Raze, by Tillie Cole

Raze 2

Grade: B+

Doing it at: 47%

Catnip: Mortal Kombat, Russian Mobsters, Amnesia, Revenge, Dangerous Criminal Villain, Star-crossed Lovers, Virgin

Shame Scale: Low.

Fantasy Cast:  Stephen Amell, Katie Cassidy

Book Description:


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.

Tillie Cole really impressed us with her Hades Hangmen series, so I was super excited to tuck into Raze, the first book of four in the Scarred Souls series: Russian mafia, underground Mortal Kombat fighting, star-crossed lovers, and amnesia. It basically has everything. 

Prisoner 818 (Raze) has been imprisoned in an underground cell in a deplorable Russian Gulag prison/fighting club for as long as he can remember. Like, he literally can’t remember anything before being brought there as a boy years ago; he has been shocked, tortured, and drugged till he had no recollection of his identity. He has been forced into death match fighting, and he is a monstrous killing machine filled with nothing but hate, with over 600 kills under his belt. His only goal is revenge on the man who did this to him; he has a name and an address in Brooklyn carved on the wall of his cell. Raze has no idea about the specifics of why he needs revenge, but the wall says he needs to kill him, so, YOLO. Then one day the prisoners overpower the guards and he escapes. With nothing on his mind but revenge, he heads to NY.

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Remem-bear Me, by Terry Bolryder

Remem-bear me

Grade: C-

Doing it at: 39% – but it’s an 89 page novella, so that works out to P in the V at roughly page 35.

Catnip: Amnesia; Second Chance Love; Hot Granddad; BBW; Shifters; But it was 99 cents…

Shame Scale: You decide how you feel about reading books about mature polar bear shifters.

Fantasy Cast: Robert Redford; Kathy Bates

Book Description:

The papa bear finally gets his mate…

Sam Weston is tired of his son’s clumsy attempts to set him up. They clearly didn’t inherit his talent for matchmaking, and besides, he’s still in love with his fated mate who has been gone for twenty years. But when his sons make an ad to promote their island resort and show off their sexy dad, it somehow draws in the one woman he still wants. Sam thinks he’s dreaming, until he realizes the love of his life has no memory of their lives together.

Joanne Weston knows from the moment she sees Sam that she made the right decision to come to the Caymans after seeing that cheesy ad. For twenty years, she’s been been trying to figure out who she is and recover the memory loss she sustained after a terrible accident. The moment she looks into Sam’s gorgeous blue eyes, she knows there’s something between them that transcends everything. She just needs him to help her remember.

Sparks quickly fly between the two reunited lovers, and Sam is overjoyed to have his mate back in his arms. But as memories from the past creep ever-closer, Sam and Joanne will be presented with the most difficult decision they have ever made. Remain happy but ignorant about the reasons they were separated, or face the truth, no matter how painful it may be?

I read this after Grey. There was really nowhere to go but up from that turd of a book. We picked this one up for the family library a few months back because it was only 99 cents and the punny title made us LOL. This was a short book, 89 pages, and while it wasn’t very good, I can’t bring myself to say anything bad about it because it was like reading Dickens after our last torturous read.

The Westons are a family of polar bear shifters who own a resort on a tropical island. This is the last book in the series (all of the sons are happily mated – that’s what they call it), featuring Sam, the patriarch of the family – a smoking hot grandpa. His sons have been trying to fix him up, but Sam is still pining over his wife who walked out on their family 20 years ago, leaving him to raise three rowdy polar bear-boys by himself.

One day, while Sam is babysitting the grandcubs, his wife Joanne shows up at his door, asking who he is. She has amnesia, of-fucking-course, and seeing him on an ad for the resort triggered memories for her. It’s a short book, and I’m just going to go ahead and give you the whole plot. If you want to remain unspoiled, scroll down from one hot grandpa and don’t stop till you hit the next.

Sexy old guy 4

Ok. So twenty years ago, Joanne was “fighting with the bear inside her,” who just wanted to be free, man. Before she met Sam, she was feral. I’m not joking. That’s how they describe her – she was a wild animal living free in the woods. She saw Sam in his hot bear body and they fell in love. They had three cubs together, but Joanne could always feel the bear inside her, fighting to get out so it could like, run away and eat wild salmon, or maybe just fuck other bears. I don’t even know.

So way back when, Jo and Sam got in a huge fight about her always wanting to run away, and then she ran away. And then she was SHOT, by poachers. When she woke up in the hospital, she had amnesia. Couldn’t remember her family, and couldn’t remember that she was a goddamn polar bear. I guess she was able to just suppress the supernatural side of her for twenty years give or take. Sam has been thinking that his wife abandoned them, when in reality, she was on her way back to them, finally ready to stop running when she was shot. (She doesn’t remember any of this yet though)

Joanne hasn’t had a clue about her life for twenty years, but seeing Sam triggered feelings in her. He awakened her long dormant sexual side. Seriously tho. Neither of them has had sex for twenty years. I feel like that’s the most unbelievable part of this book and not the fact that everyone is half polar bear.

When Sam tries to talk to Jo about shifter related things, she blacks out – so they decide to just picnic on his yacht and fuck like animals (see what I did there?), in case telling her the truth triggers memories that make her run again.

But he needed to help her come back to full-blooded life. He needed to help her remember her bear. Even if her bear tore her away from him.

Unfortunately, before they can have their revelatory talk, Jo sees her granddaughter shift into a polar bear cub, and all of her memories come rushing back to her. She’s so overwhelmed, and consumed with guilt for running away from her family all those years ago, that she shifts into her bear and takes off running through the woods. On a tropical island. As a polar bear. Sam eventually catches her and carries her back, and presumably they get over their issues and live happily ever after.

sexy old guy 5

Since this was a BBW book, there was all kinds of talk about curves – and lots of food talk. Sam was all about feeding Jo and hey, maybe we don’t need to stereotype like this? Skinny girls like to eat too, you know. And I loved this part where Sam makes her a plate of foods that pretty much everyone in the world loves – danishes, please – and she’s like, omg, look at all these foods – I somehow know that I like them, but I don’t know how I know that. Even though she’s been eating for 20 years and one would think she’d have an idea about the kinds of foods she preferred. It was fruit, not like, orca blubber or something exotic and arctic like that.

He opened the cooler and pulled out platters of fresh fruit and pastries and bottles of juice.

He made her a plate piled with strawberries, blueberries, fresh whipping cream, and several danishes in various flavors.

“I don’t know why I know this, but I love all this stuff,” she said, sitting back happily to dig in.

“I know,” he said.

She looked up at him in shock. She kept forgetting he knew more about her than she did.

The mating was not terribly thrilling. Lots of missionary, nothing memorable. Am I the only person who read this book and was hoping for some animalistic rear entry bear-style? Maybe just a little biting? I saw these grizzly bears doing it at the zoo in Minnesota once and it was fierce.

Overall, it was a quick read that helped me cleanse my palate after The Book We Won’t Talk About Again. It took itself a little too seriously for my tastes – I would have appreciated some humor in a book about a sexy grandfather who turns into a polar bear, but it was only two hours out of my life and now I can say I read the book with the second best title in our Family Library. The book title has a pun it in for fucksake. Give us at least a tiny bit of camp. Also, even though I like to think that I’ve read a little bit of everything, this book made me realize I had never actually read grandpa erotica. It popped my old man cherry.

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Burying Water, by K.A. Tucker

burying water

Grade: B-

Doing it at: 38%, but not again till 64%

Catnip: Amnesia; Multiple Timelines; Russian Mobsters; Dangerous Criminal Villain; Hot Cars; Cheating; Dual Narrative; Hot Car

Shame scale: Beige. There’s a plot, decent writing, not much doing it. The cover looks YA, so that’s got to be a tiny bit shame-y

Fantasy casting: Ten years ago Milo Ventimiglia, Hayden Panettiere

Book description: 

“Left for dead in the fields of rural Oregon, a young woman defies all odds and survives—but she awakens with no idea who she is, or what happened to her. Refusing to answer to “Jane Doe” for another day, the woman renames herself “Water” for the tiny, hidden marking on her body—the only clue to her past. Taken in by old Ginny Fitzgerald, a crotchety but kind lady living on a nearby horse farm, Water slowly begins building a new life. But as she attempts to piece together the fleeting slivers of her memory, more questions emerge: Who is the next-door neighbor, quietly toiling under the hood of his Barracuda? Why won’t Ginny let him step foot on her property? And why does Water feel she recognizes him? Twenty-four-year-old Jesse Welles doesn’t know how long it will be before Water gets her memory back. For her sake, Jesse hopes the answer is never. He knows that she’ll stay so much safer—and happier—that way. And that’s why, as hard as it is, he needs to keep his distance. Because getting too close could flood her with realities better left buried. The trouble is, water always seems to find its way to the surface.”

Burying Water starts out with Jesse finding a girl beaten almost to death in the snow in the middle of nowhere. The rest of the book is told from Jesse’s perspective in the past and Alex’s in the present. We pick up with Alex in the hospital, where she wakes up with horrible injuries and total amnesia – no idea who she is, no memories of her life at all. She makes friends with her doctor (Jesse’s mom) while she is recuperating, and when it is time for her to leave, her doctor sets her up in an apartment on their next door neighbor’s property. Alex begins building a new life, but struggles to know who she was Before. We know that Jesse clearly has a history with her, (from the past storyline chapters), but we don’t know why he’s keeping her life a secret from her.

Meanwhile, in the past – Jesse meets Alex – a sad, beautiful woman who is married to an awful Russian mobster. Jesse is a mechanic, and Alex’s husband hires him to fix up some kind of impressive classic car (that meant pretty much nothing to me because car speak is gobbledygook). While he works on the car, he gets to know Alex, sees how unhappy she is with her scary husband (who is indiscreetly indiscretion-ing), and the two begin an affair.

Neither of these characters really stood out to me in a big way. Jesse seemed like a nice twenty-something guy who falls for a girl, but he’s almost passive about the whole thing. He sees that Alex’s husband is abusing her, but he does nothing to fix the situation. When she cuts off contact with him, he doesn’t chase her. Jesse in the present was much more appealing to me, but his rationale for keeping Alex in the dark (about her whole identity!) felt shaky to me at best. And Alex…was kind of weak. She felt like a generic nice girl, who married a mobster but honestly didn’t see what an asshole he was until well into the marriage?

This one started out really strong for me. I was texting Cleone that I found a great book she absolutely HAD to read. All the catnip was there: Multiple timelines, Russian mobsters, cute boy with a hot car, danger, freaking AMNESIA… But things started to drag towards the middle of the book. While the plot seemed to have a lot of potential mystery, all of the questions were pretty easy to guess the answers to. I felt like they gave too much away. And when the big reveal happened and Alex found out who she was and that everyone had been lying to her, she accepted it pretty quickly and they wrapped up everything with a big bow. By the end of the book, I started skimming, because everything felt like a recap of the first half of the book. The main conflict towards the end of the book was Jesse recapping the events that led up to Alex’s beating, and that was all information you could pretty much infer from the first half of the book.

It was a good story, interesting format, and overall, I enjoyed it, but I didn’t love it. Like I said, the characters felt weak, and things dragged a bit, then wrapped up too neatly. As a shame read, it was pretty beige (like this review, HA!). Nothing made me blush. K.A. Tucker is a great writer, none of the dialog made me eye-roll. Very little sex, and vanilla at that. I’d recommend this one if you could get it out of the library or borrow it from a friend.