Apparently at some point in my life, I had decided to entrust my heart to Aleksandr Voinov (The Genius) and said, “Here, have it…” To which, he replied, “Come, Susan. Read Special Forces: Mercenaries (Part I) and let me feed your heart through a meat grinder”.Where Soldiers gruelingly and meticulously took us through the birth and development of the love story between Dan and Vadim, Mercenaries threw every possible grenade at that love to see if it could last. I felt like I was in battle. I carefully peeked past each new page to make sure I was prepared for what The Genius would throw at me next. And no matter how much I braced myself, each new attack caught me off guard and I wanted to scream “Retreat! Retreat! Retreat back to “Soldiers” and don’t press forward!”From the prologue (what a freaking prologue!), to broken Vadim, to the “Dan-whore” period , to the gut-wrenching shower scene where V & D spill their most painful emotions out, to the perfectly crafted helicopter rescue/radio conversation, to the most romantic times in Thailand, to the very last word, I was CAPTURED, wrung-out. This is not a joy ride. This is hard and it’s painful and it’s a work of art. (Though I’m starting to think that The Genius hates me and wants to see me suffer.)Oh, and it’s officially “Vadim and Dan” now, not the other way around. You got some groveling to do, Dan, to win me back…Next up: Mercenaries Part 2…terrified but trying to get through this so my heart can go back to being whole again. You know that saying “the calm before the storm…”??? Yup…on to chapter 30…do I dare?UPDATED REVIEW: I got confused w/ the Director’s Cuts. I thought Merc Pt 1 ended at Chapter 30…but oh HELL no it didn’t. Additional review points in italics…Ch 31-36 were some of the most gut-wrenching, heart-aching reads I’ve ever experienced. Dan’s behavior after Thailand/Dubai destroyed me and literally affected my mood even in real life. I felt sad & depressed and my heart physically hurt as if I took on what I thought would be Vadim’s pain. What I kept wondering was “Does it have to take this much? Do they have to EARN this HEA?” …and finally, “WHY are you such an F’ing idiot, Dan?” And I felt like I was reading on thin ice, waiting for it to break. The subsequent chapters, which I call the “Orgy Days”, riddled with ménages, V/D/Matt, V/D Jean, V/D/Matt/Hooch, V/D/Scottish Dudes…let’s all blow, fuck, handjob, cuddle, and watch each other. It started to piss me off. I worried it devalued the love between Vadim & Dan. However, it was exactly what I needed at the time to pull myself back together. I was wrecked for awhile and all of this nonsense brought it back into perspective: V&D are broken people and their extra-curricular “activities” didn’t mean they didn’t love each other.