Friday, February 17, 2017

Audiobook Review: Saint by A. Zavarelli

Series:     Boston Underworld #4
Pub. Date:Jan 13, 2017
Narrator:Tracy Marks
Length:8 hours 19 min

I have enjoyed the boys of the Boston Underground series, particularly listening in audio as the narrator, Tracy Marks, does a good job with the Irish and Russian accents. This series is not for the faint of heart... its raw and gritty and sometimes graphic. Proceed at your own risk.

The heroine, or should I say anti-heroine, of this installment was a hard girl to love... or even like very much. Scarlett was cold, hard and violent, and we meet her trick rolling men - that is, pretending to be a hooker then torturing them quite violently. It is quite obvious that she has a tortured past. In the last book, Scarlett was kidnapped and carved up by a sadistic criminal, but that was not the worst of what Scarlett has experienced in her short life. But while I felt sorry for Scarlett, I still didn't like her very much. My main problem was the cold and calculated way she sought to play our hero, where he just wanted to help her despite knowing she was crazy. Scarlett also has a personality disorder... maybe Schizoid or Alexithymia... one where a person does not experience emotions. I would have liked to see this flushed out more because it was an interesting aspect of her character.

We met Rory Broderick in earlier books... he and Scarlett have quite the history. He first kidnapped her in the middle of one of her tricks, then he later rescued her after she had been carved up. While Rory is not one of the top leaders of the Irish mafia in Boston, he is definitely not a weakling. He has been with the syndicate from a young age, and now is one of the prized fighters, going by Saint in the fighting ring. But looking around him at the recent couplings and marriages of his brothers, Rory realizes that he is looking for more than a quick bang after his fights. I liked his character a lot and thought he was a good guy - as much as you can be a good guy when you are involved in a crime syndicate. I liked that he owned his house and was restoring and renovating it with his own hands in preparation for the family he some day wanted. I thought he had the patience of a Saint (no pun intended) to deal with Scarlett. There were a couple of times when I was actually hoping he would just walk away from her.

The relationship between Scarlett and Rory was tempestuous at best, and dysfunctional on most accounts. Scarlett didn't want to get involved with Rory and was determined to use him for her own ends, then walk away. But Rory understands Scarlett better than she would like - he sees beyond the cold exterior to the vulnerability beyond. As much as I did not like Scarlett for much of the book, I did enjoy watching her start to get emotionally involved for the first time in her life. Her character experienced a good amount of personal growth, even though that growth takes places within the confines of criminal activity. I felt like she hurt Rory more often than not, so that made it hard to root for their relationship... but I was happy they ended things in a better place than where they started.

The suspense plot and Scarlett's tortured past were well-crafted and kept my attention more than the romance drama. I don't want to give away any of this aspect because I think the reader would enjoy discovering these aspects on their own. But I will just say that she has a heartbreaking history and the main villain of the piece was a sadistic bastard.  There were also some interesting secondary characters introduced in this installment that may be a future couple in the series... so I look forward to getting Storm's full story some day.

Tracy Marks does a good job narrating this series. Her accents are spot on for the Irish, Russians, and Bostonians, and she easily affects both male and female tenors. Her performance also fits perfectly with the gritty feel of the story. The only thing that I would mention is to not listen to all the audiobooks straight in a row, because most of the characters sound the same and I think that would get confusing. (What I mean is... Rory sounds the same as Reaper, and Scarlett sounds the same as the prior heroines.) That doesn't bother me as long as I have a little time between the books.

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

Boston Underground