The Dirty Bargain by Lylah James & Cora Reilly





The Bratva is bad news, especially for someone like me, a girl raised in the Italian mafia. But I’ll have to play games with the devil and face the most impossible decision of my life to get the one thing I desire more: revenge.

To pay back the people who hurt me, I need the help of the Bratva’s best assassin: KILLER.

He’s terrifying. Cruel. Brutal. A savage. Everything I’m forbidden to have. Everything I should have stayed away from.

Wishes come with a price.

How much am I willing to pay for revenge if Killer asks for everything?


Fight. Kill. Eat. Sleep. Repeat.

Born to be a slave but I fought my way out with blood and countless of deaths on my hand.

When the little, innocent princess – a princess who doesn’t belong in my world, comes to me for help… Talia Barese doesn’t realize she had just met her worst nightmare.

My name always comes with a caution sign. They say I’m a monster. They are right… Too bad Talia didn’t paid attention to the warnings. She should have. Now, there’s nowhere for her to run.

Shh… Be Careful what you wish for, Little One.



I’m gonna say it straight out — this novella will most likely be a must read for avid fans of Cora Reilly’s mafia books because Talia was a minor character in her Born In Blood series (specifically from Bound by Vengeance). If you’re curious to see what became of her since then, then this book is not to be missed… but other than that, you could probably skip this novella and not have missed a beat with the series.

Not entirely sure if Killer was created for this novella or if he was already part of Lylah James’ mafia world but I tell ya, if he has already made appearances in hers, then I’ll have to check out her books! 😊

Talia leaves her family and her Italian Mafia-protected life in hopes of persuading Killer (yep, that’s his name); a hired gun for the Russian mafia to act vengeance on her behalf on the man who almost ruined her life when she was younger. Now, I have to mention if you haven’t read Bound by Vengeance, then I highly recommend that you do — not only because it’s fucking fantabulous, but also because you’ll get the insight into what happened with Talia during that time. But in case you haven’t or.. *whispers* you don’t want to.. she does briefly mention what happened to her in this novella.

Killer is the Bratva’s assassin, and he never does a job for free. Everything comes at a price, and when Talia approaches him in all her timid, scared, innocent way, it peaks his interest. When she finally admits the reason as to why she was in search of him, he knows he can use it to his advantage to bend her to his will.

Her virginity as payment. That was the deal.

Their first encounter had my attention right off the bat. The chemistry was already visible despite them not haven’t spoken to each other yet. Killer’s big, bad dangerous aura was definitely leaping off the pages and the way he was introduced was giving me such Remo/ Growl vibes (in case you don’t know — they’re a couple of Cora’s characters from her books).


When it comes to novellas, I’m always a little iffy about how the author is going to execute a well thought-out story that includes world-building and character development in such a short span. Whilst I would’ve liked further details in some of the scenes in this novella, or at least a couple more chapters, Lylah and Cora did an overall good job of telling Talia and Killer’s story.

I did however thought whilst I was reading this that I could easily point out which parts were written by each author. I would’ve liked it to have been a little more cohesive but it’s not such a big deal when it comes to the grand scheme of things.

Was there any character growth? Ehhhh. Not really. Everything happens in a very short amount of time. The only semblance of growth and/ or development was the feelings of curiosity they have towards each other — subtle for the most part, but still present. (There’s more lust and heat exuding from them than anything deeper).

There’s also no secondary characters in this novella, other than a name mentioned here and there. It’s strictly protagonists only!

Was there any growth in the story or world-building? Honestly, once the deal was agreed upon, Killer moved in pretty quickly in getting his payment from Talia. Actually, the entire story revolved around getting payment from her than the actual deed of killing the target (not that I’m complaining in the least. Uh-uh!) 😉

Other than the sizzling scenes, there are some very sweet moments from Killer. I admit he seemed a little more brute-like than what I’m used to from Cora’s Made Men so seeing any kind of tenderness or thoughtfulness from him was a nice added layer to his character. Also — there was a little twist in this story that I did not see coming, or I should’ve but just didn’t put the pieces together fast enough. Either way, it enhanced the plot and gave it a much needed oomph.

There was one thing I probably shouldn’t have been so irked about reading (but I was, and I still can’t let it go 😜) that’s a tidbit in the epilogue. I’m going to be vague here to avoid spoilers.. There was something that happened that was necessary but the follow through was something I can’t say I was overly a fan of. The epilogue as a whole felt a little rushed.. (this would be the part where they could’ve extended it a little with a couple more paragraphs).

But overall, an okay little novella. As I said in the beginning, if you decide to skip it, or can’t access the novella, you won’t be missing any key details that’s crucial to the overall series.. at least not anytime soon.

(Whilst this did not effect my overall rating, I have to point out that a little more editing would’ve gone a long way. There were times I had to reread lines to figure out what was being said. I don’t usually mention issues with books that have grammatical errors in my reviews but in this instance it did effect my reading experience). Sigh. 🤷‍♀️

RATING: ♥♥♥½


Side Note: This romance novella was exclusive to the Queens of Darkness and Sin Facebook Group (no longer available). But if you want access to future exclusives and latest news from various dark romance authors, I highly recommend to join the group! 👍

💻 Join the Facebook Group!

Queens of Darkness and Sin


Wishing you guys well! Catch you in my next one! Xo


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