Saturday, October 15, 2016

Audiobook Review: Ghost by A. Zavarelli

Series:     Boston Underworld #3
Pub. Date:Sept. 28, 2016
Publisher:Self-Pub
Narrator:Tracy Marks
Length:8 hrs 5 min
Source:Author

Phew. This book was D-A-R-K. I knew that it was going to be dark, but it went somewhat beyond my expectations. Tracy Marks again did a good job with the narration - she does great accents and her Boston and Russian accents sounded authentic to my ears. The character affectations in this performance (particularly the heroine) did sound nearly the same as the last book, Reaper, so I would just advise not to read them back to back to avoid confusion. 

If you have read the earlier books, you would recall that Talia went missing and was being searched for by her best friend, Mac, the heroine from Crow. We also caught a glimpse of her toward the end of Reaper. After an extremely sad childhood, and a dreary adult existence, Talia becomes a victim of human trafficking. Even worse. she is sold into the trade by someone she trusted. As the reader you go through this horrifying experience with her, so you really understand how broken Talia is. The only thing she has left is her plan for death... and then this huge man comes in and takes even that from her. Needless to say that Talia is a tortured heroine in the extreme.

Alexei is a Vory in the Russian Mafiya. He is not only a huge and handsome specimen at 6'6" - he is also extremely intelligent and calculating. However he only sees himself as defective as he lost his hearing after a childhood bout of meningitis. When Mac went to Alexei for help in finding Talia, he dug into every inch of her life. At some point during his research into her whereabouts, he decided that she would make the perfect wife for him. So his motivation to save her from white slavery was more self-serving than him acting on a desire to help Mac and his Irish allies. Alexei was a tortured hero in his own right... having been cast out by his father for being defective and living through additional personal tragedy as a young boy. 

The relationship between Alexei and Talia was meant to be a marriage of convenience... one that Alexei needed to free him from an unwanted arrangement, and that would also protect Talia without her having to return home to Boston. There were many ups and downs for the couple, attributed mainly to each of their inability to trust other people. Alexei was used to being rejected for his impairment, and Talia had been betrayed in such an extreme way... that both of their insecurities were understandable. Alexei did have a compassionate side, but he was also quick to jump to conclusions and slow to let go of them even when things weren't adding up. Needless to say there were some moments that you really want to shake the spit out of Alexei.

The mafiya aspects of this series continue to be fascinating to me. The structure, loyalty and violence of the organizations pique my curiosity and I want to know how everything works. I don't know why I find it so fascinating - probably because its so alien to me. I like when authors take these dark and violent men and infuse them with possessive and protective instincts that make them seem not *so* bad, when you know that if you met one in real life you would probably run the other way. Or maybe its because I'm a fixer and I'm always looking for that one little redeeming quality to shine my light on. 

This book may contain triggers for some people. There are detailed accounts of sexual assault, torture and abuse. I myself struggled with the dark aspects at times and would have to stop listening and go do something else. But I can't deny that the story is well-written and evokes a lot of emotion. I thought  the training camp and hero in Reaper were dark, but this one took it a step further with the human trafficking ring. So read with caution if these are triggering events for you. 

I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this audiobook that I received at no cost from the author.


Boston Underground