TO TAKE BACK LIFE, ONE MUST FIRST FACE DEATH…
Conditioned in captivity to maim, to kill and to slaughter, prisoner 818 becomes an unrivaled and unstoppable fighter in the ring. Violence is all he knows. 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 wronged him.
Kisa Volkova is the only daughter of Kirill ‘The Silencer’ Volkov, head of the infamous ‘Red’ 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. While working for her church-the only reprieve in her constant surveillance-Kisa stumbles across a tattooed, scarred, but stunningly beautiful homeless man on the streets. Something about him stirs feelings deep within her; familiar yet impossibly forbidden desires. He doesn’t talk. Doesn’t communicate with anyone.
He’s a man beyond saving. But Kisa becomes obsessed with him. Yearns for him. Craves his touch. Needs to possess this mysterious man… … this man they call Raze
I don’t usually read dark romance. I can’t get past the violence and immorality (meaning the lack of value of life and dignity).
However, I have been reading some really dark stuff of late. Maybe as an escape from my own dark days? Not sure.
This book succeeds for me because the world building is excellent. I believe in the horror of this underworld. This is just the ways things are. The “goodness” of the hero is in juxtaposition to the the truely evil slavery that he inhabits.
Usually, I dislike mob romance. Here, the sexual violence to the heroine that goes on outside the world that the hero has been forced to inhabit but in the New York’s Russian Bratva is a horror show. Her father stands by. Everyone stands by, It is not okay. And nothing ever happens about it. I hang in there because the sexual violence is not sexualized (the reader is no expected to aroused) though complexly Cole does show that pleasure can come from even such demeaning and brutal treatment as body do what they do. She also explores how the heroine as been conditioned to think she is saving this insane man she is engaged to (not the hero).
I should not be okay with it and I am not. Yet, I sucked into the world watching because these rules are not rules I agree with but Cole builds a cohesive world. It would make me happier in this book or in the future books that the heroes who know how wrong that kind of treatment is make change in the culture. This doesn’t not happen in this book.
There is a hyper masculinity that is amped up even more with the drugs given to the hero and one of the many villains of the piece. Yet, the hero never acts on the heroine in brutal ways.
It is also clear that she saves him. This might be a kind of fantasy of woman as redeemer but it is clear that he needs her. She rescues him.
The book becomes about conditioned ways of thinking and behaving and love of course.
There is revenge which is very satisfying and hope. I like the hero a great deal. The family dynamics. It is all riveting.
I went on to read the other books in the series and they are all good. They are especially good as a series where every piece falls carefully into place to avenge and overcome and heal yet each couple has a complete story of their own.
I don’t hold to the idea that I am substituting myself for the heroine or that I am in love with the hero so I can enjoy this book as a carefully built exploration of characters, relationships and a world,