Of Our Own Device

Title: Of Our Own Device
Author: M.K. South
Publisher:Self Publishing
Release Date: March 8th, 2017
Genre(s): Historical Fiction, Political Thriller, Love Story, Spy Novel
Page Count: 874
Reviewed by: LenaR
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 5+ stars out of 5
A Gay Book Reviews 5+ star read!

What do you do when you realize that the American Dream you’ve been working for isn’t enough if it’s yours alone? And what you’re told to do will destroy the only true friend you’ve ever had?

Summer of 1985. Jack Smith is a rookie CIA case officer posted at the American Embassy in Moscow. Despite his gregarious nature, Jack is a lonely man: not only is he a reluctant spy, he is also gay.

When he meets Eton Volkonsky, a talented nuclear physics student, Jack’s bosses instruct him to develop the Russian as a future agent. Their friendship deepens, and Jack is torn between his suspicion that Eton and friends are with the KGB and his attraction to the man. But he continues telling himself and his bosses that he is just doing his job, developing his agent.

Only when he leaves Russia does Jack admit that he has been fooling himself. He takes on assignments in various countries, with a hope that eventually they will get him back to Moscow.

As introspection and growing doubts about what he does for living torment Jack,the world is buffeted by a whirlwind of dramatic events – diplomatic and spy wars, the rise of AIDS, the Chernobyl catastrophe, the war in Afghanistan and the disintegration of the communist bloc.

Given a second chance, will Jack make the right choice?

I always find it very difficult to write a review of a book that deeply moved me. I had a look at my reviews of my all time favorite books recently, and had to hold myself back not to make them disappear forever. They sound like a disjointed mumbling of a ten year old girl who has just discovered the existence of an exclamation mark. Besides, these reviews are not very helpful.

But again, I am running out of words when I try to explain how GOOD this story is, how GREAT the characters are and how I want all of you to go through these oceans of emotions and to experience the same intensity of feelings while reading this book.

Ok…the book:

Set in the middle/end of the 1980s in Russia/West-/East Germany/USA this novel offers EVERYTHING that a fan of a powerful political spy thriller can only dream of: the most excited history, a spies’ war on a very high level, complex politics, a lot of research (hats off to the author. WOW.) But even if this part alone deserves 5 stars, the best, THE VERY BEST, the most fascinating, stunning, breathtaking, amazing, grandiose part is…YES…a LOVE STORY.

The characters:

Jack, a CIA officer at the American Embassy in Moscow is a spy, he is lonely, gay and…simply one of the most compassionate characters EVER. Eton, a promising Russian physics student, a grandson of Professor Volkonsky, a world leading specialist in nuclear physics and a member of a nomenclature circle, with a mysterious family background and deeply in the closet (how it could be not at this time in this country?!) But Eton is in the first place a talented musician, a songwriter, front man and lead singer of the band Krylia.

Their relationship:

is a developing one. It starts VERY slowly, the sexual tension could be hardly ignored from their first meeting, but this hidden slow-built-relationship is something you can’t write THAT easy. You either can do it or not. M.K. South brought THIS love story and its development to uttermost perfection.

The writing:

very descriptive and could possibly be diluted in some parts, but during the most part of the book I felt it was authentic to the development of the story and the story just couldn’t do without it. I don’t want to get rid of a single sentence. No way. Again, I have to thank/admire/ the author for all his historical knowledge and for his research and everything in between. It is just this kind of writing that left you astounded and speechless and amazed.

In spite of all I said above, I try to remain reasonable.

You shouldn’t read this book

    if you do NOT like realistic historical fiction

    if you are NOT interested in politics AT ALL

    if your ONLY idea of a spy novel is James Bond movies

    if your understanding of a love story ( I avoid on purpose the word romance here) is not possible without long detailed sex scenes

Please, read this book

    if you do NOT want to miss one of the most emotional and intense love stories EVER

    if you don’t afraid to read a book of this length

    if you appreciate extremely well-done research

    If you LOVE historical fiction you can authenticate yourself with

    if you understand and estimate a beautiful and excellent writing

And finally something for your eyes. My casting for the main characters:

Beautiful, emotional, exciting, scary, thrilling, fascinating… the list of adjectives could go on and on.


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A passionate reader from Germany. I learned to read at the age of 4 and never stopped since then, though my books from that time were very different from what they are now. English is my third language, and I’m sorry for all grammar mistakes I made in my reviews. But I assure you, that my reading English is much better than my writing English. I’m a seeker for the books that differ from mainstream, that provoke the reader or have very often very opposite ratings.

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