May 17, 2016

REVIEW of Mishca and Lauren: The Complete Collection by London Miller

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Ever since I've read author J.J. McAvoy's Ruthless People series, I've developed a thing for romance novels that involve organized crime. I say this with the risk of sounding like a bad person, but there's just something hot about a guy who won't bat an eye at killing someone that falls madly in love with a woman who brings out the best in him. And this is exactly what Mischa and Lauren: The Complete Collection offers.

Here's how we're going to do this. I'll be reviewing each book individually (if I can), then to summarize, I'll tell you what I think about the series as a whole, so basically what I thought of the box set. Ready? Let's get this ball rolling.

Title: Mishca and Lauren: The Complete Collection (Volkov Bratva, #1-3)
Author: London Miller
Publication Date: May 17, 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary Romance, Organized Crime
Source: ARC Given by Tour Organizer
Rating: 5 Stars

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29726998-mishca-and-lauren


SYNOPSIS:
Lauren was just a girl looking to make a fresh start in New York City, until she meets the man that will change everything she thought she knew. Spanning over two years, from the very beginning, until the sweet end, delve into the Volkov Bratva world and learn how it all began.
Mishca and Lauren: The Complete Collection contains the first three novels of the Volkov Bratva Series, as well as the companion novella...

**********

Twenty-year-old Lauren Thompson left her small town in Michigan to begin a new life in the Big Apple where no one knows her name or the tragedy that had rocked her family fifteen years prior. With new friends and an intriguing new love interest, starting over is easier than she expected...but Mishca Volkov isn't what he seems. As the son of a Russian Mob boss, he thrives in a world of chaos and fear, earning the title of Bratva Captain through blood and pain.
When the two cross paths, lines blur and passions ignite, bringing them closer than they could ever imagine. Until secrets from the past threaten to tear them apart. Can they fight past their demons...or were they doomed by fate before they ever met.
**********

Lauren Thompson

After learning the truth behind her father's tragic murder, Lauren vowed never to go near another Volkov again, but sometimes matters of the heart are too strong to resist...

Mishca Volkov

As a Captain in the Volkov Bratva, Mishca has pledged his loyalty to the Vory v Zakone, but he soon finds himself at odds with the life he's always known...

Until the End

When Mishca and Lauren fight to salvage their relationship, new obstacles present themselves, forcing the pair to make drastic choices that either tear them apart or bring them closer together...
**********
Three months pass without incident, leading Mishca and Lauren to believe they can finally move on from the past and build a life together...but enemies both old and new lurk in the shadows, waiting for the opportunity to strike.
When a dangerous threat presents itself, Lauren is forced to turn to the one person that would rather see Mishca dead than live happily ever after...she now has to step into a role that demands payment in blood.
Alliances are formed, one side fighting for survival, and the other for retribution.
No one can be trusted.
No one is safe.
War is coming.


...and not everyone will live to see the end of it.
**********

Can a love born of violence stand the test of time?
Despite a less than ideal start to their marriage, Mishca and Lauren are finally in a place where they do not have to look over their shoulders at every turn. Now that they are in a secure place, it's time for them to have the one thing Mishca had promised her before they took their vows.
A honeymoon...
Traveling to the sandy beaches of Sardinia, Italy, the couple will explore what brought them together in the first place, instead of the life that constantly threatens to tear them apart.
But as the newly appointed Boss of the Volkov Bratva, is it too late for Mishca to have an even remotely normal life...and is Lauren ready to face another challenge that neither of them saw coming...

CHARACTER BACKGROUND:
Lauren Thompson is a strong young woman who believes that everyone should get what they deserve. She grew up feeling isolated and conscious because of what she and her mother went through when her father died, hence she wanted to be more independent, open, and strong now that she has started a new chapter in her life. However, underneath all the soft-hearted and kind persona lies a woman who wants to pay blood with blood. She doesn't flinch at the site of violence and most definitely doesn't care about the lives of the people that wronged her family. Maybe she's not as fragile and nice as most people think she is.
Mischka Volkov never experienced what a real familial relationship is like. He's so used to prioritizing the Bratva that he doesn't care for much else, especially if it will make him appear weak. But what he didn't expect is the sense of completeness and contentedness he gets every time he's with Lauren. However, life is more complicated than that. With all the secrets he keep and the enemies he have, he's starting to doubt whether or not loving someone is worth all the serious, life-threatening risks.
REVIEW:
In The Beginning:
As the first book in a series, it's crucial for In the Beginning to build a strong foundation for the story and the characters. This is the perfect time for the author to set the tone and pace of the entire series, as well as hook the readers. Was London Miller successful in doing all this? Yes, yes she was.
I found it interesting that the opening scene was of Lauren's father, Doctor Cameron Thompson, thinking about his impending death. What kind of a person are you if your curiosity isn't piqued by something so dark and depressing? From that point on, I knew that I would read this book--and all the followings ones--and enjoy it. And I did, mind you, all in one day. 14 hours to be exact, I was able to finish the entire box set. And can I just say how happy I am that there are more books circling this world, because I don't think I'm ready to let go of Mishca, Klaus, and Luka.
The story progresses at an understandable pace, and the romance growth between Mischa and Lauren was believable. Their chemistry *low whistle* wow-oh-wow! I can practically feel their sexual tension crackling from outside the book, and that's saying something. Okay let me give you a spoiler...they didn't have sex. At least not in this book. If you feel disappointed now, don't be. Trust me. With everything that happened between them--the bad and the worse--you'd be happy that Lauren didn't give her V-card away because you would want to kill Mischa with your own hands at the end.
There were a lot of characters introduced here, which is both a curse and a blessing as we get to know different people who play important roles in the entire plot, but it's also easy to get a bit confused with the new names being thrown in left and right. But what should we expect right? It's an organized crime story, meaning there are a lot of people involved. Speaking of character though, I just want to give Lauren a big round of applause. She's not a trained killer or a member of an important family, but the fact that she was able to standup for herself and prove to people that she shouldn't be messed with is note-worthy.
Overall, In the Beginning is definitely a great start to a wonderful series.

Until the End:

The second installment in the series starts off quite differently. It's told from Naomi Le Feuvre's point-of-view. She's a woman who's used to getting whatever she wants by playing with other people's minds and feelings. In a nutshell, she's a manipulative bitch. Unfortunately for everyone else, her latest exploit brought upon chaos to the streets of New York, all the way from Albania.

Until the End is a new chapter in the lives of Lauren and Mischa. With a less than pleasant end from book 1, book 2 takes a play at forgiveness, redemption, and trust, along with other things of course. We get to see a whole other side to all our characters, some for the better and some for the worst. But for me, slightly better than the character growth is the story development. 
Unlike In the Beginning, Until the End showcases the real, gruesome, and violent side of the mob life. We see people kill and people die, and we see how Lauren deals with this side of Mischa's life. There was this one scene that I really liked; Lauren was repeatedly being disrespected by one of Mikhail's, Mischa's father and Pakhan, men. And to punish the guy, Mischa repeatedly stabs the guy's hands...while Lauren watches. SO. AWESOME. 
A couple of important characters are introduced in this installment while a few others were removed. There were also a few people that we don't really get to see much of like Lauren's friends, mother, and Ross. Mikhail also doesn't show much of himself apart from the first couple of chapters. This is really where London Miller starts establishing who the core characters are in the story as a whole. 
Oh and you DON'T want to miss out on the cliffhanger of this book. You won't believe it. 
The Final Hour: 
After such an intense ending of Until the End, The Final Hour picks up from where the Albenian Mob seeks revenge. Meanwhile, back in New York, things between Lauren amd Mischa are amazing. Lauren is graduating, Alex is finally in good terms with them again, and Mischa proposes! Actually they also get married in this book ... then Mischa gets shot in the chest by a sniper ... on their wedding day ... just when they were walking towarda the guests. A pretty eventful wedding if you ask me. 
But things aren't all that bad as this incident finally brought Klaus in their little group. Who is this Klaus that I keep mentioning? You'd have to read to find out *wink*. 
There are a lot more humor in this installment, and we also get to see things from other characters' perspective like Luka, Klaus, and Alex. However, I feel like Lauren doesn't really shine in this book. It's as though she's became timid and reserved when things started crumbling around them. Speaking of crumbling, the twist London throws readers here is something I NEVER saw coming. I can't say what it is of course, but it is honestly heartbreaking. Tears were shed and my heart did break in a certain scene where Mischa's mind and heart were at war with each other. He was breaking down and I just can't handle the things that happened from that point on. 
London's seemless story telling skill is amazing. I loved how she gave us glimpses of Luka and Klaus' pasts, the demons that follow them around, and the scars--physically, emotionally, and mentally--they carry 24/7. But what I loved more is how she showed us how these seemingly messed up people can work together and make Mischa's "mission" a success. 
I can't say much anymore because I will end up revealing more than I already have, which I don't want to do because I want ya'll to experience what I did. 
Time Stood Still: 
I don't have much to say about this short addition to the series, except that it's nice seeing Mischa and Lauren as a regular married couple. Well maybe not so regular, but as normal as they can be. 
Alex and Luka's bickering also gets worse here and we start seeing the latter's carefully crafted facade start to break the more the former pushes. I really can't wait to see them together, which I would hopefully do in part 4 of the Volkov Bratvs which is unfortunately not part of this box set.

SUMMARY:
Like all other series, this one is not perfect. There were a lot of holes I'm still looking to fill, a lot of people I feel just disappeared and weren't given enough emphasis, and a lot of questions left unanswered. But I guess that's exactly what the author wanted to do so we'd be more inclined to immerse ourselves deeper in this world she created.

In a nutshell, I LOVED Mischa and Lauren: The Complete Collection books 1-3.5. I craved the complexity of the characters and of the situations, I yearned to dig deeper and learn more about them and their pasts, and I'm excited to see what lies ahead in their bumpy and risky journey. 
PURCHASE LINKS:
Amazon (#FREE with #KindleUnlimited): http://amzn.to/1qmeYRI
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
With a degree in Creative Writing, London Miller has turned pen to paper, creating riveting fictional worlds where the bad guys are sometimes the good guys. Her debut novel, In the Beginning, is the first in the Volkov Bratva Series. She currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and two puppies, where she drinks far too much Sprite, and spends her nights writing.
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