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Romance and other things


Can somebody smack main character for me and hard?

Return on Investment - Aleksandr Voinov




Dear Aleksandr Voinov,

I will confess that despite really enjoying your writing in the last couple of years I have read very few if any of your solo projects due to subject matter not being my cup of tea. I do not know how I would characterize this book, but I do think that “gay financial thriller” is not enough for me and to be honest thriller element is kind of debatable and if it is there appears very late in the game. There is a very strong erotic element in it and I would argue that romantic storyline is also present, although I definitely would not call this book a pure romance.

For the first thirty – forty percent of the story I was very irritated with the main character of this book. I could barely tolerate his stupidity in any character of any genre. In theory I had no problem with Martin being attracted to Alec. I mean to me he had all the charm of a snake from the very beginning, but I fully admit that I may have been influenced by the blurb. Blurb clearly states that Martin gives him confidential information so this probably made me think that this character stinks from the very beginning.  Quite honestly I feel like the blurb gave out a very significant spoiler which should have stayed hidden and made me form expectations and I usually try very hard to enter the book without any preconceived expectations.  So to go back to Martin and Alec, I guess I can see how Martin was charmed by Alec but only to a certain degree.  I do not see how Martin could share the confidential information so easily and what felt to me as without much (if any) hesitations. And he did it twice although apparently he remembered that he had a brain eventually and did not give out the information which I guess was more confidential than what he gave to Alec the first two times (numbers v whole files?).   I get that people in real life do criminal things like “insider trading” because they probably want to make a lot of money and they do not care that it is illegal.  But making a lot of money at least counts as some kind of reason to do illegal things, right? This was a young idiot doing stuff I am not quite even sure why. I do not want to give out even more spoilers, but it felt strange,  I did not even feel  that he was not even in love with Alec  - in lust maybe, not that it would have been enough for me, but at least it would have been some kind of explanation. Martin acted as if he did not understand all the seriousness of passing confidential numbers about his firm productivity to an outsider.  Was he not given a drill about any information about a firm being confidential the first day he started work? I know I am sensitive about the issues of confidentiality, I am a lawyer, but I just could not buy that somebody in the world of finance is so dim. He just acted as if he had no or very little clue – without any thought. If he acted as a seasoned criminal I may even had less problems with this. I also think that in light of another thing Alec did Martin should have run away pronto.


Martin thinks Alec raped him - not because he did not consent to have sex with him, but because Alec drugged him and added a second participant. The fuck?  And he is still there for a long time.

(show spoiler)




I probably spent enough time on this issue. I just want to say that there is *a lot* of page space devoted to sex between Martin and Alec and a lot devoted to their “relationship” – them together is the main reason why I would  insist on the word *erotic* in the book description.

“It’s not personal, Martin. Maybe it is for you. Be smart.” Francis gave him a smile, then brushed past and raised a hand to shoulder level. “Good night”.

Martin’s crush on one of his bosses, financial genius and one of the partners in his firm was much easier to understand and much easier to sympathize with.  Feelings of never being able to measure up to him, wanting to mean something in Francis’ eyes,  while I would not consider this storyline a full blown romance, I felt that this provided romantic element to the book and I liked them together.

“There was something about Francis that intimidated Martin, from the first, rushed meeting during his interview to now, and probably for the rest of his time at the firm. The best way to deal with it was to stick to the claustrophobic concerns at Skeiron, pounding out one report after another. He knew those portfolio ultimately now, knew their market shares, their profit margins, their current value. To him, they were just set of stats, not people. Maybe the management figured prominently in Francis’s mind; after all, he did catch up with his CEOs regularly – but the people on the bottom rungs were invisible.”

I thought that Martin grew up a lot by the end of the book.  I was very happy that apparently he learned enough ruthlessness from the villain but also had some decency in him. I really liked that and when I finished I even was glad that I “met” him.

I really liked the settings of this book and this is a testament to the writer’s talent that he made finance sound so fascinating.  Although I think the fact that I am completely ignorant about the finance played its part too – usually the more ignorant I am about the setting, the more eager to learn I am. The finance part of the book is written with authority I guess and since I have no knowledge to question it, the story swept me away.


I also want to mention that I really liked Martin’s trainer and friend Josh – I get that Martin needed a friend outside of crazy world of finance, but Josh ended up being such a sweet normal character in the sea of crazy, more importantly he felt like his own person with agency, not just living to support Martin if that makes sense.

Grade C+


EDIT : I bumped the rating a little bit because it will likely become a joint review at DA and discussion showed that this rating matches a bit better (not changing content written - just that what I wrote matched C+ better. Rating is always such a pain for me) and also bumped the stars to three because my original rating was C and I just made a mistake in star rating.