Gold Digger – Aleksandr Voinov
Not all that glitters is gold.
Nikolai Krasnorada leads the life of a corporate nomad. Working for a gold explorations company, he’s never put down roots, and he likes it that way. Roots can be dangerous, as everyone from his “man-hating” sister to his manipulative mother to his war-traumatized father has proven.
But when his CEO sends him to Toronto to strike a deal with LeBeau Mining, Nikolai meets Henri LeBeau, crown prince to the resources conglomerate and inveterate flirt. Sparks fly immediately, despite the business deal that threatens to go sour and Nikolai’s own reluctance to give Henri false hope about him being Mr. Right. He’s barely come to terms with his bisexuality, and getting involved with Henri would get messy.
When LeBeau Mining launches a hostile takeover bid, Nikolai and Henri find themselves on opposite sides of the negotiating table. But fortunately – or perhaps unfortunately – for Nikolai, Henri’s not nearly as interested in his company as he is in his heart.
Because I’m the type to nitpick on book covers, I’d like to put it out there that the Italian cover is so much better
Also it took me halfway through the book to realize that the Vadim mentioned here, Nikolai’s father and ex-spetnaz, is the Vadim in the epic Special Forces saga (I must have missed the part that says it’s a spinoff). Holy hell! This man’s a legend!! But as much as I love Aleksandr Voinov’s books, I don’t think I have the courage nor the patience to read something dark with more than 2000 pages. Maybe audiobook, please?
Aleksandr Voinov doesn’t do cute and fluffy the way it is typically done. In fact his writing is usually associated with the words “smart”, “dark”, “sensual”, “masculine”, and “powerful”. However, for Gold Digger, there’s a line that describes how he writes the story
Henri’s agitation was odd and endearing, so very him, and Nikolai found himself smiling. “Cute” wasn’t a word for Henri, but damn, he was a manly version of that.
Manly version of cute. This is how the story certainly feels and Henri and Nikolai both fit the bill.
Henri is endearingly open and honest about what he wants, almost to the point of being pushy but he’s not a manipulative asshole and he never goes beyond Nikolai’s boundaries. I feel like he has this streak of crazy in him and it would have been fun had it been unleashed but the story underplayed this side of him. He was, for the most part, a flirtatious, easy going but driven guy.
Nikolai is a man struggling to get his bearings after being talked to getting a blowjob by Henri and discovered he liked it. To make things more complicated he was attracted to Henri even though he knew until now he was straight and Henri is on the enemy’s side. Him trying to wrap his head as to what is going on between him and Henri is cute. They had great chemistry and I enjoyed the banter. My complaint here is that the development of their relationship happened in the span of their first meeting with the LeBeaus up to the time they met again to talk about the take-over which is like one week? two weeks? I don’t think it even took a month and here they were, already talking about selling Henri’s condo and settling in Armenia or Georgia. That’s pretty fast for a man who just discovered he is bisexual.
Nikolai is loyal to Cybele, the company he is working for and his bestfriend, Ruslan Polonin, who is the CEO. They try to avoid a hostile takeover from LBM, the company Henri works for. This part alone is enough to keep my attention. I have always been interesting in how these high flying corporate types do business and nobody writes financial thrillers like Voinov.
Nikolai’s relationship with his family, particularly with his father, Vadim, was also a major plot point. Nikolai has always felt like an outsider in his family and the revelations by his sister, Anya, only proved the point. Vadim, being a former soldier has to deal with a dark past and mental trauma. Father and son are not emotional touchy feely types but when they laid some important issues out it was a very touching emotional moment albeit in a stoic military way. Would have wanted to meet Dan though. Where is Vadim’s husband in all this?
Overall, I really liked the feel of the story. It not as dark and heavy as is typically the case with the author but it still feels sophisticated and understated. The corporate drama was engaging. The romance was lighthearted and sweet.The characters were likable people except Anya who is a vindictive bitch. Gold Digger works well as a standalone but it will make you very curious about Vadim. I’m looking forward to a sequel and maybe someday, I will have it in me to read Special Forces.
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits