Thursday, August 4, 2016

Audiobook Review: Reaper by A. Zavarelli

Series:     Boston Underworld #2
Pub. Date:July 22, 2016
Narrator:Tracy Marks
Length:8 hrs 42 min

It's been a while since I've read a mafia romance... and this one intrigued me because the author said the audiobook was accent-heavy. I love accents in my audiobooks, so I jumped on the chance to review. It's also my first read by A. Zavarelli, and I have to say that I am a fan. I will definitely check out the rest of this series now.

I will start with the narrator and audio performance. She did a wonderful job. The book definitely was accent heavy - most of the females having a Boston accent and all of our Irish mobsters having a wonderful brogue. Sometimes the reading did go into a sing-song cadence... but that tended to be during monologues so it didn't affect the action or emotion of the story. She also was able to affect a believable male tenor and gave each character their own unique sound.

This is definitely not a happy-go-lucky romance. The social setting is the midst of Irish mob activity, and its manipulative, violent and bloody. Sasha got caught up in this life when caught the eye of a wolf in sheep's clothing, Blaine. She basically gets blackmailed by first Blaine, then Donovan - do what they want to keep someone she cares about safe. She also had to start stripping to pay the medical bills of her mother who is dying of cancer. Needless to say - her life pretty much sucks. As depressing as her life was, Sasha was a good heroine. She is a caretaker by nature - taking care of her sick mom, protecting her younger sister, and protecting the man who saved her from Blaine.

Ronan is a tortured hero to the extreme. He was born in Ireland and grew up in a crazy paramilitary compound where they trained young boys to be killers. The things that Ronan endured were horrific and hard to listen to. So even though Ronan is a stone cold killer, my heart really went out to him for all that he endured. As you can imagine, his history has greatly impacted his present. He doesn't like to be touched, he has problems talking to Sasha, and he engages in behavior that most would see as strange and illogical. He does well taking orders, and the rest of his life is very regimented, from the clothes he wears to the food he eats. I was happy that Sasha was able to give him new experiences and bring him out of his shell a bit.

This story was raw and gritty, and chock full of criminal activity. It was fascinating to read about, but not something you want to find yourself in the midst of. The romance definitely wasn't typical. Rather than hearts and flowers, there was stalkerish behavior and dead bodies. Both Ronan and Sasha had intense feelings for the other - and neither quite knew how to express them in a healthy way. It certainly didn't help that a sadistic Russian was out for revenge against Ronan... which put Sasha in danger of being abused by another ruthless asshole. The suspense was good and kept the story moving forward as needed, even if it did require that you suspend your belief at times.

Overall, I am pleased to have tried this author. The only issue I had with the book was that, in audio, it was hard to follow at times. There were a number of flashbacks or dream sequences so it was sometimes confusing until you figure what's going on. I think an indicator would have helped... maybe saying the year or something before the flashback/dream. You probably wouldn't have the same problem if you were reading instead of listening.

I received a copy of this audiobook at no cost from the author in exchange for an honest review. 

Boston Underground