Is finding one's true love worth committing the greatest sacrifice of all?
Taken as a teen, prisoner 194 was stripped of his name and freewill, meticulously honed to be a ruthless machine. Even as he tries to fight his captors hold on him he knows that obedience is the only way to save his sister, who is the one person that keeps him from turning into a monster.
As a young girl Zoya Kostava barely escaped the brutal attack that killed her entire family. Now twenty five she lives in secrecy. That is until she hears her brother also survived and is living with their greatest enemy.
Zoya risks her safety and anonymity to find the brother she thought dead and is captured by a beautiful, brutal man. A man who both captivates and scares her, in him she sees a soul as lost as her own.
They both have so much to lose will they be able to save each other…and survive.
About the Author
Tillie Cole hails from a small town northeast England. She grew up on a farm with her family with many rescue animals. After graduating from Newcastle University, Tillie and her husband traveled the world for a decade.
Now in Calgary, Canada, she writes, throwing herself into fantasy worlds and the minds of her characters. She writes Contemporary Romance, Dark Romance, Young Adult and New Adult novels and happily shares her love of alpha-men and strong female characters with her readers.
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A Scarred Souls Novel
By Tillie Cole
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2016 Tillie Cole
All rights reserved.
Manhattan, New York
Present day ...
"Sykhaara," I murmured in shock, my chest cracking open with hope, a hope that I hadn't dare let myself feel in the twenty years since the massacre. The hope that my brother was alive. Now, after all these years, he was alive.
"Miss?" Avto, my protector and minder, pushed, but I was frozen on the spot. My legs were numbed in shock. Zaal, my Zaal, was alive.
Water blurred my eyes as I looked to Avto once more. "And Anri? Is there news of Anri?"
Avto's face fell with disappointment. "No, miss. There is no word of Anri. But our source got word of a Kostava arriving in the city. They watched him; they watched him and watched him. And —"
"And what?" I interrupted, hanging on every word Avto said.
"And it is Zaal, miss."
A sob ripped from my throat and my hand covered my mouth. I pictured Zaal in my mind. His eight-year-old face looking at me as he held me in his arms, walking us from our estate's forest toward the house. His smile was wide as he looked at me counting the three moles on his left cheek, "One, two, three." I remembered long black hair hanging down his back and his green eyes bright with life. And I remembered Anri walking beside us, his frame and hair the exact replica of Zaal's, but his eyes were a dark brown, like mine.
A hand landed on my shoulder pulling me from the memory. Avto was looking at me in concern.
"Miss, are you okay?"
"Yes," I whispered, then shook my head, "I don't know. It's just all so ... I had hoped and prayed that he had survived, that both of them had, but when nothing was heard in all of these years, I had lost that hope. It ... it is all too much to take in."
A sinking feeling hit my stomach. "Are you certain, Avto? I'm not sure I could take it if this was a mistake. My heart has been broken for over twenty years; it cannot take any more pain." Avto's gentle brown eyes softened. "We are sure, miss."
I frowned. "But is he in hiding still? Who has been protecting him all of these years? How has his identity been found out? Is he in danger?"
Avto's soft gaze turned sorrowful. My hand jerked out and wrapped around his arm. "Avto? Tell me. Where has my sykhaara been?"
Avto sucked in a long inhale and said quietly, "Miss, the Jakhua took your brothers and used them."
"Used them? How? I don't understand?" I wanted answers.
Avto tensed and said, "Miss, there are things in our world that you are unaware of. People that exist, places that exist, only in the underworld. Only in secret."
My eyebrows pulled down. "Avto, what are you trying to tell me? Where has my Zaal been? What did that man do to my brothers?"
Avto's arm muscle was rigid under my hand. Taking a deep breath, he explained, "Zoya, the Jakhuas were developing drugs."
"What kind of drugs?" I asked.
"Obedience drugs, miss. Drugs that wipe the memories of the victims, coerce them into doing horrific and despicable acts."
I swallowed, my chest tightening. "Like what?" I whispered.
Avto's shoulders slumped. "Killing. Murdering. Doing anything their Master asks of them. And I mean anything. No matter the moral implications."
Bile built in my throat, but I choked it back down. "And Jakhua." I swallowed again when my voice broke. "Jakhua used this drug on my brothers?"
Avto nodded, but his face blanched.
"What?" I probed.
"Miss," Avto rasped, "Masters Zaal and Anri were not simply put under the influence of the drug. It was on your brothers that the drug was developed."
I stared. I stilled. My hands trembled. My throat closed in, but I managed to ask, "He, Jakhua, he used my brothers to test his drug on? He experimented on them like laboratory rats?"
Hot tears streamed down my cheeks when Avto answered, "Yes, miss. Since they were twins he used them to test all the stages of the drug's development. He compared the results."
Jumping to my feet, I ran to the wastebasket and threw up.
Avto followed behind, his old hand gently pressing my back in comfort. But there was no comfort to be found at the thought of my brothers, my strong and brave beloved brothers, being injected with that, that poison, for years and years, until they had no memory —
Gasping, I wiped my mouth and turned to face Avto. "Their memories? Zaal's memories?" Fear filled me as I confronted the possibility that my brother would not know who I was. It had to be the cruelest of God's jokes, my twenty-year wait for their return, only to find one of my brothers, my only family, could be a stranger.
"We have heard that his memories are returning each day, and Zoya, we believe he remembers you, but —"
"But what?" I said almost inaudibly.
"Miss," Avto said, and stepped closer, "he believes you died in the massacre. He has no idea that you survived. He never got word that your body was never found."
My head fell forward at the thought of Zaal remembering his family after all of these years of blackness, only to believe we had all perished. "He is all alone?" I asked, imagining what he must be going through.
Avto did not say anything in response. When I lifted my head, Avto was rigid, his seventy-five-year-old body taut with tension. This time I didn't ask what was wrong. I simply waited.
"He is not alone," Avto admitted, after many strained seconds.
"He has minders that found him? People loyal to our family?"
Avto shook his head, his crepe-thin skin paling. I edged forward and placed my hand on his arm. "Avto?"
But Avto did not say anything; instead he reached into his jacket pocket and pulled put a picture. My heart kicked into a sprint as I stared at the white back of the photograph. Zaal. I knew my Zaal was in that picture.
I reached out my hand, but Avto pulled it back. I met his eyes in annoyance. Avto cleared his throat. "Zaal is not alone, Zoya. We have heard the news that he is recently engaged to be wed."
My lips parted in shock and I shook my head. "Engaged? How is that possible? I thought he had been imprisoned by Jakhua? When did he have time to find a woman? I don't understand how any of this is possible."
Avto stared down at the picture in his hand, then pushed it out for me to take. My hands shook as I reached out and grasped the picture. I brought it to my chest and closed my eyes. I'd always wondered what Zaal would look like older. Would he be as tall and strong as I always thought he would be? Would he still wear his black hair down to the middle of his back, like the Georgian warriors of old? Would he still smile with carefree abandon, yet be quiet and reserved in personality?
The picture against my chest felt like it was burning a hole through my clothes. With a deep breath, I pulled the picture back and dropped my gaze to the two figures captured in the scene.
My heart swelled in my chest as I stared at the man. The hugely built man with tanned olive skin and long black hair that fell to his back. His green eyes were bright, three moles standing proud under his left eye.
And he was smiling.
He was smiling so wide. The smile packed with an abundance of love, as my brother — my now adult and strong brother — stared down at a woman with nothing but adoration.
My eyes drifted across the picture to the woman and a lump clogged my throat. She was beautiful. Long blond hair fell down her back. She was slight of build, utterly captivating, and her deep brown eyes were looking up at Zaal, her lips smiling, too.
It felt surreal. My brother who I thought had died was very much alive. Alive and in love. My heart was full and warm.
Bringing the picture closer to my face, I could see tattoos marring Zaal's skin, and on closer inspection I could see scars littering bare arms revealed under his short-sleeved shirt. I had to close my eyes as a wave of sorrow washed over me. What must he have gone through under the hand of that evil man?
Blinking fast, I glanced to Avto. "Who is the woman?"
Avto did not reply; instead he rocked on his feet, his hands clasping together behind his back.
Shaking his head, Avto said, "I can scarcely believe it to be true, but his fiancée is ..." Avto trailed off, his jaw clenching.
"Who is she?" I demanded, injecting an urgent tone into my voice.
Without lifting his head, he revealed, "Talia Tolstaia."
I was sure the walls and floor of the apartment were falling down around me at the mention of that name. I shook my head, convinced I had misheard. "Can you repeat what you said?" I asked.
Avto shook his head. "You heard me perfectly, miss. Zaal, our new Lideri, our leader, he is betrothed to Talia Tolstaia, daughter to Ivan Tolstoi, one of the Volkov Bratva Red Kings."
My legs weakened so much that Avto reached forward and guided me to the nearest couch. Once I sat down, I studied this picture with new eyes. This woman, this blonde, was the daughter of the family that betrayed my father. The family my brothers, the Kostava Clan, were set to hate, to inflict their revenge upon.
"I don't understand, Avto. How could he do this to our family? How could he disgrace us and dishonor our Kostava name by being with this woman?"
"Miss Zoya, our source informed us that although he does not know the whys — no one can infiltrate their inner circle — the Volkov Bratva were responsible for the rescue of your brother. They found him in the clutches of Jakhua. They somehow freed him. It was under their protection that he fell in love with the Tolstaia girl."
I stared and stared at the picture, and a war broke out inside my heart. My brother was alive, yet he had fallen for our greatest enemy. I could barely wrap my head around this impossible truth.
Avto placed an arm around my shoulders offering comfort. I melted into his side, and just as I had began to relax Avto added, "Lideri Zaal killed Levan Jakhua. With the help of the Volkov knyaz, Luka Tolstoi, he killed the man that massacred your family. The Jakhuas are no longer a threat, miss. We are no longer in hiding. Our people, you, are free."
Startled by Avto's words, I straightened and absorbed them.
"Did you hear me, miss? We are no longer in hiding."
"You mean I can leave this apartment?" I whispered, not saying the words aloud, fearing they were false.
"Yes. And our people, miss. All of our people that have been in hiding — the lieutenants, the guards — every one, they are beginning to hear of the news as well. The fact that our Lideri is alive, in your brother, is traveling like wildfire among those in hiding." Avto smiled and said excitedly, "Our clan can rise again. The Kostavas can take their place here in New York — at long last!"
My eyes dropped to the picture of Zaal and his Tolstaia love, and my heart fell. "What if he does not want to be Lideri? What if everything he has gone through under Jakhua has scarred his soul too much? What if he wants a life with his woman, and not to be leading our people?"
Avto's smile faded. "He is Zaal Kostava, of the famous and noble Kostava Clan. He was born for this role."
"Yet you said he has spent his days as a killer created by an evil man." Avto's mouth hung at my words, but I shook my head. "None of us are the people we were born to be. I have been in hiding all my life. Zaal has been fighting for his life since he was eight. And Anri? Where is he? What I do know is that none of us are the same. How can we be? All we knew was taken from us and destroyed."
Avto reached for my hand and squeezed. "Our people have been hiding from Jakhua for over twenty years, some found and killed in the most horrific of ways. Our people need this; they need us to be strong again. They need Master Zaal to be our Lideri."
Silence stretched out as I replayed Avto's words over and over in my head. But he was correct. Our people had lived in fear for over two decades. Only the hope of my brothers' survival kept their days filled with optimism.
"I have to see him," I said, and felt the tension seep from Avto's body. "I have to tell my brother I am alive. I have to know where Anri is." My eyes filled with tears and I sniffed. "I need to have my family again. I need to see my sykhaara."
"I understand, miss," Avto said. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out a piece of paper. He handed it to me and nodded his head. "Zaal's home address is on there, as well as the Tolstois'. Every Tuesday and Thursday night, he goes to the Tolstoi household in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. We will decide on a day and take you there, soon." Avto squeezed my hands tighter as I realized today was a Tuesday. "He will not be able to believe it. His sister, his bloodline, is still alive."
Nodding my head, I leaned into Avto and kissed his cheek. "You're a good man, Avto. Now go home and celebrate this news with your family. If all you have said is true, I am finally safe on my own. That is a blessing."
Avto looked to me as a father would to a daughter, then got to his feet. "I'll come by tomorrow evening. I'll arrange a car to take us to Brooklyn, to the apartment Zaal shares with his fiancée."
I smiled at Avto, and nodded my head as he left the apartment. I heard the door locks snap shut and I flopped back against the couch. When Avto and his family found me as a child, on the brink of death, under my deceased family's bodies, our people had rejoiced. I was alive. The Kostava Clan, who had been a royal family of sorts to the people of Georgia, had a living heir. And Anri and Zaal were missing. Not dead, but missing. A hope that was diminished was suddenly reborn.
Like the proverbial princess locked in the tower, I had been hidden and treated like a goddess my entire life. We had moved around a lot, until I feared I would go crazy from the suffocating seclusion my life had become. I was treated more like a prized jewel than a human, too precious to lose to our enemy. The last pillar of hope for the Tbilisi Kostava dynasty.
Jumping to my feet, I rushed to the heavy black curtains that were always drawn in my apartment. Pushing the curtains aside just a fraction, I stared out into the cold dark night, searching for any signs of life. People were walking past, going about their business, but other than that, I could see no danger.
Dropping the curtains, I closed my eyes. "There is no more danger," I said aloud, convincing myself that the threat to my life was no longer there.
Moving to the closet, I took out my long hooded dark coat and slipped it over my black slacks and black silk blouse. Tucking my long black hair down my back, I clutched the paper with the addresses on and headed toward the door. I needed to do this, alone. And after twenty years of waiting for this news, I could not wait one more second to see my brother.
I rarely left the apartment, yet I knew the territory like the back of my hand. Years ago, when Avto brought me to New York, he had made sure I memorized every road, every subway station. I had to be prepared, in case I had to flee alone. I was trained to sink into the shadows.
Opening the door to the Manhattan street, the snow falling down painting the darkened concrete roads in white, I pulled my hood up, and made my way down the steps of my apartment building, immediately becoming one of the people on the street. With my head down, I arrived at the subway and entered the busy station. Sitting down on a spare seat, I allowed myself to pull out the photo and stare at the happy couple.
The long journey to Brighton Beach was much quicker than I imagined it would be. My focus was on the brother I'd thought I'd lost forever, mixed with the heady anticipation that within the hour I would meet him again.
The train pulled to a stop, and I hurried out of the station. I had never been to Brighton Beach before, and when I stepped out onto the street I gasped at my surroundings. I felt like I was in another world. The gray buildings were empty and falling apart. The streets were dark and dingy. Cold wind whistled through the boarded-up houses and half-standing restaurants and shops. It was nothing when compared to the opulence and beauty of Manhattan.
Ignoring the icy chill racing down my spine, I forced my feet to move, the soles of my black boots crunching on the snow beneath. I stayed in the dark of the unlit streets, becoming one with the night, until I arrived at a row of brownstones. The center house stood proudly in this place of dilapidation. Its upkeep clearly showing the owners had money.
My heart raced.
The House of Tolstoi.
The windows were high and wide, and anyone could see that the people residing in this house were a cut above the rest. Then my heart stilled when shadows moved past the window. I squinted my eyes, focusing through the petals of falling snow. There was a tall man, with a broad chest, holding on to a woman with long brown hair. I held my breath when a blond woman moved into center stage. Her hands were on her hips as she joked and laughed with the brunette.
I searched for lost breath as I stared at my brother's fiancée; then I ceased to breathe at all when two large arms threaded around her shoulders from behind. The arms were olive skinned and tattooed, and I knew I was staring at Zaal.
Excerpted from Ravage by Tillie Cole. Copyright © 2016 Tillie Cole. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Also by Tillie Cole,
About the Author,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
How far are you willing to go for someone you love? What are you willing to turn yourself into? Its one of the best books I've read this summer!! Its dark, dangerous and sexy. Its advised as a must read for all my friends. Our spirits are low, though no broken. But our souls, though thoroughly tested and hardened through pain, are resilient.
Zoya’s protector and keeper was Avto. Twenty years ago there had been a massacre. Zoya hadn’t seen her brothers Zaal and Anri since. Zaal was eight and tried to protect her from the Jakhaus. Now all this time later Avto tells her had the boys and and the Jakhaus had been developing drugs - obedience drugs that wiped out the memories of the victims and then the victims would do horrible things such as killing anyone their masters told them to. The drugs ahd been developed on the boys Taal and Anri and they had been twins. The memories were returning but Zaal thought Zoya was dead as she had him. Then Avto let Zoya know that Zaal was alive and was engaged to Taelia Tolstaia who was the daughter of one of the Red Kings. Her family had betrayed Zoya’s father. But the Tolstaia family is who freed Zaal from the Zakhaus. With the help of Luke Tolstaia Zaal killed the man who had killed her family. Valentin was to kill Zaal so he kidnaps Zoya knowing there is a connection between Zoya and Baal he just didn’t know what the connection was. Then even Zoya has been tortured by Valentin for information on Zaal, Zoya starts to have feelings for Valentin and he for her. Valentin had become a monster to protect his little sister who he loved dearly who was also a prisoner. This was a very harsh story to read. I can’t say I hate it because I didn’t but i did not love it. Some parts seemed to be rushed like when Zoya and Valentin become lovers. Also the switch in their emotions especially Zoya was just unrealistic in any way to me. But it did make me sad what Valentin had went through as had Zaal for the love of the younger sisters. I received an ARC of this story for an honest review.
Zoya was the sole survivor in her family's massacre. She was only 5 when she was shot 3 times and presumed dead. She screamed for her older brothers to help her, but at the tender ages of 10, they were dragged away and captured, drugged, and experimented on for years. When she learns that one of her brothers is alive and well, she seeks him out. But as she approaches his home, she is captured by 194. Valentin (aka 194) was captured at the age of 10, as his sister is ripped from his arms, and he vows to do whatever he needs to save her. He's subjected to years of abuse and experimentation. He's been promised his sister in exchange for one more life - that of Zaal - Zoya's brother. In order to get to Zaal, Valentin kidnaps Zoya. OMG! I can't tell you how much I love Tillie Cole's way of writing. She has a way of creating visually moving images and characters. The Scarred Souls series is not for the light of heart. It is a cross between mafia, human trafficking, underground fighting, mystery, and science fiction. She has created an amazing storyline, and I can't wait to continue to read this series to see how it develops. 5-unbelievable stars!
You can’t help who you love, when its real it just is and nothing will stand in the way of your one true love. Valentin was taken as a teen and made a prisoner along with his younger sister. Only known as prisoner 194 Valentin knows the only way to save his sister is his obedience to the one person who has turned him into a monster—the ultimate killing machine. Zoya Kostava escaped the brutal attack that destroyed her entire family. Hiding in secret now twenty-five she is finally able to come out of hiding when she hears that the man who murdered her family is dead. But just as one threat disappears another rears its head in the form of a man who both scares her and intrigues her all at the same time. He captures her intent on turning her over to his mistress in order to save his sister, but she sees his soul, his heart and finds that her greatest enemy may actually be her greatest love. With so much to lose can they save their people and survive long enough to save the love they have found. My Review: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder—Zoya proves that when she sees passed the scared monster who kidnaps her to the man underneath. True love has a strength that can’t be denied. I loved the relationship that builds between Valentin and Zoya even though he starts off as her torturer. There are definitely some dark aspects to this story when Valentin tortures Zoya for information about her brother he uses cold and heat but then decides to try sexual torture as it was done to him by his mistress. This tactic kind of backfires on poor Valentin because it only proves how much he wants her and Zoya shows him that he is not the monster he has been told he is. I thought it was so sweet when they steal each other’s first kiss. Though there is a long standing hatred between their families they see passed it and find love in their hearts for each other. I loved when Zoya and her brother finally see each other for the first time. The way he tries to protect her and be there for her warms my heart. When the whole Bratva of Tolsoi and Kostava’s brings Valentin into the fold when their first instinct was to reject him because of his family ties brought tears to my eyes. This series has quickly become one of my favorites, definitely a dark erotic read but in the end the good guys win and the couple gets their HEA though trying times are still ahead for them their love preservers. I look forward to the next book in the series which I believe should be about 152 who is Valentin sister still in captivity.
What the heck did I just read? What has my fragile little heart just been put through? That was the actual definition of what "having a book take you on a rollercoaster" means. I feel like I finally understand why I can never read more than 2 Tillie Cole books one after another. There is just SO MUCH that happens in each book and every time you think things can't get worse, they do- and you just HAVE to keep reading to figure out how everything gets resolved. Ravage was so intense. It was heartbreaking (really, the tear stains on my pillow actually speak for themselves). Zoya had my attention from the very second she counted the three freckles on Zaal's eye. She was so tiny and so full of life until she had that happiness and that carefree attitude forcibly stolen from her. Needless to say that when I found out this book was going to be HER story.....I might have screamed a bit. It all happened flawlessly. Tillie Cole's words flow so perfectly and everything was so well thought out. Don't even get me started on Valentin. My god, my heart was put through the damn ringer with these characters, with this authors characters in general but oh my god, i think Valentin is a whole different level. I can't say too much without giving away what happens in the book but wow. WOW. I don't think I've said wow enough. AND THE PLOT TWIST IN THIS ONE. If I hadn't binge read the entire series in one week, I wouldn't have gotten it but it is amazing how every single one of these characters are connected in one way or another. It's genius. I just....I am officially 100% in love with this series and my heart cannot wait to be broken apart and put back together by Riot. And one more time, WOW. That it all. *Disclaimer: A Review Copy was kindly was provided to Reads By Rose by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My reviews will always remain truthful, unbiased and respectful.
Cannot wait for 152's story in this series!
This is a dark Russian Mafia book that is not within my “normal” wheelhouse but I have to say this is a perfect reason to try new things. This is the second time I read this author and this series and I am hooked and a true fan. It’s about finding love in and with some of the least expected. How do you fall for your torturer and an enemy who wants to kill your only living relative? There is so much to this question and the road to get these answers will have you reading this book nonstop because it is that good. Ms. Cole takes you into this dark world and holds you tight. Zoya was a little 5 year old girl who saw her brothers held back by their captors and she along with the rest of her family were gunned down and left for dead. This little 5 year old was hidden under her dead relatives’ bodies and thought dead also but she was rescued and kept in hiding for the rest of her life in order to keep her safe from the people who wanted her family dead. Once learning that her brother is alive and now within reach and she was told that she is no longer in danger, Zoya set out to check out her brother by herself. Little did anyone know the nightmare was still lurking in the dark for her. That nightmare was in the form of a killing machine named Valentin. He was drugged, brainwashed and being used by evil people who wanted revenge. These people known as the Night Wraiths stole children and trained them into killing machines that would do their bidding. Valentin was sent on a mission to grab anyone who may know of Zaal’s location. Zaal happened to be Zoya’s brother and he was the person who killed Valentin’s Mistress’s lover and she wanted nothing more than to have Zaal killed. With all of the drugs that were pumped into Valentin he had no choice but to obey his Mistress that is until Zoya started to see something within her torturer. Would Valentin complete his mission and return Zaal to his Mistress so that she could kill him or would Zoya become the biggest weapon by using love in order to bring the Mistress to her knees? This story looked past physical beauty of some and opened hearts that they may be looked into and hoped for a chance at happiness. Along with everything else Valentin was blackmailed in order to help free his sister from the torture she endured at the hands of the Nights Wraiths. Would Zoya lose her brother before she really found him again in order for Valentin to save his sister? This book was fast paced and left you wanting for more because Ms. Cole has you so engrossed within these people’s lives. I cannot wait for Valentin’s sister’s book to come out! This book was provided as an ARC from NetGalley for an honest review.
This book is so amazing. It's a must buy. I am looking forward to reading Riot.
Isn't it funny yet cosmic how all three of these men, Luka, Zaal and now Valentin are all connected in some way, shape or form? It's enlightening to see how their threads connect. Another great addition to an already fascinating series! Loved Valentin and Zoya, both fighters, both the same yet different in so many ways, their connection made the story so much more engaging. While I looked forward to Zaal and Zoya reuniting again, I craved more the unfolding love story between her and Valentin. They were perfect together. Totally looking forward to Inessa's book..the ending was just sad but happy at the same time! I just wished TC didn't take so long to produce these books, now we have to wait until next year to read her story...sighs...that sucks! SR
RAVAGE is the third installment in Tillie Cole’s contemporary, adult SCARRED SOULS dark, erotic, romance series focusing on the Russian Mafia, the Georgian Bratva criminal underground, cage fighting and blood pits, and two families torn apart by power and greed. This is enslaved killer 194 (aka Valentin Belrov), and New York Russian mafia princess Zoya Kostava. RAVAGE can be read as a stand alone without any difficulty but I recommend reading the series in order for cohesion and back story. WARNING: RAVAGE contains graphic violence and sexual imagery that may be disturbing for some readers. Told from several first person points of view including Zoya and Valentin, RAVAGE is a graphically violent story of one man’s struggle to remember his past and survive to live another day. 194 is a killer with no idenity; a warrior trained to torture and maim, a scarred and brutally savage killing machine, and a man determined to free himself from bondage to save his sister from a similar fate. At twelve years old, Valentin and his younger sister Inessa were taken from an orphanage, and their fate and future became part of a series of illegal, underground drug tests towards building the ultimate fighting machine and obedient soldier. 194’s latest target assignment is Zaal Kostava, the head of New York’s Russian mafia and there is nothing he can do when designer drugs used to keep him under control turn the once loving young man into a monster with no heart. But 194 finds himself falling for his latest captive- a woman long thought dead with connections to Zaal Kostava, and a woman that begins to tame the beast within. Zoya Kostava will become 194’s prisoner; his target of torture and abuse; and the woman with whom Valentin will fall in love. There is a Stockholm Syndrome feel to the relationship and rescue. RAVAGE is a heartbreaking and tragic story of Beauty and the Beast, and Anastasia Romanov; a tale of torment, aggression and exploitation; a distressing look at power and control. The brutality and violence is fierce; our heroine will become the victim of a drug-controlled monster but a woman who continues to fight to remain alive. 194 is a broken and mutilated killing machine who is desperate to hold onto his humanity and his memories of who and what he was before he became the monster of his own nightmares. Once again, the world building focuses on the imprisonment, torture and training of young boys; the men and monsters they will become; and the people who destroyed their lives. As the series progresses, each of our story line heroes sets into motion a string of events that will ultimately free both their bodies and their souls finding love and a happily ever after in the arms of a woman that calms the dark and damaged beast. The premise is disturbing and dark; the characters are tragic and intense; the romance is controversial and dramatic-sometimes monster deserve a happily ever after.
I absolutely loved, like 6 stars loved, the first 2 books in this series so I had really high expectations for Ravage. I really enjoyed this one but just not as much as the first 2 in the series. I just didn’t really feel the connection between Valentin and Zoya. The story itself was fantastic. It’s brutal and heartbreaking, definitely not for those with a weak stomach, but the author still manages to make the romance aspect the main focal point throughout the story. Zoya has been in hiding since she was a small child, ever since her family was brutally attacked. Once she finds out that her brother Zaal (We met Zaal in Reap) is alive, she comes out of hiding only to be abducted immediately. Valentin was captured as a 12 year old boy and has been drugged and trained to be an assassin against his will. He didn’t know what he was getting himself into when he abducted Zoya. He expected another victim to torture, to use her to get the needed information and then dispose of her but instead, she made him feel again. Something he hasn’t done in since he was 12. While they don’t have a strong presence in this book, the story of the other Bratva mafia members and their families continues so I would recommend reading the first 2 in the series first. No cliffhanger at the end of Ravage, just strong clues as to what the next book in the series will be about. I’m looking forward to more of this series!
Damn you, Tillie Cole! This book had all the feels and just about ripped my heart out! Just when you think you understand every character, Cole adds another layer to love. I love seeing more of Luka and Kisa and Talia and Zaal as the series progresses. But dear lord, Valentin and Zoya! Their story is intense and exciting. I love how each man is effected differently by the drugs, each woman responds differently, and they all have different struggles to overcome. These books are so full or both hate and love, it keeps the reader engaged and struggling to read faster to know what will happen next. Ravage made me feel deeper than the other books. Valentin begging for relief for 152 brought tears to the eyes. Zoya is incredibly strong and brave, she faces down the monster and fights for her love for Valentin. For someone so sheltered, she has a backbone of steel. Valentin is unique and scarred, he's resigned to his fate and no fool, but still can't give up hope for his sister. He's endearing in such a sad way. As much as I have loved getting to know the guys, I have been waiting for a story focusing on a woman slave since the beginning. More now than ever, I am looking forward to Riot!
“I realized the torturer had a weakness after all–a need for someone to see the him trapped underneath the monster on the outside. And yearning to be touched.” “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.” Just when I think that Tillie Cole could not possibly blow me away more, she has to go and prove me wrong. The Scarred Souls Series is probably my favorite series by this author, so going in to Ravage, I had the bar set high. And I have to tell you, Tillie Cole took my expectations and totally blew them out of the water. Ravage is fast paced, intense and is told from multiple points of view. This book will captivate you from the very first page and will keep you on the edge of your seat. Ravage is not an easy story. It will shock and surprise you. It will break your heart and leave you clenching your jaw as you are reading the pages. This is a story of surviving the absolute worst situations and finding light in a sea of darkness. This story is not easy, but the journey and outcome are so worth the ride your emotions will take. Ravage is an intense, but truly amazing read. I loved every dark and intense moment. My emotions were all over the place and taken on the most crazy ride. The characters are complex and damaged. The writing and world that this author has created is so easy to get lost in and consumed by. I think Ravage is a fantastic addition to The Scarred Souls Series and I can not wait to see what Tillie Cole has in store for us next.
Yet another fantastic Tillie Cole story!!! I really enjoyed reading this story. I know I should feel really bad for what the characters have to go through to make such an awesome book but I just can't bring myself to feel that way. I want more books like these and if the characters have to suffer unimaginable pain, then so be it. We all have to sacrifice something to get things that we want, so if I can suffer with my waiting for the next book to come out, then so can the characters bleed a little, right? Yes, I know I'm evil but who cares, you feel the same way anyway, no shame in admiting that... I love that the book stays the series true and I was glad to see all the previous characters and also some of Luka's POV. That made the story more interesting, to see what the other characters are doing and going to do, while at the same time 'watching' what 194 and Zoya are going throught. Made the book more dynamic, that's for sure. I only wished we get to see the villain's POV, too but I guss that would have just been too greedy, right? I think the next book is going to be quite interesting, judging by what was revealed in this book. Lots of action, violence, love and also the right amount of pain to make the story really grip your emotions. But what else could you expect from this fantastic author, she just knows how to write them right. Now, where to start with 194 aka. Valentin. Gosh, his life is just so miserable, that is until he finally meets Zoya, his captive and the person he also, besides her brother, should in the end kill. Until that point 194 only knew pain, how to receive it and how to inflict it. Also, he was nothing but a slave and a killing machine, a proud prize for his masters, or better said his mistress. Man, did I hate that you know what, she deserved what she got in the end and so much more. What a horrible person! She abused him so much and not just by using his body to her pleasue but also his mind by making him false promises of his poor sister. Btw. her book is next and I cannot wait to read it. I'm not going to go into detail but meeting Zoya, everything changes and she definitely makes him feel more human and gives him hope of something more. I liked Zoya, a lot! She is such a loyal person, it truly touched my heart. And she also fight like a lioness for the people she loves and that's exactly what she does. They tried to break her but in the end they were the ones that were broken, some for the better some for the worse. Also, her relationship with her brother is so strong and I'm so glad they found each other again, after all these years finally becoming a family again. This author sure knows how to write stories that will grip your attention and make you feel so many emotions. Just brilliant and I can't wait for the next book in this series. It's a must-read for sure!
Dark, raw and intense! Boys and girls are stolen in the night to be used for fighting, killing and sex trafficking. This series is not for the faint of heart. Valentine was stolen from the orphanage with his little sister at the age of 12 and was turned into an assassin for the Mistress who used his sisters captivity to get him to do the things the Mistress wants. Until he kidnaps Zoya. Zoya was able to break through the serum in his system and show him the love that no one has ever given him. Giving him the freedom he did not know how to take back for himself. I loved Ravage! Tillie Cole did such a good job of taking a monster and turning him back into a man. The love he felt for Zoya and what he would do for her and his sister was felt with every word written. This is the 3rd book in the series and while it is a standalone, you do have the couples from the first two books continued on in this book. I have not read the first two books but I will definitely be going back and reading them. Valentine's sister is still being held captive and the end of this book hints to the fourth book being about her. I can't wait to find out who will be her warrior that saves her. ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Conflict in the lives of the characters of this story created conflict in this reader’s heart. I realize that evil people exist in this world and torture happens but I hate to think about it…and this book did make me think about just how difficult the lives of many must be. In the first two books of this series we met two fight-to-the-death men who survived and finally were able to move on to something else and find true love. In this book we meet 194 and his sister 152. 194 was once known a Valentin and his sister was Inessa. Valentin never forgets who is in spite of the horrific life he lives for 18 year. His motivation is his sister and the goal is to reunite with Inessa someday. Sent out by his Mistress to wreak mayhem in one way or another while drugged to the gills his target in this book is one of the men who starred in a previous book of the series. Unable to reach his target he picks up a woman related to him. Poor woman! I understand Stockholm Syndrome and wondered if perhaps Mzia Kostava “Zoya” was influenced by this until I read of her love for the Tbilisi Monster, a Fairy Tale her grandmother once told her that caused her to question “why would a monster behave that way?” and then took to heart when bad things happened. What a compassionate and loving woman Zoya must have been and hopefully such love will have the ability to move mountains – or monsters ;) This is not a book for those who have triggers such as rape, torture, abuse, etc. It is a book for people who like dark fairy tales. And, it sets readers up for a fourth book in the series that I heartily look forward to reading although I am sure it may be even more disturbing in some ways than the three that will have gone before it. One more thing – the characters in this series come from Eastern European Mafia backgrounds that were probably fraught with questionable behavior then some were turned into people who were even more brutal than they might have been BUT they all believe in family and I believe that family ties and love are what eventually save the heroes of these stories. Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.