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...
It's a harsh world in the Bratva (think Russian mafia) and Talia tries hard to function and make her family proud whilst not betraying her innermost beliefs. Finally her brother is safe and home where he belongs, but the deadly fighting ring he once performed in is still rife with danger. When Talia takes a well-deserved break from work, she finds herself confronting a broken man who her brother is desperate to heal. Zaal has spent years drugged by a sadistic Master and all he knows is blood and pain. As his senses come back on line, Talia is there to help him anyway she can, but Zaal has no idea the woman whom he believes is the one for him is his biggest enemy!
I don't wish to say too much as it's a truly heartbreaking story. Zaal has no sense of himself, no memories of a life left behind. The cocktail of drugs that have altered him are about to hit the underground market and he is more than just a test subject, he is a weapon! Okay, I will admit what these drugs can do is far-fetched but it's fiction so yes, I can roll with it. What was a little harder to understand initially were the connections between these families and just why there is such a history of bad blood between them. Talia was a little unexpected. She is loyal, giving and yet at the same time quite strong willed and unafraid to go her own way. It's her stubbornness that sees her going against those around her and forging a strong connection with Zaal.
I really enjoyed the multiple points of view used here as it opened up the various scenes giving far greater insight into what these characters were feeling. It's a well-developed story arc that pulls the reader in. This was a very intense story with heated scenes between this couple. Seeing them connect was at times a little tough as Zaal almost felt innocent, even though he has had a violent life. So yes, this was a good read with a plot that clearly still has legs. There is a moment at the end where I couldn’t help thinking, oh I'm so pleased, but it's clear there's more to come.
If dark romance is your preferred read, then Ms Cole certainly delivers. It's violent, not for the faint of heart but essentially about love and family.
I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review.