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REVIEW: Russian Prey by Sandrine Gasq-Dion

Book eight in assassin/shifter series

Special Agent Keegan Ripley has watched, listened to and fantasized about the notorious Vicious Vince Markov for more than a decade. Now he has been assigned the task of going undercover in Rio to convince Markov to meet with FBI bosses about joining forces. After meeting Vince in a gay bar, Keegan finds that even his very close surveillance has left him completely unprepared for the man’s overwhelming sex appeal. Besides fighting his traitorous body, Keegan also has to deal with the fact that his crush is a complete and total ass.

Sexy, cold and unfeeling assassin Vince Markov is on a mission. He has been sent to Rio to kill Dario Nardozzi, a child killer whose number is up. He makes sure the psychopath knows he’s in Rio, but it turns out that the biggest threat to Vince’s well-being isn’t Nardozzi – it’s one Keegan Ripley. When he catches Vince’s eye in a very big way, Vince is intrigued. But the beautiful Mr. Ripley isn’t interested and, thrown off his game, Vince has another mission: find out why in hell not!

Forced to work together, the mission becomes dangerous for both men. As they battle a madman and their own feelings, secrets are revealed, trusts are betrayed and lives are at stake. Vince’s cold heart is in danger of melting and Keegan’s resolve to resist Vince is buckling. Can a notoriously vicious killer and an FBI agent actually fall in love?

WARNING: This book contains material that maybe offensive to some: Violence, graphic language, homosexual relations, adult situations

Dear Sandrine Gasq-Dion:

I saw books by you climbing Amazon bestseller lists on the regular basis and at some point I could not restrain my curiosity, so I decided to randomly purchase one of the books to sample the writing. I had to choose somehow and this title hinted at Russian characters being in the book, so I bought it.

Russian Prey by Sandrine Gasq-DionPlease note that this is the book eight of the Assassin/Shifter series. The couples from the previous books do show up in this one, but it looked like there is a new couple featured in each book, so I do not think a reader will be confused if she reads this one without reading previous books.

I was completely confused, however, as to why this book is a part of the series, since neither of the two main characters is the shifter. There were couple of sentences in the book telling the guys that some of their friends are shifters, but that was it. I have to admit that even though I purchased the book last September, for months I could not move past first few chapters. The writing just felt, I don’t know, too simplistic I guess. I like the variety of writing styles but this one did not feel like my cup of tea at all. I forced myself to move further in the story and as the story progressed I started to like the writing better – I think I like the  dialogue much better than I like the descriptions.

The story requires major suspensions of disbelief in many areas. Your  bio suggests that you spent twenty years in the military, but I have no idea whether you have any personal knowledge of how FBI operates (I definitely don’t), but *nothing* that was described seemed believable to me. Do not get me wrong – it could be correct, I would not know, but when I was reading I was amused more than once and not in a good way. I am going to try to avoid a significant spoilers in my review, but I think I can give at least one example – a team of openly gay FBI operatives did not seem to me as something believable unfortunately. There was a bunch of other things which I also did not find believable, but to list them would go deep into spoilers territory. I have to say however that unbelievable as it was, the action/adventure plot was fast paced and exciting to read about.

As the blurb tells you one of our leads is the FBI agent (yes, the member of that team) and another one is a member of Russian mafia. Where do I start with Vincent Markov? First of all, I never met a Russian born character named Vincent in the more than twenty years I lived over there – ever. I never read a book with Russian born character called Vincent; I never watched a movie with Russian born character called Vincent. Of course does not mean that no person could be named that, I surely do not claim meeting every person over there?, but it is highly unlikely. I do give the author the props for giving couple other Russian characters correct first names and correct last names, and using the last names correctly in the sentences.

I have also been very tired for quite some time of all Russian born characters being in the mafia as if it is their only occupation in the romance books (and not only romance books actually), but in this book we have highly romanticized mafia members (they kill only bad people you see).
The love story between Keenan and Vince started out in a fun way actually – I loved their bickering, I loved when Keenan made Vince pay attention to him. Here is the example of their banter for you:

“Vince moved closer, watching Keegan’s body language. “See, that’s just it. I’m not buying it, Agent, I think you do like me and I think you are very interested.”

Keegan tilted his head. “How do you do it?”

“Do what?”

“Walk upright, with such a ginormous head”

However, once they get in bed, which was somewhere in the 40 percentage range on my kindle, their relationship lost the charm it had had for me in the beginning. Oh the sex scenes were very hot, but there was just too much sex for me and Keenan turned from the somewhat competent agent (or so they said that he was competent) to somebody very needy, completely dependent on Vincent and somebody who I just really did not care for. I can see why these books are popular, but overall it was not really my cup of tea. C-


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Sirius started reading books when she was four and reading and discussing books is still her favorite hobby. One of her very favorite gay romances is Tamara Allen’s Whistling in the Dark. In fact, she loves every book written by Tamara Allen. Amongst her other favorite romance writers are Ginn Hale, Nicole Kimberling, Josephine Myles, Taylor V. Donovan and many others. Sirius’ other favorite genres are scifi, mystery and Russian classics. Sirius also loves travelling, watching movies and long slow walks.


  1. cleo
    May 09, 2013 @ 11:29:07

    Thanks for the review. I’m also getting tired of Russian mobsters in romance – especially in m/m.

    Have you read Gold Digger by Aleksandr Voinov? One of the heroes is Russian and he’s not in the mafia or from a mafia family. Think he’s a geologist – he works for a gold mining company (of course his father is a mercenary, from Voinov’s Special Forces series, so his family background’s not exactly squeaky clean). It’s not my fave Voinov, but I enjoyed it.

  2. Sirius
    May 09, 2013 @ 21:44:11

    @cleo: Every time I encounter another Russian mobster I want to ask the writer something along those lines – how about writing a book about the guys who, wait for it, are for example computer programmers? Most Russian, Ukrainian Jewish (that’s my heritage so that’s what I am going with) men I know are computer programmers. Of course lots of women too, but we are talking about mm. And I am not making any claims that this is the most popular profession in the community, obviously it depends on so many factors and when you came to US (am talking about US – going with what I know and where I live).

    But no, mobster is not, sorry it is just not and after a little bit of excitement it wears off and got annoying long time ago. I cringe enough every time I hear about real Russian mobsters because I am ashamed for them, do not care about them in fiction. It is definitely not just mm, I read very little het, but today I was reading latest Amanda Quick and lo and behold, we have an assassin with “thick Russian accent”. Was there any point in that? Zero as far as I am concerned – the assassin did not even have real motivations like her villains do (passion or whatever), he was just serving real villain for money. UGH.

    No I have not read “Gold Digger, but I have read “Special forces” :).

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