The Tide of War is a book about different relationships, loss, and the things that keep people going. Author Witt sets up strong family groups only to break them down one by one with devastating results. The focus is on life and loss – not romance, sex, or even sci fi.
Story: The Earth is under attack by an alien species with whom no contact has been possible. The ‘why’ of the attacks isn’t even known – only that humans have focused on defending at home and attacking the alien homeworld from a base located across the galaxy. Kyle West, father and husband, protects Earth from each subsequent attack on the homefront. Along with wife/ace gunner Emily, they form a ferocious fighting pair. On Epsilon, decorated pilot and gunner Alexei and his wife are also fighting a fierce battle, strafing the alien cities in retaliation. Both men are living a lie with the blessing of their wives; Alexei is bi and is given leave for occasional relationships. Kyle is gay and married to hide that from the military brass. When both face devastating losses from the terrible battles, they will change the tide of war and reveal the true face of the alien menace they have been fighting so long.
Since the emphasis is on the relationships and not the battles, the book does move at a languid pace. There’s no insta-luv and the sex scenes are abbreviated; the author clearly wants the focus on story and the cost of the war to both men. Each has solid support systems that will be systematically destroyed through the course of the book. But because this isn’t a romance, it’s not about the men falling madly in love despite the war; rather, it’s about how they deal with the situations in which they find themselves and a mutual attraction that neither really wants or needs at that point in their lives.
The story has a large plot twist at the end that most will see coming (and I can’t say it makes a lot of sense/is plausible either). But then again, I do appreciate a book that isn’t about hooking up or smarmy romance, either. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.