Today is the day I went live, 1 year ago. That makes this day, my actual real blog birthday. Happy Blog Birthday to me. No matter how hard I try, I still never really came up with what I wanted to do today. For my special, actual day... I've been doing much more of the back and forth and the coming up all jumbled and chasing my tail.
My biggest problem seems to be, mushy gushy. This whole looking back thing has brought me up and down and round and round, and leaves me every time with... mushy gushy. I don't like mushy gushy. Especially out here on the blog. I could very well be allergic or something.
You see, similar to what I was saying yesterday, there were 2 authors that found me on goodreads. The one I wanted to talk about today just so happens to be my favorite author Aleksandr Voinov. It was him, starting with my favorite book of all time, Special Forces, and his character, Vadim... Mmmmm Vadim..., and ending with him that has done all of this to me.
Or is it for me?
Thing is, being allergic to overloads of mushy gushy, I have so much I'd like to say, but I'm not going to write him a public love letter on my friggin' blog. Unless of course this counts. Besides, I've blabbered enough about him here that if you at all read my blog, or know me anywhere, you already know. Aleksandr Voinov is my favorite author, and I totally think he rocks, and rocks tough.
And I'm pretty damn sure my friend Aleks already knows too.
So, blah blah blah... mushy, blah blah blah... gushy. I'm so much more comfortable with the uber stalking and the claymore/hand grenade cheering thing. It's just who I am.
It's enough I think to just say that I read my first m/m book Special Forces, and it changed me, it changed everything about me. I went over and posted a review of suck for it over on goodreads. For what ever reason, he found me and friended me. I think that's just what he does, or how he is... hard to say at this point. Probably both.
Needless to say, that about knocked me right out of my chair with shock. We won't discuss the next thing that happened, which was my over exuberance rearing it's head in the form of viscous hackles that wanted to attack someone and defend SF, and him.
Maybe it was the hackles, and him having to hold me back that started all of this.
Anyway, it all just went from there. He was my first, always. He left the very first comment on my blog. It was on a 2 sentence little diddy I posted for Spoils of War. He was my first blog follower, on every blog I had. My first Facebook friend. Every where I went, there he was.
He was always the first. He always encouraged me.
A lot has happened since then. At some point, my favorite author became my friend. Truth be told, if it weren't for him...
Ah, friggin' hell. Blah blah blah... mushy. So just... yeah, moving on....
This week, I wanted to go back to the beginning and giveaway the books I loved by the authors from the way back. Problem is, I can't do that with his. Everyone should read the epicness that is Special Forces, but... it's free, so that's not a very good giveaway. I do highly recommend it, you can get it from his website here, and you can read my love letter/review of it I posted here.
Since I can't do a true giveaway with that one, I decided instead to do it with my 2nd favorite book of all time, Test of Faith that he wrote with another author I've come to call my friend, Raev Gray. I have excerpts for this one already posted here if you'd like to check that out.
The other one I want to giveaway today is Spoils of War, also co-written with the fabulous Raev Gray, in honor of that very first comment he left. I don't so much recommend reading my review, being only about 2 sentences long, I can just tell you here, I loved it.
Thank you Aleks for giving it to me to do the giveaway with. As always, you rock.
So there you go. Enough of my blabbering. How about...let's play giveaway.
Same drill as before, leave me a comment on this post for a chance to win both ebooks, random winner, read the fine print at the bottom of the post for details. Make sure you leave me your emails guys so I can get a hold of you. Contest closes March 4th, 11:30pm PST.
Ready, set... go...
Test of Faith by Aleksandr Voinov and Raev Gray
Description: July, 1187: Saladin has defeated the Crusader army at The Horns of Hattin. While hundreds of his comrades have perished in the battle, Thierry de la Tour Rouge, a Frank and Templar Knight, has survived only to be taken prisoner by the Saracens. Stripped to his woolen leggings and linen shirt covering and tied like an animal to the pole of a tent, Thierry fears torture in the attempt to break him and his faith.
Abdul Basir is French by birth and a convert to Islam. As an advisor to Saladin, Abdul has been accepted by the Saracens and regarded with respect, but he will never be one of them. Thierry has been bought for him and while Abdul owns him, he cannot guarantee that Saladin will spare Thierry’s life.
In the spirit of acceptance and forgiveness, Thierry chastely kisses Abdul, hurtling them both into a clash of faiths and a contest of wills. One man motivated by the fulfillment of a long-lurking fantasy and the other by the need to survive and keep his faith intact. In the process, they come to show each other mercy, kindness, mutual respect and trust—enough to reveal their desire for one another.
As Saladin holds the fate of Thierry’s life in his hands, can Abdul ensure the safety of this honorable crusader who has become his brother? Or will he have to find the strength and courage to let Thierry go in peace?
Spoils of War by Aleksandr Voinov and Raev Gray
The Blurb: When Achilleus, the greatest warrior who ever lived, falls before Troy (or Ilion, as it was known), Ares, God of War, stands ready to take his spirit with him to his palace. There, Ares demands that Achilleus yield to him. But can the embrace of a god and the offer of immortality make Achilleus forget his one true love, Patroklos?
Achilleus, son of Peleus, remembered falling. Falling back from the walls, ladder sliding past his hands after a piercing pain in his leg. Blood gushed, soaking his armor, running down his calves, sticky between sandal leather and skin. The impact drove the air from his lungs. He still heard the dull thud of bronze armor against stone. The din of battle, the Myrmidons, and the glaring sun of the afternoon.
A chariot drew up, and its horses were on fire, breathing living flame, eyes like the center of the sun, cracked open, a sight too terrifying to be real. Hands gathered him, lifted him with his armor—the shield slid from his arm, into the center of flames and darkness, touches that burned on his skin, but not with heat. He was only half conscious, no, dying,he realized, or already dead, but any thought of resistance or crying out for his comrades was wiped away by that force that couldn’t be denied. He lay in the chariot, on his side, seeing nothing but a pair of strong, armored calves and sandals, smelling blood and death and rage—if rage had a smell— then darkness descended.
* * * *
It was always a shame when warriors, true warriors, finally fell. They all did; they went down in a blaze of glory or simply fell like stones. They were all temporary, flashes of fierce light and splashes of scarlet blood against a background of dull gray. There were always more fighters willing to spill blood and wage war, but not many of them showed the glory of war. And none of them were Achilleus.
That was the only reason Ares had for descending from his palace, and the only reason he needed: the world simply didn’t need to lose a man like him. Not when Ares could reward him for his service.
Ares paid no attention to the dying body next to him; Achilleus’ spirit would soon vacate it, anyway. His main concern was arriving at his palace ahead of Hermes, who would certainly come after the elusive prize that was the warrior who had nearly escaped death. Ares urged his blazing team on and kept a close watch for his wily brother. Hermes had no chariot to announce his presence; many times, he simply appeared in the thick of things, or one never saw him at all, and only noticed what was missing.
The chariot was in sight of the gates when Ares spotted something, a glint or a shadow or both at the same time that betrayed Hermes’ presence. “Oh, no. This one is mine,” he muttered, and reached down beside him, seizing Achilleus by the back of the neck. He didn’t pause to think about why Hermes would announce his coming, simply moved faster, bursting through the gates of the palace in a cloud of fire, clutching his prize.
Outside, beyond the walls, Hermes just watched, thoughtful.
* * * *
It was almost like waking up—regaining consciousness like after long, restful sleep that followed exertion. Almost languid, but Achilleus knew something was wrong. The light, for example. It didn’t cast shadows. Everything seemed brighter, and yet more solid, more real than what he remembered to be real. His wound was gone, but he still had the smell of his own blood in his nose.
Somebody had taken off his armor and somebody must have washed him while he’d been unconscious--dead, insisted a voice that sounded suspiciously like his mother, Thetis. Where was she? Maybe she could explain what had happened. This wasn’t Ilion, and this wasn’t his tent—and no place he knew. Or had ever heard of.
The walls were solid rock, assembled as if by a giant’s hand, and painted with battle scenes, but nothing else. Killing, fighting, but never was there a victor, never one that was defeated, and no feasts, no resting, no kind of play, just men and armor and weapons. He sat up, unconcerned about being completely naked like an athlete.
Like any good master, Ares knew everything that went on in his household at any given moment. No sooner had Achilleus stirred than the god himself appeared, filling the doorway, broad shoulders and long limbs silhouetted even in the omnipresent light. He paused for the length of a breath, smirking, before he entered, flanked by servants that were little more than scuttling shades, unworthy of attention to next to the looming presence that was Ares. “Achilleus, son of Peleus,” he said, his voice the clash of swords and the thunder of war drums.
Achilleus felt his pulse speed up at the stranger’s voice, something deep and primal stirred inside him, something that strengthened muscles and pulled tendons taut. “I know you,” he said. “I saw you...fight between the enemies.”
Ares smiled, a dark, wild grin that looked all too human. “I was there. I’m always there. I saw you, certainly. Do you know who I am, Achilleus?” He liked the taste of the name, usually spoken in whispers, in awe and in fear. He spoke it with amusement, and maybe a bit of indulgent fondness.
A prince of Ilion... no, Achilleus had slain many of them, and even the magnificent Hektor, may he suffer in Hades, would only be a pale shadow against this man. And Hektor had been the best of them. There was no controlled discipline and duty in this one, he was nothing like Hektor. No eager boyish prettiness like Troilus, whose lips had been just as sweet as those of his sister Polyxena. It was slowly coming back. Who, then?
He knew the answer, because this was no mortal. Not a flaw on him, and he seemed, like this place, more real than anything Achilleus could remember. He’d seen him fight, felling men seemingly in passing, roaring like a bull with rage, blood flowing from his hands and face and armor, like spilled wine. There was only one amongst the gods like that. “Ares, god of battle...” and bloodlust, and rage.
Ares drew in a long breath, chest expanding, and released it in a single word. “Yes.” The red chaos of battle shone in his eyes, and his grin widened. He moved closer, openly admiring Achilleus’ naked form. The uniquely masculine beauty of a born warrior, muscles built in true athleticism, clean, shining and unmarked now that he had shed the burden of a mortal body. “You’re dead. That’s a shame, isn’t it? And unexpected. Your mother didn’t protect you well enough.”
“I knew it would come to this.” Achilleus met that dark red gaze, and shook his head. “Long life, or glory in battle. She told me. I chose to win glory.” And would he? Oh yes. Everybody already said that he had been the best warrior on the Greek side, bringing mighty Ilion to her knees. The only thing he regretted was not to have stormed the battlements and put every last inhabitant of Ilion to the sword. His nostrils flared at the thought. For what they’d done.
Ares laughed, and the sound was anything but human; in its echo came the ghosts of dying screams and howls of rage. “As if there was any doubt. Oh, yes, young Achilleus, your name will be spoken forever. It’s known on Olympus. Hermes aches to have you finally in his hands, to take you on your way. But you knew that already, I suppose. Are you ready to retire to a life of eternal bliss?” He leaned forward on the bed, his hands on either side of Achilleus’ knees, not quite touching.
Achilleus’ lips opened, but not to answer, or at least it took him a while to answer. “I want to raze Ilion to the ground and take their women and daughters into captivity. I want to strangle each and every last one of them.” That rage, that pain inside never subsided. A bronzed body, a laughter that gave him goose bumps, the long, strong limbs of his friend, his lover, as he made love to a slave girl, smiling because he knew Achilleus was watching him, eager to take her in turn. The comradeship, the desire, their mutual strength in each other. Love could indeed turn into a rage that nothing could quench. Not ever. “Can you grant me that, Ares?”
One blunt hand, made for wielding heavy weapons, lifted toward Achilleus’ face. It didn’t quite touch skin, but heat emanated from him, fueling the fire of the Myrmidon’s rage. “Can I?” he whispered, that mad smile never wavering. “Can I? I am a god, Achilleus, son of Peleus. Of course I can. Now ask me, will I?”
Achilleus swallowed. “Yes. Will you?” His blue eyes feverish with the heat reflected from the god, the way it burned his skin. His touch, Achilleus knew. It was the last thing he’d felt with his broken, dying body.
Ares’ hand traveled down to the bare chest and rested against the heart that no longer beat, hot as a brand, hot enough to burn a hole through Achilleus’ body. “Why stop there? Why not ask for divinity? You know the gods. You know what we can do. You could raze Ilion with a sweep of your hand, or walk through its streets and put your sword through every soul who crossed your path, as you chose.”
Achilleus shuddered under the touch, which almost made him gasp for air. The words seemed low and seductive, or maybe it was the image of undying revenge that stirred him so. Destroy Ilion. Destroy everybody who’d done him wrong. But what were the god’s intentions? It was difficult holding on to thoughts in his presence...something about him defied thought and planning, whipped up his emotions and desires into what could easily become frenzy.
The fine details...