Mills and Bang – the imprint that appeals to men and to women. Yes, our list of new novels which combines military daring and romance, battle orders and billets-doux, has proved a runaway success this summer. Here to greet autumn is another handful of unforgettable yarns that combine the daring of men with the love of women, and often vice versa.
It was halfway through the Great War, and the General Staff were in a quandary. They feared their French allies quite a lot. But above all they feared Captain Drusilla Salmon.
“No Man’s Land?!” she had cried, when she first arrived. “No woman’s land, more like! If a woman had been in charge of this place, it wouldn’t be in this kind of mess.”
She had a point, the General Staff privately admitted. The area between the German and the British lines had not been well maintained and could do with a bit of a wash and a brush-up. But they weren’t prepared for Captain Salmon to organise a series of squads to go out at night and completely reorganise no man’s land. Craters were filled in, barbed wire cleared away, the whole area re-seeded, until it looked not unlike one of the better municipal parks at Cheltenham. Even the Germans were impressed, and shelling fell to a minimum.
“Trouble is, we’re meant to be fighting a war, not redecorating France,” said the General Staff, and they sent their youngest member Colonel Chambers to talk to her.
“My darling", said Colonel Chambers, for he already knew her better than the General Staff suspected, “we’re very grateful for all your housework, as it were. But tomorrow night there’s to be a general advance, so keep your squads well clear."
“There’ll be no advance over my no man’s land!” thundered Drusilla. God, how well khaki suited her hair, thought Chambers. “Tomorrow night my men are putting out white benches and starting on a nine hole pitch ‘n’ putt course. That’s final."
Will the British army advance? Will Colonel Chambers win her over? Will Captain Salmon be tempted to tip off the Germans in order to prevent the advance? A nail-biting story of love, landscape gardening and large-scale massacre to please everyone.
Beneath a Far Flag by Rusta Lahbi
When Knut, a corporal in the Danish Army, is sent out to the Middle East as part of a UN peace-keeping contingent, he thinks of it as just another chance to get a sun-tan. When Lala, a nurse with the Indian peace-keeping contingent, is sent to the Middle East – which she quite understandably thinks of as the Middle West – she sees it as part of her mission to heal, as she has a sun-tan already. But a chance meeting in a wine bar inflames them both with passion.
“When this terrible peace is over,” says Knut, “I will come back to your tepee and live with you.”
“I think you are thinking of Red Indians, " explains Lala. “I am the other kind, from India.”
While Knut is working this out, Lala meets Jean-Louis, a sergeant with the French peace-keeping force and the only man she has ever met who can successfully explain structuralism to her. Torn between the blond Nordic beauty of Knut and the fiercely honest mind of Jean-Louis, she thinks of committing suicide by walking down the main street of Beirut. Then she has a better idea: get Knut and Jean-Louis to fight a duel.
Before the duel can take place, however, she meets Louise, a radical feminist with the CIA murder squad attached to the American peace mission, who persuades Lala that she is only acting out a stereotyped role wished upon her by Jean-Louis and Knut. They decide to run away together. Unfortunately, the night before the elopement Lala meets an Italian translator called Danilo, a rather effete wimp attached to the Red Cross and she is seized by an uncontrollable urge to mend his socks. Just finishing the last pair at dawn, she sees from the window Knut and Jean-Louis marching out for their duel… A tale of romance on a truly international scale.
Where Love Flies Free by Yolanda Tweed
Kurt, an East German guard, falls in love across the frontier with Gerda, a West German traffic warden. It takes him two years to build his escape balloon. Unfortunately, on the day planned the wind is in the west and he is shot down in Poland. A tragic tale, with full sewing patterns for making your own hot-air balloon in pink, yellow, or shocking black.