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 blood...life for life...souls for scarred souls...
Raze was my first Tillie Cole experience and I had no knowledge of what I was walking into with it. The world was dark, disturbing and unapologetically brutal, but there was also that sliver of hope that even in a world where violence reigned supreme and power was everything happiness could still be had and after finishing it I was hooked, not only on the world but Tillie Cole’s work in general and went on to read and love her Hades Hangmen series (I’m still working on getting to her sweet series). So to say I was excited to get my hands on Reap is an understatement. I was thrilled! And from the first page I willingly jumped down the rabbit hole and didn’t ever want to come out.
I really liked Talia in Raze. She was sassy and much more rebellious than Kisa, but even she didn’t step too far out of line. She may not always like being restricted by her father and the Pahkan, but she understands that those restrictions are in place for her safety. In Reap we still get to see that rebellious Bratva princess but more importantly we get to see how compassionate and strong willed she really is and by the end it’s hard not to adore her. Her kindness and determination are a potent mix and her inner strength is something to be admired.
212/Zaal God how my heart broke for him. If you thought what happened to Raze/Luka was horrible, that’s nothing compared to what happened Zaal. Brutal is a huge understatement. And my heart broke as he went from being just 212 to Zaal and we learn through his memories just what hell he’d been through and lost in the process, hell I even got all teary eyed a few times as his story unfolded. But though the brutality of what his life had been is difficult to swallow, what we get to see is the honorable and redeemable man underneath it all.
Talia and Zaal’s courtship, if you will, is a beautiful thing to experience, it’s equal parts sweet, sexy and heartbreaking, and I loved how each step in the journey was handled. It simply started with a gut feeling and an act of kindness and grew. There is a ticking time bomb (or bombs if you will) tossed into the mix and it’s that component that puts that edge on their romance. When will it go off? What will happen? And I have to say that it was all handled well and in line with who each character involved has been shown to be. Vague much? Of course, no spoilers, but I thought that their HEA was done very well.
What did surprise me, and delight me as well, was that we get Luka/Raze’s POV intermittently throughout the book. At the end of Raze there were a lot of things left wide open like how will Luka deal with his new life as the Bratva heir as well as his relationship with Kisa and what will happen with his promise to 362? All of these are answered through Luka’s sections and should I ever meet Ms. Cole I may have to kowtow a bit because she did a brilliant job at weaving what was going on with Luka into Talia and Zaa’s story without taking anything away from them and making the overall story that much stronger and more of an emotional rollercoaster than it already was. And can I just say that I really fucking adore Kisa and Luka even more now.
The writing, as always, was engaging and the pacing well done. Unlike with Raze’s ending, which I thought was a bit rushed, I really liked how this one panned out and that last bit of the epilogue?? Well played Ms. Cole, I didn’t see that one coming, and can’t fucking wait to get my hands on Revenge. As stated, this is NOT a sunshine and roses story, yes there is an HEA, but the road to that HEA is dark, disturbing and unapologetically brutal. If abuse of any kind is a trigger for you then you’ll have a difficult time with this one. If not, it’s definitely worth your time, though I do highly recommend you read Raze first.
The Bottom Line: I want more. I don’t want to leave the rabbit hole. Ever!
~ ARC provided by St. Martin's Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review ~
Tillie Cole hails from a small town in the North-East of England. She grew up on a farm with English mother, Scottish father and older sister and a multitude of rescue animals. As soon as she could, Tille left her rural roots for the bright lights of the big city.
After graduating from Newcastle University with a BA Hons in Religious Studies, Tillie followed her Professional Rugby player husband around the world for a decade, becoming a teacher in between and thoroughly enjoyed teaching High School students Social Studies before putting pen to paper and finished her first novel.
Tillie has now settled in North America, where she is finally able to sit down and write, throwing herself into fantasy worlds and the fabulous minds of her characters.
Tillie is both an independent and traditionally published author, and writes many genres including Contemporary Romance, Dark Romance, Young Adult and New Adult novels.
When she is not writing, Tillie enjoys nothing more than curling up on her couch watching movies, drinking far too much coffee, while convincing herself that she really doesn’t need that extra square of chocolate.