Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Special Forces #2 - Mercenaries Part 1 (1989-1992) by Aleksandr Voinov (Vashtan) & Marquesate

It's quite hard for me to rate this book. It started off as a definite 5 Stars, like the previous one, but 3/4 into the book I started feeling like we sort of lost the romance and it turned into an Erotica novel. Not that I mind that much, sex IS healthy ;) thing is, with these two, there is so much more and the emotions expressed in the previous installment and up until that point where mind shattering, so why make such a drastic change? 

I find it somewhat strange that the second installment is separated into two parts, I'm not even sure there is a real reason plot-wise for the separation (besides the size of the file / amount of pages in each one). The first part, the one I'm reviewing at the moment, is from Chapter 20 up until and including Chapter 35. Just so you know :)

I was wondering how much of the actual plot to write in this review.. In the previous review I just mainly talked of Dan and Vadim and the fact that their love, and the way it was built was absolutely stunning but since it built so slowly and there was so much action around them it was hard to really say what the plot was about without writing 10 pages ;) With this one it's different, it's easy to divide the novel into 3 major parts. 

The first part, about the first 4 chapters, we start with what happened right after the ending of the previous book. I think that even though there wasn't any solution to Dan and Vadim's situation there was still a sort of air of hope and not only because there are two more installments ;) It just felt so unfinished the way they parted. So I won't write what exactly happened but they DO actually separate in the worst way possible and both pay a terrible price for that. While Dan was mainly heart broken, Vadim was thoroughly crushed. 

Sadly the short lived reunion between the two of them isn't what either would have expected or wanted leaving them both in a way in a worse state then they have been before. 

There are a few chapters showing them individually trying to make what they can with their lives. What was interesting to see that both of them discovered quite a lot about themselves in their time apart. 

Dan went to Iraq and there found friends and "fun lovers" making him realize he isn't just an old geezer, and I think for the first time he actually has friends and he is accepted for more than his military achievements. His time with Vadim and finding out he is gay, being separated from Vadim in a way made him see the world in a "there's nothing else to lose so why not try.." so even though he is heart broken inside I think that he LIVES for the first time in his life, doing things he likes and enjoys doing and being a part of a group, soldiers, unlike the solitary work he did before also made the connections he founded more easy to access and hold on to.  

On the other side of the world (in a sense) Vadim is dealing in his way with the lose of Dan but also his identity. I think that in this whole book we can see how much Vadim is struggling with who he was and who he is now. It's really heart breaking. Maggie (the ambassador Dan works for) tries helping Vadim in her own way (even if he doesn't know if she's just being cruel or honestly wants to help him). I guess for Vadim as well there is a growth in the relationships he builds while apart from Dan though they are somewhat different from Dan (not based on sex for once..).

The Second part is of the two of them finally meet again and try in their twisted way deal with life in general, deal with one another and finally try and fix their relationship. While the first part was hard to read at points, this part was mind blowing with its intensity. 

Vadim has changed, REALLY changed and Dan is hurt from his behavior and feeling he can't forgive him but also he doesn't know "who" to forgive, the man opposite him does look like Vadim but he somehow isn't. I really could understand Dan in the way he was feeling, He always saw Vadim as the strongest person alive, and the man in front of him isn't that man anymore. I think he can't really perceive an option in which something or someone can really influence Vadim that much, changing him in a way Dan can't even recognize him. On the other hand I also understood Vadim and why finds it hard to explain to Dan the place that he is in now and mainly how everything was SO hard on him. Thing is, Vadim doesn't know who HE is and he doesn't know how and even IF he can make it work between them again. Too much water flowed in the river.. too much hurt. 

On the last chance before Dan makes the ultimate choice of leaving for good - he needs Vadim's help and no one else can help him but him. Trusting him again even if just for a military mission at last makes them sit and talk and open up about their previous decisions and their feelings for one another. 

From there on, Dan really tries to help Vadim out and it was really nice seeing them dealing and healing their relationship for ONCE on holiday in Thailand and not with sand and mountains around them but mostly without unfriendly fire (in every sense possible). I really enjoyed reading how MUCH they feel for each other and what it means for the both of them when it doesn't work but also when it DOES. 

It was really interesting to see their relationship sort of built "from the start" again. Learning to trust each other and understand each other but somehow in a different way than before because in their hearts they already do. 

What was also strange but somehow refreshing at points and hard to read at others is just how much Vadim HAS changed, how different he is now, which also shifted the "power struggle" between them. While in the previous book Vadim maneuvered a lot in the relationship with his dominance and need for Dan (even before they were in love with each other), the one who went after Dan, the one who tries to make the relationship into a "real" one in every way he could, now, Dan is the certain one, the one who knows what he wants and what he needs, the one holding Vadim up, being there for him, showing him more kindness than he ever did. 

Third and last part, mainly the last 5 chapters, was returning to camp and their previous routine but finally as a couple and finally in a way they couldn't be before, a couple living in camp, living together, being open about them being in a committed relationship. My problem with this part, which I already wrote above, is that what we mostly see isn't them being a couple, or going on missions together, but them having sex.. with one another, with additional partner/s, with different partners.. It was basically a sex-fest. I get it that it was a way for the both of them to show their sexuality in a more "normal" way then they could before. For Dan it was finally getting to enjoy sex and not be ashamed about it, experiencing new things without the intensity which is "built-in" into their relationship. For Vadim, it was also about finding himself again but also finding a tender self with other partners (not trying to rape or make others succumb to him but truly desire him) as someone else phrased it for him - "try being nice". 

I wish there was something to make this part more interesting, there are certain things that happen besides the sex but they are too little and the sex around makes everything else feel superficial as well. There's a nice ceremony that they take part in which was really nice but it felt that it mainly led to a threesom while making the significant of the situation get lost somewhere between 3 hot bodies.. There was a nice scene with Vadim getting recognition from his fellow soldiers which actually DIDN'T lead into a threesom but started with one.. so yeah.. you get me..  

I must say that I read most of these last chapters while being tattooed. I knew I couldn't talk to the tattoo artist because of the placement of the tattoo on my body. I would say it was hard to concentrate because of the pain, but "lucky for me" what I read was superficial and unimportant enough to be read this way.. I'm not sure how annoyed I would have been if I was actually sitting at home reading.. probably would have put the kindle down a few times out of annoyance. I CAN and DO read a books filled with sex, but no matter how much sex is thrown in, I have to have a valid and significant plot line. It can't be ALL about the sex for the sake of having sex.. and with these two and their Epic relationship and love story I REALLY expect more.. 

So, kinda hard to rate.. but I'll give this one 4.5 stars because the majority of the book was a joy to read. Well, maybe not a JOY JOY, but you know, Dan and Vadim, they are Epic together and even apart. 

Additional Details: Kindle Ebook, 586 pages, 21-25 August 2014 / On GoodReads
Special Forces by Aleksandr Voinov (Vashtan) & Marquesate is a MM Romance series telling the EPIC love story of Scottish SAS soldier Dan McFadyen and Soviet Spetsnaz soldier Vadim Petrovich Krasnorada. It was published on the authors' websites as a free novel in parts between July 2006 - April 2009 and can still be found on Marquesate's website (as HTML), Aleksandr decided to remove it from his website awhile ago. [ If you're interested in the second and third part in MOBI format please contact me. I made MOBI files from the HTML published on Marquesate's website. ]

Special Forces is the epic story of a Scottish SAS soldier and a Soviet spetsnaz soldier. Two enemies who meet in the line of duty during the early days of the Soviet Union’s last war in Afghanistan. Behind enemy lines respect and finally love grow... but that’s only the official version. 

The reality of these two men is dark, brutal, fueled by aggression and insane lust. Steeped in pain and killing, with death as their shoulder companion, these Special Forces soldiers meet in 1980. Their intense hatred caused by rape, revenge and torture turning into fucked-up lust and years of secret encounters in the rat-infested labyrinth of Kabul and the Afghan mountains. Time, despair and desolation smoothing down the sharpness of hatred, its venom drained with each physical encounter, the lust helping to form an understanding that only two men of the same kind can share. Enemy Mine and Brothers in Arms - on two different sides. 

This novel spans across over twenty-five years of their lives. It’s harsh and violent, but life is cruel and they just do what they need to survive. 

I truly feel like I have nothing more to add to what the authors themselves have to say about this series so I'll try and sum up my feelings - This is an EPIC love story between two enemies that started with hating each other and became inseparable. 25 years of so much heart ache I sometimes wonder how I went through it all. This series changes everything I think about romance, gay or hetero, it doesn't matter. What Dan and Vadim went through in the 25 years we are part of their lives put me out of my comfort zone too many times to count, right from the first chapter to the very ending which was beautiful and naturally left me with tears as too many scenes did (not something that happens to me very often..). 

Dan and Vadim aren't perfect, they are human and not that good or nice about a lot of things they do in the time we get to know them. I started off hating Vadim with a vengeance and generally disliking Dan yet somewhere along the line I fell for them both and wanted to see them truly happy together and it took quite a lot of time to get there through any torture possible. 

It was an EPIC ride. I truly felt changed when I finished reading it. Though I can't say that the series was perfect, it was out of this world amazing. My main issue with the series is there were, at times, too many sex scenes that in my personal opinion just made the story drag for no apparent reason, yet I don't begrudge the series for it.   

The first book in the series is the most viewed post on my blog strangely enough. Though I don't take back anything *I* wrote about this series, Aleksandr has said many times he disliked these as they were written in a darker period in his life and is very different from what he writes today and the general place he is on at the moment. He also said he was dabbling with writing more darker erotica (this book has it all..). While I didn't always like this fact, I liked the overall arc so much I just skipped those scenes. Yeah it means I skipped quite a lot in the second part but again, I was more invested in where all these experiences took Dan and Vadim and not specifically being "there" with them throughout it all. I don't think I'll even get to re-read this series as it's VERY long, and somewhat similar to Aleksandr I feel like I'm in a different place at the moment as well so reading something SO dark isn't a current fit for me. Yet still it doesn't change the strong feelings I was left with when I read these. They are still meaningful as they were back then when I read them. 

There are two more spin-off novels written separately by these authors.  
Deliverance by Marquesate and T.A. Brown (27 February 2012) ★★★★★
Tells the story of ex-Marine Matthew Donahue "Matt" and Delta Force Hubert Bozic "Hooch" whom we met in the second installment of Special Forces, both being friends with Dan and later on Vadim having a close relationship with Hooch. 
Gold Digger by Aleksandr Voinov (15 September 2012) ★★★★
Tells the story of Vadim's son - Nikolai Petrovich Krasnorada findig his HEA in Henri LeBeau. There was a sort of resemblance to the unlikely circumstances Vadim met Dan. We got to see Vadim again and see him as a father, a real father who talks to his son and gives him advice when needed which was beyond beautiful.

Special Forces #1 - Soldiers (1980-1989) ★★★★★
Special Forces #2 - Mercenaries Part One {Chapters 20-35} (1989-1992) ★★★★½
                                  Mercenaries Part Two {Chapters 36-53} (1992-1993) ★★★¾
Special Forces #3 - Veterans (1994-2006) ★★★★


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