A Guest Review by Aunt Lynn
One Sentence Review: A really good read until the aliens were brought in.
This review contains what could be considered spoilers
A mercenary for the past decade, Mikhail Volkov is a man without a country and that suits him just fine. Playing by his own rules, on his own terms, for the price he sets, is the way he likes it best. But when a CIA contact dangles a carrot he can’t resist to entice him into a clandestine search-and-rescue, Mikhail is brought face–to-face with the biggest foe he has yet to vanquish: his own loneliness.
Growing up, Devon ‘D’ Dearborn planned to follow in his father’s footsteps as part of the Army’s Delta Force. Once commissioned, D’s own ambitions took root and he became a top-level tank commander, occasionally serving as a go-between for his CIA-employed brother and a sexy Russian mercenary. When his doubts about his chosen career and his own sexual desires impacted the perfection he demanded of himself, D resigned his commission and exchanged his Abrams tank for an 18-wheeler.
After six years, the last face D expects to see when he pulls his rig into a truck stop is that of Mikhail Volkov. D wants nothing to do with his brother’s cloak-and-dagger job, but the temptation of working alongside the Russian is too hard to resist. And so is the sexy Russian.
Risky Maneuvers is the first book by Aleksandr Voinov and the second by Barbara Sheridan that I’ve read. I was impressed by the writing and the character development and I would definitely read more by them if this is what I would find.
The story opens with free-agent Russian mercenary Mikhail — “Misha” — in Afghanistan trying to give advice to a base commander who isn’t listening, only to be approached by CIA operative Sam offering him a new assignment. The agent knows Misha well and plays the card of the opportunity to work with Sam’s brother, Devon, again. Misha and D have a history both in battle and between the sheets, so even though he feels like he’s being played, he takes the bait and hops a plane back to the States. First part of the assignment: find D, who left the military six years ago and is now driving a long-haul truck. Once he locates D, they head off to be briefed about their assignment, though not before smexxin it up a bit and discovering that neither the chemistry nor feelings between them have changed at all. What they find out in the briefing has D’s head spinning: aliens do exist and their mission could be more dangerous than anything either of them has experienced before.
What I liked:
I loved our heroes, who were very well-written and fleshed and had almost palpable chemistry. Their smexxin scenes were smokin’ and I found a depth of feelings there that surprised me for a relatively short read. I loved how they were rough, playful and tender at the same time, and open to talking (I really enjoyed their dialog, which felt real and easy to me). They charmed me and I was really rooting for them. I am hoping for a sequel — something without aliens this time, please — as the ending seemed…unfinished.
Also, I was sucked into and engrossed by the first part of the book (really any part that didn’t have the aliens in it). I thought the plot was believable and I was really interested in seeing where their reunion would take them and us.
What I didn’t:
The entire aliens plotline. Okay, I admit that I didn’t know it was going to be sci-fi because the blurb doesn’t mention it and there is no indication on the cover and I hadn’t seen it on the LI site to get the sub-genre before reading it. To me, it looked like an interesting spy-y/military thriller/romance, so I snatched it up. I was so blown away — in not a good way — that it brought what would have been probably a 4.5 star or even higher rating down to what you see. The story went from this pretty great meet-after-six-years-and-oh-I-can’t-wait-to-get-you-in-the-sack-even-though-we’re-totally-tough-guys-and-we’re-going-on-a-secret-mission-hoo-ya! credible story to an X-Files farce. Sci-Fi isn’t my cuppa, but I was willing to put my biases aside to see where it was going to go (I have surprised myself in the past with taking chances and reading outside my comfort zone). I just couldn’t get past the borderline silliness that was this part of the tale.
Risky Maneuvers could be of interest to fans of the authors and readers of Sci Fi (if you like aliens stories).