4.5 Stars, Drama, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Lisa, Self-Published, Varian Krylov

Review: Trasmundo: Escape by Varian Krylov

Title: Trasmundo: Escape (Book One)

Author: Varian Krylov

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 236 Pages

At a Glance: Love and war create a beautiful contrast in Varian Krylov’s Trasmundo: Escape.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: 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?

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Review: Varian Krylov’s Trasmundo: Escape is a beautifully drawn love story; beautiful because of its contrasts in both setting and characters, and romantic for the same reasons.

Set in a war-torn Xukrasna, where poor men are recruited to fight rich men’s battles, and ethnic cleansing is the objective, Luka’s nationality is marked by his blue armband the same way the Star of David badge once demarcated a Jew during the Holocaust. What truly sets Luka apart in this story, however, is the boy himself. Nineteen, no family, no real friends, and working in a barber shop while trying to put himself through art school, we embrace Luka and his innocence, his delicacy, and are then given a roadmap within the narrative which pinpoints all the places where he’s broken in both heart and spirit. Made to feel ashamed and fearful of his sexuality, punished for his desires, Luka is the epitome of the lost boy and throwaway child, but we witness his true journey’s beginning when he’s driven out of the only place he’s known as home since the age of thirteen.

Rescued by a Good Samaritan after being exiled from a refugee camp, beaten and left tied to a tree, Luka sets out on his own, though he has no idea where he’s going or what he might find once he gets there. His life is irrevocably altered when Tarik, a soldier for the enemy, finds Luka and takes him prisoner. But, things aren’t exactly as they seem at first glance. From this moment on, Krylov gives readers a voyeur’s view into the lives of these two men as they make their way cross-country—refugees and countrymen from opposing factions who don’t buy in to the political or religious propaganda—facing hardships and unforgiving landscapes while transforming slowly from kidnapper and kidnapped to something so much more. From a safe distance, we watch as these two men go through all manner of adversity, face danger, and bear no small amount of suffering through things we can only imagine and hope we never have to endure. The author’s stoking of our empathy is done effortlessly as our love for both Luka and Tarik grows, just as their love for each other builds against the backdrop of war, shared intimacies within stolen moments together that are tender and touching in their urgency.

Opposites defined not only within their country’s political machinations but in personality as well, we initially see Luka as the frightened rabbit caught in a snare, while Tarik is strong, capable, and eager to explore his growing attraction to Luka. As the first tentative touches give way to a desperate physical need, we see Luka in a war of his own, a battle between his long-held belief that he is an abomination and his deep desire to be loved by Tarik. Until, that is, we begin to see glimpses of a subtly emerging strength in Luka. Where it might have been easy to dismiss him as fragile, we see in him the strength of a survivor, and just as in war, his progress is made in a series of advances and retreats.

As Tarik and Luka’s trials and travails come to a tension-filled climax, I was so fully invested in their lives that each emotion—the happy, the sad, the terrified—was an emotion I shared right along with them. Varian Krylov goes straight for our compassion, and succeeds in wringing every bit of it for her characters.

Trasmundo: Escape isn’t a war story but an anti-war story, where love is the weapon that conquers the ideology of hate. Luka and Tarik are far from their journey’s end, but we are left with a tentative hope—tentative because there is still so much uncertainty in their future in a country that doesn’t recognize or accept their love, but hope nonetheless that whatever comes their way, they’ll face it together as Escape becomes Exile.

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You can pre-order Trasmundo: Escape here:

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Excerpt and Giveaway: Trasmundo: Escape by Varian Krylov

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We’re so pleased to welcome author Varian Krylov today, with an excerpt and giveaway of her upcoming novel Trasmundo: Escape. Varian’s offering the chance for one lucky reader to win an e-copy of the book. Just click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter.

Good luck!

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Blurb: 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?

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Photo Courtesy of Varian Krylov

Photo Courtesy of Varian Krylov

Excerpt: “I…” After a few silent seconds Luka finally raised his head and met Tarik’s gaze. “Today, you were the same as yesterday. I thought you wanted to forget it.”

A haze of sadness dimmed Tarik’s eyes. “When I got into your sleeping bag with you, it wasn’t to fool around. I just wanted to take care of you. Keep you warm. Help you feel safe.”

The murky deep swallowed up the faint light in Luka’s eyes.

“Wait.” Tarik touched Luka’s chin and made him face him again. “I wasn’t planning on trying to fool around, because of everything that’s happened to you. I didn’t think you’d want that, last night. But when I realized you were… excited, I got excited, too. Got carried away. All day today I’ve been worried I pushed you too hard. That maybe you didn’t even want me to do that to you last night.”

Luka barely gasped out a desperate little, “No.”

Tarik smiled. “But you didn’t touch me. You didn’t let me kiss you.”

Blushing. Quiet. “Did you want to kiss me?”

“Yes.”

“I was nervous. I was…”

Tarik remembered Luka hiding his face, hiding his tears, hiding his embarrassment at being hard, at being so desperately aroused. And he had the feeling, even now, Luka wanted to bow his head, hide his burning face against Tarik’s chest, that Luka was forcing himself to keep his chin lifted, to keep meeting Tarik’s eyes. Tarik waited, then finally asked in a quiet voice, “What?”

“Scared.”

Luka’s quiet confession made Tarik’s throat go tight. “I’m sorry I scared you. After what those assholes did to you—”

“I wasn’t afraid of you like that.”

“Why were you scared, then?” When Luka didn’t answer, Tarik lifted his hand, hesitated, then caressed his cheek. “Are you scared now?”

“No.”

“But last night…why?”

“Because when…when that happens, people always get angry.”

“When what happens?”

It was agony, looking into the collapsing darkness of Luka’s eyes. “When you first got in the bag with me, I didn’t mean to… Sometimes I can’t help it.”

“You were afraid I’d be angry that you were hard?”

As if he’d wanted to say something, Luka’s lips parted. But before a single syllable emerged, his eyes flooded with tears and he bit down on his lips.

“Couldn’t you tell from the way I was touching you, I wouldn’t be mad? Couldn’t you tell I wanted you, but I was holding back?”

“That never happened before. I didn’t know how to be.”

“Never?” Tarik was speaking softly, but beyond his control, his question spiked with surprise. “Hasn’t anyone ever touched you? Kissed you?”

For some reason, Luka looked surprised by Tarik’s surprise.

A flood of diaphanous ephemera: Luka skulking off when Tarik had forced him to bathe. A dozen flashes of shy eyes turned away whenever Tarik blithely stripped to change clothes or wash himself. “And all this time…” Tarik sighed. God, he’d been obtuse. “Is that why you’ve been so skittish every time you needed to bathe? Or change clothes? Every time I got undressed? You were afraid I’d get angry if you…”

“If I stay away, no one can accuse me of doing dirty things.”

Heat flamed through Tarik, a chemical fire of anger, not at Luka, but at whatever had filled him up with so much doubt and shame. “Do you think what we did last night was dirty?”

“I guess I feel dirty when someone feels disgusted by me, afraid of me.”

Tarik smiled through the sadness pressing down on his chest. “I wasn’t disgusted or afraid. I wanted you hard for me.” A twinge squeezed his heart, seeing Luka startle and blush. “I wanted to touch you. I wanted to kiss you, Luka.”

Brave Luka, fighting himself, holding Tarik’s gaze. “I didn’t know you’re…” His blush darkening second by second. “I never would have guessed that you’re…”

Tarik’s grin was a dare. “What am I?”

“You like men.”

“I like you.”

Luka went stark still, eyes wide and bright, fixed on Tarik in incomprehension or incredulity. His lips parted, and maybe he said, “I…” or “I’ll…” before his pink cheeks went crimson.

Tarik leaned in an inch or two closer. “Will you let me— Do you want me to kiss you now?”

For a few seconds, Luka didn’t answer. It didn’t even look like he was breathing. Then his lips parted. Tarik could hear him suck in a breath. Then, barely audible, “Yes.”

A wild, startling thrill tore through Tarik in the wake of that single, fragile syllable.

Holding himself in check, Tarik went slowly. Brought his hands to Luka’s flushed face, soft skin hot under his fingertips. Luka’s eyes big and watchful and frantic and intense, hopefully with anticipation, with want, something close to the dizzying desire Tarik was feeling, and not fear. Luka’s warm breath on his lips. A brief caress, almost as light as the sigh that came after. Sweet soft press, lingering. Slow rising hunger, like nursing. Wondrous, thrilling touch, soft wet tip of tongue pleading for the parting of Luka’s lips. Luka yielding, whimpering against the tongue touching his tongue.

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Varian KrylovAbout 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.

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THE GIVEAWAY

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Bey Deckard, Brad Vance, Joseph Lance Tonlet, Rain Carrington, Varian Krylov

Hot Reads for the Trevor Project – Great Books for a Great Cause

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Get ready to lower your thermostat because your winter is about to get hot! For a limited time only, get SIX great reads by some of the hottest authors in M/M! A guilt-free guilty pleasure at an incredibly low price with all proceeds going to The Trevor Project! Continue reading

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Self-Published, Varian Krylov

Interview and Giveaway: Bad Things by Varian Krylov

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Q.) Hi, Varian, thanks so much for being here with us today. If I’m not mistaken, you’re a relative newcomer to gay fiction—at least in terms of writing it, if not the reading of it—what tempted you to try your hand at writing about gay relationship? What planted that first seed of an idea and prompted you to give it a go?

A.) It’s true that as far as genre categories, Dangerously Happy is my first gay romance, but there have been gay lovers in all my novels. In Abduction and After, the gay couples were more minor characters in books that would otherwise be considered het romances, but the central relationship in Hurt is a triad of two men and one woman, and the relationship between Galen and Khalid is just as intense and loving as the connection between Vanka and each of the men. (By the way, I can’t tell you how tempted I was to have Conrad tie up Vaughn and give him a pounding introduction to the joys of gay sex in Abduction, but I digress… ) Continue reading

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5 Stars, Reviewed by Lynn, Self-Published, Varian Krylov

Varian Krylov’s “Dangerously Happy” Is A Wickedly Beautiful Love Story


“The death rate for people who play it safe and for those who live boldly is the same.” ― Patti Digh


Title: Dangerously Happy

Author: Varian Krylov

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 244 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Aidan has always played it safe. Instead of pursuing his dream of creating innovative music that makes his soul sing, he settled for a degree in software, a job in a cubicle, and a spot in a generic band with his buddies.
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