You know, sometimes you find the best things by accident. This saying is sooo true. Recently I had the good fortune of reading a book written by a favorite author of mine, Amy Lane. She had paired up with another author, Aleksandr Voinov, to write a wonderful story called Country Mouse.
Knowing the feel of Amy’s work, I could feel her voice and knew where her words were in the story. I also found the other voice of Aleksandr. His words were a little darker, a little different; and I wanted to read his words alone. So I asked my friend Tom Webb, who did the Dual Review with me for Country Mouse, what he would recommend of Aleksandr's work …here we are.
So this Five Book Series has taken this 70 yr. old Grammy out of her comfort zone. Aleksandr Voinov has pushed my limits of what I 'thought' I could not enjoy in a book, and for that I am most grateful to him - for expanding my horizons.
Dark Souls - Book 1
Stefano Marino, happily married Mafia boss living the life on the West Coast, is at the home of a family patriarch who is dying. He is paying his last respects. The mob bosses have traveled out east looking for whatever they can garner from the death of a leader. It is here Stefano sees Silvio Spadaro, nicknamed the Barracuda.
Sylvio has traveled from Italy at the request of Gianbattista Falchi, retired Mafioso cosigilere, of whom Silvio is heir and protetto. Stefano watches the others shy away from Silvio, but he can’t take his eyes off him. Stefano does not understand why he feels such an attraction. Silvio has set his sites on Stefano. Stefano thinks back about stories he has heard, about what the Mafia would do if they thought you were gay. Torture and death would not be out of the question. And there have been many horrible stories…
Stefano retires to his rooms; Silvio breaks in and attacks Stefano’s #2 man. The scene here is so real, so graphic, that it was like I was watching a movie, not reading a book. I stopped breathing, I felt faint, but I could not stop. Stefano has Silvio at his mercy, and sexually takes advantage of him, and Silvio is exactly where he wants to be… The publisher’s note for this book cautions ***This book contains dubious consent***.
Stefano has found the Russian Mafia horning into his territory and businesses. He traves to Italy to enlist the help of Gianbattista Falachi to give him outside help. Gianbattista brings Stefano and Silvio together again, and Battista breaks Silvio’s heart and sends him away to America to help Stefano.
Dark Souls - Book 2: Dark Whisper and Dark Night
The second book, Dark Souls 2, has Silvio still out of his element and hurt over Battista his mentor and his lovers banishment. He lives on the Marino Estate.
The scene Dark Whisper is Battista still showing Silvio that he is still his sexual master 4000 miles away... Phone sex much…
In the second part of the book, Dark Night, the Russians do not play games and attack Stefano’s car, killing some of his men, injuring his #2 and capturing Stefano, beating, torturing and almost killing him…
Dark Souls - Book 3: Dark Lady 1 & ll, Dark Brother
How can I describe this third book to you? The first two sections Dark Lady l and ll are almost unreal. I cannot tell you the unique writing ability of this author, to guide you further in utter fascination.
Silvio has decided how to take out the Four Man Russian Hit Squad that had almost killed his boss. You as the reader might start get an inkling to what is going on, but you have to read this to see how the scene is set and how Silvio completes his plan.
When Silvio returns home and informs the still healing Stefano that the Squad is dead and relates how he did it, Stefano is speechless, and can see Silvio doing this, which causes him to know that Silvio is very dangerous to him; Silvio can use a man’s weakness against him.
Dark Brother brings Silvio’s brother Franco to the estate. Franco was just released from the French Legion as a sniper by trade, and stays on to help his brother and Stefano fight… Things really start to amp up in the fight with the Russians and in the bedroom. Isn’t it better with two Spaderos?
Dark Souls - Book 4: Dark Rival l & ll, Dark Temptation
In book four we start to see the closeness between Stefano and Silvio, and the trouble that can be caused in Stefano and Donata’s marriage. Silvio thought he was only in it for the sex, but Stefano cannot separate sex from feelings, and his feelings are making Silvio feel. This is where our author peels away the layers of these men. Outstanding!
Silvio returns from his mission with his brother, and the fallout of the escapade brings the war out into the open with the press and witch hunters. Stefano realizes his Crime family is mutinous. He knows Silvio is the only one he can trust. He comes to understand his feelings for Silvio. But to what extent???
Dark Souls - Book 5: Dark Hunter l & ll, and Dark Frost
The final book has Stefano meeting US Attorney Sebastiano Beccaria. A traitor in his own organization makes his move and hires Silvio to kill Stefano. The writing is on the wall. What can Stefano do to save the people he cares for?
This last book is not where you mind was heading, again a credit to the author. The ending is astounding, carried out by a master. I was so disappointed that this series would be over, that I would be pulled away from this world. As the last book progressed to the end I kept watching the page numbers reading slower. Isn’t this the sign of something special? Isn’t this the sign of a good writer?
Yes, Aleksandr, I applaud your skill, your daring to push my limits. I am humbled by your abilities.
So as I said originally, I never would have found you, but just by accident you changed my world. Thank you and Bravo!
Review by Gloria Lakritz
Sr Reviewer and Review Chair of the Paranormal Romance Guild
As his Mafioso overlord lay dying, west coast boss Stefano Marino waits and wonders what his share of the old man’s territory will be. He waits his turn, hanging out with all the other bosses when Silvio Spadaro shows up to the vigil. Silvio is there in place of his “mentor” and lover Gianbattista Falchi, a respected retired Don. Although being gay usually means a death sentence among these men, Silvio is respected as a made man and as heir to Battista.
Over the course of five short novellas, we watch as Stefano, straight and happily married, falls under the spell of the intriguing and highly sexual young man. He catches Silvio in his guest quarters, which leads to a dangerous sexual encounter. After the two part, Silvio returns to Italy to be with Battista, while Stefano returns home to California.
There is a problem in his territory, however. The Russian mob is making a move to consolidate their power and force Stefano’s family out. Permanently. He has no choice but to approach Falchi for assistance. While in Italy, he observes the two lover’s violent love-making, exciting and dangerous as it may be.
Falchi offers to lend him Silvio to help him out. And dumps Silvio as a lover.
While taking action in spectacular fashion against the Russians, the two men play a hot and sexy seduction game. Silvio’s brother Franco, recently released from the French Foreign Legion, comes to visit and assist, and becomes part of the intrigue and romance.
But the final test of courage will come into play when an Assistant D.A. with a personal ax to grind wades into the equation. Where Russian mobsters and his own men failed to bring Stefano down, the law may find a way. Will Silvio and Stephano end up together? Or will their differing needs and futures keep them permanently separated?
Aleksandr Voinov, author of Scorpion and Dark Edge of Honor, has created perhaps his sharpest and most interesting characters here. Silvio and Stefano are edgy, dark and full of uncompromising heat and passion. The two simmer and bubble, then explode across the page in the most deliciously unexpected and wild ways.
This series is not for everyone, containing scenes of extremely rough sex and borderline dubious consent, as well as a little brother-on-brother action. But set that aside and savor the powerfully delivered storylines, characters that grab you by the throat and, surprisingly, by the heart, and action that is sublime.
I am a huge Voinov fan, and this series is him at his dark best. Bullets fly, plots abound, twists and turns take us on a fantastic joyride through the recesses of these men’s souls. The length of each novella had me hungry for more, and the finale was so satisfying, I felt like lighting up a good cigar, drinking two fingers of good scotch and closing my eyes and starting back at the beginning.
Subtle in some ways, in-your-face most of the time, but oh-so-very right. Just so damned good and truly not to be missed. This will have you scrambling to check out Mr. Voinov’s catalog of works. You won’t be disappointed. Just remember, it's not everyone’s cup of tea.
Thank God it’s mine!
Review by Tom Webb “Bear on Books”
Member of the Paranormal Romance Review Team