Author: Aleksandr Voinvov
Publisher: Self Published
Cover Artist: G.D. Leigh
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 04/15/2016
Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)
Genre: Bisexual, Contemporary, Fiction, Gay, Gay Fiction
Six years ago, young and bright investment professional Martin David got exactly what he wanted—a relationship with Francis de Bracy, his boss at investment fund Skeiron Capital Partners. Having now started their own business in Germany’s banking capital Frankfurt, Martin and Francis’s life is sweet and easy.
Until the Jesuit Emanuel, Francis’s former mentor and teacher, shows up unbidden and unwelcome. Emanuel brings with him a devil’s deal: Charles de Bracy, one of Francis’s most unforgiving enemies, has sent the Jesuit to broker peace between himself and Francis. And Emanuel does not come empty-handed—Charles is offering Francis the family fortune if Francis travels to the US and reconciles with his estranged father.
Martin knows how proud and headstrong Francis is. No amount of money will bend his will. But as toxic as the past is, maybe facing it will finally give Francis peace. Yet, if Charles is anything like his son, he’s a formidable foe, and Francis’s scars and bitterness run so deep a billion might not be enough to even the scores.
Risk Return is the sequel to Return on Investment.
The title kind of says it all, or at least asks the question as to who is the risk taker and what is the return? I’m tempted to say Martin is the former and Francis the latter, but they are on even footing now, so odds are split. Either way, we have a front row comfy armchair, tea in hand, from which to experience this exploration by Martin and Francis.
Francis lifted his eyebrow in his “then it’s your fault” expression but, while just a few years ago Martin could have expected a sarcastic comment or a mostly well-meant piece of advice on time or project management, these days Francis was more diplomatic, at least to him. He’d moved to the same spot of “indulgence for fools” that Carsten inhabited. Which was probably the biggest proof of all that Francis loved him.
This is where we are when Risk Return opens. This is where Martin and Francis are inside their relationship, and I like it.
I like that the story opens this way. Both Martin and Francis, and dear Carsten, and even teeth-grindingly mysterious Emanuel, are reintroduced with updates on their personalities, how they’re all doing, especially in relation to one another, and what we can maybe expect in the tone and atmosphere in this book. In this sense, and others, this story is different than its predecessor, Return On Investment. Here, the major focus is on these characters, and all of the various relationships, how they’re changing and evolving, with the business world a distant second in subject. It feels like ROI made this story possible. Knowing what all of these people went through and barely survived lends additional weight to this story. This is especially true for Francis in dealing with his past and his family, and Martin is right behind him, dealing with Francis. The best of all? They’re doing it all together.
That’s what this is, an expression and exploration of dealing with the past and how the sometimes huge pain from that can still reside here in the present. It doesn’t always disappear but lucky for Francis, he has Martin. He is working out how to carve it away, though, to have his present, and maybe even his future, be one in which he can live without the thick ghosts of his still living family, especially his father.
Speaking of, we get to know a little of the personalities of some members of Martin and Francis’ families. Several seeds are planted that could easily lead to further stories involving some of them. They all add to what is a sometimes surreal, or ultra-real, experience that is this life these two guys have built for themselves. I think they’re simultaneously filled with surprise and the attitude that of course they’ve done this thing, and they’ve done it as partners in every sense.
Martin didn’t know what to say. Francis could be intensely romantic in this very, very odd way. Only he would expend so much thought on something seemingly so minor – but these days, he shared his thoughts with Martin, which was probably the greatest gift of all.
There are a few instances where clearly a word was missing, or a choice between using one or the other was to occur but the discarded word wasn’t removed from the text. And I understand the reason for a few of the small time jumps later on in the story, but it had me waffling between ok, this is important to the story and is it really if it’s only given a few sentences to cover a few months’ time. These are minor quibbles but obvious nonetheless.
I wasn’t sure what to expect in this second book about the lives of Martin and Francis, and Carsten (yay, Carsten!), and the friends and families of them all. I like where Voinov decided to go with them, the direction he chose in order to explore this relationship, the growth coupled with thin layers of uncertainty here and there, working through the pain of the past and desperately wanting to cease once and for all its power over the present. I enjoyed getting to know these two guys so well here, and that experience made them quite relatable. No matter how much money you have, a bruised heart or wounded spirit still haunt. Thankfully, Francis is finding a way to heal, with Martin a large part and most important part of that. And I think it’s safe to say that there are more stories that should be told: Emanuel, I mean really, what gives? And Kyle, hmmmmm. And Dean… and Kyle? And Possible changes in the business Martin and Francis focus on, and much more. 😉
This review is based on a copy purchased by the reviewer independent of any review copies offered.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
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