This was a 3.5 star, maybe even a 4 star read for me, until the last chapter.
Apart from the never-ending discussion about whether a love story that doesn’t have "an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending", or in other words: a happy ending (HEA or HFN) can be labelled as a "romance" or not (personally, I think: NOPE), I prefer my MCs at least to be ALIVE at the end of my books. I DON'T want to witness them being slaughtered on the battlefield, historically accurate wartime romance or not.
IF IT DOESN’T HAVE AN HEA (OR HFN), IT’S NOT ROMANCE!
You also might want to check out this blog post, which perfectly sums up my feelings regarding this issue.
Update: Just to clarify (because I feel awful to give such a low rating to such a nice author):
- as a "romance" novel: 1 star
- as a "(tragic) gay love story": 3.5 - 4 stars
The writing was good, the research was well-done, and the MCs and secondary characters were all very likable.
But I finished this book today with a heavy heart and it left me sad, and that's not what I am looking for when I choose to read a romance novel.