Thursday, September 2, 2010

Book Musings: Review & Excerpt, Deliverance by Aleksandr Voinov

With Lion of Kent by Aleksandr Voinov and Kate Cotoner coming out this week, I thought it high time I read William of Raven's story in Deliverance.

Actually, I've been waiting and waiting for Lion of Kent, and I got impatient. Last weekend I grabbed the Forbidden Love anthology to check William of Raven out. Wow.  I'm not a big fan of anthologies and I was putting this one off. That was a mistake.

What a terrific story.

I haven't read the others in the anthology, I'm sure I will at some point, but for now, this one's it. It'll be Lion of Kent next for me.

More William, yay. :)

For now, I have my review and an excerpt to share.  Double yay. :))

“Deliverance” takes us on a journey to Jerusalem during the time of the Crusades. Former professional tournament fighter and mercenary William Raven of Kent has joined the Knights Templar to do penance for his sins. He has pledged his life to God and to the defense of the Christian heartlands. One evening during prayers, the Templars are summonsed to battle in defense of Christian pilgrims who are under attack. As the fighting ensues, William takes notice of a pilgrim who is fighting along side displaying “knightly” skills. It is Guy de Metz, his former lover and one true love. Their unexpected reunion brings William face-to-face with a past he thought he’d escaped and one that now threatens to shatter the life he has vowed to God.


My Review: 5 out of 5 stars   

I just loved this story.  I was transported, brought back to the Crusades by vivid imagery and incredible historical accuracy that didn't bog the story down.   Strong, intense, fierce characters.  Raw emotion.  I connected with this one immediately.

I loved watching, feeling, William as he struggled with his oaths, his perceived sins. The way Guy approaches the situation, logical, statement of fact.  The struggle, the fight, the intense heat as William works through and comes to his conclusions, makes his decision.   

Truthfully, all of these things are why I read and love Aleksandr Voinov's books.  I’ve come to expect all of these things from a Voinov, it’s what he does and what he does best.  But this one just seemed to have a bit… more.  So vivid a picture he painted.  And not being a big fan of short stories, I was amazed by the way he was able to do it all in so few pages. 

5 stars from me for this one, I’d give it more, but 5 is as high as it goes. 

I can’t wait to read more of William in Lion of Kent.


Guy. Of all people. Him, here. The scion of an eminent family in the city of Metz, with lands and riches far beyond anything William had ever achieved, even at the height of his fame and fortune. Guy. His shame, his sin, his guilt. Bearded, sunburned, in his simple pilgrims' clothes, it was hard to recognize the fashionable young nobleman he had been, what, only six years ago?

Guy turned on his heel and followed the other pilgrims, but his face betrayed anger. The man held the key to destroy him.

The thought sobered William as if a loaded crossbow was pointed at his heart. He had to force himself to turn away, but it was hard to breathe the hot air. Terror had set into his soul, and fear and longing, because he remembered Guy now. Remembered his own flight from what had begun during that saint's festival in Metz, when the nobles jousted and celebrated. He'd run away, sought solace and redemption, until, finally, the Templars had welcomed him. They knew not his sin, but they told him that all his past misdeeds would be forgiven if he fought the heathens rather than his Christian brothers. That he would go to heaven if he fell in service of the Lord. This had been the most generous offer that he could have hoped for. Unable to escape his shame, he'd finally found peace in subservience to God.

In his quarters, he cleaned the dust away and shed the armor, but hardly managed to grasp one clear thought for the memory of Guy. When he lay on his bed that night after prayers in the chapel, his soul had not received solace from the holy words. He was unworthy of those blessings. He still remembered a strong neck bent underneath his, and Guy's breath hitching as William drove into him, again and again, taking his fill of the young noble's strong body in unspeakable, sinful ways.

The memory made him hard, made him ache for the other man. If he'd hoped to escape his sinful attraction, this now completed his shame.

According to the order's rule, he shared the chamber with another knight, a German by the name of Conrad, and he was guiltily thankful that night for Conrad's deep sleep. Nothing short of an earthquake woke the German. Certainly not the small sounds William made as he touched himself, eyes tightly shut, willing his hand to be Guy's hand, Guy's lips, even. An enthusiastic student of sin, Guy knew no shame. He demanded William give up control of his body, and his soul with it; compared to that, this was a pale shadow of a memory. Still, he had no choice.

William pressed his teeth together and forced himself to breathe levelly as his own calloused hand forced his desire. His body responded too readily to both memory and touch. Closer. Like that rushed, near painful encounter in the narrow, dark alley of Metz. Or the stolen, illicit pleasure in a bath house, where Guy had laughed at the prostitute servants and sent them away with a mocking, "Nothing I can't handle." Guy's wet, glistening body, bruised where he'd been hit, the most beautiful thing in the world to William when they kissed, wrestled, and fucked vigorously enough to nearly topple the tub and cover the floor in soapy water.

Grunting, Conrad turned on his bed. William froze, heart beating painfully in his throat.
Don't wake. He peered at Conrad, who faced him now, face slack in sleep, lips open. Oh . . . the risk. All Conrad had to do was open his eyes and he'd know exactly what William was doing. But William was too close to stop.

As silent as he could manage, William spit in his hand and slid it back under the light cover. His palm closed around the tip, squeezing the most sensitive part until his mind clouded and all he could think was 
Guy. A few more powerful movements with his tight fist brought him to completion with a choked, miserable sound. The madness, the passion that had possessed him with Guy sunk its hooks back into his skin. He lay there, despairing, as the sweat on his skin cooled in the night that was as unforgivingly cold as the day was hot.

He hoped that Guy would be gone the next morning, but the Master dashed those hopes when he told the assembled knights that Guy de Metz, who had been on pilgrimage to Jerusalem with his entourage, would join their fight against the heathens.

William was the only Templar who felt those words like a blow. Many knights on pilgrimage joined a fighting order for a short time. The Church encouraged it; the defenders of the Holy Land were always desperately short of men. The fighting orders were already stretched thin to protect what they held and they couldn't dream of expanding that protection. But why now, why here, and why not the Hospitallers? Or, William thought with the blackest of emotions, the leprosy-riddled Lazarites?

After the assembly, Guy came toward him. William turned away. Guy touched his shoulder, which made William face him again and grip the bastard by the front of his shirt.

dare touch me," he hissed into Guy's face. Anger filled him, as if the ignominy of the night had been Guy's doing. He raised his free hand and balled it into a fist.

The peace he'd found in the order seemed precarious all of the sudden and he hungered to retain it. Until now, it had been his only peace in this constant war with the Saracens.

Guy's hands closed around William's fist, but his stare never wavered. Those light blue eyes showed no fear, only anger, but behind the hostility he saw an unspoken question.

"William!" the Templar Master shouted. "Unhand him 
at once!"

William bared his teeth in a feral sneer, still staring at Guy. Disobeying a direct order was unthinkable, and William knew well the punishment for fighting against fellow Christians. He had seen men stripped of their white 
cappa or flogged to the blood for infractions.

"Don't you touch me," he repeated, and let the other man go.

Taken from the website of Aleksandr Voinov
get more information here

Thank you Aleksandr for the permission 
to post from your website. :)

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