Today, I have Varian Krylov's newest release, Escape Book 1 in Trasmundo. I have my review and a fantastic teaser with pictures that Varian took especially for this book. After you have had a chance to read the book you will understand why these pictures are outstanding. She really captured Luka and Tarik in these photos. As I was reading I kept going back and looking at these two men and I was just blown away by their expressions. Hope you enjoy my review and want to grab your own copy.
Luka went behind a tree and struggled out of his wet clothes, his numb fingers making it almost impossible to work his fly and to peel off his wet pants. By the time he'd gotten changed, Tarik had the fire going, and was prying off his shoes. When he started stripping off his pants, Luka turned his back and started getting their dinner ready. Even in dry clothes and practically roasting himself over the fire, his hands wouldn't stop shaking, but he managed to get a couple of the cans of stew they'd pilfered from Skinny and Calvin open and propped up above the cinders. His hunger was nothing compared to the need for something hot in his stomach to thaw him out.
Tarik nestled two biggish logs between the already burning slabs; the flames attacked and began devouring the fresh wood. Waves of heat caressed Luka's face and bare hands, but even so, even though he could feel his clothes getting hotter as they absorbed the radiance of the fire, his teeth wouldn't stop clacking together, and the spasms of his muscles weren't relenting. Tarik shed his coat and draped it over Luka's shoulders.
“Don't.” Luka shrugged off the heavy wool duster, swallowing a groan of lament, and held it out to Tarik. “I'll thaw out in a minute. The fire's nice and hot, now.”
Luka fetched his sleeping bag, unrolled it, and pulled it around himself, laughing silently, bitterly, because now on top of feeling frail and pathetic, he had the shawl to go with his old man's constitution. Maybe next Tarik would build him a rocking chair.
“Give me that.” Tarik pulled it off him, spread it out next to the fire, upwind of the smoke. “Get in.”
“I don't want to go to sleep yet.”
“So don't. But get in the bag.”
Surrendering out of sheer fatigue, Luka crawled into the bag, the chills convulsing his muscles making the maneuver more awkward than ever. As soon as he was nestled into that soft, thick cocoon, clutching it up over his ears and mouth, he was glad he'd yielded. Tarik retrieved his own bag, unzipped it, and spread it over Luka.
“It's okay. Just my bag is fine.”
Tarik sat down, pulled off his shoes, then reached under, unzipped Luka's bag, and slid in next to him.
Luka's stomach clenched and rolled. “What are you doing?”
“It's the best way to keep warm.”
“We don't fit.”
“We do. It's zipped.”
Luka tried to wiggle away from the warm, humid press of Tarik's body, but there was nowhere to go. Under the sleeping bag, over the layers of shirts and his coat, Luka felt the weight of Tarik's arm on top of his own. God, he was exhausted. Sore. That's why his throat was going tight, why his eyes were stinging, his vision smearing the image of the fire, why Tarik's closeness, Tarik's kindness was going to make him cry.
“You're still shaking.”
“It'll stop in a minute.” He hoped Tarik didn't hear the snag in his voice.
When Tarik's hand, wonderfully warm, surprisingly soft, slid up against the bare skin of the small of his back, Luka almost yelped. Pressing gently, Tarik rubbed Luka's back in long, slow strokes. Tarik's humid breath tickling the nape of Luka's neck, palm rubbing and heating his shoulders, the width and length of his back, Luka tried not to notice, not to think about the firm press of Tarik's legs against his own.
“Are you afraid of me, Luka?”
Tarik's question pinched Luka's heart. That gentle stroking was the most wonderful, comforting thing he'd ever felt. But below the skin, he was all dread. “You saved my life. Twice.”
“I'm not talking about guns and knives. I mean this, right now. Am I scaring you?”
Heat flared over Luka's face and down his chest. “No.”
“You're really trembling.”
Tarik's hand slid down Luka's bare skin and slipped out from under his clothes. Then Tarik's body shifted against his, and the adrenaline swelling Luka's heart and veins ebbed. Tarik was leaving. Getting up. Getting out of the bag. Leaving him alone.
The hum of a zipper changed Luka's mind. Pretending not to look, he turned his head just enough to peer from the corner of his eye as Tarik struggled free of his coat. “Sit up. Take off your jacket.”
Luka's stomach clenched so hard he thought he was going to puke. He needed to escape. To run and hide. But he just said, “I'm too cold.”
“You'll be warmer without it.”
Too worn out, worn down, to argue, Luka made one feeble attempt to push Tarik's hands away, then let him strip him out of his jacket. Using their coats, Tarik made a pillow, lied down, and pulled Luka down next to him. When Tarik put his big arms around him, the tears Luka had been trying to hold in finally spilled over. Trying to keep quiet, Luka took deep, slow breaths. Unbearable, the press of Tarik's legs against his, he swell and fall of Tarik's belly against the small of his back, the inescapable awareness of Tarik's pelvis against his ass.
“I'm much warmer, now. Are you?” Tarik's voice vibrated through his chest, against Luka's back.
Luka tried staring into the fire, hoping the chaotic flare and wane of the flames would hypnotize him, like when he was a kid. The wood was fresh and green and now and then there was a loud snap of sap bursting, sparks shooting up into the velvet night, dying on their way to heaven.
“Luka.” Tarik's warm breath on his skin, his name vibrating through their bodies. “Look at me.”
Something in Luka's chest grabbed and strangled his heart. He couldn't control his breathing anymore, fast and shallow and rough.
“If you're really not scared of me, look at me.” When Luka didn't move or speak, Tarik said quietly, “It's okay.”
“I know you're crying. Don't be embarrassed. You don't need to hide from me.”
Why not? Whatever was going to happen, would happen. Let Tarik laugh. Let him spit on him. Let him hit. Let him take his things and stomp out the fire and leave him alone in the cold dark. Alone. He knew how to do solitude.
Luka turned his head and met Tarik's eyes, alight with the fire's golden glow. Tarik touched Luka's shoulder, then pulled him onto his side, facing him, and Luka squirmed as far back as he could in the bag.
“You're safe. I promise.” Tarik laid his warm hand on Luka's chilled cheek and the pinching, strangling fist wrapped around Luka's heart squeezed harder. “You're safe,” Tarik whispered again, gently brushing away the trails of tears running down Luka's face, then combing his hair back with his fingertips, which for some reason seemed to make the tears come faster. Luka buried his face in the makeshift pillow because he couldn't stand it, lying there, crying with Tarik looking into his eyes.
Tarik pulled him closer, and Luka stifled a groan. Nothing had ever felt so comforting as being squeezed tight against his warm, broad chest, while Tarik went on petting his hair, stroking his neck, rubbing his back. Over his clothes. Under his clothes. Tarik's warm skin against his, stroking slow and soft. Little by little pulling their bodies together, chests pressed close, bellies touching. Luka tensed against Tarik's strong hand at the small of his back, until Tarik whispered again, “It's okay. You're safe with me.”
Author: Varian Krylov
Genre: Fiction/Erotica/Gay Romance
Length: 236 Pages (Novel)
Publisher: Varian Krylov
Cover Artist: Bey Deckard
Publication Date: August 6, 2015
Heat Level: Explicit
Strange, quiet Luka doesn't live in this world; long ago he took refuge in his art, escaping into surreal mindscapes inspired by his favorite painters. In the beautifully monstrous realms of his imagination, he is safe from the pain of his losses: his family, his friends, his hope.
Until war breaks out, and he is forced to flee the only home he's known since he was thirteen.
Captured by an enemy soldier, young Luka is marched across brutal terrain, toward a fate known only by the bearded menace holding him prisoner. Quick with a knife, tireless and strong, Tarik guards the purpose of his mission as he takes Luka deeper and deeper into enemy territory.
When the soldier discovers the painful secret he has been hiding since childhood, Luka fears he is about to endure a new kind of cruelty, worse than being abandoned, ostracized or beaten. Or is it possible the soldier holding Luka prisoner is the one person who isn't afraid of the truth behind Luka's silence and lies?
I wasn’t sure what to expect with Escape, Varian Krylov’s first book in Trasmundo. I was familiar with her writing style having read her previous books so I was pretty confident I was going to like this one, as well. I was completely caught off guard, however, because for me Escape wasn’t anything like her other novels. Don’t take that the wrong way thinking I didn’t like it because the truth is …I loved it.
Luka has had a very painful and subdued life and he’s only 19. He has never had anyone who had his back. He wears shame and guilt around his neck always being made to believe he was not normal. At 13, he was sent away by his family to work as an apprentice in a barber shop. He tells any who ask that he was sent away because his family was poor and it would be one less mouth to feed. He’s told the lie so many times he believes it himself most of the time.
At 16, he is betrayed by friends… beaten and broken. Luca’s passion is his art. With a sketch pad and pencils he is able to go to that place where he is welcome and loved. His dream is to go to school and study art. At 19, Luca finally has his opportunity to go to art school. But, all around him is a war being fought and people killed or imprisoned for your accent or being the wrong heritage or whatever they want to slap on you. Soon his plans and dreams fall to the wayside.
When he hears heavy footsteps and fists banging on his door, he is afraid to open it. After they destroy his most precious possessions he receives a warning allowing him only one chance at survival, so he flees, leaving behind everything he has worked for since the young age of 13.
When he finds himself at the refugee camps he settles in trying to make the best of his situation. However, he is once again betrayed, stabbed in the back with accusations and false allegations. He is hauled off, tied and blindfolded and left to hang till death wins.
Luca cheats deaths door, once again, thanks to a kind stranger but his worries and troubles are far from over. On his own, thirsty and hungry he seeks shelter in the nearby caves. In the dark, scared and losing any hope, he will be confronted by the enemy who threatens to kill him if he makes any wrong moves or even thinks of lying.
Tarik was a mystery. He is a deserted soldier and his first confrontation with Luca is with a knife held at his throat. He doesn’t trust anyone, especially Luca. His best option is to take him along, but he’s not doing it to be kind. He has his own reasons and Luca will come in handy for his mission to succeed.
As they start on their journey, together, Tarik and Luka, start to open up and talk, although hesitantly. Luca is constantly afraid, ashamed of his body and embarrassed when they have to bathe in the river. Tarik thinks it’s because of him that Luca is so skittish and backward. He won’t come to realize until sometime later that it’s due to the torment and pain that Luca has suffered already and his fear of being found out if he has an erection.
Tarik is so attentive to Luca, he is kind and patient with him. He is not afraid or embarrassed about his sexuality or taking his pleasure as he wants. With his help and guidance he starts to break down some of Luca’s reservations. Their connection is getting stronger each day and trusting each other comes much easier.
As they hide out in a secluded basement waiting for their ride across the border they confront their wishes and desires. Luka is a virgin but he wants to have sex with Tarik more than anything. This time together may be all they have and he wants to make the most of it.
This is a beautiful story of pain and heartache, betrayal and redemption. Varian has relayed the story with a lyrical prose that is breathtakingly beautiful. I have great admiration for an author who takes their time and serenades the reader, and I feel like that is what Varian has done here.
Luka is encumbered with fear, shame and guilt through most of the story. After he meets Tarik and they begin to trust each other, he knows he has found someone who understands him, cherishes him and appreciates his art and what it means to him. Their connection is strong and as they continue to give themselves to each other you are filled with so much joy for them both.
Luka has seen so much pain in his young life and he wears the scars to show for it, but he continues to defy the odds and persevere. Now, with Tarik by his side, an ally, friend and lover, will they have a future or is pain all they will ever know?
Escape is a great start to what feels like something very beautiful and gratifying. Trasmundo will continue with book 2, Exile, and I can’t wait to see what happens next. The story ended with a HFN giving the reader hope that good things will continue, but that could change quickly.
This was a hard book to review but the journey is definitely worth it. Both, Luca and Tarik, have seen so much death and destruction and they have been altered by it. As the story really starts to take off you see changes taking over both characters as they are able to open themselves up to each other and a real friendship is formed.
There are many twists and turns in Escape, but the author executes it flawlessly, as she builds the storyline. It’s very obvious that she has spent a lot of time on research and along with her creativity and imagination you get a very believable, heartfelt story.
About the author...
Growing up near Los Angeles, I spent much of my time frolicking in the Pacific Ocean and penning angst-twisted poetry. Now I’m living in sunny Spain writing pathos-riddled fiction.
I’ve always loved the music and substance of words, always loved writing in well-worn notebooks by hand, tapping at the keys of the computer, and, of course, conjuring up stories.
And from my earliest memories, I’ve always been fascinated–maybe obsessed?–with sex and sexuality.
In my writing, I poke at social issues, but more than anything, I dig into the psyches of my characters. Sex is the medium, the expression, and the tool of discovery for their insecurities, the needs that drive them, the comfort they can’t live without, the joy and relish of life that makes each of them intense, strange, and alluring.
Like most writers, I love hearing what you think of the stories I’ve written. All honest feedback is truly appreciated.
* I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review from the author *