Vanguard by CJ Markusfeld
Sophie Swenda, a refugee aid expert, is accustomed to saving lives on a grand scale. It becomes more than a job when the person she needs to save is the man she loves.
Michael Nariovsky-Trent, a Baltic-born American doctor, vanished months ago after joining the resistance in the Soviet Republic. Sophie believes he’s trapped inside the fences and barbed wire of a sinister refugee camp, 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.
She embarks on a mission like no other before. 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.
This author is truly talented in telling this amazing story about a woman who will go to any length to save the man she has loved most of her adult life. It also reminds you that there are really awful things happening to human beings in other parts of the world, that we thought would not be happening in this day and age. It definitely keeps things in perspective, when you are waiting in line for that “much needed” latte in Starbucks.
I read this story years ago before it was published, but not in its heyday when it was a “work in progress”. I remember it being on many people’s favorite lists, so when I heard that it was being published, I was beyond excited to read it again!
Sophie is unusual in that she doesn’t really change all that much in this story. She is already strong, forthright and an amazing woman right from the beginning. I’m not saying she doesn’t have faults, but she is so courageous in her quest to save Michael. I loved that I didn’t know what she was going to do next. The political aspect of this story really held my attention. If you like shows like, House of Cards and Scandel, you will like this part of the story.
Michael is not the hero in this story, because he is the one being rescued by Sophie. I still loved him though, because he is one who goes through the transformation of being a male who isn’t comfortable with letting a woman take the lead. He has strong opinions on what a woman is capable of doing and what she is “allowed to do”. This factors into their relationship and causes much unneeded strife.
Sophie sat aboard the New York-bound train, looking at Michael’s passport picture. Even in a black and white photocopy, Michael was beautiful. Throughout their most bitter battles of the last decade, during their long separations and furious arguments, he’d always been beautiful to her. She didn’t think she’d ever told him that, and now might never get a chance.
For a moment, pain and panic overwhelmed her. She leaned her forehead against the window, forcing herself to breathe evenly, then turned back to the dossier.
Sophie examined the picture, but there was nothing she didn’t already knows. Michael’s far was watched on her heart. He wasn’t smiling in the picture–he rarely smiled in photos– which made him look more foreign. His mother’s Orlisian blood dominated in his heavy brow, generous mouth, and stern expression. He looked more American when he smiled, showing his boyish dimples beneath the black hair he’d inherited from his father. A perfect blend of parents, and the two cultures that shared him.
I gave this book 5 incredible stars and put it on my “favorites” and “top shelf fantastic reads” shelf on Goodreads.
****I was given this book as an ARC from the publisher for an honest review. The excerpt is from that copy.****