Lovin' los libros

A book blog dedicated to young adult and new adult novels

Review: Vanguard by CJ Markusfeld

By 8:00 AM , , , , ,

   by: CJ Markusfeld

Publication Date: July 17, 2015
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Age Group: Adult
Source: e-ARC provided by BocciPR in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Page Count: 245 pages
Order Links:  Amazon | B&N
My Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Sophie Swenda is accustomed to saving lives on a grand scale. As a refugee aid expert, it’s her job. Now, she needs to save just one person – Michael Nariovsky-Trent, the man she loves.

In the bitter cold winter of 2014, the Soviet Republic once again invades the unified Baltic nations, forcing tens of thousands of civilians into a refugee camp that more resembles Auschwitz than a place of mercy. Under the watchful eye of a vicious Soviet commander, Sophie leads her team into the camp to do what she does every day: save lives under the most extreme conditions.

But for Sophie, this mission is like no other. Michael, a Baltic-born American doctor, vanished months ago after joining the resistance. Sophie believes he’s trapped inside the fences and barbed wire, lost in a sea of freezing, starving prisoners of war.

Despite her long-ago failed romance with Michael, Sophie’s always believed their time would come – no matter how unlikely it seems to everyone around them. His blazing temper, her obstinacy, and their shared brilliance and competitiveness have made the road to love a rocky one. More than a decade after they separated, they’re too stubborn to forgive past mistakes … and still too in love to move on.

Unless Sophie can find him, their long-delayed chance at love will be lost forever. With the world’s security forces deadlocked and the camp’s commander seeking vengeance, Sophie is on her own. She must bargain for the life of the man she loves – and everyone else in the camp – before the commander destroys them all.

I knew going into this book that it would be a more serious romance than I'm used to, but I had no idea I would become so enraptured by the world and conflict that Markusfeld has created. There is so much intensity and desperation to this story. It is a powerful one and I think it is even more so because you know this type of conflict has happened in the past and continues to happen today.
Sophie works with a relief aid organization and is a pretty prominent member of their group. She is wrecked over her best friend Michael's disappearance in a war ravaged country and she will do whatever it takes to work on getting the Soviet Republic to allow aid into their refugee camp. She has worked long, sleepless hours and I felt her agony as she is forced to be patient and wait when all she wants to do is storm the gates and find the man she loves. After the prologue, you can't help but be concerned for Michael and his chances of survival. Sophie was relentless and I liked that about her. She is also cunning and incredibly smart; she utilizes those skills quite a bit when she is face to face with the Commander himself. I feared for her so many times because of how unapologetic she is, but her intelligence and knowledge of the Soviets helps her immensely.
I think I would have liked to see more development of Sophie and Michael's relationship in the past. We get tiny bits and pieces, but we didn't get to see this famous animosity they have developed and how it played such a factor in keeping them apart. We get to see them have a few moments together, but they are quickly overshadowed by the fact that Sophie has a boyfriend back at home and then we see Michael start dating another girl in their program. Fast forward a few years and after meeting up again at a mutual friend's wedding they are both single and while they have strong feelings for one another, they don't pursue a relationship because they are so career driven. They exchange 'I love yous' but I just felt like I was missing the connection because we didn't see those feelings blossom. At the same time, I understand Markusfeld not delving into the past because that's not the focus of the story. The focus is on Sophie and her desperation to find and hopefully rescue Michael from a volatile warzone. It would have lengthened the story for sure had the author given us more insight into their past, but I don't think I would have minded that at all.
Now, after saying all of that, I did enjoy the romance in this one and I felt connected to their current relationship. I was surprised by how sexy it could be, even despite such dangerous circumstances. The romance lover in me got exactly what I needed- a great romance and a strong storyline.
I would definitely recommend this book if you are looking for a slightly different romance. I felt like I was being pulled back in time, what with the conflict with the Soviets and I liked that Markusfeld created a current setting that was reminiscent of a historical one. The fate of Michael will keep you turning the pages and will have you holding your breath that he is alive and that Sophie will be successful.

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  1. I'm getting this one right away, Jess! It sounds fantastic and also different from what I normally read. I think that's a good thing. I'm surprised by how sexy you say it is as well given their circumstances, but good for me. Haha! I'll let you know how I feel about this one. :)
    Great review, Jess!

  2. Yeah, this totally sounds likes a ME book! Great review!

  3. I had never even heard of this book until I saw your Goodreads review. I really like the setting and the sound of the story - a woman searching for her missing lover. But the "past" portion does have me worried....
    Will definitely be thinking about this one! Thanks for your review, Jess! <3


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