Title : Counterpunch
Author : Aleksandr Voinov
Series : Belonging, Book #2
Publisher : Storm Moon Press (BUY HERE)
Genre : M/M, Alt Universe
Length : 55,000 words
Published : November 4, 2011
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, pummeling 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.
You commit a crime and you get convicted. You get convicted to life and you lose your freedom. You lose your freedom and you become a slave.
As horrible as it seems I can’t stop admiring the brilliancy of this world wherein this story lives and breathes. And if you’re looking for the typical boxing story I’d suggest you leave it now and go look elsewhere. This book is so much more.
In a world where you can lose your freedom in a matter of seconds and your life is no longer in your hands Brooklyn Marshall makes a terrible mistake and ends up a slave. However having troubles accepting this new state and guilt for what he did gnawing during the silent nights he is quite different from other slaves that seem to have submitted to their life. Brook can’t do that because slave he might be but up there in the ring he is as free as he’s ever been, perhaps maybe more.
A cop turned to criminal turned to slave his only true life is while he’s face to face with “the enemy” and his pride will not let him fall down. Brook the “Mean Machine” though turns into nothing more than a slap of meat once the match is over. Rented for the night to clients with fantasies, women that want to feel the rough boxer take them mercilessly, men that want to see that “Machine” subdued and submit to them. Hence it comes as a surprise to Brook when Nathaniel, his latest client, doesn’t use him. It comes as a shock that Nathaniel only gives him pleasure without taking back. What feels as if the world has turned upside down though is the fact that Brook after a few “meetings” with Nathaniel wants him too.
I admit this book was not what I expected, yet again it was more. The strange relationship Brook and Nathaniel formed was weird in the fact that I as a reader, even though knowing from the blurb that they were to form a bond, while reading fell for what the author intended and Nathaniel had my complete distrust. Even when everything seemed to scream that that was not the case somehow I was unbalanced and uncertain of what the heck was going on. I love that incredible feeling I got out of Counterpunch, it kept me on the toes for a very, very long time.
The boxing part was absolutely awesome. I loved the taste it left me, as if I was there on the front rows watching them damn matches myself. I felt like crying when Brook faced Odysseus and God the sheer joy and satisfaction I got out of the match with Thorne. Somehow there I expected Thorne to go all animal crazy when the fight was over and yet again I was surprised from that character’s decent reaction. And that’s it, that’s the core of my fascination with this book, the fact that every damn character what somehow a mystery and you never really got a clear view of their true nature. Great, great writing there.
As for the slavery part, well Voinov has often been called a “dark” writer and he’s proven again and again how capable he is when it comes to violence and cruelty. It seems so effortless when it comes out of him writing the gruesome life of a person owned or the sadism side of some characters. I’m still shuddering with the memory of some scenes and the strong urge to kill, kill, KILL Curtis has not yet left me. As for Les, well, I’m having some very sadistic fantasies about him as we speak, but I won’t go on that rant, it’s pretty dark through that tunnel.
Which brings me to my dissatisfaction with the ending of this book. First it’s the fact that those (I’ll not even name them) guys didn’t get even a punch or something that would sooth the anger they ignited in me. It left a hole in me this fact and it makes me kind of sad.
The second issue I had was the relationship between Brook and Nathaniel. I’m used to extreme intensity between Voinov’s characters and this time I didn’t feel that with these two. The sexual parts were cool and hot and even sweet; at times they had the amount of “gritting my teeth” dark too, but that chemistry was lost in me this time. And the ending itself, while there was no more to be said and it seemed all proper, I felt as if it was too easy, too abrupt, something lacking there. That feeling of not having my full disclosure is there in the pit of my stomach, and yes I know sound as if I completely live inside this world and going crazy over fiction but damn, perhaps I just wanted more with Brook and Nathaniel when all secrets were stripped off and they hand nothing but their bare souls to lie down.
As much as I nag and whine about all that though I can’t not admit that I’m in love with yet another character/s of Aleksandr and I absolutely loved this book. God, this author’s work is becoming like air to me, not addictive, but needed for survival.
Rated 4 stars by Guest Reviewer, T