Author: Tillie Cole
Publication Date: 10 November, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Series: Scarred Souls, book 2
Genre: Dark Contemporary RomanceAge Recommendation: 18 and up
Rating: 5 Stars
~ I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review ~
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...
Wow...Wow...Wow. You know this is one of those reviews that I had to sit on for a while because I can't wrap my mind around everything that is this book. To say that I loved this is a bit of an understatement and that in and of itself leads to a challenge when you are trying to review a book because I don't want to go all mushy fan girl on you, so bare with me as I try to organize my thoughts and feelings about this book into something constructive and informative.
First, let me get this off my chest and let me make sure you know....YOU WILL SEE RAZE! Yes, he and Kisa are a strong presence in this book and I LOVED it. You guys know I fell hard for Raze so having him still as an integral part of the series was a very happy moment for me.
Raze's story was the first Dark Contemporary Romance I had ventured to pick up and to say I was nervous about going there is putting it lightly. You guys know I am a happy go lucky girl when it comes to my books, knowing that I am going to go into a book that is as dark, emotional, and as truly disturbing as Raze was a huge leap of faith for me and I can not tell you how glad I was that I took the leap. I became an automatic fan of anything and everything Tillie Cole, but with all that you have to be a bit fearful about a second book. When the first one is so powerful and moving where does the author go with the second? How can she carry that momentum forward? It is a seriously tricky feat to accomplish, but let me tell you Tillie Cole did it and she did it amazingly well!
Reap is everything I could have wanted. I didn't think it was possible to fall has hard for a second character as I did for the first but I did, I fell so hard and I am not sure I ever want to get back up. I just want to keep diving deeper and deeper into this dark savage world with broken characters that are so full of heart, drive, passion, love, faith, and loyalty.
Talia Tolstaia is the girl destined to follow her own path even in the strictly controlled environment of the Russian Bratva. She knows the boundaries and she pushes them with relish. She is the daughter of a boss and the sister to Luka/Raze, the heir to the 'throne,' but more importantly she is Talia and she wants to control her own destiny (I am having Brave flashbacks right now, sorry about that, haha). I love Talia for her independence, even thought that independence can at times drive her to do rash things without considering the consequences. I love her for her faith in her family and her friends. I love her for her strength. This woman is a woman of tremendous strength, combined with her giving heart she is a force to be reckoned with and the only woman who could ever match up to Reap!
Reap, the drugged 'animal' known as 221 has no memory of his own name much less where he comes from or how he became a killing machine for his 'master', but his world is about to change as Raze discovers that his dead best friend, 362 had a twin brother who was also taken to the Gulag as a child. Raze promised 362 at death that he would seek vengeance for 362s family and it starts with finding and freeing 362s long lost twin brother. Reap...what do we say about him? We know where he is coming from but who was he before he became a killing machine for a mad man and where will he go when he is free? I don't want to give you too much info because it will take away from the story, but Reap...he is a beautiful, beautiful soul and he speaks one of the most beautiful love statements ever
"I put my finger to her heart, then put my finger over mine, and I asked,
"You are...for me?""
and boom, readers everywhere are in love forever!
The same thing that brings Talia and Reap together is the same thing that makes me fall madly head over heels for Tillie's characters. She writes her characters open to their very souls. We see every layer, the darkness, the fear, the pain, the loyalty, the love and in the very middle of it all the beautiful spark of life. She writes characters that come to life on the pages and through the brutal darkness we see their naked souls shining through. I know it sounds 'fluffy' and their is nothing 'fluffy' about these stories but theirs is a beauty that will bring you to tears and move your soul completely. Talia sees all of this in Reap as she watches him on the surveillance cameras. She knows that underneath this drugged vicious beast of a man is a man who needs someone to have a little faith in him, to trust him, to love him.
Like Raze this book can be difficult to read at times. The dark moments are painful and sad. You will be torn up over what has happened with these characters, but the light is always there shining through, pulling you forward into something profound and beautiful. The world that Tillie writes is raw and real, her characters have such amazing depth and each layer can be pulled back allowing you to see the whole person on a level that is hard to find in many books. The action is fast paced, the story is a one and done..meaning you are going to sit down and not want to stop reading until it is over. There are a lot of pieces and parts in play to make these stories come to life so this is a book you aren't going to skim through, not that you would want to anyway...no you are going to want to crawl into it and let it meld around you like a big fluffy down comforter.
I highly recommend reading the series in order. You could read this separately but you will be missing out on a lot of the back story and especially since Raze is such a prominent feature in the Reap's book (yea). Don't let the fact that this is a Dark Romance scare you away, yes it is raw, brutal, and emotionally crippling at times but there is such beauty in it all, in the characters, the story, the romance. I know I have used the word Beauty/Beautiful multiple times in this review, but I promise you when you close that back cover one of the first things that will run through your mind after your last sigh is, "Wow, that was just beautiful."
~ HAPPY READING ~
Being a scary blend of Scottish and English, Tillie embraces both cultures; her English heritage through her love of HP sauce and freshly made Yorkshire Puddings, and her Scottish which is mostly demonstrated by her frighteningly foul-mouthed episodes of pure rage and her much loved dirty jokes.
Having been born and raised as a Teesside Smoggie, Tillie, at age nineteen, moved forty miles north to the 'Toon', Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, where she attended Newcastle University and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts honours degree in Religious Studies. She returned two years later to complete a Post-Graduate Certificate in Teaching High School Social Studies. Tillie, regards Newcastle to be a home from home and enjoyed the Newcastle Geordie way of life for seven 'proper mint' and 'lush' years.
One summers day, after finishing reading her thousandth book on her much loved and treasured Kindle, Tillie turned to her husband and declared, "D'you know, I have a great idea for a story. I could write a book." Several months later, after repeating the same tired line at the close of another completed story, she was scolded by her husband to shut up talking about writing a novel and "just bloody do it!" For the first time in eleven years, Tillie actually took his advice (he is still trying to get over the shock) and immediately set off on a crazy journey, delving deep into her fertile imagination.
Tillie, ever since, has written from the heart. She combines her passion for anything camp and glittery with her love of humour and dark brooding men (most often muscled and tattooed – they’re her weakness!). She also has a serious side (believe it or not!) and loves to immerse herself in the complex study of World Religions, History and Cultural Studies and creates fantasy stories that enable her to thread serious issues and topics into her writing -- yep, there's more to this girl than profanity and sparkles!
After six years of teaching high school Social Studies and following her Professional Rugby Player husband around Europe, they have finally given up their nomadic way of life and settled in Calgary, Alberta where Tillie spends most of her days (and many a late night) lost in a writing euphoria or pursuing a dazzling career as a barrel-racing, tasselled-chap wearing, Stetson-sporting cowgirl... Ye-haw!