Special Forces - Mercenaries Part I

Special Forces - Mercenaries Part I - Aleksandr Voinov, Marquesate, Vashtan "Dying was easy,
living was hard."

In 'Soldiers' we were presented with two warriors. Two men who at times seemed to be indestructible. Their bodies were capable of withstanding so much, the abuse caused by war and that which they inflicted upon each other. Their scars a map that showed us the journey they took from enemies to lovers. Both Dan and Vadim didn't seem to question any of their actions during their time in Afghanistan. They accepted that they did things that were questionable, cruel or just wrong, but these things were done in a time of war and therefore in their eyes could be justified. During ‘Soldiers’ their lack of morality bothered me. I felt if they showed some remorse for their actions then I could feel better about rooting for them, but as their story progressed it somehow became less and less important that they feel the remorse I thought they needed to feel. I accepted that this was how they were built. It served as a reminder that Dan and Vadim are human and therefore they are as flawed as the rest of us. That lack of remorse is certainly addressed in ‘Mercenaries’ and it felt like getting my heart ripped out.

If ‘Soldiers’ showed us what Dan and Vadim’s bodies could take, ‘Mercenaries’ shows us what their minds and hearts can. The results are devastating and gut wrenching. We see a man’s mind get destroyed in this book. A man who was once proud and strong. A man who was once confident about the decisions that he has made (right or wrong) become a broken shadow of himself. A man who has fought for his country and was proud to do so, being rejected by that country and left without an identity. A man who is tortured in the most brutal of ways for daring to not just fall in love with an enemy but fall in love with an enemy who is also a man.

"But I don’t understand myself. I don’t know how and why I broke and why I just don’t heal."

During Vadim’s incarceration Dan also endures a form of torture and it is just as heart breaking. We again see a man who is strong and proud being destroyed. Dan’s wounds are emotional wounds but are no less devastating than Vadim’s. Power is something that both Dan and Vadim hold dear, we see both stripped of that power and for some reason it was the loss of Dan’s that upset me the most. Vadim is imprisoned so I suppose it’s not really a big surprise that any power he once had is taken away from him. Dan on the other hand is the one left behind trying to free Vadim but swimming in waters that he is just not equipped to navigate. Dan finds himself in the middle of a political game, a game he can’t hope to understand and he can’t just physically storm his way in and save Vadim, a method that would be much more his way of dealing with things. Instead he must rely on the Baroness and hope that she can outmaneuver the other side. The moment that Dan thinks that all is lost is one of the most heart breaking things I have ever read. It is at that moment we see a tiger break.

"His life empty, a senseless struggle.

He’d live. He’d work. He’d drink. He’d function. He’d die"

The torture that Vadim endured was difficult to witness and I am painfully aware that we have not yet discovered the true extent of what he went through. The scars that he now carries are the hardest ones to understand as they can’t be seen and for someone like Dan who looks at the world so literally I do see some painful times ahead.

There are many moments in this book that are hard to read, some because they hurt and others because I strongly disagreed or was incredibly angry with what Dan or Vadim were doing to each other and the decisions that they made. But they are both broken in some way or other and therefore it stands to reason that they lash out or retreat, that they make selfish decisions and be cruel and uncaring. The only thing that can be done is to power through and hope that it will all work out. So that’s what I am doing. Even though at times I want curl up in a ball and sob or on other occasions punch someone.

One of my favourite parts of this book was Vadim’s training. Reading this series it almost feels like you are experiencing the same emotions as Dan and Vadim are experiencing and up until Vadim started training that emotion was overwhelming for me. His training seemed to calm him and in turn I began to feel calm. It felt like the Welsh mountains and the routine were a balm for Vadim’s ravaged soul and while it may not have healed his mind it did make him able to function again. It also gave an insight into what it takes to become a member of the SAS and where as I knew they were bad asses I had no idea they were that bad ass. I have a new respect for Bear Grylls.

The journey that Dan and Vadim take in ‘Mercenaries’ is a difficult one and I suspect that the second part will be no less difficult. But these men are extraordinary and the depth of emotion they feel for each other is incredible. I look forward the rest of the journey with this Lion and this Tiger.

“Sometimes it just feels like he peeled the flesh from my bones. He skinned my soul. And I don’t even believe in a soul.”
“Nor did I.” Dan murmured, “until I met you.”

"Once upon a time, a mountain lion and a tiger escaped a circus. They had been trained to jump through flaming hoops and to stand tall on their hind legs, reaching with their paws into the air to please the audience. But one day, something happened that set them free. Now they had nobody to keep them from fighting each other, and nobody to feed them, and nobody made them stand on their hind legs and raise their paws high.

They went hunting together. They were an unlikely pair, but so be it. Stranger things have happened. When one of them was tired, the other would guard his sleep, and when one was injured, the other would lick his wounds and hunt for him until he was feeling well again.

You need to know lions and tigers are never friends. Lions hate the tigers’ stripes, and tigers hate everybody, even other tigers, but lions are worse, because lions are so strong and hunt in prides, and tigers think that is the wrong way to do things.

But there were hunters, and they said lions and tigers are not supposed to be friends, and that they were not themselves anymore. The lion had forgotten how to be a lion, and the tiger had betrayed his stripes.

On one of their hunts together, the lion fell into a trap. The tiger tried to free his friend, but he had no hands to reach down inside the pit and help him out. The hunters couldn’t trap the tiger, try as they might, and the tiger still roams their old hunting grounds, remembering the gift of love and friendship.

Lions may die, but friendship doesn’t."

During this book I also fell in insta-love with the most amazing Delta ever. Hooch does not have a lot of page time but I have my fingers crossed that he will have a lot more in the second part. How can I fall in insta-love with someone who barely speaks and I know nothing about you may wonder?

“You’re the one who jumped into Iran,” the Yank drawled.

Dan nodded, shrugged.

“You’re the one who crashed with the kids.”

Dan flashed a toothy grin.

“You’re the faggot.”

Dan huffed with a short stab of dry laughter. “Aye.” Raising his brows above the shades. “And you?”

“I’m the opportunist.” The Yank pushed his chewing gum from one side to the other. Tongue darting out from between his lips.

Dan smirked, baring his teeth. “In that case, I’m ‘waste not want not’.”

The Delta pulled a pair of polarised shades out of his tunic pocket, and slipped them on. “Name’s Hooch.”

I like me an "opportunist" and this one has me very much intrigued. :)