Special Forces (Special Forces, #1-3) - Aleksandr Voinov,  Marquesate,  Vashtan As a series it gets a four star. Yes, I bashed the hell out of Mercenaries: Part II and Mercenaries: Part I and Veterans slid by with a mediocre three stars, but Soldiers is a prize.

Soldiers delivers the ultimate experience in the enemies to lovers trope. The challenge for the authors to bridge a love story over ten years that begins with violent crimes between enemies, progresses to an uneasy trust, then to a lustful need and eventually a passionate love, seemed like an insurmountable feat. But they did it. They achieved it by twisting an undertone of harnessed violence slowly into a mutually relatable human understanding. Marked by believability and ease of prose, Soldiers is a must read.

However, the sequels are merely optional. Voinov edited Soldiers so that it can be a stand alone book. Some of you may want to take advantage of that. When one delivers a book as phenomenal as Soldiers, to do sequels is brazen. I believe Mercenaries and Veterans could have benefited from keeping the characters’ personalities more even keel. As well, had the essential elements that were so successful for Soldiers been carried forward, like a single thread woven through all three books, I would find the books much more cohesive as a series. Not only did the plot become disjointed from Soldiers, but the characters became disjointed from themselves. And this is where Mercenaries and Veterans suffered. You can read my individual assessments of each book on their respective pages for further explanation. I am not saying don’t proceed with Mercenaries and Veterans but if you proceed don’t expect Dan and Vadim to continue to be recognizable to who they were in Soldiers and do expect the plot to become down right sensational - in a soap opera-esque way not in a cool cult classic way.

In my experience thus far, The Administration, Captive Prince, In the Company of Shadows and Special Forces are the quintessential reading classics for the m/m genre lover. Whether you love them or hate them, they seem to be the cannon of the genre. Don’t miss out on Special Forces: Soldiers. It would be a crying shame to do so. The sequels are optional.

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