ARC: Riot (Scarred Souls #4) by Tillie Cole
Stolen by the Arziani Georgian crime mob as a child, 152 was raised and conditioned to be a Mona—the most subservient of the Arziani Blood Pit slaves.
Gorgeous and kind, she has been and under the imprisoning influence of the Type B drug and under the command of the Blood Pit Master’s sister, Mistress Arziani, for most of her life, until the Master calls her back home to Georgia.
He wants her under his total control, and Master always gets what he wants.
But when 152 is gifted to the Blood Pit’s fearsome champion death match fighter as a prize, 152 suddenly finds out that the men who appear most brutal, may just own the kindest hearts. And love may be found, even when living in hell.
Freedom, family, love, 152 will have to fight for what she wants and ultimately make an impossible choice.
Tillie, Tillie, Tillie...
You did it again, chick!
Ms. Cole never fails to snag my attention and heart with one of her "broken and scarred" souls. I love Raze, something fierce, but Ilya… Ilya stole my heart—hard. I didn't think it was possible for another to replace my first true love of her writing. But to my surprise, Riot blew Raze out of the water (at least in my humble opinion).
I’m not going to pull any punches here, this book is ominous and gut wrenching in theme. You’ll learn rather quickly, our main characters were nothing more than chess pieces, designed to move about the board at the whim of one devious and repugnant individual. Objects used to satisfy the need for dominance and masochism. FYI, there are NO BOUNDARIES Master won’t cross to achieve his ultimate goal; breaking and controlling the mind/spirit of all those deemed beneath him.
With that, I introduce to you entities 901 and 152 (otherwise known as Ilya and Inessa). Captives/slaves with no names, no past, and a stature that determines their level of hospitality, "profession," and terrorism.
I absolutely adored Ilya, even in his “asshole” stage. His pain, hatred, brutality, and rage flowed off the pages effortlessly, taking me for one hell of an aggressive ride. To see such a virile man taken to his knees over an emotion he had never in his life experienced and tried so abhorrently to deny was heartbreaking. His struggle to accept what most take for granted brought tears to my eyes. To see him struggle with right versus wrong, with want versus obligation was eye opening, to say the least. To learn that underneath this savage killer lied a compassionate soul made my heart beat just a tad bit harder.
Than there was Inessa (152), who showed me that no matter what your lot in life is, strength and bravery come in all shapes, sizes, and mindsets. Never once throughout this journey did I view her as weak. Her vitality was shown, not told, in spades. Each time I thought there is no way in hell she will survive much more, she proved me and everyone else wrong. The amount of courage and tenacity, even when she had almost nothing left to give, was powerfully inspirational.
I've never met such an absolute perfect for each other couple. They often left me breathless. Their inflexible and complex battles one in the same. Their strengths and weaknesses a testament to their dynamic substance, as individuals and as a couple. With each passing threat and ultimatum, I felt everything this couple felt. The details and emotions so intricate, palpable and vivid. I didn’t feel the need or want to be a fly within those cell walls or inside the pit. Cole made sure that I was right there with them, experiencing the same emotional turmoil.
If you like dark, twisted, and gritty reads then this is the book (series) for you. Ilya and Inessa aren't dark in the sense of a psychological mind f@#&, but they're a tangled web of sacrifice, violence, and violation (body, mind, and soul). Their story is one of lost identity, self-worth, and freedom/independence. Their world is a bleak and shocking way of life consisting of bloodshed, degradation, and animosity. Yet underneath it all, Tillie Cole manages to shed a glimmer of light; a sliver of humanity among a world where friendship, compassion, and affection is nonexistent. Riot was a testament of nature versus nurture. A classic case of instinct versus external forces.
Will sacrifice or survival rule their impulses? Will Ilya and Inessa be brought to heel or will love conquer all? It’s only a matter of time before we find out whether emotion or affliction is the name of the game.