needs.
But once the war is over, can they keep the promises made on those hot Pacific nights and find one place both of them can call home?
Review by Vashtan
“Pacific Nights” tells the story of Mike Dabrowski and James Hamilton, who get the job to break codes on an island in the Pacific during WWII. The guys are very much the ‘odd couple’. Mike is a rough sergeant, Polish, Catholic, lower class, whereas James is a Jewish mathematician and code-breaker, refined, upper class.
This short novel of around 32-33k words starts at night as our heroes jump out of the plane and land on the island. They set up their camp, and discover the wreck of a Japanese plane. From now on, they know there might be a Japanese survivor on the island.
After not too long, Mike becomes aware of an attraction towards the professor who is so very unlike himself. He resents the man but can’t help thinking about him. The tension rises until Mike accuses (for whatever reason, I assume psychological projection) Hamilton of being gay. When Hamilton doesn’t deny or confirm it, Mike is convinced that Hamilton is, indeed, gay, and reverts to sullen hostility.
One month into their three-month mission, Mike suffers from a major case of blue balls and begins to masturbate vocally, aware that the professor can hear him in the other tent and unwilling and seemingly unable to keep it down. Here’s a taste of that:
He lay on his side, as every touch seemed to wrench some sound from his throat. No matter how hard he tried not to make a sound, they bubbled up.
It just felt so good, and he needed to relieve his raging hard-on. He woke with one in the morning and went to bed with one every night, and during the day he struggled to keep one from popping up. It was like he was a kid again, reacting to any glimpse of flesh he could see.
And Hamilton acted as if he didn’t have a dick.
Fuck Hamilton. Mike tasted blood as he bit down on his lip to keep from moaning.
Mike’s hand pistoned and his hips jerked in rhythm as he sought that place where he could finally let loose. No more silence.
He moaned, loud and clear, and couldn’t believe how good it felt. It intensified his enjoyment, prolonged the pleasure as if the sound and the feeling were in some way joined.
Let Hamilton hear, damn it. Mike didn’t care anymore. All he needed was to express his pain and his pleasure.
Shit, he didn’t even care if the Jap heard him.
“Keep it down, Sergeant.” Hamilton’s cool voice floated out of the night.
Mike’s dick throbbed harder just knowing James had heard.
“No can do, Professor,” he gritted out. “It’s up, and it’s going to stay that way for a little while longer.”
This is about the moment when the plot, which so far seemed to have been about codebreaking and two very different men learning to cooperate, careens off into all-out porn/erotica. Suffice to say that the two reach an agreement, and from then on, the main focus is on the joys of light bondage. That is where the book stays for a long time, then returns to a semblance on plot, which I found somewhat unconvincing.
Technically, the sexual tension and sex is competently handled and fairly hot. It’s also pretty anachronistic. In their sexual mores, and especially in the porn-style dialogue, I don’t believe for a moment that these are men from the forties. The author strictly uses the Second World War as a pure backdrop – there is very little impact of this massive conflict on these two men (apart from the Japanese survivor, who provides what little plot there is and is responsible for the “dark moment”). I found the characters a bit too cliché to really feel for them, the colours are very stark indeed, up to the point of near-caricature. I would have liked much more exploration of these men, and a bit more subtlety and banter to really see them men fall in love for other reasons than that their sex is good.
The times and setting. Since they are on a nice Pacific island, the war doesn’t really touch them, they don’t have to deal with society or its views on gays, all they have to do is get to grips with each other. Apart from brushed-over codebreaking, they don’t really do much else.
Mike, who’s supposedly a sergeant and a bit of a rogue, doesn’t strike me as a very military man. Both characters are dumped out of a plane at night with seemingly no training, and no survival skills that, as far as I know, every soldier would get that was actually deployed in the wilderness without any other means to feed or care for himself.
While I would believe that from Hamilton who is a civilian, Mike’s relative military incompetence was less convincing. There was none of the grit and realism that I would expect from a novella set in those times and that theatre of war, which was every little bit as horrifying and bloody as the European theatre.
But this novella works quite well if you’re only looking for hot sex and don’t care much about the history, the setting, the morals of the time, and are okay with an ending that evades all potential conflict.
It’s a nice little read that is competently written, but I would have enjoyed a lot more meat – and less “oh my god, James/Mike!”-style sex dialogue.
I received this ebook for the purpose of this review from Erastes.