Mean Machine Book Cover Mean Machine
Aleksandr Voinov
MM Dystopian Sports Romance
DSP Publications
July 21, 2020

For a boxer ravaged by guilt and in deep denial of his desires, a fight beyond the ring might yield his greatest prize.

In a dystopian UK devastated by austerity and ruled by corporate interests, Brooklyn Marshall was a happily married London police officer—until an accident resulted in the death of a protester connected to a powerful family. Now he takes out his anger and pain on his opponents, fighting for the company that took him into stewardship after his conviction and disgrace—and which all but owns him.

Wealthy barrister Nathaniel Bishop fulfills his dream of a family when he adopts a daughter. He can’t resist researching her allegedly violent criminal father, but Brook isn’t at all what he expects. He’s fascinating… and maybe worthy of redemption. Through legal sleight of hand, Nathaniel thinks he can overturn Brook’s conviction.

Brook has learned the hard way not to trust anyone, let alone a privileged man who’s purchased his “time.” But as they get to know each other, he allows himself to hope.

With his fights getting deadlier, hope might be the only thing to carry Brook through.


She Said – Gloria Lakritz 

He Said – Ulysses Dietz

She Said – Linda Tonis 

Reviewed by Gloria Lakritz
Sr Reviewer & Review Chair for the Paranormal Romance Guild Review Team

One of my all time favorite authors Aleks Voinov has certainly shown that he certainly does have “that special writing gene”. More and more as I read his work I am amazed at the talent of his words and the different genres he can speak to.
Counterpunch written in 2011 had been reworked by the author, expanded and modernized into its newest, Mean Machine. Set in an eerily dystopian future world of London England, we meet Brooklyn Marshall.
Brooklyn was raised in a violent home leaving and became a London police officer. During a protest in the city, there was an accident, he was quickly blamed and sent to prison. Interestingly enough the prison system used its more ‘useful’ prisoners by setting up corporate stewardships. This resulted in their prisoners being sold to corporations to make outside money yet still be kept as prisoners. They might not be in cells, and they were able to work off their contract, but the rules were stacked against them ever doing that .
Marshall is a prize fighter, in the heavyweight class. He is very good, and the story told thru Brooklyn is how we begin. It is after his fight that we learn that he makes extra money by being bought for a night’s entertainment; getting that extra money for his ‘private time’ . Tonight, he is taken to a swanky hotel room and meets wealthy barrister Nathaniel Bishop. Unbeknownst to Brooklyn and the reader, there is a reason for the meeting.
I was never a boxing enthusiast, but I couldn’t help get so caught up in Voinov’s descriptions of Brooklyn, the fight world, its beauty and its horrors. The author begins peeling off the layers slowly, letting us ‘feel’ what makes up Brooklyn Marshall. He was a stranger at first, letting him tell us his pain, his anger, and finally his truths.
We also see Nathaniel, learning about this man, this fighter, loving him, and his pain to let go. Aleks If you are reading this review, ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS I HAVE READ IN A VERY LONG TIME!

Reviewed by Ulysses Dietz
Member of The Paranormal Guild Review Team

Aleksandr Voinov is kind of a rough, manly writer of gay romance. Yeah, I know that sounds weird, but there you are. I missed the original 2011 version of this book, then titled Counterpunch, which was only half the length of the present work. This is essentially a new book, and the emotional depth and narrative richness I found here suggest that it was worth the time and re-writing.

Brooklyn Marshall is a professional boxer; but he is not a free man. In this all-too-close dystopian world, just a year or two hence, we find political upheaval, economic turmoil, and a prison system that has been largely privatized by global corporate interests. Prisoners with special talents are placed in stewardship, their careers monetized and closely monitored. They are essentially indentured servants, celebrities treated like criminals, making a profit for others and working toward the distant goal of buying their freedom.

Brooklyn is a working-class Brit who fled a violent home and became a policeman. A violent moment during a political protest destroyed his life, and now the only light in Brooklyn’s dimmed days is the time he spends in the boxing ring, unleashing his rage and his enormous talent on those who challenge him.

Then one day, expecting yet another sordid pay-for-play hotel hook-up arranged by his handlers, Brooklyn meets Nathaniel Bishop: elegant, upper-class, rich, and gay. Thus begins a strange friendship, a confused mélange of affection, financial manipulation, and mutual attraction. Nathaniel knows most of Brooklyn’s secrets; but he has a few of his own, including a past marriage and an adopted child about whom he refuses to speak.

The book, however, is entirely narrated through Brooklyn’s eyes, and it is this powerful, wounded, angry man who opens himself to the reader, bit by bit, and lets us come to understand what drives him. Even Nathaniel, who seems to care about him more than anyone in his life ever has, can’t fully grasp who Brooklyn truly is. That, of course, is the set-up for the emotional twists and turns that the plot throws our way.

I really don’t like boxing. Interestingly, I don’t think Voinov does, either. But the author respects boxing, both its physical intensity and its intellectual complexity. Through his meticulous writing and carefully staged moments in the boxing ring, the reader comes to share that respect, both for the sport, and for Brooklyn himself. This is as close as most of us will ever understand what it’s like to be a professional boxer. It is brutal, beautiful, and breathtaking.

Simply speaking, this is a journey of redemption, both morally and emotionally. It is the story of one man’s struggle up out of anger and violence to light and love. As someone who identifies with Nathanial in most ways, I completely bought into the idea that Brooklyn was a man that deserved to be adored.

Reviewed by Linda Tonis
Member of the Paranormal Romance Guild Review Team

In a dystopian UK ruled by ruthless corporate interests a once happily married London police officer finds himself found guilty of murder and because the dead girl comes from a very influencial family he had no chance at justice.

Brooklyn Marshall was convicted of murdering a protestor and now he belongs to a stewardship who owns him. For three years he has fought in the ring, boxing to relieve all his rage knowing that all the money he earns goes towards his room and board and all his training costs and there is no chance he will ever be free. Although he is no longer behind bars he is still a prisoner watched over by a ruthless guard who jumps at every change he can get to beat Brooklyn and show him who is in charge.

After each fight Brooklyn sells his body to any woman or man who wants to be with a man like him, he isn’t required to do that but after a fight he needs a release and hopes whatever money he earns will eventually lead to him finally paying his debt. His life takes a turn for the better when he meets Nathaniel Bishop, a rich barrister who pays for Brooklyn’s services but only wants to spend time with him. Nathaniel has seeked Brooklyn out for a specific reason and although it is revealed in the description of the book I won’t reveal it in this review.

Nathaniel believes he can get Brooklyn freed and is working towards that very thing but the more time the two men spend together the closer they get and although Nathaniel is gay Brooklyn has no problem being with him since he is bi. Nathaniel shows Brooklyn the attention and care noon has shown him either in his childhood or since being sentenced to life in prison. Brooklyn is an amazing boxer and wants nothing more than to become the champ. He has his sights on the new champ Dragan Thorne but fighting him like everything else in his life is not his decision.

This is when I would state that this book was amazing, fight scenes that were so realistic I could feel the pain of each punch but what is truly amazing is the author who wrote a book that was so intense and so real that it just made me once again realize that boxing is a barbaric sport both in the ring and out. I have not been privileged to read many of Mr. Voinov’s books because he is in such demand by the other’s that review for this guild but I am thankful that I got to enjoy this one.