Taken by the Jakhua Clan as a teen, 194 was stripped of his name, his identity, and his freewill, meticulously honed to be a ruthless, soulless killing machine, trained solely to spill blood and stop hearts. This is a role he resents with every fiber of his being, but one he embraces to gain back the precious leverage the Georgians wield as their weapon of control: his younger sister, 152.
Mzia Kostava is in shock. After fleeing her mafia family’s massacre in Georgia as a child, Mzia lives in secret, hiding from her enemies in the dark shadows of Manhattan. At age twenty-five, believing all her family is dead, word reaches Mzia that her brother Zaal is very much alive… and living with their family’s greatest enemy: the Volkov Bratva in Brooklyn.
Yearning to be reunited with her beloved Zaal, Mzia risks her safety and anonymity for the brother she had mourned since childhood. But just as she reaches Zaal’s apartment, Mzia is seized and taken captive by a strange man, who is strong, dark, and brutal… Unyielding, he demands her utter obedience as he locks her away in darkness. He is highly skilled in torture and inflicting pain, and demands to know everything about her brother Zaal and everything about her. He is a man that’ll do anything to get what he wants.
Sometimes love requires the sacrifice and betrayal of those held most dear. But is finding one’s true love worth committing the greatest sacrifice of all?
When we first entered the world which introduced us to Reap & Raze, we entered a world of unparalleled violence, suffering, and a heartless need for power & control. Add into that Russian mob families, and this became a whole new planet for me.
There are a lot of similarities between the first two novels. The boys both stolen from prominent mafia families, each coming from a loving home, experimented on, pumped full of drugs, and forced to fight in order to stay alive. The stories of these two men were ones that touched me straight to my soul. Growing up in a place designed to kill is a feat unto itself, but being able to find even a piece of yourself after a life like that is a miracle.
As I entered this world again to meet 194, I was thrust back into the lives of Luka, Zaal, and their now growing family group. 194 was a trained to kill and torture in order to fulfill his Mistress’s wishes. And unlike the men before him, he was able to keep a small piece of himself intact. Unfortunately in keeping part of himself, he is forced to complete even worse tasks in order to protect his memories. In following his Mistress’s orders, he walks into the world that Luka and Zaal are now beginning to take charge of. With some new discoveries and new connections, we find there is even more to the story than we had first believed.
Much like the story of Zaal, the story of 194 crumbled my heart. 194 knows that he would not be doing the things he has been forced to if not for the drugs administered to him. There are times we see glimpses into the man he should have been, but those are nothing compared to what he has been trained to be. Diving into this story, you will be reminded of the hell that exists within each of these men, as well as all around them.
One of the things I have enjoyed most about these books was that each man creates his own “I love you” with his woman. The men of these stories have led far from ordinary lives and did not get to experience growing up understanding love and how to express it. So, to use the word “love” would not mean anything to them, but they set out to find the words they could understand that expressed what they were feeling. In each situation, I found the words meant so much more to me than a simple “I love you” ever could have.
As with any other of Tillie’s dark stories, I like to issue a disclaimer about the vast differences between such a world and the one I live in. I can’t begin to imagine how living a life in such a world would change me. The one thing I wasn’t quite sure about was the path to love in this one. I feel like I came to understand it, but it wasn’t something I was completely on board with.
Overall I believe this was a solid addition to the Scarred Souls series and it has made me curious as to what more could be to come in this world.