Review: Vanguard by C. J. Markusfeld

Posted August 7, 2015 by FMA in 6 Stars and above - It left me with a book hangover!

Review: Vanguard by C. J. MarkusfeldVanguard by C.J. Markusfeld
Published by Self-Published
on July 17th 2015
Pages: 245
Genres: Contemporary, Romance


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.

Review Vanguard


Heartbreaking, Breathtaking, Simply stunning! 

Everything I want from a book, Vanguard had it in spades! From the opening page to the ending, I was riding a thrilling, emotional roller coaster. This was a modern-day WAR STORY! Who would have thought I would have liked that? The closest book I can compare this too would be The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons. (I don’t make that comparison lightly, for me that series is my all-time favorite!).  Vanguard is not a typical romance lovers love story. It was unique. I can’t classify it as women’s fiction because the romance in this book was indescribable. The love these two shared for one another, seriously – the stuff dreams are made of!

Talk about FEELS! My heart was in my throat most of the book cheering not only for Michael and Sophia but also for those within the camp.

‘Her blood sang in her veins. Michael, Michael, Michael.’

I talked to these characters, yelled at them, cried with them and loved with them. I even despised them.

The villain – perfectly written. I loathed him. He was a man without scruples, without a moral compass and clearly mad!

Sophia was strong and fearless. She was passionate and altruistic. Her love for others and desire to help those who could not help themselves was overwhelmingly real. The pain she felt for those within the camp as well as for Michael was palpable.

Michael was volatile by nature, he was a very passionate man both in love and anger. This fueled his need to help his country, Orlisia, as it fell under siege to the Russian Government. Despite her misgivings, Sophia did not dissuade her friend, confidant, and true love, to not go into the war zone. She knew doing so would be futile as well, it would put him in a position of having to choose – what he felt was his mission, or her.  You would never win when making someone make that choice.

Her greatest fears were realized when their daily messages ended, and she was no longer able to make contact with him. She didn’t know where he was, if he was alive or dead.

All the while her organization had been keeping an eye on Parnaas refugee camp where Orlisian refugees were being detained, because they had been receiving reports of the terrible conditions within the camp. She mobilized a global relief effort and with the help of government influence, received passage into the camp to bring some basic relief to the prisoners and investigate the camp itself. Her other priority was to find Michael, she hoped and prayed he would be there.

Her strength as she stood up against the Commandant Vasily Jaros ( aka the villain), was extraordinary. Her ability to maintain her composure during the most difficult times was awe-inspiring. She was a formidable opponent and one I would wish to be on my side!

Vanguard teaser

Once he realized the extent to which Sophia went to find and rescue him, Michael completely changed. He became her advocate, wanted to fight for her, both in the camp and in love.

“But I love you. I have always loved you. You have ruined me for other women, mana mila.”

Once home, the fight was not over. They escape the horrors of camp and war to come home and face accusations of wrong doing and salacious lies from the media. Papers and online sites accusing her of abusing her power and job to rescue him, of using monies for him. Some weren’t looking at the good she did while she was there, instead asking for her resignation. But not once, did their love falter or fade in the midst of the trials that faced them.

“You know that you own me, every last bit of me, forever.”

Once in a while, we are lucky enough to happen upon a book that rocks our world! This book did that for me. A beautiful love story with depth and exquisite writing and characters whose essence was captured brilliantly! It was gripping, it was thrilling, it was exceptionally good! That this was a debut novel, leaves my head spinning! It doesn’t seem possible, really. This is a top Favorite of the Year!

Special note:
I would be remiss if I didn’t point out for both the author’s benefit and the benefit of future readers, I acknowledge that this book may not be for everyone. As I mentioned before, this is not your typical romance. It is different, it is unique. It is an epic love story. So if you like different, unique atypical romance stories or are willing to try one, then this is the perfect book for you!


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