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Reap: A Scarred Souls Novel

by Tillie Cole

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314577,818 (4.25)None
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...… (more)

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4.5 "You are for me/I am for you" Stars for the story and 3.5 Stars for the narration.

Reap, book 2 in the Scarred Souls series, is a cross between a MMA fighter and mafia romance. Not quite as dark as book 1 (Raze) this story is nonetheless not for those seeking a light-hearted romance. If you are a lover of dark and suspense-filled romances that have intricate backstories, then this book is perfect for you!

While Reap does cover some disturbing subjects and has quite a bit of violence--as the storyline revolves around fight to the death matches--there is a considerable amount less of graphically detailed domestic violence as compared to Book 1 (Raze) which made this an even better story in my book! I also enjoyed getting to explore more of Raze's and Kisa's story (the hero and heroine from Book 1) who also feature prominently in Reap. However, the narration while decent, had a few detractors (see below) that led me to rate the narration slightly lower for Reap than for Raze.
While not absolutely necessary, as the romance does work as a standalone, I recommend that you listen to Raze first to fully understand the Russian/Georgian Mafiya/Bratva background of this story. Without this background, I feel like the inherent conflict and the significance of the star-crossed lovers nature of this story, will not have as dramatic of an effect. Additionally, please note that the below review does contain spoilers for book 1, so if you haven't listened to it yet, please read no further.

For those of you who did read or listened to Raze, Talia Tolstaia is Luka's (Raze's) sister and Kisa's best friend. Also one of the Bratva princesses, Talia has been faithfully living the life she was born into but is frustrated. She resents the sheltered life she is forced to live, and dreams of leaving the Bratva's intolerable grasp. However, being realistic of how difficult this would be, she settles for a respite at her family's summer home.

For those of you who read or listened to Raze, Zaal Kostova is the twin brother of the prisoner who befriended Raze in the gulag. The only man Raze at one point considered a friend and the same man who while on his deathbed, Raze promised he seek revenge for. Part of that promise is saving his brother Zaal, a mission which proves particularly difficult given that he is a Kostova, a family that the New York Bratva has considered an arch enemy for decades. Nonetheless, Raze remains determined to carry through with his word, even if it means going rogue.

Zaal remembers nothing of his childhood or who he was before he became the prototype for the Georgian Bratva's obedience drug. He doesn't even remember his name, instead going by 221. Programmed to do anything his "master" requests, no matter how depraved or sinister, a large part of which entails him fighting and killing in the Georgian Bratva's criminal underground fights.
When Raze recovers Zaal, he secretly brings him to the same home where Talia is hiding out not expecting to find her there. It doesn't take long for Talia to start wondering about the mysterious man who her brother Luka is holding captive in the basement. Curious, but intrigued, she at first watches Zaal from afar through a surveillance camera until she gathers the courage to try to help this obviously scarred man.

Not used to being touched or shown any kindness, Zaal is instantly mesmerized by Talia. Confused and not understanding why she has been allowed to spend time with him, he nonetheless begins slowly trusting her. Talia likewise feels a sense of healing when she is around Zaal unlike any she has previously experienced, and begins to slowly get closer and closer to this broken man watching him begin to flourish and slowly regain his humanity and even as she begins to gain a sense of happiness in the process. But once the families find out, can there possibly be any kind of a happy ending for two families that are sworn enemies? Moreover, will Luka and Talia be safe when the Georgian mafiya vows their revenge for the stealing of their precious stereotype?

Guy Locke and Amelie Griffin narrate Reap in the typical new adult fashion with Mr. Locke narrating the chapters from the male characters' point of view and Ms. Griffin the ones from the females'. This style is a little more complicated than in Raze as Ms. Cole includes chapters not just from Zaal's and Talia's perspectives but also from Luka's and Kisa's.

Mr. Locke and Ms. Griffin both do a good job of expressing the emotions of the scene, and varying their delivery to maximize the suspense, action and love scenes. I also was able to easily distinguish characters of the opposite sex by the voice each narrator used for them.

The area I had a little more difficulty in was in differentiating the same sex characters, particularly when it came to Ms. Griffin's narration. In that regard, her intonation for Talia and Kisa was nearly identical making it difficult to always track whose view point was being shared just by listening to the voices.

Mr. Locke did not seem to have this same issue as he did a good job of making sure that Zaal, with his Georgian accent, and Luka, with his American accented English, were easy to differentiate. However, I had difficulty with a few of his narration style choices. In that regard, I had difficulty understanding why Zaal's internal thoughts were in an American accented English (which sounded very similar to Luka) whereas Zaal's dialogues were accented in a Georgian accent. Seems like Zaal's internal thoughts should have matched his dialogue parts and been delivered in an equally matching voice. Additionally, I also noticed that a few of the characters that had small roles and should have had Georgian accents (such as Zaal's father) did not, which seemed like a disconnect with the story.

Nonetheless, these more detailed points aside, Mr. Locke and Ms. Griffin did do a generally good job of bringing this story to life, and I did enjoy the narration sufficiently enough to recommend listening to this book. I also want to note that I rated their performance in Raze higher, as the issues that I noticed in this book (due no doubt in part to the additional complexities of the multiple point of views being shared) were not present in Raze.

All in all, I enjoyed the twists and turns in Reap; and especially loved how Ms. Cole was able to tie the various story lines from Raze and Reap together. Moreover, the romance in this story was truly inspiring and touching. I can't wait to listen to the next story in the Scarred Souls Series!

Source: Review copy provided in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  B.J.O. | Feb 7, 2016 |
This is the first time I've read work by this author and after this novel I see I should have read #1 first, it's not necessary as this is a stand alone story, but I would have understood it a little more at the beginning.
The book it self is amazing. The main character shows such heartbreaking, raw emotions though out the story. At limes you can feel his pain. For years he's been known just as a number 221, not his given name Zaal. His master has been using a drug to mess with his brain and control him to obey and fight.
Luka used to fight and had made a promise to a friend, and that was to rescue Zaal.
He's violent and wild but when his sister Talia meets him she feels attracted to him and bound to help him, she knows she can. The feelings between them grow as she teaches him speak and trust he learns to be a human being again.

This is a wonderful book, a real page turner, it's very sexy, and deeply emotional, I'm definitely going to read book #1, and I highly recommend this book. ( )
  JulieD2 | Nov 5, 2015 |
I didn't know this was the second book in a series so I have no idea how this compares with the first book, but I did enjoy it. It wasn't hard to figure out what was going on but I'm sure reading it in order makes it a five star read. I did go back and buy the first book so I can see how it all began. There were a few things that kinda bothered me, like saying cleanse instead of bathe or wash, but that's my own hang up. Looks like I'll be reading more by this author in the future.

Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. ( )
  amdrane2 | Nov 1, 2015 |
Powerful, gritty, intense writing that I was unable to put down - Reap caught my interest from page one and never let me go.

Talia and Zaal are a bit like Romeo and Juliet crossed with Beauty and the Beast and so much better than either. This is an adult love story of bondage, strength, fortitude and loss that grows into one that encompasses release, freedom, self-discovery and a love that is soul deep and unbreakable.

The male and female characters were complex, well defined and worth rooting for. I loved the way the relationship between Talia and Zaal developed and how Zaal’s backstory was presented. I would not change anything about this book. I have not read the first book in this series but look forward to doing so AND to reading whatever comes next.

Thank you to NetGalley and Saint Martin’s Press for the copy of this book to read and review. ( )
  CathyGeha | Oct 23, 2015 |
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