The first two books in the Scarred Souls series, in one volume!
One man stripped of his freedom, his morals… his life. Conditioned in captivity to maim, to kill and to slaughter, prisoner 818 becomes an unrivaled and unstoppable fighter in the ring. Violence is all he knows. After years of incarceration in an underground hell, only one thought occupies his mind: revenge… bloody, slow and violent revenge. Revenge on the man who wronged him.
Kisa Volkova is the only daughter of Kirill ‘The Silencer’ Volkov, head of the infamous ‘Red’ bosses of New York’s Russian Bratva. Her life is protected. In reality, it’s a virtual prison. Her father’s savage treatment of his rivals and his lucrative and coveted underground gambling ring-The Dungeon-ensures too many enemies lurk at their door. She dreams to be set free. Kisa has known only cruelty and loss in her short life. While working for her church-the only reprieve in her constant surveillance-Kisa stumbles across a tattooed, scarred, but stunningly beautiful homeless man on the streets. Something about him stirs feelings deep within her; familiar yet impossibly forbidden desires. He doesn’t talk. Doesn’t communicate with anyone. He’s a man beyond saving. But Kisa becomes obsessed with him. Yearns for him. Craves his touch. Needs to possess this mysterious man… … this man they call Raze.
Raised as a prototype for the Georgian Bratva’s obedience drug, 221 fails to think, act or live for himself; his master’s perfectly-crafted killing puppet. Standing at six foot six, weighing two-hundred and fifty pounds, and unrivalled in to-the-death combat, 221 successfully secures business for, the Georgian Mafiya Boss of NYC, in the dark world of the criminal underground. Until his enemies capture him.
Talia Tolstoi dreams to break from the heavy clutches of Bratva life and dreams of another life-away from the stifling leash of her Russian Bratva Boss father, 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.
Even though I read Reap before reading Raze, and thus knew the outcome, this didn’t impact my enjoyment of the novel any because even though Reap is a dark romance, it’s still a romance. And truth be told, it is the journey that Raze and Kisa must take to find their way to one another that makes the book truly enjoyable.
“They were always meant to be together, one boy and one girl, two hearts split into two, sent to far-off lands on their own.”
Kisa and Luka grew up together, two of the five children who were the Bratva heirs to the New York Russian underground. Even as children, they recognized early that they were meant to be together and their mothers acknowledged it as well. For all intents and purposes, they were betrothed to one another. Until the day that Kisa’s twin brother was killed and Alik (the third Bratva male heir) was stabbed by Luka, necessitating that Luka be sent to Russian work camp for teens as punishment. A location he never made it to due to a fiery crash that took his life and the lives of four others. Or so they all believed. And as Luka endured a literal prison, Kisa was relegated to a prison of another kind – one that gave the illusion of freedom, but granted her none – as Alik’s fiancée.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. While it is a dark romance and contains scenes that are quite violent in nature, the author doesn’t go into graphic detail for the most disturbing of events. There were things that Luka endured while in the gulag that we learn through his memories and actions, but aren’t exposed to the actual horrors of what happened to him. At the same time, we see some of the rough treatment Alik meets out to Kisa, but we are spared most of his violence toward her until a scene toward the end of the book. I felt the author did a great job with Luka’s memory recovery, doling out bits and pieces as people and places triggered them. Because several of his memories contained details that no one else was privy to, I felt like I experienced his memory loss and recovery with him – both the good memories and the bad ones. As for the romance aspect, I’m a sucker for a well-written soulmates romance and that’s exactly what Cole delivered. Had Kisa not be raised in the Bratva lifestyle, the daughter of the head of the New York Bratva, and being an active part of that world, her reunion with Luka wouldn’t have worked. But being who she was, being raised as she had been, the forces of Fate bringing the two back together worked. Unfortunately, their reunion was only the first step because Luka not only had to find himself through his memories, they had to weather the attacks of those who would keep them apart. Raze was an awesome read and as I’ve already read Reap, I was very excited to learn that book three, Ravage, will be released in a few months. YAY!