FORTUNE’S SOLDIER by Taryn Allen
Lt. Jamie Cameron parachutes into a small Dutch town during World War II and must hide in a wardrobe in an apartment to keep from being detected by the occupying Germans. When he is able to get out of hiding he can only find women’s clothes to wear, but when he dons them he feels right somehow. Though raised as a boy in Scotland by his distant mother while his father is stationed elsewhere he has never felt as if he fit in. Though good at some sports, he is not the all-boy youngster his father wanted him to be. This, the dress, the shoes, the underwear, the scarf, all feels right.
Jamie is discovered by a German checkpoint and becomes a translator of French and English for disillusioned Major Otto Schneider, a former tank commander who was wounded and now has to work at a desk. They slowly begin to connect and when they must part Jamie has his, or rather, her first kiss. She realizes she is falling in love. She flees to the American lines and winds up doing the same translating work for the Allies. Months later as the Third Reich is starting to fall apart and at the Battle of the Bulge, Jamie, now Jeannine and Otto find each other again.
This is an utterly charming, heart-warming novel. Jeannine’s generosity of heart and her honesty make her an extremely appealing character. Through her desire to help others she offers so much healing and hope it is enough to plant a smile on your face that doesn’t quickly fade. Yet the story is so well told, so well organized and so real that you accept the premise no matter how unlikely you may believe about Jeannine’s change to entirely female.
There is a bit too much information dumping in this novel, including a long and detailed section at the beginning explaining where we are in World War II. However it is so well organized and presented and concise that you accept it. I also had trouble confirming whether someone raised intersex, for that is what Jamie/Jeannine is, to know whether one can suddenly mature at 19. The sites I found don’t seem to talk about that. The author has a tendency to throw out “Oh and by the way, she always had a hole behind her penis” late-coming facts that ease the transition and seemed clumsy.
Nevertheless, when you reach the end you completely accept and embrace Jeannine and are rooting for her and Otto. So many good things happen as the story winds down that you are completely satisfied.