Friday, September 19, 2014

Book Tour for the Belonging 'Verse Featuring Counterpunch by Aleksandr Voinov (Review & GIVEAWAY)

As a big fan of Aleksandr Voinov's works I'm excited to be reintroducing this classic (yet revamped) m/m read set in an alternate universe.  Keep reading to get a tantalizing taste of Counterpunch, along with my impressions of it, and then make sure to leave a comment below for the chance to win a $25 Riptide Publishing GC.

Welcome to the Belonging ’Verse re-release blog tour with Aleksandr Voinov and Rachel Haimowitz! We’re very excited to be bringing you edited second editions of our Belonging stories, Anchored and Counterpunch (in the case of Anchoredvery edited, with over ten thousand new words and a completely different beginning and ending!), which are finally under the same roof and back in print after about a year out of circulation.
We’ll be touring for about two weeks, Aleks discussing his slave boxer and the barrister who tries to free him, and Rachel talking about her slave news anchor and the talk show host who covets him, and both of us discussing the world of Belonging at large—which, as you’ve probably guessed, is not a particularly pretty place. But good things can and do happen in this world, and we hope you’ll stick with us to find out what!

Fight like a man, or die like a slave.
Two years ago, Brooklyn Marshall was a happily married London policeman and amateur boxer with a promising future. Then he accidentally killed a rioter whose powerful father had him convicted of murder. To ease the burden on the prison system, the state sold Brooklyn into slavery. Now he’s the “Mean Machine,” competing on the slave prizefighting circuit for the entertainment of freemen, and being rented out for sexual service to his wealthier fans.
When barrister Nathaniel Bishop purchases Brooklyn’s services for a night, Brooklyn braces himself for yet another round of humiliation and pain. But the pair form an unexpected bond that grows into something more. Brooklyn hesitates to call it love—such feelings can’t truly exist between freemen and slaves—but when Nathaniel reveals that he wants to get Brooklyn’s conviction overturned, Brooklyn dares to hope.
Until an accident in the ring sends Brooklyn on the run, jeopardizing everything he’s worked so hard for. With the law on his tail and Nathaniel in his corner, he must prepare for the most important fight of his life: the fight for his freedom.


Aleksandr Voinov has been published for twenty years, both in print and ebook. He has ten years’ experience as a writing coach, book doctor, and writing teacher, and until recently worked as an editor in financial services.
After co-authoring the M/M military cult classic Special Forces, Aleksandr embarked on a quest to write gritty, edgy, sometimes literary M/M and gay fiction (much of which is romance/erotica)—the only way he can use his American Literature degree these days.
He’s been published with Heyne/Random House, Carina Press, Samhain Publishing, and others, and is an EPIC Awards winner and a Lambda Awards finalist. You can connect with Aleks at: 

TWITTER:  @aleksandrvoinov


I'm a huge fan of Aleksandr Voinov and found his books to be darkly sensual, gritty, and almost lyrical in the emotions it creates in you.  Counterpunch gave me many of the same feelings along with its vivid detailing of boxing matches and thought-provoking issues from an alternate world where slavery runs rampant with sex being the standard way they earn money for their masters.  Into this dark and gritty world we meet charismatic boxer Brooklyn sent into slavery for killing a man in the ring and Nathaniel the freeman lawyer who's obsessed with him and finally gets to have a night of delights with him.  From this night on they're both left changed and it will be a fight outside the ring to get them to their HEA.

Brooklyn once had it all and lost everything in the blink of an eye, but he's a survivor.  He accepts his situation knowing he can't change it but his heart and soul is bruised, full of rage and anger at how far he's fallen and the damage he caused his family and the opponent that died.  He's a strong and proud man in a society that wants to diminish him and it's only his continuing success in the ring that keeps him going.  The boxing scenes are vivid, compelling, and pull you in completely to a world where Brooklyn is king.  Outside of the ring Brooklyn soon senses that Nathaniel isn't like the other men who've claimed him before but still doesn't trust him completely as he's secretive and freemen tend to be untrustworthy.  Even the small glimmer of hope Nathaniel offers doesn't mean Brooklyn's ordeal is over though as twists and turns lead him to the biggest fight of his life and leave readers cheering for this compelling hero.

Like another book in this series, Anchored, the freemen's personality is dwarfed by that of the slave's to where we know very little about him.  His reasons for wanting Brooklyn seemed superficial early on and his ILYs were expressed too quickly and didn't ring true.  I believe he was earnest in wanting to see justice done for Brooklyn though and I appreciated his ethical dilemma in the issues of sex and love with a slave.  This moral ambiguity befalling Nathaniel showed a thoughtful and intelligent man whereas in Anchored the freemen seemed oblivious to the reality of this world.

The fighting scenes and Brooklyn himself are what have stuck with me long after the final page was turned.  The fight scenes were vividly detailed and full of anger and energy.  Brooklyn is larger than life, and though a slave, his strength and charisma is undeniable.  Nathaniel is the one shining thing in his life, giving him hope of a life of freedom if he will just put trust in someone else, but in comparison Nathaniel fades into the background.  Therefore their romance didn't feel all-consuming but rather a promise which made for a more realistic story and ending as the true test will be once they're of equal status.  This was a fine addition to the Belonging Universe and in Voinov's capable hands I was once again lost in this gritty and engaging world that left me disillusioned by some and hopeful for others.  Readers looking for a master storyteller in the m/m genre can put Aleksandr Voinov's name at the top of their list and add this to their bookshelf.

My rating for this is a A-

*I got this book from the publisher for review in exchange for my honest opinion.


Network news anchor Daniel Halstrom is at the top of his field, but being at the bottom of the social ladder—being a slave—makes that hard to enjoy. Especially when NewWorld Media, the company that’s owned him since childhood, decides to lease him privately on evenings and weekends to boost their flagging profits.
Daniel’s not stupid; he knows there’s only one reason someone would pay so much for what little free time he has. But dark memories of past sexual service leave him certain he won’t survive it again with his sanity intact.
He finds himself in the home of Carl Whitman, a talk show host whose words fail him when it comes to ordering Daniel into his bed. Carl can’t seem to take what he must want, and Daniel’s not willing to give it freely. His recalcitrance costs him dearly, but with patience and some hard-won understanding, affection just might flourish over fear and pain. Carl holds the power to be an anchor in Daniel’s turbulent life, but if he isn’t careful, he’ll end up the weight that sinks his slave for good.


Leave a comment for the chance to win a $25 Riptide Publishing GC!

-Leave a comment about why you enjoy reading m/m books for the chance to win. (INCLUDE EMAIL ADDY)
-Comment at each tour stop to increase your chances of winning.
-Giveaway is open worldwide.
-Giveaway ends at 11:59 PM CST on 9/20.


  1. This is the kind of reads that really calls to me. Angst, pain, surviving. Please, count me in for the giveaway. Thank you.

  2. THanks for the review!

    Trix, vitajex(at)Aol(dot)com

  3. Thank you for stopping by, and our hostess for the lovely, thoughtful review!

  4. Thank you for the review and the giveaway chance.


  5. Sounds awesome. Thank you for the review and giveaway =)

    humhumbum AT yahoo DOT com

  6. I love M/M because M/M rarely has TSTL mcs unlike M/F books. If M/M books do, I can tolerate them more than needy, bitchy female mcs.


  7. I have read the first printing of Anchored and have the first printing of Counterpunch waiting for me. I look forward to seeing what the new versions have to offer! Big fan of both authors, highly recommend their work!

  8. OMG!! These books sounds terrific!! Count me in, plz!!
    I like M/M romance because they took the romance to a higher level.

  9. M/M stories give me passion, angst, hurt, loss and so on..
    Thank you for this awesome giveaway

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. Thank you for the excellent review! And the contest. I love m/m stories because they are often more intense and men are just sexy together. I also like how there are so many sub-genres under the one genre and the authors seem willing to take risks in their books.

    jen.f {at} mac {dot} com

  12. Thanks again to everyone for joining and hosting us, and congratulations to H.B., the winner of the $25 gift certificate!