Published on: August 16th 2016
Published by: St. Martin's Griffin
Series: Scarred Souls #3
Genre: NA Romance
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This book is part of the Scarred Souls Series. You can find more of my reviews via the links below:
(summary from Goodreads)
Taken by the Jakhua Clan as a teen, 194 was stripped of his name, his identity, and his freewill, meticulously honed to be a ruthless, soulless killing machine, trained solely to spill blood and stop hearts. This is a role he resents with every fiber of his being, but one he embraces to gain back the precious leverage the Georgians wield as their weapon of control: his younger sister, 152.
Mzia Kostava is in shock. After fleeing her mafia family’s massacre in Georgia as a child, Mzia lives in secret, hiding from her enemies in the dark shadows of Manhattan. At age twenty-five, believing all her family is dead, word reaches Mzia that her brother Zaal is very much alive… and living with their family’s greatest enemy: the Volkov Bratva in Brooklyn.
Yearning to be reunited with her beloved Zaal, Mzia risks her safety and anonymity for the brother she had mourned since childhood. But just as she reaches Zaal’s apartment, Mzia is seized and taken captive by a strange man, who is strong, dark, and brutal… Unyielding, he demands her utter obedience as he locks her away in darkness. He is highly skilled in torture and inflicting pain, and demands to know everything about her brother Zaal and everything about her. He is a man that’ll do anything to get what he wants.
Sometimes love requires the sacrifice and betrayal of those held most dear. But is finding one’s true love worth committing the greatest sacrifice of all?
Like with every Tillie Cole review I write, I really struggled with this one. It’s so hard to put into words just how amazing a book is, how much of an affect it had on you. Tillie’s books always reach the deepest places and make me feel emotions that I never knew it was possible to feel from a book.
Tillie Cole has always had a talent for writing non typical characters and making us feel the opposite of what we think we should feel for them. Only a few weeks ago she made me feel sympathy for a character that she had spent the 3 previous books making me hate for all the bad things he had done. In this book she gives us 194, a killer and a torturer and she shows us very clearly in black and white just how evil he can be. But at no point did I feel anything but understanding and sympathy for him. Does that make me crazy? No, it just makes Tillie extremely talented.
“My God, I thought; he looked like a monster.”
Luka’s story as Raze broke my heart, Zaal’s story as 212 ripped my heart to pieces. 194, well he obliterated the whole damn thing. Unlike the previous two books we get 194 aka. Valentin’s story right from the beginning, starting with him and his younger sister being taken as children and boy was it sad.
“As the years passed, I became a ghost in the night. I became the deliverer of death. I was torture. I was pain. I was the fucking nightmare none one ever saw coming… until it was too late”
Fast forward fifteen years later and we have a very large and scary looking 194 who is forced to wear a collar that injects him with an obedience drug to keep him under the control of his mistress, who uses him for her own pleasure and revenge. No stranger to inflicting pain or having it inflicted upon him 194 is in utter darkness, the only thing keeping him going is the need to save his little sister who is also under the control of the mistress.
“He’d never been wanted. Only this time he was, and he didn’t know how to deal with it.”
I was most excited to meet Zoya after her brief appearance at the end of Reap after we had spent the entire book thinking she was dead. Zoya goes through one hell of an emotional journey in this book when she is captured by 194 shortly after discovering her brother is alive and endures a whole lot of pain by his hands. She is probably the strongest female character in this entire series and her ability to feel sympathy for the man who is torturing her as she realises that he has gone through the exact same thing as her brothers was a heartbreaking but beautiful thing to read.
“I knew his life had been as impossible as mine. Knew he wasn’t truly as evil as he seemed. He was just like my Anri and Zaal. Like me. Broken.“
Once again Tillie uses multiple POV to tell the story, and it was always something I liked in the previous books, but in this book it felt more necessary. At times reading from 194’s POV means you get to see the vulnerable human side of him, the thoughts he has when he is not under the control of the drug and the real emotions he feels when he sees the pain and hurt he is inflicting.
“She was somehow seeing the forgotten me living underneath the beast’s scars.“
The love story in this book is breathtaking and I loved Zoya and Valentin just as much as our previous two scarred couples. There is nothing that makes my heart melt more than a very tough but also very vulnerable man who has never been loved realising that someone actually cares for him. Seeing the sacrifices that the two of them made for each other just made their relationship all the more stronger and the feels it gave me all the more powerful.
“I feel alive.” I stilled at these heartbreaking words; then he added, “I feel like yours.”
I also have to mention how much I loved that we got the POV of Luka again, and therefore we got to see more of both him and Zaal. It’s sad to see that they both still struggle, Zaal especially, to adapt to their lives in the outside world and Zaal’s pain is only intensified by the fact that he can barely remember his family. But I really liked the brotherly bond that they have developed and how the two of them really support and understand each other.
I also really like the sense of family in this series. You think a book about the mafia would be all darkness and murder, but there is love in the family ties that join our characters in this story, and also in the bond between brothers, blood related or not.
“We are different. Me weak and you strong. Me a Georgian and you Russian, but our broken hearts are tired and old. Our spirits are low, though not broken. But our souls, though thoroughly tested and hardened through pain, are resilient. They are the same.“
Tillie Cole has done it again and even when I found out that our MC was going to be a torturer and the description basically told us that he was going to end up hurting our other MC I was not worried in the slightest. Tillie has proved her ability to take even the worst kind of character and make them redeemable and I knew before even reading this book that I had nothing to worry about. This book is definitely the darkest of the series so far, but it is just as emotional and powerful and that’s why is deserves every bit of attention it gets.
“All I could think of was my brothers. How I hadn’t been able to save them. How they may have been forced to do something like this man was being forced with me. And because of that something inside of me called me to save him. Save him like I couldn’t save my brothers.”
This book blew me away and was an incredible continuation of the Scarred Souls series. Never before Tillie Cole would I have thought I could connect to such dark, damaged characters. But she writes them in such a beautiful way that it’s impossible not to fall in love with them.
Re-Readability: HELLS YEA!
I would recommend this book to: Tillie Cole fans, fans of dark romance, fans of guys who fight a lot, fans of bad but also vulnerable boys, fans of a totally intense read.
Tillie Cole is a Northern girl through and through. She originates from a place called Teesside on that little but awesomely sunny (okay I exaggerate) Isle called Great Britain. She was brought up surrounded by her English rose mother — a farmer’s daughter, her crazy Scottish father, a savagely sarcastic sister and a multitude of rescue animals and horses.
Other books by Tillie Cole you should check out:
Sweet Home . Sweet Rome . Sweet Fall . Sweet Hope . Sweet Soul
It Ain’t Me Babe . Heart Recaptured . Souls Unfractured . Deep Redemption
A Thousand Boy Kisses