Thursday, July 18, 2013

Book Tour for Unhinge the Universe by Aleksandr Voinov & LA Witt (Review & GIVEAWAY)

Welcome to the Riptide Publishing/Aleksandr Voinov/L. A. Witt blog tour for Unhinge the Universe!  I'm honored to have everyone visiting my site again and look forward to discussing their new release, Unhinge the Universe.  Keep reading to learn more about this intensely emotional historical read and make sure to leave a comment for your chance to win ebooks from LA Witt and a GC from Riptide Publishing!

One of the biggest challenges of writing historical fiction is keeping all the facts straight. Not using modern phrases in historical settings,  things like that. For example, you won’t have someone in World War II France saying “getting’ jiggy with it” or using an iPhone to figure out their location. Then there’s clothing and commodities we tend to take for granted. Did they have access to bean coffee? How many buttons did a uniform have? Were there zippers involved? Were boots slip-on or laced? What kind of weapons did an officer carry versus an enlisted soldier? Were Nazis using semi-automatic rifles? How did an Iron Cross medal attach to the uniform (yes, we really did need to know that for this book)?
Obviously, it takes some work to make sure that kind of thing isn’t screwed up. That’s part of the fun and the headache of writing historical.
Sometimes, you do some research and wind up having to rewrite a huge chunk of the story because history simply comes along and says “NOPE.”  Maybe there were no Luftwaffe planes flying in a particular region, never mind in formations during that time. Maybe the town you want to use was laid to waste a year before your book begins. Maybe there’s no way in hell Churchill was anywhere near your base, let alone bare-knuckle boxing with Stalin in the basement of a pub while your Nazis did shots, because there’s loads of documentation showing that Churchill and Stalin were in fact in other locations on that date. Of course if you’re writing alternate history, that’s no big deal.
But when Aleks and I wrote Unhinge the Universe, we were aiming for legit historical fiction. Except, you know, the part where we were bitten by a plot bunny and dived right into writing it without first, like, hitting the books. We wrote first and asked questions later. Fortunately, we both have a pretty solid knowledge base when it comes to World War II (especially Aleks), so we weren’t flying completely blind.
World War II was a massive theatre, though. This means there’s room to take a few liberties. For example, if you want to write a story about some Nazis dropping behind enemy lines in American uniforms, it may not have actually happened, but we went with “Considering all the other crazy things the Nazis did, could they possibly have come up with that?” This is where historical fiction can be fun. You’re making stuff up, but keeping it within the parameters of reality. Pretty cool, huh?
That’s exactly what Aleks and I did. We dropped our Nazis into the French countryside at the beginning of the Battle of the Bulge in American uniforms. It seemed exactly like the kind of harebrained thing Himmler might have done with his SS troops to look good and curry favour with Hitler.
And that’s when things got weird.
Hagen, one of our two main characters, was carrying a specific variety of weapon. While Aleks was writing, I decided to do a little research into that to make sure I had the mechanics of the weapon (bolt action vs. semi-auto, etc) correct.  Now, Wikipedia may not be the most reliable of sources, but it can be helpful in a pinch as long as you cross-check all your facts. So I was using Wiki to get on the right track, and I think we’ve all experienced a Wiki vortex before. You know, when you start reading an article, you see a link within the article, you click on it, and the next thing you know, you’re eighteen articles deep and your writing partner is wondering why you’ve suddenly gone quiet.
Somewhere in the course of Wiki-diving, I found a mention of Otto Skorzeny and a particular plan called Operation Greif. I clicked on it.
And discovered that the Nazis were putting men behind enemy lines.
In Allied uniforms.
At the beginning of the Battle of the Bulge.
My face, folks. I’m fairly certain my jaw actually hit the desk. Here we were, winging it through a piece of historical fiction, making up a military operation and hoping for the best, and suddenly… it was real. It was almost like history had magically rewritten itself to fit our “this is a little outlandish, don’t you think?” plan. Our story bent history around itself and altered the freaking past in order to drive our main characters together in the snowy French countryside.
I have yet to verify it for certain, but I think this might mean Aleks and I are gods. 

December 1944 – The Battle of the Bulge.....
SS Lieutenant Hagen Friedrichs is the sole survivor of a party sent to retrieve his brother—and the highly sensitive information he’s carrying—from behind enemy lines. But his daring rescue attempt fails, and Hagen becomes the prisoner.
Allied command has ordered Captain John Nicholls to extract critical intelligence from their new Nazi POW. His secrets could turn the tide of the war, but are they real? John is determined to find out . . . and to shatter the prisoner who killed his lover during the attack on their tiny base. The deeper he digs, though, the more he realizes that the soldier under the SS uniform is just like him: a scared, exhausted young man who’s lost loved ones and just wants to go home.
As captor and captive form an unexpected bond, the lines quickly blur between enemy, friend, and lover. And as horrifying rumors spread from the front lines and American soldiers turn their sights on the SS for vengeance, John may be Hagen’s only hope for survival.


Aleksandr Voinov and LA Witt have banded together to create an intense and thoughtprovoking historical read that vividly presents the bloodiness, fear, and confusion of what defines the enemy during wartime.  From its heartpounding early scenes to the mind games between an American officer looking for answers from a German officer to their unlikely bond that ends the story in an uplifting way, I found myself completely immersed in the action and rooting for someone who history has taught us to hate.

Captain John has been ordered to get vital information from Nazi officer Hagen and what starts out as a by the book interrogation soon morphs into something more personal.  John starts seeing Hagen as a man and worthy of living.  He sees someone like himself looking for just a bit of comfort and peace, away from the lies they have to keep, amongst the craziness of war and decides to do whatever necessary to keep him safe from other's whose prejudices might endanger Hagen.  Hagen starts off seeing John as the enemy but the more time they spend together he soon sees a kindred spirit.  He doesn't see John as a soldier but someone who he can be himself with.  He knows he can't go back home and continue to live a lie so he'll do anything to protect the one person promising him true freedom.  They ultimately have to work together to keep each other safe in some action-packed sequences that end in a heartbreaking manner.  Thankfully the authors don't leave us teary-eyed for long as a completely believable and immensely satisfying conclusion soon occurs.

This story kept me on the edge of my seat with my feelings ricocheting as we get to know both John and Hagen more fully.  They're both bitter at first scarred by war and the deaths they've seen and caused.  It was rewarding discovering the real John and Hagen which is why I was rooting for them every step of the way.  The relationship started out in an expected manner but the sexual tension flared quickly, along with one or two very intense sexual encounters, and led to an unexpected and richly rewarding relationship.  This time period and these kinds of issues, love between men in wartime, isn't addressed often but is done so in an incredibly satisfying and believable way courtesy of these two authors and I can't recommend this book highly enough!

My rating for this is an A.

*I received this book from the authors for review in exchange for my honest opinion.


Aleksandr Voinov is an emigrant German author living near London, where he is one of the unsung heroes in the financial services sector. He published extensively in his native German, then switched to English and hasn’t looked back. His genres range from horror, science fiction, cyberpunk, and fantasy to contemporary, thriller, and historical erotic gay novels.
In his spare time, he goes weightlifting, explores historical sites, and meets other writers. He singlehandedly sustains three London bookstores with his ever-changing research projects. His current interests include special forces operations during World War II, pre-industrial warfare, European magical traditions, and how to destroy the world and plunge it into a nuclear winter without having the benefit of nuclear weapons.
Visit Aleksandr’s website at, his blog at, and follow him on Twitter, where he tweets as @aleksandrvoinov.

L.A. Witt is an abnormal M/M romance writer currently living in the glamorous and ultra-futuristic metropolis of Omaha, Nebraska, with her husband, two cats, and a disembodied penguin brain that communicates with her telepathically. In addition to writing smut and disturbing the locals, L.A. is said to be working with the US government to perfect a genetic modification that will allow humans to survive indefinitely on Corn Pops and beef jerky. This is all a cover, though, as her primary leisure activity is hunting down her arch nemesis, erotica author Lauren Gallagher, who is also said to be lurking somewhere in Omaha.
More info about L.A. can be found at or by stalk—er, following her on Twitter (@GallagherWitt).


Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a drawing for a choice of two eBooks off LA Witt's backlist (excluding Something New Under the Sunand a $10 Riptide Publishing store credit. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on July 21st, and winners will be announced on July 23rd.  Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries.

-Leave a comment, WITH YOUR EMAIL ADDY, to be entered.
-Giveaway is OPEN TO EVERYONE.
-Giveaway ends Midnight (EST), July 21.

Note: Aleks and L. A. are currently gallivanting around Europe. As such, we won’t be online as much as we normally are, and may not be able to respond to comments as quickly as we’d like, but will try to post responses as often as possible.


  1. I'm not usually a fan of historical fiction, but this book sounds so good, I'm going to have to make an exception for it.


  2. *goosebumps* I love when that happens!! Maybe you started channelling past (it's a scary thought of you two being gods... ;D )

  3. I'm really intrigued by the story!


  4. Quite frankly L.A. and Aleks could write a dissertation on the migratory effects of the snail I would eagerly anticipate sitting down and devouring it!!

    That being said I cannot wait to start this book, knowing both authors I know it is going to be epic.

    And as always thanks for the insights into your process, always love to hear more about it!!!


  5. Read an interview with L A Witt earlier today which included an excerpt from Unhinge the Universe...I'm thinking I need to curl up with this tonight :) Love both authors' books and enjoy a well written WWII book - seems like a wonderful combination :)


  6. L.A., that has to be the best behind-the-writing-scenes story I've heard in quite awhile, and you told it so perfectly -- have you considered writing as a career? I had such a smile on my face by the last line. In answer, to that line, yes, I'm pretty sure it does.

    caroaz [at] ymail [dot] com

  7. What a great review for this intense book and such an interesting background posting about the story.

    strive4bst(At) yahoo(Dot) com

  8. Thanks for the giveaway and the review of the book.