Counterpunch by Aleksandr Voinov

Title: Counterpunch

Series: Belonging 03

Author: Aleksandr Voinov

Genre: Slavery, Speculative fiction, Violence, BDSM

Length: Novel (178pgs)

Publisher: Storm Moon Press (4th November 2011)

Heat Level: Explicit

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥4 ½Hearts

Reviewer: Pixie

Blurb: Fight like a man, or die like a slave.

Brooklyn Marshall used to be a policeman in London, with a wife and a promising future ahead of him. Then he accidentally killed a rioter whose father was a Member of Parliament and had him convicted of murder. To ease the burden on the overcrowded prison system, Brooklyn was sold into slavery rather than incarcerated. Now, he’s the “Mean Machine”, a boxer on the slave prizefighting circuit, pummelling other slaves for the entertainment of freemen and being rented out for the sexual service of his wealthier fans.

When Nathaniel Bishop purchases Brooklyn’s services for a night, it seems like any other assignation. But the pair form an unexpected bond that grows into something more. Brooklyn hesitates to call it “love”—such things do not exist between freemen and slaves—but when Nathaniel reveals that he wants to help get Brooklyn’s conviction overturned, he dares to hope. Then, an accident in the ring sends Brooklyn on the run, jeopardizing everything he has worked so hard to achieve and sending him into the most important fight of all—the fight for freedom.

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Review: This book is part of a series but can be read as a stand-alone. Brooklyn was convicted of murder and he lost everything, even the potential of freedom in the future as he was made a slave with no hope of redemption. Nathaniel buys a few nights with Brooklyn and the two become close but after Brooklyn makes a mistake in the ring Nathaniel backs off and Brooklyn finds out the truth of who Nathaniel really is.

What a brilliant book, it’s based in the same universe as Rachel Haimowitz – Anchored where slavery is the norm and slaves have no basic rights. Brooklyn has had everything stripped away leaving him with rage, anger and regret.  He was done an injustice when he was convicted of murder and made into a slave, all to please the dead girl’s father who just happens to be an MP. Nathaniel somehow managers to get through Brooklyn’s shell and make an emotional connection with him but when the truth comes out, Brooklyn and Nathaniel have to come to an agreement as to what will happen next.

I love this story as it’s got boxing, slavery, controversy, love, rage, anger, slight BDSM and great characters. I loved that the story-line and plot was so solid and even though slavery is fiction, the way that the justice system jumps on the police is not… that is pure fact.  What was fiction was police protecting their own; ha they would sooner stab them in the back then help a fellow officer (sorry bugbear of mine). The entire book was detailed and you really ended up feeling just as angry and frustrated on Brooklyn’s behalf as Brooklyn was and I must admit I really wanted Brooklyn to smash Curtis’s face in just once.  God, that man enjoyed his work way too much.

I liked how the relationship progressed between Brooklyn and Nathaniel and I really could understand why Nathaniel backed off.  There was just too much to lose for both of them even if Brooklyn didn’t know why. I also loved that this book was written in English… err, I mean British English as it was a really smooth read as I didn’t keep thinking that there were spelling mistakes everywhere.

So there is a lot of stuff in this for everyone, I don’t think it really leaves anything out it’s got grit, violence, romance, hope, fear, rage, betrayal, slight BDSM, abuse, controversy, strong characters and love… it didn’t have revenge though (I do like a bit of revenge) so I recommend this to everyone… it’s a bloody good read… so read it.

Dark Edge of Honor by Aleksandre Voinov and Rhianon Etzweiler

Title: Dark Edge of Honor

Author: Aleksandr Voinov & Rhianon Etzweiler

Genre: Science Fiction

Length: Novel (284pgs)

Publisher: Carina Press (15th August 2011)

Heat Level: Explicit

Heart Rating:  ♥♥♥♥4 1/2Hearts

Reviewer: Pixie

Blurb: Sergei Stolkov is a faithful officer, though his deepest desires go against the Doctrine. A captain with the invading Coalition forces, he believes that self-sacrifice is the most heroic act and his own needs are only valid if they serve the state.

Mike, an operative planted within Cirokko’s rebels, has been ordered to seduce Sergei and pry from him the Coalition’s military secrets. His mission is a success, but as he captures Sergei’s heart, Mike is tempted by his own charade and falls in love.

When the hostile natives of the planet Cirokko make their move, all seems lost. Can Mike and Sergei survive when the Coalition’s internal affairs division takes an interest in what happened in the dusty mountains of Zasidka Pass…?

Warning: This book contains some scenes that some readers may find offensive. Dubious consent/Torture

Review: This is a true Science Fiction war story. Mike is a spy for the Alliance CovOps and it is his duty to infiltrate and pass on the military secrets of the Doctrine.   He has his target in his sight and it isn’t long before he has his target in the palm of his hand; but he loses his own heart in the process. Sergei is a Captain in the Doctrine and he has his own secrets and desires that go against what the Doctrine stand for.   He fall’s for a translator and unwittingly betrays the Doctrine but still can’t quite find it in himself to hate the translator.

This is not an easy story to read.   If you go into this expecting love to conquer all or thinking that everything is going to be nice and easy then you have another think coming. This is a hard gritty read about what it is really like to fall in love with an enemy; it answers questions that you really don’t want to know the answers to.   Could you continue to betray the man you have fallen in love with? Could you sit by and listen to your lover, the man you love be tortured for your Cause? Could you forgive the man who betrayed you and caused hundreds of deaths? It answers these questions and some of the answers are not pretty.

Watching these two men struggle with their conscience about what they should do and what they want to do is interesting because both think they are right.   There is no obvious bad evil army because, as with most things in life, just because you don’t agree with it doesn’t make it wrong.

So what do I recommend…well, this story has it all, a harsh backdrop, war, abuse of power (dubious consent etc.), blackmail, betrayal, torture, vindication, escape, oh, and don’t forget the hot sex and love, so for me a must read.   But, for you, only if you like any of the above and a great gritty read.