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Vassily the Beautiful

An ESTO Universe Novel
Written by: Angel Martinez
Narrated by: Greg Boudreaux
Length: 8 hrs and 1 min
Categories: LGBT, Romance
5 out of 5 stars (1 rating)

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Publisher's Summary

Vassily Belikov, composer and pampered son of privilege, suffered neurological damage in the accident that killed his father. Resentful of being treated as an invalid, he lives as a recluse, dependent on his mother. That changes the day she brings home a new husband with two sons of his own.

When deep-space pirates capture Vassily's mother, he's left to the mercy of his cruel, amoral stepfather. Fighting addiction and his physical shortcomings, he's forced to seek out the criminal mastermind Baba Yaga for a crucial piece of equipment. While she agrees to deal with him if he beats his Exoticus addiction, paranoia and mysterious intentions infuse her household. Drawn to her fierce, suspicious youngest son, certain his actions are all carefully observed, Vassily must find the courage to face both his fears and his desires if he expects to survive.

©2014 Angel Martinez (P)2017 Angel Martinez

What listeners say about Vassily the Beautiful

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kindle Customer
  • 2017-08-08

a beautiful story with lovely narration

I adored every minute of this book: the MCs are perfect for each other, and you see them grow in such a satisfying way. This was like listening to a futuristic fairy tale, although it has a much happier ending than most Russian fairy tales. Angel Martinez is a great writer. This was my first book from her, but won't be the last.

Greg Boudreaux's narration is supurb. I'd listen to that man read ANYTHING.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Lada Morrow
  • 2017-06-07

Very interesting take on Russian folklore.

Let's start with that I loved it. Very unusual and interesting old story retelling. The narrative was exceptional for an exceptional world building! Three tasks to complete for the young Vassily to get his heart's desire or what turned out to be. Highly recommended story with little angst and of course as in all fairy tales with HEA. Greg Boudreaux's was the one excellent performance. I hope he would voice other Angel Martinez's books.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Zell Oakley
  • 2020-04-24

Pretty standard m/m romance

Vassily the Beautiful started out so well, I was sure it would be a cut above the usual m/m fare. Based on the Russian folk tale of Vasilisa the Beautiful, this novel gender swaps Vasilisa into Vassily (and also swaps the wicked stepmother and stepsisters out for a stepfather and stepbrothers) and sets it in the future, or at least in some spacefaring civilization (I'm not sure what an ESTO universe is but I imagine it has something to do with Angel Martinez's other novels which I haven't read). The author wastes no time in plunging Vassily into typical folk tale-esque despair, and quite effectively made me despise the antagonist and look forward to him getting his comeuppance. Through a series of events, Vassily is sent (like Vasilisa) on an errand to see Baba Yaga, updated from a terrifying ogress to a terrifying... I'm not sure what, really. Some sort of criminal? She certainly orders a lot of people's deaths. Vassily arrives and promptly collapses, needing medical care.

It's here that the novel, for me at least, fell apart a bit. What began as an interesting spin on a classic folk tale very quickly devolved into a very by-the-numbers m/m romance novel, the plot all but forgotten for a hefty portion of the middle section. Vassily falls in love with Baba Yaga's "son" Sumerki, and if there's ever a perfect example of a couple which seems to have been based on a heterosexual couple and then at the last minute one of them was gender swapped into a man, this is it. In fact I'd go so far as to say that if Vassily were still Vasilisa, the novel could (quite rightly) be accused of being a bit sexist. I'm seeing a lot of five star reviews and I can't help wondering, at the risk of being accused of sexism myself, how many of those are from straight women. Male/male relationships rarely have the type of power imbalance that female writers of gay fiction seem to revel in, where one character is very meek and submissive (but plucky!) and the other character dominates him to the point of being borderline nasty to him. The author does try to temper this a bit by having Vassily be the pursuer and instigator, but I can't help feeling it's a bit of wishful thinking to imagine that he has any actual power in their relationship. He's physically weak, he's gone through horrific trauma, he's been severely physically and psychologically abused, and what does he get from his true love? Literally a punch in the face (admittedly this is before their relationship starts) and a rope tied around his hands during sex because his boyfriend doesn't trust him enough to let him touch him. For plot reasons. Epic eyeroll. (Also a side note, ladies, not one gay man outside of a porn movie has ever said the words "I want you inside me" to their partner. The resulting laughter would kill the mood)

If that weren't enough, Sumerki (the boyfriend) constantly whines out line after line about how he doesn't deserve Vassily's affections, and they go back and forth about that for a good half hour, while Vassily tries to convince Sumerki that he's really a great person at heart. The biggest problem I had with this is that he's NOT really a great person, and he's a terrible boyfriend. And let's not even start on his "mother" Baba Yaga, who is nothing less than a sociopathic criminal but we're supposed to really like her because... I don't even know why, maybe because she's respected by a few characters we're also meant to like? She's also a strong woman in a novel dominated by men, but I'm not sure someone can be considered a feminist hero simply because they have a higher body count than the male characters. When Vassily recovers from the issue he has when he first arrives at her home, she sends for him and the other characters are about 60% certain she's going to order them to kill him, despite his complete innocence, because apparently that's perfectly in character for her. And she's one of the characters we're supposed to root for, for god's sake!

Anyway, by the time the novel gets back on track and remembers that there's a plot, I didn't really have the same feelings of antipathy toward the antagonist that I did in the beginning, so for me the whole thing just kind of fizzled out. If you know the story of Vasilisa, you know how Vassily's story ends too; it's pretty faithful, minus a couple details here and there. Greg Boudreaux does a good job narrating, because he always does a good job narrating, even if Sumerki ends up sounding a bit like Marge Simpson's sisters for some reason. The book was well written and I wouldn't go so far as to say it was BAD, per se, but the setup had me hoping for something more than a typical m/m romance novel romance with a huge, unrealistic, uncomfortable power imbalance between the two leads.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Diane
  • 2018-06-08

I loved it!

I loved this book & would probably not have read it if it wasn't for my favorite narrator narrating it. Vassily broke my heart when his nasty, evil stepfather did what he did. He sure got what was coming to him. Vassily and Sumerki where perfect together and I would so love reading more about these two.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2018-04-11

love this book

What am I favorites I listen to it several times I really enjoy listening to it over and over again