Thursday, November 12, 2015

Book Review for Reap by Tillie Cole

Raised as a prototype for the Georgian Bratva's obedience drug, 221 fails to think, act, or live for himself; he's his master's perfectly-crafted killing puppet. Standing at six-foot-six, weighing two-hundred-and-fifty pounds, and unrivaled in to-the-death combat, 221 successfully secures business for the Georgian Mafiya Boss of NYC, who rules the dark world of the criminal underground. Until his enemies capture him.
Talia Tolstaia dreams to break from the heavy clutches of Bratva life. She dreams of another life--away from the stifling leash of her Russian Bratva Boss father and from the brutality of her work at The Dungeon, her criminal family's underground death-match enterprise. But when she stumbles upon her family's captive who is more monster than man, she starts to see the man underneath. A powerful, beautiful, damaged man whose heart calls to hers. But sacrifices must be made--blood for for life...souls for scarred souls....


From the intensity of its opening scene to the dramatic and gutwrenching scenes that followed readers will be on an emotional roller coaster ride that makes this a unique and memorable read not easily forgotten.  From its scenes of cruelty from a twisted man bent on gaining power to those sweet scenes that were a palpable juxtaposition, it's easy to become immersed in this powerful world were familial loyalty is most important...except when it comes to love.

As the second installment in the Scarred Souls series readers are reminded of the ongoing war for power amongst the three strongest Bratvas where blood is often spilled and traitors lurk everywhere.  Looking to gain a foothold in this ongoing war has led to extreme acts where engineered drugs and brainwashing from an early age have become a part of war, especially for the twisted Jakhua, who molds unbeatable killers by breaking them completely.  Jakhua's shadow has been looming large throughout the series as he's destroyed families and it's in this book where revenge for his deeds becomes the driving force for two men still scarred by his cruelty.  Jakhua's a true villain who relishes cruelty and his deeds caused chills down my spine.  He tortures children and is a traffiker of young women, using his engineered drugs to get his pawns to comply with any depravity.  For everything he's done I was rooting for him to get his just and bloody reward every step of the way.
After all the years of pain and loss of himself seen in the previous book for Luka, things are still a struggle for him and his wife Kisa.  There's still a darkness in his soul bent on revenge for the man who saved his life.  Though he wants to make his father proud by being knayz he can't ignore that dark part of him as he uses it to rescue the brother of the man he bonded with in that long ago dungeon of death.  Zaal's life has been very similar to that of Luka and it's this dark knowledge that binds them together too.  Though Zaal at first appears animalistic it's the scared and lost look in his eyes that have you wanting to comfort him.  His fear is palpable with the scars of his torture leaving you misty-eyed.  Seeing him slowly come back to life further tore at my heart as he deserved some happiness after all the cruelty done to him.  Seeing his wonderment in the smallest things brought a smile to my face and deepened his connection with the one woman sworn to war against him who stood beside him every step of the way as he emerged from the darkness. 

Aiding in Zaal's recovery is the Mafiya princess, Talia, tired of her own chains. Though she wants to break free from her familial restrictions and just be normal for awhile, being with Zaal leads to even more difficulties as he comes from a warring family.  Beauty is the only thing that can tame the beast though and seeing his scarred soul changes her life irrevocably as all the stories told to her about finding eternal love she can see in his eyes.  Theirs is a relationship based on care, compassion, and unwavering trust.  Being with him brings meaning to Talia's life, being with him brings her the unconditional love she's longed for and their crackling connection was sweet yet sensual.  Talia's a strong-willed woman not afraid to stand up for herself and the damaged man she loves.  Her scenes with Zaal pulled at my heartstrings for all his endured pain while cheering the unconditional support she gives him while he expresses his love for her in the most unexpectedly charming ways.

This was a powerful story from start to finish, never pulling punches in showing the depravity of people vying for power.  It's a dark story that pulls you down into the darkness as you easily connect with Luka and Zaal praying for them to find peace.  The characters, both main and secondary, are larger than life with each playing an important role in the overall story.  It's a compelling read that nicely balances the blood and darkness with the uplifting romance between Zaal and Talia and the strengthening marriage between Luka and Kisa.  The pace of the story keeps you on the edge of your seat with a richly rewarding conclusion and an epilogue that points to even more heartache ahead.  Ms. Cole has crafted an unforgettable story with heroes that truly earn the moniker and I look forward to delving back into this emotionally complex and bloody world again soon!

My rating for this is an A+

*I got this book from NetGalley for review in exchange for my honest opinion.

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