Date published: November 10th, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Synopsis: 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...
What I Thought:
It took me longer to gather up the courage to read this book than it did to read it. I say gather my courage because I know Tillie Cole writes these amazing stories that always put me through the wringer. I'm almost always left an emotional mess at the end of her books; my heart hurts for the characters and journeys they undertake. There's hope and happiness too, but attaining almost seems impossible. Reap was certainly emotionally trying, but oh so enjoy able.
221 stole my heart. I hurt for him even before I knew the full extent of what he'd been through. I was outraged at how he was being used by the Georgian Bratva after being stripped of his humanity and free will. I could feel myself yearning for him to be free of it all with every fiber of my being. I like Talia should've been terrified of him and what he was capable of doing, but it seemed his soul shown through the darkness he'd been enshrouded in and what little we were able to be see was strong and beautiful. There were times when I was worried he was not going to be able to beat the darkness instilled in him. My love for 221 continued to grow as his real personality began to emerge. It's hard not to fall in love with a giant who is fiercely protective of those he loves and willing to do whatever it takes to make sure they're safe. There were also moments that made me weep, like when he experienced sunshine after decades of being kept in the dark.
I loved Talia too. She's a strong female in the Russian Bratva. She might work for her father, but she's got this stubborn independent streak. She's willing to push the boundaries on what's acceptable for being female in her family. She looks at what her brother and best friend have and wants a relationship like theirs. I loved how she was willing to listen to her instincts when her family and everyone else she trusted around her was literally yelling at her to leave 221 alone. The only thing I found hard to believe was Talia's immediate reaction when she was first exposed to 221. It really felt like insta-love and that's something I'm not really a fan of. I understand that she and 221 had a very strong reaction on meeting each other and the time they spent together caused them to form an intense bond, but it initially didn't seem believable. As the story progressed I was able to understand what they were feeling for each other was real.
221's real identity isn't a secret, but I'd prefer not to reveal his real name or how he ties in with the series. I really feel like it'll make a huge difference in your reading experience if you find out for yourself. For those of you haven't read Raze, the first book in the Scarred Souls series, you don't have to in order to understand what's happening in this book, but you'll have a better understanding if you do. Luka and Kisa are both featured in this book and are very important to the development of the story. So much so that Luka even narrates a chapter or two! I loved seeing them again and finding out what they were doing in the interim that passed between the end of Raze and the setting of Reap.
Tillie Cole brought her A-game with this book. She gave old fans a look at one of their favorite couples while gaining new fans with this well crafted page turner. The twists 221 and Talia's story take are unexpected and often difficult to read, but that's to be expected when you form such a strong emotional bond to the characters. Tillie makes you feel like you are part of the story. I'm hopeful that the next book in the Scarred Soul series will feature a character mentioned in this book, but regardless of who the next book features, I can guarantee you I'm already eagerly awaiting its arrival. Tillie's talent at writing brilliant stories that are passionate, morally twisted, and adrenaline pumping is nearly unparalleled.
About the Author
Amazon & USA Today Best Selling Author, 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.
*Thank you to the publisher for providing a copy via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for them in any manner.*