3.5 - 4 stars.
I didn't realize Gold Digger was a spin-off story from Special Forces, featuring Nikolai Krosnorada. When I figured it out, I HAD to pick this up to read.
Overall, GD is an enjoyable read devoid of melodrama as seen in Special Forces. After all, we aren't fighting with guns and knives - instead, we are in the midst of a corporate war. Despite the political conflicts that occur, a majority of the story is focused on relationships, which includes:
1) Nikolai and Henri - as lovers
2) Nikolai and Vadim - as son and father
The dynamic between Nikolai and Henri was refreshing and a complete contrast between Vadim and Dan in SF. Both characters were easily likeable. However, what I enjoyed even more was the relationship between Nikolai and Vadim. I even found myself tearing up at some of the scenes, because it helps provide some closure to this particular loose-end at the end of SF.
The only criticism I had to GD is that it was such a simple story. I think this is more from my love of complex story (minus excessive melodrama), but GD is what I consider a simple read that doesn't require much mental processing. Perhaps in this way, I found some parts kind of boring (at least, the parts pertaining to the political conflicts). However, the relationship aspect of the story was very entertaining and helped me move on.
Do you HAVE to read SF to enjoy Gold Digger? Absolutely not. Vadim is the only past character that significantly plays a role in GD. Other characters as well are mentioned, but don't play a vital role. However, I did find myself enjoy this novella even more and appreciated the references to SF.
(VADIM, I LOVE YOU! )