The legendary Hotel Ritz Paris is a central character in its own right in this flawed lovers love story in which young American artist, Paul Stainer, is trapped in World War Two occupied Paris. Banished to Europe in 1940 by a wealthy Chicago family because of his gay hedonist lifestyle, nineteen-year-old uncommonly handsome and sexy Paul is in Paris not only to further his art development but also to notch the bedpost with as many of the continent’s artistic and literary giants as he can. Caught penniless by the German occupation of Paris, he turns to his most lucrative skill—gay sex for money. In the process, he finds himself in the Hotel Ritz Paris and the bed of German SS Gestapo captain Garren von Kaube.
Slowly, surely, as Germany’s prospects for victory are going downhill, the two flawed characters fall in love. Garren wishes Paul to retreat to Berlin with him, but Paul fears doing so as Garren does not know Paul is an American, which would endanger them both. As the noose tightens around the German occupation, sometimes Ritz Paris resident Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring discovers the charms of Paul and both the pressure to aid the Resistance and the threat of being condemned as a collaborator fall ever more heavily on Paul’s head.
“That is an absolutely well plotted & erotic story with first-rate dialogue appropriate for the story & times.”
Minutes later Paul was at the oversized glass French doors across the room—the only window in the dimly lit attic loft, back pressed against the left door frame, right leg bent, foot lifted against the frame, smoking a cigarette, and looking out at the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris across the Seine on the ȋle de la citè. The view of the cathedral was magnificent, as well it should be, as it was one of three requirements Giroux had had in choosing this garret to live in: He had to have space and ceiling height to be useful as an art studio, he had to have a clear view of Notre-Dame, and he had to be able to afford the rent himself so that he could bring young men home and fuck them in peace.
“Hold that pose,” Giroux growled from the bed through the lit cigarette between his lips as he reached for his sketchbook and charcoals.
Paul bent the arm holding the cigarette and supported it under the elbow with the other arm. “Yes, just like that,” Giroux said. “Lovely long, elegant lines. And the right leg hides the genitals. This will be commercial. Has anyone told you that you have a ripe, young, fuckable body?”
“Not since Tuesday,” Paul answered in a flat, bored voice. “It’s quiet down there. Much too quiet.”
“What do you expect?” Giroux asked as he sketched. “Most of the city is gone. You should be gone as well. You could go. I worry that you will not go.”
“Go where?” Paul asked. “And why, after all I had to do to be here?”
“It’s inevitable that the Americans will come into the war against Germany,” Giroux said. “The Germans are entering the city today. Can’t you hear the rumble of their tanks? You may not be safe here for long.”
“How long is long?” Paul asked. “Is it beyond today? If so, it can wait.”
“You are trying too hard at this Bohemian lifestyle, I believe. I may not be here much longer myself. What will you do alone in the city?”
“Are all of the men of Paris going to disappear? Not a single rich and notable queer in need of a bed warmer staying on?”
“Most of the men who can will be gone, yes. And certainly the men who sleep with men; the Germans are known to be prudish and brutal toward such men.”
“I think German men are much like any others—that they say one thing and do another. As long as the money keeps being wired, I’ll be fine,” Paul answered. “I was with Allard the portraitist before you. No doubt there will be a man for me after you too.”
“You are a little whore, aren’t you?”
“I do what I can,” Paul said in the same tired, bored voice.
Both men were surprised by the sound of a loudspeaker from the streets below announcing a curfew for 8:00 p.m. that night and every night for the foreseeable future at the risk of being shot.
“And so the Nazi occupation of Paris begins,” Giroux said in a heavy voice.