Sunday, March 8, 2015

Gold Digger (Special Forces spinoff) by Aleksandr Voinov

Continuing with the second spin off to Special Forces. This one of Vadim's son Nikolai. I really didn't think about it when I read Deliverance, but I realized we only got a phone call from Dan (with a mention of Vadim) and in this one Dan is visiting friends so we only got to re-visit Vadim. I think it's because Aleksandr wrote Vadim's POV and Marquesate Dan's POV  but I"m not totally sure about that. It does make sense, though..

We met Nikolai in the last installment of Special Forces as a grown man when Vadim tries to reconnect with his family. I remember the scene where they sit and talk probably for the first time in years. It was heart crushing. I had my hopes back then that it would work between them, both missed too much, even though biologically Nikolai isn't Vadim's son buy Sasha's the man Vadim and Katya shared (and Vadim always thought Katya would have married Sasha and not Vadim if he hadn't died in the war). 

I totally got my wish. Seeing them together when Nikolai visits him for a week in New Zealand - even when it was a bit awkward there was still a connection, and they were able to talk like a father and son. I loved every minute of them together and enjoyed so much getting to re-visit Vadim even if it's obvious that in his old age he is still dealing with his horrible life experiences. I"m not sure when I'll be able to re-visit "Special Forces" with it being so long and my endless reading list but this glimpse into Vadim, a character I was so overwhelmed with (for so many reasons), was truly a joy.   

I'm forgetting the romance aren't I? Nikolai works for a company that finds gold. He needs the services of LeBeau Mining company to harvest it. But when he approaches the company he discovers a lot more than he expected. Firstly, Henri, the nephew of the CEO is a flirt, a flirt he has a hard time saying no to, when they are having such a good time together. Even though he isn't gay there is still curiosity there. Secondly, Henri confesses that his uncle would probably want to buy out Nikolai's company and use it to his own needs which makes the interaction between them quite problematic. 

Henri was sweet. He really wasn't a bastard like his uncle and did what he can to help the man he falls for. But I'm not sure if it's ONLY that. It felt as though he wanted to do the right thing this time around and having Nikolai by his side is more than he could wish for. Nikolai had a lot of struggles, with LeBeau's Mining intentions, with his sexuality (he never considered he was anything but heterosexual but as it seems he is a bi) but also with the life style he maintained in which he keeps wandering around with two suitcases around the world never settling anywhere. This is were the father-son interaction was so crucial and beautifully done.  

There is a bit more drama in the Krasnorada family with Nikolai's sister Anya (Vadim's biological daughter) which I always saw as a total bitch - she doesn't miss any opportunities here as well.. Yet in a way what she does and say affect Nikolai (in the end) in a positive way (at least I think so..).

I liked the romance between Nikolai and Henri. They were sweet together. It did somehow work too quickly, them falling for each other in the 3 days Nikolai spent in Toronto. I'm not sure if I believed it, or if I could accept what Henri did in the very end but well, I enjoyed their banter and connection so I don't mind that much.

The reason I'm giving this one 4 stars is that I wasn't into the economical aspect. I understand why it had to be there, for us to understand the situation Nikolai and his company was in, but I couldn't care less about it, and I didn't understand too much as it is about the whole deal... and for a novella so short I rather had more couple time and less of the "side story". 

Additional Details: Kindle Ebook, 136 pages, 7 March 2015 / 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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