Ghost by A. Zavarelli

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•••

— BLURB —

Talia.
I have always been a bird. Caged by one prison or another when the only thing I ever wanted was to fly away.
Sold. Beaten. Starved. Drugged.
Nothing scares me anymore.
Until him.
He makes the numbness go away.
He is hazardous to me. It has nothing to do with his mafia lifestyle, and everything to do with what he offers.
A gilded prison.
A retreat from everything that I once knew. The reality I have no desire to return to.
He thinks he’s caged me, but soon…
I’m going to fly.

Alexei.
I live by a code. The Vory code.
In this mafiya world, there are traditions.
Expectations.
She does not care for these things. She does not care about anything.
She thinks she has me fooled with her haunted eyes.
What she can’t know is that I see her better than most.
She wants to fly.
But I’m going to clip her wings.
And make her my wife.

**This is a DARK mafia romance. A full-length standalone novel with HEA and no cheating.**

•••

— MY REVIEW —

Oooh. What to say about Ghost… 🤔

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Third book in the Boston Underworld series and it felt so different from the first two. This one focuses on the Irish mob’s Russian ally Alexei. And before this book I had never read any mafia romances that centered around the Russian mob.

If they’re anything as disturbingly haunting, heart-palpitating action packed full of torture and heartbreak like Ghost was, then damn… I’m not sure if I’ll be able to handle it.

Ghost was difficult to get through in the sense that these characters are completely, and utterly broken, that there’s nothing but darkness surrounding them. Reading through their constant struggle was all-encompassing. It grips you and sucks you in. I was enamored, and felt like I was going through it right along with them. The first time around reading this book, I felt like I was in a depressive state all throughout. I could only read a few chapters at a time before I needed a breather. It was THAT heartbreaking and all out grim! This time around, it was a little easier to swallow (as I already knew what was coming), but it still conjured up a tightness in my chest with how much Talia and Alexei can easily consume my attention.

The storytelling is without a doubt spellbinding. I thought Crow and Reaper were cleverly written, but I realize, even though Ghost was a different vibe from those two, was in it’s own way just as compulsive. Despite my breathers, I could not NOT finish it. I needed to know that Talia and Alexei would survive, that they would save each other. That the screwed-up, fucked-up things I was reading would slowly but surely dissipate like a puff of smoke and beyond it would be their happily ever after.

I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. This was one hell of a roller coaster ride, with so many loopy-d-loops, that I seriously thought for a minute there that my poor heart wouldn’t be able to take it anymore. The amount of cruelty that Talia endures in this entire story (both in her past and present) is both unbelievable and shocking. I swear at times even I was done with it all for her. She has a quiet, steely strength. She’s all twisty and a little screwy in the head, but my gosh, she was one addictive heroine (no pun intended).


“I don’t have anything to offer him. Except for my broken thoughts and demented soul, stitched together by my frequent bouts of insanity.”


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Alexei was just as complex a character as Talia. He has his own demons that he keeps to himself, and it was one of the many reasons I was intrigued by him. He has an agenda, a reason why he wants and needs Talia right from the second he saw her. It’s partly why this book was attention-grabbing. You NEED to know what happens between them and all the secrets surrounding them. And with danger and shifty characters lurking everywhere, this mafia romance was full of suspense.


“Yesterday, she smiled. And today, she wants to die all over again. Because of me.”


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I always love Zavarelli’s added secondary characters because despite the fact that they’re not necessarily in the forefront of the story, they do play vital roles, they leave an impression, and give the world-building more layers with their presence. Unchanged: I always love Zavarelli’s added secondary characters because despite the fact that they’re not necessarily in the forefront of the story, they do play vital roles, they leave an impression, and give the world-building more layers with their presence.

There are a handful of secondary characters in Ghost that have their own mystery about them that’ll have you second-guessing whether or not they can be trusted. The addition of Alexei’s *cough* dysfunctional *cough* family, and close allies from his brotherhood really places you in his world and the world of the Vory (aka the Russian Mafia).

Right off the bat, I was drawn to Nikolai and Franco. I mean, who would complain at seeing more eye-candy, am I right??! 😉😍 I only wished that they both got their own books… *sigh*

There are a lot of relationships and ties in this book that adds another element to Alexei and his life. You get to delve into the dynamics and see the development unravel. I thought Zavarelli could effortlessly create amazing grey characters and anti-heroes, but her antagonists and villainous characters are just as impressive. They’re so cruel with such evil intent that it’ll honestly have you growling at the book. 😅

I’m usually cool with just a good, swoony love story, but if it also involves some deviousness, secrecy and some unpredictability (especially if it gets in the way of our hero/ heroine getting together), then I say it’s a success and more! I love substance in my fiction. I love if the story keeps me engaged from start to finish. I even love it if it leaves me with the biggest book hangover — because that’ll mean that it effected me both emotionally and mentally.

Besides the expanding world-building by focusing on the Russian mafia in this book and putting the Irish in the background, there’s constant growth with both our hero/heroine. It’s gradual, and at times they may go back a step or two in their progress, but you can bet it’s there nonetheless. By the end, you’ll realize how much these guys have grown, as individuals and as a couple, and how much stronger and more content they are with their lives.

This is a bittersweet romance. One where you have to go experience all the darkness and pain first before seeing all the sweet, caring moments. I cried countless times but it also left me feeling lighter by the end of it.


“I will always see you, Solnyshko,” he tells me. Always.”


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I didn’t always agree with either Talia or Alexei at times, but they certainly kept me hooked. And for someone who doesn’t know much about Russian culture or the language, I thought the little Russian endearments, and sayings was an extra element I adored seeing in their interactions.

I’ll confess, I probably won’t be rereading this one as much as Crow, but when I do decide to reread, it’ll still have the same effect on me as it did the first (and second) time. I’ll still be anxious, or swooning, or crying over the same scenes!

With dark romances, there’s bound to be some sensitive content, possible trigger warnings included. Ghost, has it all. Explicit content. Severe sexual and substance abuse, violence, along with profanity. Definitely only for readers of age, and for those who are not triggered by any of the subjects mentioned above! 🙏

But I 100% guarantee you won’t be disappointed if you do take a chance on the series. Ghost is book three in the Boston Underworld series, and although each book centers around different couples, the characters and their backstories are still intermittent, so I recommend you read from the beginning.

RATING: ♥♥♥♥/5

•••


Read my reviews for Boston Underworld series!

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Original post from my IG @booksofthemuggleborn

Book One: 📘 Crow by A. Zavarelli

Book Two: 📘 Reaper by A. Zavarelli


Read more of my reviews on A. Zavarelli books!

Confess by A. Zavarelli

Sin City Salvation (Book One) — Dark, romantic suspense.

Convict by A. Zavarelli

Sin City Salvation (Book Two) — Dark, romantic suspense. Mild MC romance.

Hate Crush by A. Zavarelli

Standalone, contemporary romance. Age gap. School setting.

Mine by Natasha Knight & A. Zavarelli

Ties That Bind Duet (Book One) — Mafia romance. Dark, suspense romance.

His by Natasha Knight & A. Zavarelli

Ties That Bind Duet (Book Two) — Mafia romance. Dark, suspense romance.

Stealing Cinderella by A. Zavarelli

Modern, standalone romance. Dark fairy tale retelling.


•••

Catch you in my next one! Stay safe and keep positive! Xo

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Reaper by A. Zavarelli

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•••

— BLURB —

Sasha.
He’s dark and mysterious. Quiet and lethal.
An Irish mobster.
Pure sin wrapped up in a beautiful package.
But there’s also something off about him.
He doesn’t feel anything. He shows no emotions.
Sometimes I question his humanity.
He hasn’t spoken to me in two years. Not a single word.
But we share a secret, he and I.
And if it ever comes out, I have no doubt in my mind…
He won’t have a problem killing me too.

Ronan.
I’ve slain for her. I’ll do it again.
When it comes to Sasha, there isn’t a line I won’t cross.
I watch her. She doesn’t know it.
She thinks I hate her. Sometimes, I think I might too.
But I’m always there, lurking in the shadows.
Craving her. Trying to keep the beast within at bay.
I’ll keep her safe. I’ll slaughter anyone who tries to hurt her.
The only thing I can’t do… is protect her from myself.

•••

— MY REVIEW —

⚠ WARNING WARNING WARNING ⚠ 

Spoilers Ahead. Read at own risk!

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HELLLLLO….

Ugh. Ronan, love. How did I not love you more the first time I read your book back in 2018?? 🙈 This review is long overdue. But having only just reread Reaper now, I figured it was time to post one up.

I initially read Reaper back in 2018 (along with the rest of Boston Underworld) and had rated it 4 stars. But after having reread it again for the second time (I know. WTF, right?!) I realized, I love and appreciate Ronan a lot more the second time around. 🤤

I don’t think I appreciated and fully understood his complexity. There are two types of complex characters that I’ve read in books — The first, are those who are too complex, too mind-boggling that I couldn’t connect with that character or agree with their actions, (and most likely, didn’t end up liking their book). The second, are the complex characters that have been cleverly written that their unique mindset keeps you constantly engaged, and slowly but surely has you falling in love with their individuality. Do I need to say which type Ronan is?

He is the epiphany of brains and brawn! Hubba-hubba! 🤤😍 I can’t believe the Ronan that I fell in love with (along with so many other readers) has been through hell and back! Reaper is Level 8 gritty in the dark romance scale. His book, whilst set in the present, goes back into his past now and then to reveal his upbringing before meeting Crow. Not going to sugarcoat it, it was difficult to read through (at least the first time I had read it). Ronan had a very disturbing, cruel and merciless childhood that even I winced at times reading about it.

As much I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone, I have had friends who I’d recommended the series to, who found these books a little too dark for their tastes. So, I would say if you can’t deal with sensitive subject matters, have triggers towards violence of any kind, substance abuse, and sexual abuse, then it’s probably best to skip this series entirely. But if you don’t have any issues, then I say, read away! 😉

I’m a big fan of brotherhood, bromance and good ol’ fashion best buds in my reads. If done right, it can be as equally (and in some cases better) than the romance blooming between the leads. Ronan and Crow’s deep brotherly relationship is just so endearing — especially considering that it’s within a Mafia world where trust and loyalty is hard to come by. But their brotherhood goes beyond deep, and seeing the social and emotional difficulties Ronan has, yet Crow always having his back is one of the things I have always loved about this book.


“Ye’re a brother to me,” he says. “And I want my kids to know and love ye like I do. The way Mack does too. I want my kids to know their uncle Ronan. And I have no doubts in my mind that you will protect them the way ye do me.”


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Another is seeing the way Ronan navigates through all these unfamiliar feelings towards Sasha. He goes from being robotic, calculated and distant, to almost being unpredictable in his ways. And he almost has a childlike quality about him at times, especially when he’s caught in a situation where he doesn’t know what to say or how to act. His character growth is fascinating and gripping to read through. It’s amazing how much he evolves, how much he opens up once he realizes Sasha is someone he can’t live without.

Logically, I should be pointing out Ronan’s obvious faults, and things I don’t agree with. But I can’t seem to care about it in the big scheme of things because after having reading this, I sympathize and somewhat understand his demeanor… and dare I say it… have let it all slide..? 🤔

With Crow and Mack (first book), their relationship blossomed from having similar attitudes and personality traits. They’re both independent, resilient, strong-willed people.

In this case, Sasha and Ronan were somewhat opposites. Sasha’s full of emotion, wears her heart on her sleeve and despite her struggles in life, she’s never bitter or nasty towards others. Her vulnerability has a likability about it, but make no mistake she’s no weakling. Ronan, on the other hand is intimidating, the definition of cool, calm and collected, and has a don’t-mess-with-me aura about him. So you can only imagine the sparks between these two! 🔥 Zavarelli paired two broken souls together and it was a beauty to see unfold.


“How do you do that?” I ask.

“Do what?”

“How do you look at me like that and just make me forget everything, Ronan?”


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They both have troubles and dirty pasts, but what I absolutely adore about these two lovebirds is that they don’t see any of that about each other. They see past all the bullshit and how society perceives them and see each other for who they truly are. It’s such a romantic, swoony love story. If you love romances that persevere, that have been through the ringer, but come out stronger than ever with the hero/heroine willing to do anything for the other, then yeah… I say Reaper is not one to be missed. So much anticipation, so much build-up, so much anxiety to see how it’ll turn out for them. *Phew!*

This can easily be a very melancholic read, but the little snippets of funny from the secondary characters really give Reaper a break from all the dank and depressing. Mack, Rory and of course, Crow are the characters to thank for that. A special shout-out to Daisy too for providing cuteness overload scenes with Ronan that had me grinning from ear to ear. (Lookout for Daisy! Total highlights!) 🤭

👏 Okay!

Hot, Irish mobster. ✔

Muscles for days. ✔

Tall, dark, handsome… and wears glasses. ✔

Could rip heads, break legs, and look good with blood splattered across his face. ✔

Could say the sweetest things without realizing it. ✔

Would just about move heaven and earth for what’s his. ✔

*singsong voice* I’m telling ya… Ronan Fitzpatrick is your maaaaan! 💙


“Ronan?”

“Aye?”

“Please don’t let me go,” I tell him. “Or at least stay until I fall asleep.”


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Zavarelli introduced a well put together and thought-out world with Crow, seeing it expand more so in Reaper, and having seen relationships develop further is just one of many reasons why the Boston Underworld series can easily transport you to their world. Add the characters with their unique characteristics and growth from start to finish that is so evident, and you got yourself some high-quality writing!

What I’ve come to love about Zavarelli’s story lines is she’s not afraid of adding some brutality into them. There’s some serious savagery and pain in this book, and I can tell you, it won’t be the last you’ll see in the series — if anything this is just the tip of the iceberg! Her books will make you feel and by the end will have you contemplating all about it.

Ronan is a twisted, somewhat unbalanced sort of character with so much to offer that you won’t see the full impact of it coming until it smacks you in the face. He is without a doubt one of the most captivating fictional characters I’ve come across, and I’m glad Zavarelli decided to share him with the world.

RATING: ♥♥♥♥½

•••



📚 Read my reviews for the series!

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Original post from my IG @booksofthemuggleborn

Book One: Crow by A. Zavarelli

Book Three: Ghost by A. Zavarelli



Read more of my reviews on A. Zavarelli books!

Confess by A. Zavarelli

Sin City Salvation (Book One) — Dark, romantic suspense.

Convict by A. Zavarelli

Sin City Salvation (Book Two) — Dark, romantic suspense. Mild MC romance. 

Hate Crush by A. Zavarelli

Standalone, contemporary romance. Age gap. School setting. 

Mine by Natasha Knight & A. Zavarelli

Ties That Bind Duet (Book One) — Mafia romance. Dark, suspense romance. 

His by Natasha Knight & A. Zavarelli

Ties That Bind Duet (Book Two) — Mafia romance. Dark, suspense romance. 

Stealing Cinderella by A. Zavarelli

Modern, standalone romance. Dark fairy tale retelling.



•••

Catch you in my next one! Stay safe and keep positive! Xo

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Crow by A. Zavarelli

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•••

— BLURB —

An Irish mobster. A missing friend. Two loyalties, ripping me apart.

I had a plan.

Get in, get my information, and get out. Easy, right?

Turns out, infiltrating the Irish mafia isn’t exactly what I thought it would be. I just wanted a soldier. Someone I could flirt with to get me in the door.

That’s when Lachlan Crow noticed me. Problem was, he wasn’t a soldier. No, he was next in line for the throne of the Irish underworld. And he was determined to hate me from the outset. My sob story about needing a job? Yeah, he wasn’t buying that either.

Too bad for him, I won’t let anyone get in the way of my mission.

Who cares if we have some kind of crazy chemistry? He’s the worst kind of wrong- and I would never in a million years be with a guy like him.

Because they took her from me, and I’m going to make them pay.

•••

— MY REVIEW —

🔔 Ding. 🔔 Ding. 🔔 Ding. 🥊 Winner!

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*singsong voice* I loveeeeeee it! 😍😍

This book is, and always will be perfection in my books! I first discovered Crow, the Boston Underworld series, and A. Zavarelli back in 2018… and I have no regrets! One of the best things I could’ve stumbled upon. This book has everything I ever wanted and didn’t know needed in my dark romance reads! Hell, romance reads, in general!

It had…

  • World-Building ✔
  • Suspense ✔
  • Character development ✔
  • Relationship growth ✔
  • Blazing, hot chemistry ✔
  • Drama ✔

It keeps you glued to the pages with it’s gripping story development between the characters. It’s utterly addictive with it’s build-up of suspense that there’s no way you could turn your back on any of, not wanting to miss one itty, bitty moment! What I love about Crow besides the swoony Irish, is that the story is consistent with it’s level of tension between the characters and their blooming relationship, all the while mafia-related heat is building all around them. There’s a lot of light and shade with this book, with a good dose of good vs evil.

A. Zavarelli was a new-to-me author back when I first read Crow, and I can tell you now, if you haven’t read any of her books — THIS IS THE BOOK TO START YOU OFF!! 💙

And speaking from experience as someone who hadn’t read many dark romances before reading Crow, this will plunge you head first into that genre, I’m not gonna lie. If you have guts of steel, and don’t get triggered by sensitive subjects easily… then yes, read, read, read! I can’t nudge you guys enough to start this series TODAY!

Mackenzie aka Mack is determined, stubborn, yet soft and vulnerable in a way that you can’t help but feel for the girl. Her go-get-em attitude may not be to everyone’s liking but I say, if you aren’t already loving her from the beginning, then you have to give her a chance to let her grow on you. She’s the way she is for a reason. She’s quite a complex and somewhat damaged character. One of the things I instantly loved about her was she was no damsel (not if she could help it, anyways). I’ve read one too many heroines who are described as tough, independent bitches, but never fully follow through. Mack, on the other hand? Yep. She’s the real deal! A fighter through and through, and I think that’s why she’s the perfect person to have gone toe-to-toe with the one and only Lachlan Crow.


“Ye’re a deadly wee thing, aren’t ye butterfly?”


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Now. Ask yourself: Do I like Irish men? If you were like me, then you’re answer would’ve been along the lines of…. “Uhh. Never really thought about it.” Or “Hmm… meh.”

Well. Read Crow and you to tell me afterwards that you didn’t go a little crazy jabbering on about hot Irish mobsters and how sexy their accents sound. I dare ya! 😉😂😂

Lachlan Crow had the perfect balance of intimidation, strength, and possessiveness. With a dash of protectiveness, a splash of lighthearted sense of humor, and a pinch of gentlemanly manners, wrapped in an all-out sexy exterior. Morally grey characters never looked so good! Raaawrrr!

Crow will have you second-guessing your loyalty. Is the Irish Mafia really thaaaat bad?!


“I can’t let you go, Mack. The reasons don’t matter, so it’s better ye just accept it now.”


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With Mack’s backstory and her initial reasoning for targeting Crow and the MacKenna Syndicate will have you on the edge of your seat to see if she pulls off her plan unscathed, or if Crow will discover the truth and end her like any other enemy.

With a forbidden and unlikely romance like theirs, there’s hurdles they have to overcome. You’ll see a lot of emotions float around between Mack and Lachlan. Feelings that they’re unfamiliar with, and both trying to deny. There’s a lot of trust issues, game-playing, and secrets being kept. Who’s playing, who? And who will come out alive?

This review is long overdue. But I can tell you now, my feelings for this book have not swayed whatsoever! Since 2018, I’ve found myself rereading this book at least once or twice yearly. It’s a romance story that will stay with me forever. There are certain scenes that get me every single damn time that I can pinpoint when I’m about to tear up, or get butterflies in my stomach from the suspense. Every time I read this book, it’s like I’m reading it for the first. It’s that kind of book, people!

It’s pure dark magic that it has this effect on me (and I’m sure on a lot of other readers too who’ve not only read Crow but this entire series)! It’s an effortless read. Beautifully told from dual points of views, with glimpses of their past revealed in between the present that elevates their individual stories to another level of world-building and growth. Zavarelli has created a world that holds so much endless possibilities, with her secondary characters also playing vital roles to making this story and the relationships within multi-dimensional.

I’m one of those pickle of a reader that if the book hasn’t captured my attention in the first two chapters then I will most likely abandon it for another.

I didn’t get past the first chapter of Crow before I was swallowing down that red pill! Screw the blue one! (A little Matrix reference, in case you didn’t know). 😉

Zavarelli has a way of catching your attention right off the bat by immediately getting you to question what the protagonists’ deal is. Her characters are unique, (and after having read more of her books since 2018) can easily be identified as Zavarelli’s because of their strong personalities, quirky mannerisms and unforgettable quotes. You will never get her characters confused with any other. They ooze out of the pages and leave an everlasting impression. Guaranteed.

You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll hold your breath. And you’ll swoon. Your heart will break a little for these characters, but you’ll be rooting for everything to work out in the end!


“There was no avoiding you, Mack. It was always meant to happen this way.”


Oh. And if you’re a fan of boxing, like little ol’ me — then all the boxing fights/ scenes will be the cherry on top of what I consider an already delicious read!

This is only the beginning of what I can assure you is an even darker, grittier, more trigger-inducing series of books that’ll have you staying up reading!

How much would I recommend Crow to friends and fellow romance fans? Dude. An infinite amount! I haven’t stopped recommending it… and I’m recommending it again now, in this review! *singsong voice* Reaaaaad it!

RATING: ♥♥♥♥♥/5

•••


Read more of my reviews on A. Zavarelli books!

Confess by A. Zavarelli

Sin City Salvation (Book One) — Dark, romantic suspense.

Convict by A. Zavarelli

Sin City Salvation (Book Two) — Dark, romantic suspense. Mild MC romance. 

Hate Crush by A. Zavarelli

Standalone, contemporary romance. Age gap. School setting. 

Mine by Natasha Knight & A. Zavarelli

Ties That Bind Duet (Book One) — Mafia romance. Dark, suspense romance. 

His by Natasha Knight & A. Zavarelli

Ties That Bind Duet (Book Two) — Mafia romance. Dark, suspense romance. 

Stealing Cinderella by A. Zavarelli

Modern, standalone romance. Dark fairy tale retelling.


•••

Catch you in my next one! Stay safe and keep positive! Xo

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