How does one review a three volume series that rivals the word count for the entire Encyclopedia Britannica? Okay, maybe I exaggerate, but only by a little. I’ll give it my best shot.
I chose to read this epic story after I read the novella length Gold Digger. I was intrigued by the secondary character, Vadim Krasnorada, who was the hero’s dad in the story and I was thrilled when I looked up the author’s website and saw that, yes, Vadim’s story had already been told. And I could get it for a donation to the Red Cross. I already give to two military veteran’s organizations so this was no hardship. The choice of charity seems fitting after one gets into the story.
This story, told in three volumes: Soldiers, Mercenaries,& Veterans, is a bit of a challenging read and I don’t just refer to the page count. It is a gritty story about two enemy soldiers set during the recent historical past of the Cold War through the present.
I am not very knowledgeable about Spec Ops from its training to its operations, but this felt pretty authentic to me from the activities that occurred to getting inside the minds of the men in this story. There are brutal doings and harsh realities. And these things leave a mark on the mind and body. My perception was stretched from not just being grateful to those who choose to serve in the military to something that goes much deeper now and I suspect that the reality in this story will challenge others in that way too. There are also strong ideologies that underlay some of the characters’ thinking that I do not agree with, but I respect that others can form their own opinions that are diverse from my own. I only mention it in case stuff like that gets in the way of reading a story for someone.
Oh, and if that all is not enough, the love story which is the heart of the whole thing is no fairy tale- or maybe a really dark and tragic one at times. Just when it seems that the men, Dan- a Brit SAS- and Vadim- a Russian Spetsnaz (both are their country’s version of Special Forces), have found a way to find happiness in an impossible situation it is taken away from them by circumstances. They both fight tooth and nail much of the time to keep what they have together. The story covers 25 years of their lives together and apart. It also includes their interactions with the significant others in their lives. These characters are so well-written and full of depth that I just cannot praise the writer enough.
The writing style voice and plot are unique as it is told in snippets over a 25 year time period. It is incredible how the authors can offer such a variety with the switches from one voice to the next depending on which character is telling the tale at the time. There is also a difference depending on where the character’s mental health and emotions are at the time. Those one word sentences when one of the characters are going through something torturous really made me feel like I was inside his head.
And the type of romance this story tells is decidedly erotic. There is not much these two soldiers do not try or experience with each other and with others. Some of it, I had trouble wrapping my head around, but yet it made some sense for these two guys and their friends.
Speaking of friends, toward the middle of the story there is a point where some side stories get told of their friends that don’t directly include Dan or Vadim at all. I truly enjoyed reading these side stories because I liked the other characters as well. But I confess there were a few moments when I wished that they had been culled out and given their own books even though I have no idea how that could have been done and still brought all the threads back together in the end for the Veterans segment of the story which could have been deemed Reunion as an apt title too.
I should also mention that the version I read is the older less edited version that includes some stuff that will get cleaned up for the newer editions that are being put out now. If you get really annoyed by editing issues, I suggest you purchase the newer edition of Soldiers and wait for the other volumes to come out which they are in process right now.
Now, it might sound like as you read through this review that I was trying to deter someone from reading this book. That is no where near the truth, but I felt the need to caution those who are considering it. I found it a bold unforgettable story that was a tale for the ages. It has an international flavor that crosses all lines in its telling. And above all, it was a romance that got to me and stuck around afterwards.
In the end, I recommend this to those who can appreciate a darker more authentic m/m military erotic romance tale.