29 July 2010

Review: The discovery of a great M/M series -> Marquesate & Vashtan - Soldiers

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Special Forces - Soldiers
by Marquesate & Vashtan
Publisher: Pocketboek, 559 pages

Genre: M/M erotic romance
Book #1 in Special Forces series
Main Characters: Vadim Petrovich Krasnorada, Dan McFadyen
Book Origin: Personal e-Library

Cover Summary:Special Forces is an epic work of military gay erotic fiction, which is available for free. The Director's Cut of Special Forces can be downloaded from Aleksandr Voinov's website HERE

The three cycles Soldiers, Mercenaries, and Veterans were written between April 2006 and November 2008 and have 70 chapters in total, comprising around one million words (the equivalent of around 15 full-sized novels). It is only suitable for an adult audience.

This is the epic story of a Soviet Spetsnaz soldier and a Scottish SAS soldier. Vadim Krasnorada and Dan McFadyen are 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, fuelled by aggression and insane lust. Steeped in pain and killing, these Special Forces soldiers meet in 1980. Their intense hatred caused by rape, revenge and torture turns into fucked-up lust and years of secret encounters in the dangerous labyrinth of Kabul and the Afghan mountains. Time, despair and desolation smoothe down the sharpness of hatred, its venom drained with each physical encounter; lust helps to form an understanding that only two men of the same kind can share.

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.

Special Forces is available in both the "original version" published between 2006 and 2008, and an edited version ("Vashtan's Preferred Text").

My review: Quote: The war had kept them together; peace was tearing them apart.

When I stumbled on to information about this book and series I knew it wasn’t going to be a run-of-the-mill Special Ops series. It was going to be real, it was going to be raw and it was going to be intense. Three things I have no objections against but I never would’ve guessed how it was all going to affect me. At the beginning my curiosity was triggered, it was war in Afghanistan and there was little joy to be found. There a Sovjet Captian named Vadim Krasnorada accidentally crossed paths with a Scottish SAS staff sergeant named Dan McFayden. There meeting was rooted in anger, violence and blood. An experience that forever changed the lives of these two men.

While the war in Afghanistan was quite a setting for a forbidden relationship to develop on it didn’t play the kind of detailed roll I thought it would. I thought it would be more political scheming and battles but instead the attention was on Vadim and Dan’s life as a Sovjet soldier and a SAS sergeant, portraying the dread and dreary of army life altered with their missions. But mostly I read about how their relationship developed from enemies, from attacker and victim, in to a relationship that had me in tears by the end of this story.

Vadim and Dan cross paths in Kabul and I must say that their introduction to each other is one of a rapist and his victim. Stark in its horror but it irrevocably fused the destinies of these two men like nothing else would. Now for some this may be hard to swallow but from that brutal moment their interaction, the back and forth display of strength, dominance, masculinity and vulnerability is a mesmerizing cadence within the story. Along the way Vadim and Dan are stripped bare of any pretence in who they are, what they feel and what they need. I was completely living each moment with them; when they go rock bottom, desperately hungering for human contact, or having a rare moment of shared joy, it created a connection that goes soul deep. Marquesate & Vashtan really took me inside their protags mind and heart giving me an in-depth understanding of what made them tick. The acts of hate are entwined with the demands of need and from there the frail connection of love grew. A love that is breathing with the darker side of emotions and a down-to-earth kind of humor.

Both Vadim and Dan emanate such a raw life force, at the beginning of SOLDIERS I didn’t even think I could like either one of them but I started to slowly fall for their power-play, for the sharp-edged dialogues interchange with inner monologues of conflicting emotions. Nothing Vadim and Dan do or say is void of their life force, that sheer will to live life knowing it could be over in a minute or the next turn of the road. Even when the war deals them soul numbing blows they pull each other through. This is what grabbed me the most, to witness a bond steeped in all the good and the bad, and see that bond weld the hearts of two strong men.

Next to the unfolding relationship the eroticism is roughly forty percent of this story, when death is all around you, sex is one of the things to do to feel alive. Vadim and Dan discover and explore all the boundaries of their carnal desires. It is voiced in the brutal and dominating encounters to the soothing and comforting side of sex. It never felt out of place for me, it made these two men all the more real. Gave their character and relationship development a truth that swept me away. The story completely center around Vadim and Dan life’s and their trials and tribulations. The secondary characters are simply passing by and they are all there to flesh out the lives of the main men. The only two supporting characters who actually stuck out and have a more prominent role is the owner of the teahouse and Ambassador Margaret de Vilde, Baroness de Vilde.

There was also action to be found but it was almost always in a situation where Vadim or Dan would be involved, never the larger picture of the Afghanistan war and this gave it a very personal feel to it. The only thing that bothered me is half way through the story it felt like it became about missions and sex hitting the repeat button. I don’t know if the writing style somehow contributed to the repetitive feel of missions and sex but it made me feel like it appealed to my stamina as a reader to continue.

Still, I continued because by that time I was so invested in Vadim and Dan as two separate men but also as a couple that I had to find out how this story would end. This lag in the story didn’t last very long though and by the last third of SOLDIERS it picked up in pace, hard choices needed to be made and suddenly the unraveling story threads were mind boggling. By the end I was in tears. I had lived, loved, hated and feared alongside these men, and though I knew this was only part one of their story, the cliff hanger caught my heart in my throat. Reading those final pages I realized the superb set-up Marquesate and Vashtan managed to dish out for their main protags and that the term ‘epic love’ was going to be justified.

SOLDIERS is a stunning portrayal of a love between two men who will dig in to your heart and never let you go. Realistic, gritty and raw are all applicable words to describe this story but so is friendship, love and loyalty. It blends in to a unique M/M story of magnitude! 

4.5 stars

Quote an encounter between Dan and Vadim:
They. Undefined. Was he one of them now? Couldn't give a flying fuck.
Breathed sharply, pushed down, tried to suck while moving, just to get more of that mind-blowing sensation but was as goddamned unskilled as a virginal bint.
Vadim’s left hand formed a fist, wanted to grab a handful of that dark hair and pull him closer, force him to take more, but there were enough inches of steel between his legs to convince him that patience had to be a virtue. Heat, wet heat, no tongue moving, no hand to speed him along, no fucking leverage, but an enemy sucking him. Because he wanted. His head spun, worse than with the sensation alone, the fact it was the same man who had beaten him up, cut his back open, punched him in the face, had tried everything to kill him. Could kill him right now.
He tried to remain still, hips hardly moving, didn’t dare with the edge of steel too fucking close to things he valued. Not enough friction, not enough control. It would be a struggle to come. As much as he wanted to, seeing those lips around his cock, seeing that face so close, so fucking vulnerable, intense, the man was always so incredibly intense, fighting, hating, and even more so when lusting.
It drove him slowly insane, every motion, just a fraction away from enough, but that fraction kept him on the other side. Not a fucking chance. He was breathing harshly, muscles tensing, knotting up, thighs, stomach, guts, arse, back, and sweating, building up the pressure like this was torture, and the other clearly didn’t know what to do with it, how to trigger. Dan grew frustrated. Knowing he wanted this, but needed more, had to achieve something, not knowing what nor how, neither bothering with the why.
Not a man to give up, not ever, no way back, no running away. He couldn't just fuck off and try to forget he'd ever done this thing … that thing on his knees with that cock between his lips. That monstrous 'thing' that would follow him forever because he'd want it again. And again and forever more, because it was so goddamned intense and insane, bone-deep addictive.

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  1. This book rocked me tough. SF is where all my m/m began. Hands down the most amazing thing I've ever read. This boook... has a life of it's own. It truly never will let you go.

  2. @Amora - Have you read both the Director's Cut version as well as the original version? I would love to know what the difference is. The DC seems a lot shorter than the original version...

  3. Oh. Mai. Gah. I need this one. I really do.

  4. This sounds like a fabulous and hot read! The excerpt made me want even more!

  5. I have to agree with Amora, this was a springboard for me also. I'm sure there are quite a few of us that leaped from here. There are chapters that I return to over again. It lingers........

  6. @Smokinhotbooks - You should, Vadim & Dan become one of those unforgettable couples :)

    @Jeanette8042 - I had a few more of those quotes even longer because some scenes just have to be read from start to finish to make sense. Very intense chemistry :)

    @Artemis - I can't believe it took me a year of M/M reading to find this series! After the required reading it is MERCENARIES here i come. The ending of Soldiers had me pining for that part!

  7. Dare I say it...I'm afraid to read it, yet, I am very intrigued. Its the sexually curious soul in me that wants the curtains pulled wide open and look my fill, but at the same time a harsh subject I don't want to breach. I'm going to have to rethink this one.

    I have to give it to you Leontine. You really pull me in with your provocative reviews. You are one masterful pied piper on charming your audience. *smiles*

    armiefox at yahoo dot com

  8. I'm working my way through the DC version now. It's having a different impact on me this time through, but I think it's because I'm less in "shock"... SF was my first intro into... well, everything. lol, hardcore intro! I read it straight thru, could NOT stop for any reason. lol, even called in sick to work. :)

    So far the DC seems "cleaner" to me, "tighter" maybe? but when I have an "I don't remember that" moment and go back to compare, it's the same, so I'm still not sure yet. I'm trying really hard to not let it "own" me this time thru. I obsess on SF bad. Just a hardcore SF girl here. :)

    This thing has a life of it's own. I can't believe you've just now found it. lol, look out... it's a ride that will never stop.

  9. @Armenia - It is a tough subject but it's backed up by such an elaborate emotional story that I could deal with it. I hope you'll give it a go...just to find out for yourself if you could deal with it yourself :)

    @Amora - Thanks for the info! I'll download that version as well then :) I'm already hungering for Mercenaries...

  10. Okay, Leontine. I've downloaded the Soldiers. I am stealing a few moments away from the Fam (supposed to be on vacation) but smutty reader that I am I couldn't stay away..the wifi was beckoning to me.

    LOL, I'll have to pick a night to seduce myself, candlelight, and wine to get in the right frame of mind.

    armiefox at yahoo dot com

  11. Oh, I am intrigued! Thanks for sharing this Leontine -

    Btw, I have a m/m book (AC Katt) up for grabs with USA winners getting a T-shirt too! Do feel free to drop by and enter.

    Happy Friday!

  12. Wow! First of all, I have to say that every review I have ever read of yours is extremely well wrote, and this is no exception!

    A couple of things are going on in my mind right now. One, is that I have yet to put on my big girl panties and read a M/M book. Yes, I know. Second, is this sounds very emotionally intense, and usually when I come upon these type of reads, I need to be in a certain mind set to move through them. But, the smutty girl side of me is very intrigued by the story line, and that excerpt has me wanting more.

    I think what I'll do is bookmark the site and make a note to come back. I'm wondering if I need to start off with a 'lighter' M/M novel first?

  13. Just a quick note - the DC is shorter because I've only re-edited the first part (Soldiers), and I moved the ending around (for several reasons). In the text, I cleaned up research mistakes, typos, grammar issues and repetitions, so it's a much smoother text.

    Aleksandr Voinov


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