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BOOK REVIEW: Lev (Shot Callers, #1) by Belle Aurora

Title: Lev
Series: (Shot Callers, #1—but can be read as a standalone) 
Author: Belle Aurora 
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance
Rating: 5-Stars
Cliffhanger: No
HEA: Yes
Review on Blog: HERE

From the moment Lev Leokov spots the young woman hiding behind her hair in the middle of the gentleman's club, he can't take his eyes off of her.
For the very first time in his life, he is affected. Having been told his entire life that he can't process or understand emotion, he considers it a big deal.

When Mina Harris gets caught red-handed with a wallet that isn't hers, she falls apart. She's tired, lonely and hasn't eaten in days.

Lev offers her an ultimatum... A nice warm bed, a hot meal and a job, or the cops.

Mina takes her chances with Lev.
After all, a person with nothing has nothing left to lose.

*This book enters the world of the extended Leokov family which are introduced in Friend-Zoned, however, is unrelated*

Despaired, hungry, homeless, and helpless, Mina Harris succumbs to the desperation of darkness—by shuffling into a strip club with the intent of seducing and taking some rich, drunk man's money. Instead, head hanging low, she stumbles past a handsome stranger leaning over the bar...and with shaking hands, she steals the wallet dangling half-out of his back pocket.

Ever watchful, Lev Leokov notices Mina the moment she steps through his family's clubs' door. But it was more than that. For once, Lev felt something—something he couldn't quite describe. Interest? Attraction? Unexplained possessiveness? Whatever the discombobulating feeling was, Lev was determined to give the emancipated, half-dead beauty a chance after he catches her with a wad of his brother's cash clutched in her fist.
She's mine. 
I found her. 
I'm keeping her.
Three offers are given, one choices is made—and with it, Mina and Lev's lives are irrevocably altered. Because as each of those closed-off characters open themselves up to one another, their hidden flaws, deepest secrets, and forever regrets emerge to create a tangle of imperfect lives and love.

You would expect Mina—a wanderer who belonged to no one, who had nothing—to be shy and timid, like a mouse. And she was, at first. But as the story unfolded, I discovered that underneath all the years of fear, the on-the-streets isolation, Mina was not only optimistic and kind-hearted, but also a tad bit sassy.

Which made Mina the perfect match for Lev—because she was soft, yet strong enough to endure his indifference, his seemingly aloof nature. Because Lev was different than 'normal'. He had the tendency to not understand those around him, and a difficulty processing even his own emotions.
A shiver went through me. His face came across as harsh. His cheekbones were high, his chin was strong, his nose slightly crooked, and he had generous lips. His skin was slightly tanned and flawless; he didn't have any laugh lines. It was almost as if he didn't smile at all.
To understand Lev's character requires deep thought. He's a tough, Alpha male—yet there's this contradicting awkwardness, this honest vulnerability about him.  Raised with a cold, cruel upbringing, he's accustom to the physical people can cause, so all the mental gets lost in his naturally-analytical mind. Which is understandable—because how can he understand things such as love, if someone who was supposed to love him hurt him, bloody and bruised?

No. To Lev, love is actions. Love isn't just a word, not just a feeling. And I fell in love with that; the unique way Lev loved Mina: the needy growls, the possessiveness hands, the gentle, insecure glances he stole of her beneath his lashes...
"Mina," I whispered into the dark. Her light grunt told me she was falling asleep fast. "I don't know what love is," I started quietly, "but if I could love anyone..." I pressed a gentle kiss behind her ear, "I would love you. Very much."
Mina and Lev's relationship may have began as shy, unsure—but slowly, irrevocably, it morphed into a bold, needful kind of love; a slow burn that caught fire until it raged in a full-out flame. That romance, along with the many hidden secrets and twisted twists in the book kept me turn, turn, turnnnnning the pages.

Written in multiple first person POV, the first STANDALONE book in Belle Aurora's Shot Callers series is deeply addictive—introducing secondary characters that I formed an attachment to, so much so that I wanted to pull those secondary characters out of Lev's pages, only so I could push them into their own stories.

Needless to say, I will be adding ALL of the books in the Shot Callers series to my TBR. ♥

Overall, Belle Aurora crafted a well-balanced story with captivating characters, a sprinkle of suspense, giggle-worthy moments, an underlying impression of mystery, and an awh-inducing romance about two imperfect people, feeling love perfectly—despite their shameful flaws and sorrowful pasts.