Title: Dark Soul (Volume One)
Author: Aleksandr Voinov
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Characters: Stefano Marino, Silvio Spadaro
POV: 3rd Person
Sub-Genre: Erotica/Crime Drama
Stefano Marino is a made man, a happily married West Coast mafia boss who travels east to await the death of a family patriarch. All the old hands have gathered—of course sharks will circle when there’s blood in the water—but it’s a new hand that draws Stefano’s eye.
Silvio “the Barracuda” Spadaro is protetto and heir to retired consigliere Gianbattista Falchi, and a made man in his own right. Among his underworld family, being gay is a capital crime, but the hypersexual—and pansexual—young killer has never much cared for rules. The only orders he follows are Battista’s, whether on the killing field or on his knees, eagerly submissive at Battista’s feet.
But Silvio has needs Battista can’t fill, and he’s cast his black-eyed gaze on Stefano. A fake break-in, and even faker attack, and Silvio is exactly where he wants to be: strung up at Stefano’s mercy, driving the older Mafioso toward urges he’s spent his whole life repressing. Stefano resists, but when the Russian mob invades his territory and forces him to seek aid, Gianbattista’s price brings Stefano face to face once more with Silvio—and his darkest desires.
From Don Vito Corleone to Tony Montana to Tony Soprano, from Al Capone to Lucky Luciano to John Gotti, the fictional characters, as well as the larger-than-real-life Mafiosi have long held a certain allure—uninhibited by conscience, violence a familiar, ethically flexible, and living above and outside of society’s laws—these are men who lived by a code far different than most, their brand of justice and merciless retribution meted out without compunction or the handicap of legal jurisprudence. These are the godfathers and goodfellas who are the stuff of legends, the men for whom loyalty was essential and trust was often scarce.
Aleksandr Voinov has now added to that list of compelling and charismatic characters with Dark Soul, the powerfully seductive introduction of Stefano Marino, a West Coast Mafioso who’s guarding a potentially deadly secret. Living outside the law doesn’t mean there aren’t rules each member of the family must abide by, however. There are cardinal sins, even within this brotherhood of lawless men: Never kill another made man without permission. And never, ever allow anyone within the family to suspect you’re gay. In the mafia, that’s the ultimate fatal attraction.
Stefano didn’t have a problem abiding by either dictate. That is, until he laid eyes on the beautiful and dangerous Silvio Spadaro, the favored boy and heir apparent to retired consigliere, Gianbattista Falchi. Once Stefano caught sight of “The Barracuda’s” dark hair, dark eyes, and sensed an even darker soul within, he was condemned to fighting his attraction to the enigmatic man with a penchant for pain. Drawn to Silvio like a magnet to steel, it’s a potential death wish for the very married Stefano, who finds himself yearning to punish Silvio for that desire.
The opening chapters of this series paint an evocative, provocative, and deeply sensual picture of a man whose past is shadowed by events yet unknown but which have shaped who he has become—a killer, a force with which to be reckoned, and the lover of the powerful Battista Falchi, Il Gentiluomo, a man who appears to be anything but gentle with his young, but perhaps not quite young enough, lover.
Dark Soul is a story with a very distinct sense of mood and setting, a story that you experience rather than merely observe as it preys on the imagination, playing out scene after scene in the mind’s eye, tempting and sometimes disturbing my emotions, but always, always compelling me to turn the page; it was impossible to look away, even if I’d wanted to, which I did not.
As the Russian mob encroaches upon Stefano’s territory, the potential for a war exists, a situation for which Stefano seeks assistance from Battista, one that will seemingly come with a very high price for both Stefano and Silvio, as circumstances seem bent upon leading them into temptation. Where will it deliver them? That remains to be seen.
Reviewed By: Lisa