Author: Tillie Cole
Series: Scarred Souls #1
Publisher by: St. Martin's Griffin
Published on: December 30, 2014
Genres: Dark Romance
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.
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, and a man she must quickly forget...for both their sakes.
But when weeks later, out of the blue and to her complete surprise, he’s announced as the replacement fighter in The Dungeon, Kisa knows she’s in a whole lot of trouble. He’s built, ripped and lethally unforgiving to his opponents, leaving fear in his wake and the look of death in his eyes.
Kisa becomes obsessed with him. Yearns for him. Craves his touch. Needs to possess this mysterious man...this man they call Raze.
“They were always meant to be together, one boy and one girl, two hearts split into two…”
Whoa! When I finished this book, I had to take a minute to process all the elements to Raze. I wanted to give Tillie a hug because how did such a sweet lady come up with this!! I knew Tillie Cole had a dark side to her writing but Raze was truly a different from anything she’s written before. It was darker, edgier, and more intense than her previous novels. This books was filled with drama, lies, and full on intensity.
“I was the sure bet… I was a machine…I was death.”
There were a many different layers to this story. As the story opens up you’re introduced Raze aka “818”. Raze is unlike any other character. He is strong, intense, and trained to kill. As a teenager he was taken from his family and sent to Gulag. For over a decade he was beaten, molested, and pumped full of drugs. He was taught to block out his previous life and now he has no memory of the boy he was before. Raze is only focused on killing, surviving, and revenge. He doesn’t remember why he was sent to the Gulag but he knows who sent him there and he’s determined to get his revenge.
Kisa Volkov, is the only surviving child of a New York Russian mafia leader (Bravta). Twelve years ago her twin brother Rodion, was murdered. Their best friend and love of her life, Luka Toltosi, was accused of the crime. Her brother’s death left her and her family heart broken. Luka was sent back to Russia and weeks later Luka is killed in an accident. All though he killed her brother, she is devastated when she’s loses Luka too.
“I loved him. I’d always loved him. I would always love him. Luka, my Luka. I was only thirteen, he was only fourteen, but he was so much more than my best friend…He was my whole world.”
Now twenty five, Kisa is engaged to Alix Durov. He’s a champion cage fighter in her family’s underground fight club and the heir to the Bravta leadership. Kisa and Alix grew up together and as heirs of Bravta leaders, they are destined to be together. She loves Alix but more so out of obligation and loyalty rather than love. Her heart has always belonged to Luka and even though he’s gone, she continues to be heartbroken by the loss. Kisa is a sweet and loving person but she lives in fear of Alix. Alix is a dark twisted character. He’s possessive, abusive, and jealous. He’s been obsessed with Kisa since they were kids. She’s not allowed to dress a certain way or talk to most men. He’s scared Kisa into submission and out of fear and loyalty, she stays with him.
The only time she gets any freedom is when she’s does work for the church. When Kisa is attacked while delivering food to the homeless, she is saved by a mysterious man. He is big and intense and for some reason she’s instantly drawn to him. The mystery man turns out to Raze. When sees him again, there is something the keeps drawing her to him. She wanted to thank him for saving her and she ends up offering him help. When she does it leads to her a new revelations and it turns out everything she thought she knew might not be the truth.I’ll be honest and say this book made me uncomfortable at times because it was so intense and dark. There were many aspects to this story and as it all unfolded I found myself both nervous and engaged in the story.
I had to put it down more than once because it was just too much but as always, Tillie has a way of drawing you into her stories. So I kept turning the pages because I needed to know what happened next. I felt for these characters . They all went through so much. I wanted to shake Kisa sometimes but I also understood that she was in an impossible situation. The things Raze had to go through broke my heart. Underneath his rough exterior he was a caring man but he had to fight to get to the person her once was. The story was a tad over the top at times but I think it’s expected in this type of subject matter. This story is not for the faint of heart but it definitely captures your attention from beginning to end.
Raze – Excerpt
His heart beat like a drum—fast and hard and loud.
His breath blew strong like a windstorm, his chest contracting with his harsh pants.
Fear seeped from his bones, from every cell of his being, his hands shaking like a leaf and sweat dropped from his hot skin.
“Welcome to hell, boy.”
These four words greeted Boy as he was brutally propelled into a dank basement by a hugely built guard. Everywhere was black; the blackest of black. The guards wore black, the walls of the truck that had brought him here was black, the sky outside was black and the windowless room they now stood in, black. The stagnant air was humid and thick, the temperature in the room, scalding. The stench of slick grease, sweat, and something more putrid burned Boy’s nostrils making him retch and his feet stuck to the sticky, grimy ground.
Hell, Boy thought, considering the guard’s words. It was a living breathing hell.
Then the guard pushed him again, this time down a steep, slippery staircase, dull lights sunken into the walls. The high brick walls were a browning-yellowing color and ancient fans whined in the background vainly attempting to cool the too-hot air. Overhead pipes steadily dripped raw sewage on the concrete floor and rats and other vermin swarmed around his feet.
The place was a shithole.
Once again, a heavy hand pushed Boy’s back, thrusting him down a narrow hallway. With every step, Boy could hear his breath echo louder in his ears. With every step, he could feel his pounding heart slam harder in his chest at an almost bruising rate. And with every step, he could hear more and more loudly a raucous cacophony coming from straight ahead, just beyond a thick-looking iron door. People were screaming and jeering, accompanied by the unmistakable sound of metal clanging against metal.
Boy’s eyes were wide as he stared at the door, his nostrils flaring with terror. Nothing in this place screamed ‘safe’; in fact, with every new turn all he felt was pure terror.
The guard reached around Boy; loudly and slowly he knocked twice on the iron door, each knock thudding through his chest like a canon. Locks unbolted, keys jingled, and finally, the iron door cracked open.
Boy’s eyes widened in disbelief as he drank in the scene. Grown men were everywhere in the overcrowded room. There wasn’t a spare inch free, sweaty bodies pushing and shoving one another from thick wall to thick wall. The men were drinking vodka, exchanging money, hands waving in excitement as they all faced straight ahead, their focus set on something just ahead.
“Move, boy,” the guard ordered. Boy dragged his feet, reluctant to step across the threshold into “hell.” But he couldn’t move. He was frozen to the spot, his legs shaking and a dizziness spun in his head.
Gripping the scruff of Boy’s neck, the guard tightened his hold, making Boy wince as he was steered aggressively through the baying crowd. Grown men stopped and sized up Boy, some in approval, most in dismissal. They all became a blur to Boy, the sight and smells too much for him to process.
Boy felt faint. His lungs burned with the velocity of his short breaths. Boy’s fingers shook in sympathy with his fear, but he shook his head, cleared his fearful thoughts like his father had taught him to do and he managed to keep his head held high, meeting the owner of each curious stare right in the eye.
As the crowd slowly parted, Boy startled at the scene in front of him—a huge floor-to-ceiling square steel cage, the tops wrapped with sharp razor wire, with flashes of movement coming from within. Pained grunts and spurts of blood escaped the cage, splattering his gray-uniformed chest and bare face. This time no breath came from his lungs at all. He was frozen; frozen on the spot with shock, the tinny scent of blood invading his nose.
Boy couldn’t believe his eyes. Could not digest the sight that greeted him: pain, cut flesh, cries, blood… so much pain and blood.
Suddenly, a wash of putrid breath blew past his ear. Boy flinched as he inhaled the sickening stench of stale food and acrid tobacco smoke.
“Drink it in, boy. That will be you in the cage before too long.”
Boy held his breath until his chest could take no more. He exhaled sharply, resisting the urge to cough or cry out.
Boy had been taught from a very young age never to show emotion. His father would punish him if he dared complain, never mind cry. He refused to start here and now. Boy resolved to remain composed, lugubrious, and stoic… anything he had to be to get through this… this, whatever the hell it was.
A loud rip sounded from the cage, the sound slicing down his back and bringing vomit to his mouth. As a huge spectator abruptly moved out of the way smiling in celebration, everything became clear. The fighters in the cage were kids… boys who looked no older than himself.
And they were fighting…to the death…