Whatever It Takes, Barbara Elsborg – Podcast Review
Rating: 4 Stars
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: Gay Romance
Tags: Suspense, Drama, Angst, BDSM Light, Humour, Syrian Refugee and Russian “Fixer” Suspense
Length: 257 Pages
Purchase At: amazon (*Dec 2nd Release)
War in Syria has devastated Zain’s country, destroyed his family and broken his heart. When there is nothing left to stay for, he journeys to England, determined to follow in his father’s footsteps and train as a doctor in London. He might be a refugee with no money, no friends and no qualifications but he still has his dreams and he’ll do whatever it takes to ensure his future turns out to be the one he wants.
Roman is a world away from the naïve Russian boy who lost everything, one devastating day. Now he’s a fixer for a wealthy Russian, keeping the guy’s business dealings away from the attention of the British authorities. Roman is balanced on a moral tightrope which grows more unsteady by the day. The last thing he needs is to become emotionally involved with a young Syrian, especially when he can’t afford to trust anyone.A chance discovery in Roman’s car by Zain sets off a violent chain reaction and Zain is thrown into a world that threatens not just his dreams but his life. Roman has difficult decisions to make. He’s determined to do whatever it takes to keep Zain safe. But lingering shadows from their pasts as well as prominent figures from Roman’s present need to be eliminated if they’re to have a chance together.
As lies and danger escalate, are they doomed before they’ve even begun?
Barbara Elsborg has been at the top of my reading list over the last couple of months, I reread With or Without Him, I recently realised that’s one of my all-time favourite romance books, then there was A Faerie Story. This time it’s Whatever it Takes, and it did not disappoint.
This story takes you to London via Russia and Syria with two likeable/lovable MCs, Roman and Zain. There is some social commentary because you can’t visit Aleppo and not mention the destruction of a beautiful city and the travesty of what’s happened there. The initial time frame is probably around 2012/2013 when things were dire. When Zain was thinking about the short periods of electricity I thought of my son-in-law who was decommissioning his company’s computer system, he only had small windows of opportunity to do what he could because the building was likely to be bombed anytime and there was only around two hours of electricity in a day to work. The Last Gardener in Aleppo was mentioned and I can’t help but feel that Zain was modelled off Ibrahim, the Last Gardener’s son.
Both MCs have difficult pasts, including trauma, loss and grief. Barbara Elsborg is adept at eliciting emotion from readers for her characters. The time spent to develop them makes them feel like people you know/care for. Both Zain and Roman feel very real.
There is a dual POV so you know exactly what both Roman and Zain are thinking and feeling at any given point. It makes this story work because there were times when they were apart in the beginning, and when Roman acted badly, which was in keeping with who he has become because of the loss of his father, his family, and the Grekov influence. Zain stays true to the memory of his father. That Zain is a good person is not lost on Roman when he lets his guard down. That Roman was once close to his father and loved him is jolted to the foreground when he allows Zain in.
Whatever it Takes is a good romance that is woven around recent history. It’s also a thriller/suspense as Zain becomes a target for Arkady Grekov and his son, Dima, to name a few, with Roman trying to protect him.
There is also a bit of BDSM light added to the mix and it fits.
A further review in podcast format is below.