Monday, August 15, 2016

The Russian Tattoos: Prisoner by Kat Shehata; Blog Tour hosted by Xpresso Reads

Hi, yall!  I am here today to review the book Russian Tattoos: Prisoner by Kat Shehata, and I am also a part of the blog tour for this book.  Huge shout out to Xpresso Reads for putting this all together and allowing me to be a part of it.  Just click here if you would like to follow the tour stops.
Don't forget to check at the end of the review for an international giveaway and good luck!!!

Russian Tattoos: Prisoner
by Kat Shehata
Published by Limitless Publishing
Date of Publication: Aug 2 2016
Genre: Dark romance, suspense, New Adult, 18+

American tennis player Carter Cook is being held prisoner by the Russian mafia…
Carter is the obsession of mob boss Vladimir Ivanov, a man she once loved. Now a mafia war has erupted on his home turf, and Vladimir’s enemies have put a bounty on her head to force him to surrender. If she is captured, his rivals will deliver a deadly ultimatum—his life in exchange for hers. The price for Carter’s freedom is Vladimir’s blood.
Vladimir holds ultimate power as godfather of the Ivanov Bratva…
He spent five years in a Siberian prison camp and has earned every tattoo inked into his skin. He is a powerful man who rules his crew with an iron fist.
But his enemies have discovered his only weakness—Carter. Vladimir knows if she stays in his world, he is handing her a death sentence, so he vows to get her home and never interfere in her life again. Giving up the woman he loves is the only way to protect her from the bad guys—including himself.
Vladimir’s rivals have a different plan for the ill-fated couple…
Some punishments are worse than death, and the head of the Ovechkin Bratva will go to any length to seek vengeance and inflict maximum suffering on Vladimir.
Carter may be Vladimir’s weakness, but she is also his only hope for survival. When the boss of the Ovechkin family threatens the man she loves, she must fight for Vladimir’s freedom before their rivals can deliver the fatal blow.
Love is blind—but it could also be deadly.

My Review:

I didn't really know what to expect when it came to Prisoner.  I thought maybe I could read book 2, even though I hadn't picked up book 1, Obsession.  That is a no no! You must read book 1 before you read book 2!!!  
Which is probably a big fat "duh" for most people but I am weird.  
So I did read book 1 and it pushed my emotions to the wall.  There are some things in it that just screamed at me "NOOOOO!" But there were other parts of it that I really liked.  
Of course, you have to understand that Russian Tattoos isn't your typical romance.  I think the author was intending it to be more of a dark romance/BDSM type deal.  Without the leather whips and playtoys.  
It is also not marketed towards Young Adult (hell no) and has some definite erotic scenes in the storyline.  
So when you look at those factors, then it is a little bit easier to get past the rough treatment of Carter.  But not completely. 
Honestly, I didn't know if I was going to love it or hate it until I realized that is what really great writing is.  The ability to push me to such extremes and wreck my emotions so harshly.  I was crying with both books.  I may not agree with everything that happens to Carter because of Vladimir and his goons but I don't think the author does either.  Or at least, everything isn't going to be sunshine and roses when you are dealing with the Russian Mafia. 
I believe that is what the author is trying to convey to us, as well as the fact that love is blind.  Love doesn't see the dangers, just what the heart wants.  And for Carter, she wants Vladimir even when she knows he may not be the knight in shining armor she expected.  
The plot was amazing and  I loved the details Shehata went to to make it feel like we were a part of the Russian mafia scene.  It is gritty and she doesn't romanticize it as much as you would expect in a romance book.  She shows us the dirty behind the scenes side of it, and through this,  we also get to see the lesser of the two evils.  

The characters are a mixed blessing to me.  I like Carter's spunk but couldn't stand her immaturity when it came to her life.  I kept having to go back and check to make sure she was in college, instead of high school the way she acted most of the time. 
Besides her immaturity, I did see some similarities of myself in her.  Especially, the low self-esteem.  That was a major point with me as I was hoping she would stand up for herself more while  I knew I have some of the same issues she deals with too.   
Vladimir is the "sexy Russian" we all dream about at night.  Actually, when I pictured Vladimir, Illya from the movie, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. would pop into my head.  Of course, that isn't a bad thing at all.  I love that character! 
 Vladimir has a very pronounced dark side to him being the pakhan of his family in the Russian mafia.  I liked the bad boy type he played but he became very scary when he drank.  And vodka is a major object in his Russia.  There is definitely issues there besides the fact he is the leader of his bratva in major crime.  

Then there is Boris.  Ah, Boris.  I have this love/hate relationship with Boris.  As I read through with Boris, I kept reminding myself that he was raised in a completely different environment than what anyone in America was used to.  Am I condoning him for some of his treatment of Carter? No way.  But I am trying to understand from his viewpoint.  
He is loyal to a T. Family is everything to him. His family, though.  I think he admires Carter but thinks she is too naive and immature for her own good.  No argument there.  And Boris believes in the using the belt.  Very much.  But again, we need to remember that Russia is a completely different environment than where Carter grew up.  
Later, we understand how this "iron fist" attitude comes to help everyone in the family and how Boris isn't the only one who relies on it.  

In Prisoner, we get meet other characters that are important to the story, but I feel these three characters are the ones you will interact with the most.  Although, I do love me some Dimitri, the sisters, and Pasha.  

There really isn't a good vs bad guy here.  There are just different degrees of bad guys.  And the really  really bad guy is the "douche bag" who we all want to sucker punch.  

I also really appreciate the research that was done into the Russian mafia, the Russian culture, and the language to give us a well-rounded book that seemed to be very in the know of its characters and backgrounds.  In fact, I would love to read more about Russia from a historical standpoint because it does have a beautiful side to it too.  And I loved the language so much!  Da!

All in all, I was torn between loving this book and despising the treatment of Carter.  I loved the plot, some of the characters, and the descriptions of the Russian dealings.  I enjoyed the banter Carter put out but at the same time, I still think she needs to learn when to let it go.  
There is also a lot of dark moments in the both books.  It makes for some major suspense but at the same time, some may have gone a little too far.  It's all in the reader's point of view.  
I give Russian Tattoos : Prisoner four hearts.  I loved it more than the first book and I feel like we really get a more in-depth look into Vladimir and Boris.  And Carter finally gets some growing up out of the way.  
Oh and there is a huge cliffhanger at the end of both books.  I am talking "holding on by one finger" type cliffhanger.  So if you're not a cliffhanger type person you may want to think hard about reading it.

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Author Bio:

Kat Shehata’s first career involved caring for exotic, dangerous, and adorable animals as a zookeeper. As an author, Kat weaves her love of animals into her work. She is the co-author of the New York Times bestselling children’s book Animals on the Other Side wrote with Sylvia Browne.
She is an avid tennis player and spends her free time playing matches in a recreational league in Cincinnati, Ohio. She holds a bachelor’s degree in theatre from Wilmington College, a professional writing certificate from the University of Cincinnati, and a master’s degree in creative writing from Spalding University.

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