Luna's Reviews > XV: (Fifteen)

XV by Lana Sky
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really liked it
bookshelves: dark-contemporary, dark-romance, four-star, mafia, indie

ARC received in exchange for an honest review

This book is a dark romance with themes of physical abuse, bodily harm, violence, graphic sex scenes and threats of rape. Please take this into account before reading.

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Lana Sky is, without a doubt, incredibly talented at what she does. Not just with her writing, but what she writes as well. While she has dabbled in other genres, she is more well known for her dark romance novels, mostly because she writes a lot more of them. But the reason I keep coming back is because she writes them so well. She has a knack of taking the most depraved, loathsome characters and twisting the narrative so we root for them.

XV is no different.

Mischa Stepanov, our depraved, loathsome character, is a brute. He isn’t likeable and he doesn’t have one redeeming quality, but he is just so damn intriguing. There is something about him that is irresistible, something that hooks you on him, something addictive.

That’s the thing with a dark romance. You’re addicted to the ones you’re not supposed to like.

He’s cruel but he’s also merciful, even though he insists he’s not. It’s clear that he doesn’t want to hurt Ellen, his captive, at least not at first. He gives her multiple chances to tell him what he wants to know, even clothes, bathes and provides her with food. Time and time again he threatens her life, never following through.

For all his mercy, he makes up for it in ruthlessness. There is no length he will go to for revenge, to end this blood war he’s been locked in his whole life.

And it’s starts with a kidnapping.

Ellen Winthorp, mistaken for her sister, is thrust into Mischa’s world of blood and violence, marking her XV, the fifteenth martyr in vicious blood feud between the family she grew up with and the Mafiya. Under Mischa’s watchful eye, she sees things that were kept from her, learning truths she never wanted to know.

She is a lamb amongst a wolves, and it won’t be long before she’s slaughtered.

Ellen is clever. She’s smart, she’s cunning and she knows how to play with monsters. She plays the naive captive well, keeping her mouth shut and eyes to the ground. She fights for her survival the only way she knows how; breathing. Throughout the book, she proves she is more than a match for Mischa, even if he sees her as nothing more that a pawn, a plaything he can use and abuse until there’s nothing left, and she uses that to her advantage.

She proves to Mischa she’s more useful than she looks, that her head is more important alive than dead. Ellen uses that information to ensure her survival and it works. Like I said, she’s clever.

Their dynamic is one of the highlights of the book. Ellen isn’t afraid to bite back at Mischa, which usually results in some form of punishment. He quickly realises she’s not the typical kind of captive, which causes him to keep her around. I think he likes the challenge she presents, that she’s not that easily broken.

Years of abuse will harden even the softest of creatures.

It’s very clear that this blood feud is very personal for Mischa. I have read my fair share of Mafia novels but the wars are always generations long with the male protagonist carrying on fight because it’s his duty. While that is the case of the War of Roses, Mischa has a very personal stake in this war and it’s apparent from the start, and now Ellen does too…

I very much enjoyed XV. It was a gripping, evenly-paced that ticked all the boxes. However, my one gripe is there wasn’t enough action. For a book about a war, I had expected to see some shoot-outs, maybe a fight or two, but to my chagrin there was only one scene like it. This book is more character driven than plot, and while that isn’t a bad thing and something I do love, XV would have benefited from plot scenes.

That said, I am anxious to get my hands on VII, the second act of this trilogy. I have a feeling this war is only going to get more bloody.

4 stars.

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Reading Progress

April 24, 2019 – Shelved
April 24, 2019 – Shelved as: to-read
May 11, 2019 – Started Reading
May 16, 2019 – Finished Reading
June 21, 2019 – Shelved as: dark-contemporary
June 21, 2019 – Shelved as: dark-romance
June 21, 2019 – Shelved as: four-star
June 21, 2019 – Shelved as: mafia
June 21, 2019 – Shelved as: indie

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