Release date: December 29, 2014
Published by: Self-published
Author links: tilliecole.com | FB | Twitter
To take back life, one must first face death...
One man stripped of his freedom, his morals...his life. Conditioned in captivity to maim, to kill and to slaughter, prisoner 818 becomes an unremorseful, unrivaled and unstoppable fighter in the ring. Violence is all he knows. Death and brutality are the masters of his fate. 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 lied.
Revenge on the man who wronged him. Revenge on the man who condemned him and turned him into this: a rage-fueled killing machine. A monster void of humanity; a monster filled with hate. And no one will stand in the way of getting what he wants. One woman stripped of her freedom, her morals...her life. Kisa Volkova is the only daughter of Kirill ‘The Silencer’ Volkov, head of the infamous ‘Triad’ 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. As manager of her father’s death match enterprise, only grief and pain fill her days. Her mafia boss father, in her world, rules absolute. And her fiancé, Alik Durov, is no better; the Dungeon’s five-time champion, a stone-cold killer, the treasured son of her father’s best friend, and her very own—and much resented—personal guard. Unrivaled in both strength and social standing, Alik controls every facet of Kisa’s life, dominates her every move; keeps her subdued and dead inside...then one night changes everything.
I had no idea whatsoever what this book was about when I picked it up. I only knew that it was receiving rave reviews, and I had to know what had so many reviewers singing its praises. I am so glad that I did. This book will gut you. It is dark and emotional with mob, abuse, first love and second chance elements. It is fantastically written by the amazing Tillie Cole - that alone should make this a one-click for all lovers of dark romance reads.
Raze has lived the most difficult of lives. He has been through hell - almost literally. He doesn't remember his life outside of the gulag, and has been brainwashed into a killing machine with little humanity. When a chance occurrence happens, Raze follows his instincts and his written instructions back to Brooklyn where his destiny awaits him.
Kisa, daughter of the head Russian mob boss, is in an extremely abusive relationship with her fiance, Alik. Alik is basically a sociopath. He takes what he wants, when he wants, and will do anything to get his way. He is next in line to become the head of the Russian mob. Alik is also a killer - but he is a killer by choice. I can't tell you how much I despised Alik in this book. He definitely has a mental illness, but at the same time, I felt that he was completely unredeemable. Alik is emotionally, physically, sexually and mentally abusive to Kisa. He's a disgusting character that made my emotions run high while reading this book.
Kisa has a certain dichotomy about her. She is sweet, kind, loyal and religious. She also has no problems running her father's illegal gym. She is very much a part of underground gambling ring, The Dungeon, that hosts an annual fight-to-the-death tournament. One one hand, Kisa is intelligent and strong, especially when her path crosses with Raze. She also comes across as spineless when she is with Alik. I get that she is a victim of abuse, but Alik is so far out there, I just don't understand how Kisa had gotten to the point she's at with him. Kisa's biggest problem, though, is her father. As the head honcho of the Russian mob, Kirill comes off as an asshole. He wants the best for Kisa and it is obvious that he loves her very much, but he had to know that Alik was a loose cannon. He had to expect that Alik was not kind to his daughter, or at least that Kisa wasn't happy. As a mafia boss, one would think that Kirill could read people, yet he somehow managed to force his daughter into an atrocious situation. He never once questioned Alik when a past event changed everyone's lives. He believed Alik without question, which is hard to believe coming from such a menacing criminal. I really had a lot of problems with him.
Tillie Cole is an amazing emotional writer. Her stories are dark and complex, filled with revelations that had me reeling. The emotion in her writing had me feeling like a heavy weight was on my chest throughout much of this book. The feelings and experiences of her characters are intricate in nature, full of the sins of the past and hope for the future. I really can't explain it well enough, but this book was angsty and gut wrenching - in the best of ways.
I enjoyed this book so much that I immediately picked up another book by Cole, It Ain't Me, Babe. Let me tell you - Ms. Cole is no one-hit wonder. She wrote with the same complicated characters, the same crushing emotion and the same beautiful story telling that I found in Raze. Cole is on my one-click list from now on.
If you are a fan of dark romances, good writing and complicated characters, I highly recommend this book to you. Although this book is marketed as a stand alone, I can only hope that Cole reconsiders. I loved this world she created and would very much enjoy a story for Talia, Kisa's best friend. I didn't want this book to end, and I hope that we see more of it in the future.