Review: Hostile Ground by L.A. Witt and Aleksandr Voinov


Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Enemy territory is a dangerous place to fall in love.

HostileGround_500x750After three undercover cops died while investigating a Seattle crime lord with international ties, Detective Mahir Hussain was chosen next to infiltrate the drug ring and finish the job they started.  His superiors reasoned that Mahir had an advantage the other officers didn’t, the first and foremost being that Mahir is gay and currently lacking a partner. The drug ring operates out of a disreputable nightclub in one of the worst districts in Seattle and its head of security is known to only hire gay men. Mahir is also a Muslim and of Arabic descent which makes Mahir work that much harder to prove himself while taking on jobs that others might flinch at, including this one.

Mahir joins the club’s security team but only after passing his inspection and initiation by Ridley, the drug lord’s right hand man.  And as only gay men are allowed to protect the strippers, Ridley knows exactly how to test each man that applies for work there….by testing his sexuality up close and personal. A test that Mahir passes with enthusiasm to his surprise. Ridley is not only cold and intimidating but extremely dangerous and dangerously handsome as well.  Mahir finds himself getting in deeper than he expected….deeply involved with the sexy, ruthless Ridley and  pulled deeper into a crime organization that is more than it seems from the outside.

Mahir knows that his position is shaky.  He must find the answers he needs as well as the evidence to convict the criminals. And Mahir must do so quickly before he is discovered to be a cop and the ties and emotions he feels towards Ridley become too deep to cut. Mahir Hussain is a man on hostile ground. Will he be able to save himself when the danger is to his heart as well?

Undercover cops in danger is a terrific and exciting element for any story and in Hostile Ground, it is only the jumping off point for the action and adventure that Aleksandr Voinov and L.A. Witt have in store for the reader with this marvelous tale of crime, passion, and deception.  With Voinov and Witt at the helm, mayhem and hot, dangerous liaisons are sure to follow.  And one half of the explosive duo here is a not only a total surprise but my favorite characters in the story.  That would be Mahir Hussain.

To have your tale unfold from the viewpoint of an American Muslim of Middle Eastern descent is not only unexpected but adds a dimension of tension and potential for bigotry not found to often in the m/m genre or any genres I can think of outside the role of villain or conspirator.  Having Mahir Hussein, as a main character in a m/m story, someone who is both a Muslim and of Arabic descent, who is also the romantic “lead” is both fascinating and compelling.  That Mahir faces discrimination and hostility in both his law enforcement profession and from the criminals in his undercover role just points out that bigotry and race hatred has no boundaries.  Between the “camel jokes” Mahir makes before anyone else can and his interaction with his strict Muslim brother who refuses to accept Mahir’s sexuality. we are given a broader picture of the consequences of his heritage, sexuality, and religion within society, whether that society is legal or not.  Mahir is such a great character, flaws and all, that the reader will fall for this intense and complicated man from the outset.

Mahir’s character is grounded by his family, estranged brother included.   The authors have given Mahir a young, gay nephew whose troubles with his father and family mirror those that Mahir went through earlier in his life.  Seen through both their eyes, the struggle to remain a part of the tightknit conservative family while staying true to who you are and who you love becomes understandable with its familial pull and emotionally explosive issues to resolve.  I loved the nephew too, so young, troubled, and in need of love and support from his uncle.

Ridley, the head of security for the crime boss, is deadly, ruthless, and sexually commanding. Ridley is both a threat and the magnet that is pulling Mahir into a relationship he never expected and a sexual role that is outside his comfort zone, or so Mahir thought.  Prior to Ridley, Mahir has always been the person in command in the bedroom and elsewhere but Ridley expects submission and obedience.  How Mahir handles that change in roles is both challenging and extremely hot to read about.  Witt and Voinov up the suspense and action as the relationship between Mahir and Ridley gets as out of control as the situation they find themselves in.

Things I would have loved to have seen expounded on was Mahir’s role within his family and his nephew Kinza, mainly what happened to Kinza who I adored. Plus a little more transition between the last two chapters and the epilogue.  It all happens so quickly at the end (as it would when that action was going down) but a little more explanations after the climax would have fleshed out the resolution as deeply and completely as the rest of the story felt.  I know that is asking a lot as the book is already at 362 pages, but a complex plot needs that complexity mirrored at the end and I am just not sure that happens to its full potential.

As with all reviewers, the challenge is to talk about the book  but leave out the information that spoils the plot and the ending.  That is particularly tough here where the plot has more layers than an English Trifle. You must first navigate your way through all the layers of this story that the authors have constructed, to figure out all the hidden subterfuge, the antagonists and their roles, and exactly what the criminals are hiding, selling and willing to kill for….well, that’s a deep and complex dish.  It’s very satisfying but the smallest additional information would reveal the wrong thing at definitely the wrong time.

Do I recommend Hostile Ground?  Absolutely.  It’s hot, sexy, surprising, and action packed.  It’s a love story and a thriller.  What’s not to love?  Add an undercover Muslim detective, a commanding and dominant sexy criminal, a young, naive gay nephew and more secrets than any one cop can handle, and you have a recipe for an entertaining and hard to put down story.  Grab this up and begin your investigation on Hostile Ground today.

Cover art by LC Chase.  Chase gives us a dark and sexy cover which totally works for this story and its characters based in Seattle.

Book Details:

Word count: 96,600; Page count: 362
Kindle Edition
Published May 11th 2014 by Riptide Publishing
edition language English

Buy Links:   Riptide Publishing           Amazon               ARe

Memories, Memorials, and Memorial Day and the Week Ahead


Memorial Day.  Two words that bring forth powerful emotions and memories of both of those from our past as well as our present.  We think of the past and those deceased while at the same time our memories are full of family celebrations, and the laughter and love that speaks of life itself.

I was thinking of both of those as I watched the film on the news of the inauguration ceremony of National September 11 Memorial & Museum in NYC.  The pictures brought forth a profound sadness as the cameras scanned over the survivors and their families as well as the exhibits, stopping here and there for closeups and personal stories.  A staircase that was the only avenue for some to freedom and life stands bone white, covered in ash.  Bent, blackened metal framework from parts of the structure from the towers loom upwards over the crowds within the museum, much like the towers they once helped support.  All chilling and stark reminders of that day and our national tragedy.

But for me it was the small items that were so poignant and personal that they made the pain and loss intimate and immediate once more.  A red bandana World Trade Center 9:11 Museaumfrom a young man who sacrificed his life to make sure others got down safely.  His mother was present,full of pride for her  son, as she stood next to his photograph and his red scarf now enclosed in glass. It was the scarf that the survivors he helped down that day remember him by.  Over and over again, a young man in a red bandana grabbed people, moving them towards safety and life.  The expression on her face, so full of love, loss, and grief, was visceral as she looked at the scarf.  Another survivor was there looking at the black, dusty shoes she donated that she wore that day as she walked down all those flights of steps. She ended up caring them as she ended up finally walking down in her bare feet because the pain of going down all those steps made wearing them impossible.  Small item after item, watches, cell phones, glasses, standing side by side next to the physically imposing and massive items from the World Trade Center bombings, like a fire truck and or large pieces of masonry from the Pentagon, yes that’s there too. And there is a wall of photographs of those that died that day.  Every race, every gender,, every age….all represented there.  Forever remembered, forever immortalized.

It made me think of another wall, one full of names on black marble.  Here in Washington, DC, where huge crowds will gather on this weekend to Vietnam Vet Memorialremember, to grieve and to celebrate lives now gone.  There will be Rolling Thunder, and parades, and the echoing refrain of Taps heard over Arlington Cemetery this weekend. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial, my favorite of all Washington memorials, stands as one of our more  striking and haunting memorials. The pictures found there aren’t on the wall but will be left by loved ones, friends, family, and fellow soldiers who come to commune with the dead and their memories.  There, as well as in New York City, the memorials will help all of us remember and help to mitigate the grief left behind.  Powerful images, powerful emotions, and a powerful almost unimaginable amount of loss.

Take a moment this Memorial Weekend and remember.  Do something that will celebrate their life as well as remember their loss.



Now for the week ahead here at ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords:

  • Monday, May 26:        Love Comes Home by Andrew Grey
  • Tuesday, May 27:        Author Spotlight: Writing with Humor by John Inman
  • Wed., May 28:              Book Tour:  Sierra Cartwright’s Crave
  • Wed., May 28:              Hostile Ground by Aleksandr Voinov and LA Witt
  • Thursday, May 29:      Saugatuck Summer by Amelia C. Gormley
  • Thursday, May 29:      Clipped by Devon McCormack
  • Friday, May 30:           Moving Earth by T.A. Webb
  • Saturday, May 31:        Back Burn by Laura Harner
  • Saturday, May 31:        May Summary of Reviews/Best Covers




Vietnam Vet Memorial 2



Thoughts on Memorial Day…

Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep – Mary Frye (1932)

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am in a thousand winds that blow;
I am the softly falling snow.

I am the gentle showers of rain;
I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush;
I am in the graceful rush.

Of beautiful birds in circling flight,
I am the starshine of the night.
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.

I am the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there. I do not die.


Join Aleksandr Voinov and L.A. Witt on Hostile Ground/Riptide Publishing’s Book Tour&Contest





ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords is happy to host Riptide Publishing’s Aleksandr Voinov and L.A. Witt Hostile Ground Book Tour.  Comments will automatically enter you in the drawing for a choice of 2 eBooks off the authors backlists.  Details are listed below.



Welcome to the Riptide Publishing/Aleksandr Voinov/L. A. Witt blog tour for our thriller, Hostile Ground!

Contest: Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a drawing for a choice of two eBooks off our backlists (excluding Hostile Ground) and a $10 Riptide Publishing store credit. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on May 17th, and winners will be announced on May 19th. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries.


 HostileGround_500x750Hostile Ground:
Enemy territory is a dangerous place to fall in love.

After the deaths of three undercover cops investigating a drug ring in a seedy strip club in Seattle, Detective Mahir Hussain has been sent to finish the job. He joins the club’s security team in the hopes of finding enough evidence to bust the operation before the men in charge find a reason to put him in a shallow grave.

To protect the strippers, only gay men can work the club. Ridley, the cold and intimidating head of security, knows exactly how to test potential new hires—including Mahir. From the minute they meet, Mahir and Ridley engage in a dangerous dance of sex and mind games. Mahir needs to find his evidence before Ridley figures out he’s a cop—and before they both grow too close to betray one another.

As the game goes on, Mahir burrows deeper into the operation, where he learns there’s much more happening than meets the eye . . . and why every cop who made it this far has been silenced with a bullet.

Hostile Ground is available May 12th from Riptide Publishing.


Book Details:HostileGround_150x300(2)

ebook, 362 pages
Expected publication: May 12th 2014 by Riptide Publishing
edition languageEnglish

About the authors:

Aleksandr Voinov: Aleksandr has been published for twenty years, both in print and ebook. He has ten years’ experience as a writing coach, book doctor, and writing teacher, and until recently worked as an editor in financial services.

After co-authoring the M/M military cult classic Special Forces, Aleksandr embarked on a quest to write gritty, edgy, sometimes literary M/M and gay fiction (much of which is romance/erotica)—the only way he can use his American Literature degree these days.

He’s been published with Heyne/Random House, Carina Press, Samhain Publishing, and others, and is an EPIC Awards winner and a Lambda Awards finalist.

Connect with Aleks:

  • Website:
  • Blog:
  • Twitter:@aleksandrvoinov
  • Goodreads:


L.A. Witt: L.A. Witt is an abnormal M/M romance writer currently living in the glamorous and ultra-futuristic metropolis of Omaha, Nebraska, with her husband, two cats, and a disembodied penguin brain that communicates with her telepathically. In addition to writing smut and disturbing the locals, L.A. is said to be working with the US government to perfect a genetic modification that will allow humans to survive indefinitely on Corn Pops and beef jerky. This is all a cover, though, as her primary leisure activity is hunting down her arch nemesis, erotica author Lauren Gallagher, who is also said to be lurking somewhere in Omaha.

L. A.’s backlist is available on her website, and updates (as well as random thoughts and the odd snarky comment) can be found on her blog or on Twitter (@GallagherWitt).

Contest: Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a drawing for a choice of two eBooks off our backlists (excluding Hostile Ground) and a $10 Riptide Publishing store credit. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on May 17th, and winners will be announced on May 19th. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries.  Leave a comment and/or use the Rafflecopter link below.

Rafflecopter Link:


Mother’s Day and the Week Ahead in Reviews, Book Tours and Stuff!




books headers blk and white

It’s Mother’s Day and I am taking the day off for family events and such.  So without much further discourse, here is the week ahead in reviews, author guest posts, book tours and contests.  It looks to be a wonderful week:

This Week’s Schedule:

Monday, May 12:              Author Spotlight: Kimber Vale on Double Takes

Tuesday,  May 13:             Riptide’s Hostile Ground Book Tour with Aleksandr Voinov and L.A. Witt

Wed., May 14:                    Daylight Again by SE Jakes

Thursday, May 15:            Double Takes by K. Vale

Friday, May 16:                  Author Spotlight: RJ Scott

Sat., May 17:                       One Night by RJ Scott