Review: A Cruel Love by SM Soto

A CRUEL LOVE
Genre: Dark Romance, Mafia
Author: SM Soto
Release Date: May 9, 2019

As a hitman for hire, Percivale is no stranger to violence.
From the moment he saw Blossom Jaymes through the window of her bakery, he knew he was in too deep. Not only was she as sweet as her perfectly crafted treats, but she was a soft-spoken, golden-haired angel that shone like a bright beacon in his dark world. And Percivale didn’t deal in angels. He dealt in death and crime. The even bigger issue? Percivale’s next hit is on said sweet little baker who doesn’t seem to realize how much danger lurks around her with each passing day.
If he doesn’t get the job done, who will?

When Percivale has to decide what’s more important to him—the life of a woman who may very well be innocent or getting his revenge on the men who murdered his family—the lines become blurred. Morals are twisted and a deathly chase ensues that can only result in one thing—Blossom buried six feet under.

Or can it?

Can Percivale let his lust for revenge go in order to save Blossom from the bounty on her head, or will the power she unknowingly holds over him be what gets her killed?

AMAZON

I’m going to enjoy breaking you, Blossom. Piece by fucking piece”

I hate myself a little right now as I write this review. Because here’s the thing; I really REALLY wanted to lovethis book. The blurb and the cover hooked my attention right away, and I was SO ready for a gritty and dark mafia romance. Sadly, that’s not what I got. And you know what? It seriously sucks being the black sheep that didn’t enjoy a book that so many others clearly did. Le sigh.

Now look, if you haven’t read very many mafia or even dark romance books before, I have a feeling you’ll really enjoy this. As for me? I’ve read enough to be extremely picky. And A Cruel Love was rough for me from start to finish. My first clue should have been that I had no problem putting it down. As a matter of fact, I stopped reading it at 5% originally. Then I picked it back up and stopped at 30%. Then I decided to try and power through it, while that annoying inner voice of mine kept screaming “I told you so” the entire freaking time.

The story and the characters were one giant cliche after another. None of it made sense to me. The characterization was so inconsistent that it made my head spin. Here you have a mousy, introverted, scared out of her whits heroine that gets kidnapped by a stranger after shooting a man that tried to rape her point blank in the head in front of her. Said man is also a mafia hit man that was sent by his boss to kill her because she’s been asking too many questions about her missing (actually now dead) neighbor. So this heroine then goes from crying hysterically, trying to make a run for it, being threatened to die by our hero at every turn, crying hysterically, having odd sassy outbursts that revert just as suddenly back to her crying outbursts, to lecturing the man threatening to kill her about his motel room choices and second hand smoke.
Oh and through all this, and Percivale’s constant hot and cold behavior, cruel treatment of her, shackling her to the bed and leaving her for hours on end, and constant reminders that he’ll kill her if she so much as steps out of line, she still can’t help but be sexually drawn to him. I just didn’t buy it. Here’s a woman that’s basically been shying away from anything sexual since a terrible assault in high school, yet a man that’s killed several people in cold blood in front her get her engine revving.

Through all this, Percivale’s characterization is incredibly inconsistent as well. I couldn’t help but feel he was just one giant dark romance cliche. The constant cigarette smoking, the smirks, the reminders of his cruelty and darkness. And then he also discloses to Blossom what happened to his family years ago to make him into who he is today. At a point of the story where it made absolutely ZERO sense for him to disclose such a hugely personal and private detail. He also uses the term “seed”. *shudders* I didn’t buy the reasons for the hit on Blossom. It was weak and hard to believe. I also struggled to connect to them as a couple since I feel like that wasn’t as developed as it could be. It struck me as being very sudden.

There’s too much necessarily obvious descriptions when it comes to the darkness of this book. Like this:

We’re the Cavalieri Della Morte. We surround ourselves with danger, and we’re all the same, violent and deadly.”

And way too many things that are so far out of the realm of believability that I struggled to keep reading. Like a point of the story where Percivale gets stabbed in the stomach and then proceeds to fight in 5 back to back fights to the death. I mean….yeah.

I get that it’s fiction and I should suspend my disbelief somewhat. But there still has to be a hint of SOME believability for me to buy it and connect to it. And sadly this book skated on the skirts of it until finally skating right out of the rink entirely.

The characters were such extremes that it felt cliche. The sweet, somewhat innocent, good heroine that lectures a hit man about second hand smoke and hasn’t seen the right end of a razor in her female area for years. The extremely dark, super violent and cruel hitman with a penchant for chain smoking. It was all just too much for this reader.

I wanted to love this book, guys. I really, really did. But sadly, I’m just way too picky when it comes to my mafia and dark romances, that I spent the majority of the book picking apart almost everything. It’s a problem. I know. But I just couldn’t help myself.

Do I think the majority of readers would enjoy this book? Absolutely. I’m just a picky asshole here. Clearly. So take what I said with a grain of salt and read it and judge for yourself.

Review: Bad Saint by Monica James

BAD SAINT
Series: All The Pretty Things Trilogy #1
Genre: Dark Romance
Author: Monica James
Release Date: May 6, 2019

I was kidnapped on my honeymoon by three masked men.

Blindfolded.
Bound.
Destination unknown.

I was told to stay silent and abide by their rules. But they didn’t realize I wasn’t a victim…not anymore.

The open sea was my backdrop for nine torturous days. During that time, glimmers of my fate were revealed by a man with the mysterious chartreuse-colored eyes. He should have scared me, but he didn’t.

He intrigued me. And I intrigued him.

He punished me when I didn’t listen, which was every single day. But beneath his cruelty, I sensed he was guarding a grave secret.

I was sold.
And in a game of poker, no less.

My buyer? A Russian mobster who likes to collect pretty things. Now that I know the truth, I only have one choice.

Sink or swim.

And when one fateful night presents me the opportunity, I take it. I just never anticipated my actions would leave me shipwrecked with my kidnapper.

He needs me alive. I want him dead.

But as days turn into weeks, one thing becomes clear—I should hate him…but I don’t.

My name is Willow.
His name is Saint.

Ironic, isn’t it? He bears a name that denotes nothing but holiness yet delivers nothing but hell. However, if this is hell on earth…God, save my soul.

AMAZON 

He’s leading a lamb to the slaughter, but the one thing he doesn’t realize…is that I’m not a lamb. And I never will be.

Alright. Accountability time. Why have those of you that knew that I’ve never read a Monica James book not slapped me upside the head with one of her books yet? hmm? You should be ashamed of yourselves! Ashamed, I tells ya! Because this girl? Is currently kicking her own ass for only now discovering this author.

Let’s be real here. The mere second that I laid my eyes on that blurb and this cover, I knew this would be my first Monica James book. I’m a sucker for a dark romance. But add in a good captive scenario and stick a fork in me. I’m done!

Having never read this author, I had no idea what to expect from this book. I know that I tend to be ridiculously picky when it comes to dark romance and I was a little nervous with reading it from a new to me author. But my worries soon floated away on the waves of emotion that this story brought! Holy…WOW.

While you spend the majority of the book in Willow’s head, you also get an incredibly unique glimpse of Saint. And let me just tell you, friends, you will be frothing at the mouth for this man. He’s an incredible enigma of violence and hidden pain. Everything about him is shrouded in mystery and you’re utterly desperate to peel back all of his many layers and get an answer for the million questions that will be running through your head as you turn the pages.

I need the darkness to survive. It’s the only way I can live with what I’ve done.”

If you’re like me, and like your heroines to be fierce fighters that don’t give up in even the most dire of circumstances, you’re going to love Willow. Here’s a woman that gets kidnapped on her wedding night, thrown on a boat, threatened within an inch of her life, and told she’s going to be the property of some cruel Russian mobster, yet she never stops fighting. The more you learn about the puzzle pieces that led to her current picture, the more desperate you’ll be to get to the next page.

Saint is certainly no saint in Willow’s world. This is a man that’s responsible for her current circumstances. He’s cruel, cold, and conditioning her for a man that’s promised to be even worse. But beneath that rough masked exterior, there are glimpses of a man that’s something…more.

How do you fall for a criminal who you never even get to understand beyond his words and actions as seen through Willow’s eyes. I don’t know, but I know that I did. There’s just something so magnetic about Saint. Something so vulnerable that you can’t help but glimpse in his actions and words. You want to hate him for the things he does, but you just can’t.

There were a few parts of the story where I felt like the descriptions became too much and got in the way of the story’s pacing. But ultimately, I was just too invested in the story to pay it much mind.

Bad Saint was deliciously dark and utterly captivating. I was totally enraptured in this world and by the time the ending came, my emotions were so up and down, I didn’t know what to do with myself. And then that ending happened!!!! SWEET MOTHER OF ALL THAT’S HOLY I NEED THE NEXT BOOK!!

#DGRFave & Jenn’s Review: Debase by Rachel Van Dyken

DEBASE
Series:
Elite Bratva Brotherhood #1
Genre:
Contemporary Romance, Dark
Author:
Rachel Van Dyken
Release Date:
April 30, 2019

Debase, the final book in the Eagle Elite Series and the first new book in the Elite Bratva Brotherhood by #1 New York Times Bestselling Author Rachel Van Dyken.

With blood on my hands, I held her.

With death in my soul, I took from her.

With the devil in my heart, I coveted her.

There are many definitions of Hell.

My list was exhaustive, my definitions tragic.

Tonight I was adding something new to the very top.

Girl number six thirty-two.

She arrived on my birthday, the same day, every year, I play Russian Roulette and pull the trigger.

She was my omen.

My end game.

She made it personal.

And for the first time in my life, I gave in.

A virgin mob boss with no soul.

My name is Andrei Petrov.

They call me the devil.

All I want is for the pain to end.

All she wants is for me to share it.

I am the last remaining heir to a dynasty that should burn in Hell.

And my last wish remains for it to die with me.

AMAZON | NOOK | iBOOKS | KOBO | SMASHWORDS

I slid my tongue into her mouth. I tasted, I took, I was greedy with each kiss. With blood on my hands, I held her. With death in my soul, I drank from her.

With the devil in my heart, I coveted her.

I wanted closer.

More.

My gloves felt too hot for my hands.

My hands too big to contain the weeping leather as I pulled away from Alice and stared into her big blue eyes.

“You don’t want this,” I whispered.

She bit down on her swollen lip and reached for me, I stood still as her warm hands touched both of my cheeks. “Lie.”

I let out a hiss of air at her touch. “Walk. Away.”

“Kiss me again.”

“I can’t do that.” I needed to stop doing that.

“Can’t or won’t?”

I told myself one more kiss, one more touch. I told myself it would be okay, that I was still in control.

That I was above this.

That no woman had ever owned me.

No woman had ever taken everything.

My chest heaved as I stared at her mouth, unable to move, completely rooted to the floor.

Alice moved her hands to my jeans and slowly unbuttoned them. I didn’t stop her, I needed to fucking stop her, but it was like I’d drank this paralyzing poison from her lips and couldn’t function, could only watch her as my soul floated above my body, mocking my inaction, telling me that this would be the end of me.

The very end.

Letting her in.

Keeping her there.

I would give her everything.

And then I would lose control.

Lose my mind.

Lose my heart.

I would lose.

So would she.

“Alice…” My voice cracked. “I wish…” Her hands stilled on my jeans like she was ready to pull them down. “I can’t. I wish I could. I can’t.”

How could she possibly understand?

How could I explain the gut-wrenching fear of looking in the mirror and knowing that one choice kept me sane. One choice.

And that was sex.

He’d made that choice.

I wouldn’t.

I couldn’t.

I couldn’t trust myself, couldn’t trust it wouldn’t happen to me too, and hurt someone like her.

Someone so very… perfect.

Without blinking, Alice gripped my jeans, indecision etched on every pretty part of her face.

She was beautiful.

So damn beautiful.

I gripped her wrists with my hands and pulled them away from the very real temptation of getting completely naked and sinking into her, feeling her clench around me, her tight heat.

Shit.

I pulled her into my arms, and she rested her head on my shoulder. Just because I couldn’t let her touch me, couldn’t cross that line, didn’t mean I couldn’t make her happy, I would kill to watch her face in the throes of multiple orgasms.

I quickly gripped her by the hips and put her up on the cold granite countertop.

“Andrei what are you doing?” She looked down at me uncertainty in her blue eyes.

I moved my hands to her ass and pulled down the black leggings she’d been wearing, all the way down to her ankles, right along with a pair of lacy underwear that were bright pink, and perfect.

“Andrei?”

“Yes?”

“Seriously, what are you doing?”

I gripped her knees with my hands and then spread them wide. “What’s it look like I’m doing?” I smirked. “I’m feasting.”

Her eyes widened.

Never underestimate a virgin with an extremely vivid imagination and heightened sexual appetite.

I wasn’t a fucking monk.

I would like to think I knew more than most men, because I’d seen it all, watched it, inadvertently studied it.

If someone gave me a diagram of a woman, I could point out over twenty-two ways to get her off — with my tongue, a feather, my fingers, take your pick.

“You don’t have to—” She let out a gasp, gripping the edge of the granite, turning her hands white.

I chuckled darkly against her right thigh and bit. “I’m sorry, what was that? I don’t have to?”

“I’ve never, nobody has ever… done. This.”

“Tell me,” I asked gently before I dipped my tongue inside her and flicked.

Her entire body jerked.

“Tell me he never touched you like this, tell me nobody has ever touched you like this.”

“Never,” she rasped. “You.” That word was like a gunshot going off in my soul. “Only you, Andrei.”

“Me.” I flicked my tongue again, and gripped her by the ass, pulling her almost completely off the counter while I sat beneath her and sucked her off in the most primitive aggressive way I knew how.

With every ounce of energy I had in my physical body.

With my soul.

I used every weapon in my arsenal.

632 stars!!

Bear with me because this is series is hard to review without spoiling, but I promise no spoilers!

Dark. Twisted. Raw. And yet….Funny. How am I laughing during all this darkness? Because Rachel Van Dyken creates these terrible yet…loveable characters who embrace their darkness and just lie in it. I adore the banter between these guys from all of the previous books. I could read an entire book (or text message chain) of just these guys talking to each other!! Rachel takes all of her characters with her in this series, so we can follow them and always get more of each couple/character. Because I ALWAYS WANT MORE!!


Andrei. The tortured anti-hero. Well, and the anti-hero who also like to torture. Torture is his specialty. Andrei’s history is dark and unthinkable, but he is trying to come out of that darkness. Unfortunately, he has to endure it until he can be free of it completely. He has a plan to be free, but one girl is getting in his way, in his mind….and in his pants. Andrei is constantly wearing a mask, hiding who he really is and his scars. He doesn’t allow himself to trust others easily.

There is a clear comparison between Phoenix and Andrei. As a lover of everything Phoenix (He’s mine!), I quickly became obsessed with Andrei as well. They have a similar past, and Phoenix helps Andrei in his own twisted way, helping Andrei find some light in all of the darkness.


Alice. I love the heroine in this book. Much like the previous heroines, Alice is a strong woman. But unlike the previous heroines, she isn’t jaded. She has been through the unthinkable and struggles trusting people, especially men. But this doesn’t stop her from seeing the (potential) good in Andrei. Of course, Andrei is always pushing her away because he doesn’t want to taint her in any way, but he can only resist for so long. Andrei ends up having to protect her and the rest is for you to read and find out what happens. 😉

This is technically a spin-off of the Eagle Elite series, so I am uber excited about where she is going with this spin-off!! BUT I would definitely recommend reading the previous series because ALL of the characters are included in this book. I love the multiple points of views because there is always something happening, and she keeps you guessing the whole time!

Blood in. No out.

Rachel Van Dyken is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author of regency and contemporary romances. When she’s not writing you can find her drinking coffee at Starbucks and plotting her next book while watching The Bachelor.

She keeps her home in Idaho with her Husband, adorable son, and two snoring boxers! She loves to hear from readers!

Connect with Rachel:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RachelVanDyken
Website: http://rachelvandykenauthor.com
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Review: Twisted Pride by Cora Reilly

TWISTED PRIDE
Series: The Camorra Chronicles #3
Genre: Dark Romance, Mafia
Author: Cora Reilly
Release Date: April 16, 2019

Remo Falcone is beyond redemption.

As Capo of the Camorra he rules with a brutal hand over his territory – a territory the Chicago Outfit breached.

Now Remo is out for retribution.
A wedding is sacred, stealing a bride sacrilegious.

Serafina is the niece of the Boss of the Outfit, and her hand has been promised in marriage for years, but kidnapped in her wedding dress on her way to church by Remo, Serafina quickly realizes that she can’t hope for saving. Yet, even in the hands of the cruelest man she knows, she is determined to cling to her pride, and Remo soon understands that the woman at his mercy might not be as easy to break as he thought.

A ruthless man on a quest to destroy the Outfit by breaking someone they are supposed to protect.

A woman intent on bringing a monster to his knees.
Two families that will never be the same.

AMAZON

Pride was the only weapon I had, and I would hold on to it until the very end.

Mafia romance is my jam. The darker, the better. And when I first saw the blurb to this story, I knew this had to be my first Cora Reilly book.

After finishing, I’ll admit I have very conflicting emotions about how I feel about it. On the one hand, I struggled to connect to the heroine and the way she was painted to be so naive and complacent in the beginning. On the other hand, the more I read, the more connected I felt to the story.

What begins as a twisted game of revenge soon begins to turn into something more. Remo and Serafina both come from the same world but they live on opposite sides of it. Where Serafina has been sheltered, Remo has seem the depths of human depravity and violence. So much so, that it’s twisted and tainted him into the Capo that he is today. The dynamic between them was a delicious one, however. I loved the push and pull of their unwanted attraction. Serbian should be a means to an end to a man like Remo. He doesn’t care about anything but his family. But there’s something about her that reaches into the hidden depths of him. It’s not instant. It’s a slow burn of realization as he discovers that Serafina isn’t the sheltered and soft beauty that she seems. That she’s got a core of strength and a pride beneath that delicate exterior. That he yearns to break her in all ways possible.

Now here is also where I struggled with the book; the characterization. It soon became apparent that I did myself a great disservice by reading this book without reading the others. There’s clearly a continuing story arc that follows the brothers, and even though the author attempts to give the reader bits and pieces, it still felt like I was missing huge chunks of their backstory. The incredible amount of redundant descriptions of Remo were a huge irritant for me. I lost count of the amount of times that I read about his cruel smile, cold voice and brutal acts. I’m not even kidding. The word cruel is used over 60 times in the book to describe either his smile, his eyes, or his general being. And yes, I counted.

Don’t get me wrong, I still really enjoyed Remo’s dark depravity. But I also got tired of constantly being reminded of it. It felt like being slapped in the face with his personality. I get it! He’s cruel and brutal. Let his actions and behavior be the reminder. Not his description.

Aside from that, I really did enjoy the story. It was action-packed, gritty, and after the 30% mark, a complete page turner for me. And while I struggled with some parts, I still liked it enough to know I want to read the rest of this series. I definitely need Adamo’s story soon! That was a secondary character that I couldn’t get enough of.

New Release & Review: Because You’re Mine by Claire Contreras

BECAUSE YOU’RE MINE
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Claire Contreras
Release Date: July 12, 2018

From New York Times best-seller Claire Contreras comes a new, sexy stand-alone novel . . .

When you grow up in the most feared mafia family, it’s easy to identify the kind of men that are bad news.

They’re the ones with experience.

The ones with secrets.

The ones that exude sex just by saying your name.

From the moment I laid eyes on Lorenzo, I knew he wasn’t just bad news.

He was the headline.
But my head and my heart are at war.
He’s too mysterious, too gorgeous, too wild, and now, he wants me.
I should run far away. So why am I racing toward him?
I’m totally going to get burned. I know it. A man like Lorenzo won’t leave me unscathed.
He’ll make ashes of me.

AMAZON

I stare at this infuriating, gorgeous man. This liar, thief of a man, because that’s what he’s done. He’s stolen my senses entirely. 

When I saw that one of my favorite authors will be writing a mafia romance, I was all over it like white on rice. I didn’t even bother reading the blurb before adding it. And then when I saw the cover? I was basically frothing at the mouth to get my grabby little hands on it. Admittedly, it’s not often where a book can live up to a ridiculously hot cover for me. But not only did this book do it, it exceeded them!

Some men pretend they want control. They play with handcuffs and floggers and remind you continuously that you’re theirs. Men like Loren don’t need to play games to remind you that you’re at their mercy.

Because You’re Mine was a page turner from beginning to finish. It was a sizzling, aciton-packed thrill ride full of twists and turns. I was immediately enraptured with these characters and their story.

Catalina grew up in the mafia world, but when tragedy struck, she ran from it. For ten years, she’s run as far as she can from everything to do with it and focused all her energy on her career as a ballerina. With her father still deep in the life, her sister and her brother are the only ones that she has any relationship with. But then a favor for her sister tilts her world on its axis.

He silences me with a kiss. It’s not a soft kiss that’s asking for anything, but a hard, demanding kiss. One that speaks of a loyalty I haven’t asked for, blood that hasn’t yet spilled. 

Lorenzo oozes danger from every pore and screams heartbreak waiting to happen. But there’s something about him that draws her like a moth to a flame, and it’s not long before the fiery passion between them begins to consume them both. But they each hide dangerous secrets from each other, and it doesn’t take long before Cat’s past catches up to her in the most deadly of ways.

To say that I devoured this book would be an understatement. Loren was a hero that I was starving for every morsel of information about. There was something just so darkly captivating about him that I couldn’t get enough of. He’s an enigma wrapped in danger and cloaked in erotic magnetism. In a word, he was utterly delicious.

Catalina was a heroine that I clicked with right away. While she has her vulnerabilities, she has a great core of steel to her as well. She has no problem giving as good as she gets, even if she is completely incapable of resisting Loren even when she should.

The romance is wrapped flawlessly around an action packed suspense. There’s secrets to be revealed, revenge, and blood feuds to be paid. I eagerly devoured every page. There’s also a slew of secondary characters that are introduced that were just as captivating; Catalina’s sister and brother being the front runners. And since this looks to be the start of a series, I absolutely cannot wait to get my hands on their stories. The foundation for it was already set with this book, and damn does it sound to be a good one.

New Release, Review & Giveaway: Thief by A. Zavarelli

THIEF
Series: Boston Underworld #5
Author: A. Zavarelli
Genre: Dark Romance
Cover Design: Lara, Coverlüv
Release Date: February 23, 2018

 

I’m a good girl.

I live by a code that can’t be bent or broken. It is my duty to my family to stay innocent and pure. To marry an Italian man. The stars are already aligned.

But Nikolai Kozlov re-writes my destiny with five simple words.

You belong to me now.

He’s Russian mafiya. A thief. A skilled liar with no moral boundaries. He is everything I have been taught to hate. A man who stands for nothing. A man who takes what he wants without a second thought.

And what he wanted was me.

He thinks he controls my fate, but what he doesn’t know is, sometimes it’s the good girls you have to watch out for.

I’m a dangerous man.

I live by a code. The Vory code. It is my duty to my family to protect the brotherhood. To destroy anyone who threatens what we stand for, including her.

She’s a dancer. A beautiful little doll. My prisoner, and my new favorite puppet. This mafia princess thinks she has me under her spell, but in the end, she is simply collateral.

It’s a shame to destroy precious things.

But this is what bad men do.

AMAZON


PLAYLIST


I knew my captor was dangerous. I just didn’t realize how dangerous he was to me.

Tanaka has only ever known duty and dreams. Her dream to become a ballerina, her dream to be the best one she can, it’s all within reach now. But her duty to her Italian roots and her father’s debt to another mafia syndicate soon costs her more than she knows.

He likes to break me so he can put me back together again.

Thief, much like the previous books in this series, spares no detail in taking the reader deep into the dark underbelly of organized crime. The Bratva is not known for being forgiving, and Nikolai is owed a debt; a debt that he intends to take in blood. Nikolai is a character that first caught my interest in Ghost. The brother to Alexei that proves to have a whole lot more depth that the reader is originally lead to believe, he intrigued me to no end. With a psychopath for a father, a feud with his brother, and a determination to find out what happened to his mother, Nikolai is ruthless in his efforts. Breaking the daughter of the man that may have been responsible for a lot of his pain is at the epicenter of the storm of rage that he has.

While I fell hard and fast for Nikolai, Tanaka took a bit of warming up to. They may both be broken beyond repair, but Tanaka is even more so, just in a different way. But while she’s not the badass mafia princess that you’d expect, she’s no wilting flower either. Beneath the broken exterior lies the strength of a fighter and that came out more and more as the story progressed.

…this is not the kind of sex I ever imagined myself having. It’s unholy and it’s righteous. Corrupt but blessed. Shamefully lewd and sinfully sweet. And now, I don’t believe in heaven or hell. There is only purgatory.

A. Zavarelli definitely has a gift for writing one addicting and gritty mafia romance. She doesn’t shy away from the gory details or getting her readers way outside of their comfort zone. Nikolai is not perfect, and he makes it no secret. If you’re expecting a sweet hero in a bad circumstance that wields a gun while making googly eyes at the heroine, you’d best read another book. My one quibble with the story is the somewhat incorrect use of Russian terminology, slang, and nicknames. However, the author also clearly did her research on the Bratva and there wasn’t much Russian used here that brought out my nitpicking like it typically would.

Thief was another action packed and gritty installment in the Boston Underground series, and the intensity hasn’t lessened even a little. I can’t get enough of these mafia men, and I hope there’s more to come!


ALSO AVAILABLE IN THE BOSTON UNDERWORLD SERIES

#1 Crow – FREE for a limited time!AMAZON

#2 Reaper AMAZON

#3 Ghost – FREE for a limited time! AMAZON

#4 SaintAMAZON

All books are free in Kindle Unlimited

A. Zavarelli is a USA Today and Amazon bestselling author.

She likes all things chocolate, books that come with warnings, and putting her characters through hell. Her tales have been known to flirt with darkness and sometimes court it unabashedly altogether. Revenge themes and tortured souls are her favorites to write and this gives her an excuse to watch bizarre and twisted documentaries in her spare time.

She currently lives in the Northwest with her lumberjack and an entire brood of fur babies.

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Review: Rocco by Sarah Castille

ROCCO
Series: Ruin & Revenge #3
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Suspense
Author: Sarah Castille
Release Date: January 2, 2017

Mafia enforcer, Rocco De Lucchi is the best in the business.

Cold, hard and utterly ruthless, Rocco is the most dangerous of men.

Feelings are a luxury he cannot afford—until a chance encounter brings him face to face with the only woman who found her way into his heart and touched his soul.

Grace Mantini has spent her whole life running from the mob. Daughter of the boss’s right hand man, she is both a prize and a target.

When Rocco walks back into her life, she wants nothing to do with the man who betrayed her and broke her heart.

But only Rocco can protect her from the dangerous forces that seek to destroy her family.

Can they escape the hands of fate closing around them?

Or will love be the kiss of death for them both?

AMAZON | iBOOKS

Rocco (Ruin & Revenge, #3)Rocco by Sarah Castille
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4 STARS


Once upon a time those eyes had looked into her soul, and those lips had touched every part of her body. Once upon a time all that beauty had belonged to her, and then the mob had stolen it away.


I love me a gritty and sexy mafia romance, and man if this book didn’t hit the spot. An enforcer, a mafia princess, and an underground power struggle war between rivaling families, all weaving together into a story brimming with sexual tension, action and suspense. Rocco was a page turner from beginning to finish.

I was an instant fan of Sarah Castille when I first read Nico, but this was definitely my favorite book in the series so far. There was just something so tortured about Rocco that I couldn’t get enough off. This is a man that never had a choice in the life he leads. A baptism by fire is an understatement for how he was introduced to it. His training and childhood guaranteed to shape him into a ruthless, coldblooded killer and enforcer for the mafia. He’s a man that makes others tremble in fear at the mere mention of his name, but struggles to feel any emotion beyond rage and hatred himself.

But one time, years ago, he was different. At one time, he had a dream of a different life with a woman that was ripped from him in much the same way he was introduced into the mafia life; violently and without mercy. She’s a woman that he never forgot and never got over. And now a mob war brings her into the epicenter of his storm, and nothing will stop him from having her again.


His kiss was everything, her world, her life, the beat of her heart, the rise and fall of her lungs, nectar for her soul. His tongue pushed through the barrier of her lips and she took him in, devoured him, hands fisting his shirt, pulling him close. Out. Of. Control.

As the daughter of the underboss, Grace Mantini isn’t a stranger to mafia. But even though she loves her brother and father who are engrained in the life, she wants nothing to do with it. Not years ago when she learned the hard truth of who her family is, and certainly not now, knowing the full depth of it. But when her life is in danger and her family looks to be the target of a hit, she has no choice but turn to the man that she once couldn’t run faster away from.

This was a roller coaster of a book; full of action and sizzling romance. While the younger version of Grace from years ago was naive and sweet, the Grace of today is different. She knows exactly who Rocco is and her reaction to what he does for a living is different. She understands the life they live is one that they can’t always run from. I loved the chemistry between the two of them. It was a pulse pounding and suspenseful ride from beginning to finish. There was also a little side story that weaved into the plot of this one with Mike. And while I wasn’t too interested in his story previously, I was downright salivating for his HEA by the end of this one.

Sarah Castille has an interesting writing style that took me a while to get used to. She has a tendency to repeat and overly describe certain mafia details that can get redundant at times. However, if you’ve never read a mafia romance before, those details wouldn’t go under appreciated.


THE SERIES

NICO | LUCA | ROCCO

#DGRFave & Review: Reaper by A. Zavarelli

REAPER
Series: Boston Underground #2
Genre: Dark Romance, Mafia
Author: A. Zavarelli
Release Date: May 19, 2016

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.

****This is a full-length standalone novel full of hot Irish guys with accents. Dark mafia themes throughout. HEA included.****

AMAZON

I’ve never believed in fairytales. There is no white knight in my story. Only me. And I’m not the girl who gets the prince. I’m the girl he bangs because he can.

Holy.
Hell.

I do believe I just read one of the most tortured anti-heroes ever. And let me tell you, I’ve read A LOT of dark romance. I’ve read the violent, broody, alphahole bad boys, but all of them pale in comparison to Ronan Fitzpatrick

I’ve been called a sociopath. A monster. But I don’t fancy myself one. I’m simply a man doing a job that needs to be done. If it wasn’t me doing it, someone else would be. The men that I kill, they’ve all had it coming. They knew what they were getting themselves into. They’ve either done Niall wrong or threatened the syndicate in some way. And threats have to be eliminated, just like vermin. One of the few moral codes I still abide by. I will protect my brethren at all costs.

Cross the MacKenna syndicate, and you’ll find yourself in front of The Reaper. He’s the man that handles all of the delicate and painful jobs. When someone needs eliminating, they find themselves in Ronan’s basement, their screams forever becoming a part of the cement walls. A brutal upbringing that knew only pain, Ronan doesn’t function like any other man. He’s numb. Unfeeling. He only feels rage and breathes punishment. There’s only one person that ever stirred a different reaction in him, but she’s forever off limits to a man like him.

Damaged souls have their own beauty. A dark, terrifying beauty. The same type of beauty I recognize in Ronan. 

Sasha hasn’t had an easy life herself. Taking care of her ailing mother and protecting her younger sister put her in the crosshairs of a man that changed her life irreparably. Forced into a life she never wanted and doing whatever she can to survive, she’s tired. All she wants is to leave, move to a different place where no one knows her or her past. There’s just one problem with that; Ronan is not about to let her go.

He nudges my legs apart and pushes his palm between my legs like he owns that part of me. Who am I to argue? He does fucking own me. He’s polluted my mind so that I can only ever think of him. Only ever want him.

Their relationship is a turbulent one. Both of these characters are so completely messed up, it’s a wonder how they go through the motions at times. But yet together, they made a messed up sort of sense. They offered each other a calmness that they never found on their own. They were like violent waves on a rocky coast.

I’ve seen him kill. I’ve tasted his rage too. Tasted it so fiercely that some of it spilled over onto me, tainting me with the mark of the animal that lives inside of him. I crave that animal. I crave everything about this man with his perfect suits and his complete lack of human emotions. Maybe, just maybe, I envy him too. What it must be like not to feel anything. Anything at all.

This was such a dark, captivating story. I was glued to the pages, completely enraptured. My heart hurt for everything that Sasha went through and I wanted her to feel just a little of happiness. It made a dark sort of sense that she would find it in the arms of a ruthless killer that’s a borderline psychopath.

Ronan was just…GAH. This man. His training ensured that he feels almost nothing. No empathy. No sympathy. Most human emotions are far beyond his realm of understanding. But you see more and more of his humanity peak out with each minute he spends with Sasha.

Nobody else gets to see you like that,” he declares. “Ye’re claimed.” His words douse me in gasoline. His eyes light the match. And when he grinds himself against me, all that’s left to do is burn for him. 

I loved this gritty and sexy dark mafia romance. The story was completely unputdownable and the characters vivid and unforgettable.


THE SERIES

CROW | REAPER | GHOST | SAINT

#DGRFave & Review: Crow by A. Zavarelli

CROW
Series: Boston Underground #1
Genre: Dark Romance, Mafia
Author: A. Zavarelli
Release Date: February 8, 2016

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.

AMAZON

You live for the syndicate, you die for the syndicate.

FREAKING. LOVED. Where has this series been all my life?! Or rather, where have I been living that I’m only discovering it now?!

This book was EVERYTHING I love. Gritty, dark mafia romance with a seriously kick ass heroine and an anti-hero that’s just as delicious as he is dangerous.

But let’s start with the heroine, shall we?

I’m the daughter of Jack Wilder. A third generation Irish-American with champion’s blood running through my veins. I was raised on the streets of Southie, and I’m not afraid of anyone. I’ll take on every single one of those motherfuckers and I’ll do it with a smile on my face.

Mackenzie “Mack” grew up hard. After losing her underground boxer father to a brutal murder by the Russian mafia, she was left with nothing but her best friend Talia. The girls became everything to each other, sisters in everything but blood. So when Talia goes missing, Mack is determined to find her. She doesn’t buy the story that she simply left with her boyfriend. And when the cops and FBI won’t listed to her, she’s determined to do it herself…by going undercover at the strip club owned by one of the most ruthless mobs in Southie. This is what lands her in the crosshairs of Lachlan Crow.

Jaysus, woman,” he sighs. “Ye clean up your fecking mouth before I do it for you. You want to work for me ye better start acting like a lady.”
“I am a goddamn lady.” I grin.

The chemistry between these two is immediate. And what begins is a delicious game of cat and mouse, though at times you’ll wonder who the true cat is. While Crow is a force to be reckoned with and is as lethal as he is sexy, Mack is a force of her own. This is one tough chick and I loved her sass and balls to the walls attitude.

But it’s not long before lines begin to get blurred and Mack’s game is no longer a game. What happens when the man you believe holds your life is in hands is also a man you begin to crave beyond reason?

The sound of his pleasure and depravity jump starts my heart and explodes into my bloodstream. I’ve never felt anything like it before. Whatever it is, it’s ricocheting through my body, possessing me like a demon. My hands draw him closer, and the next thing I know, I’m kissing him back. Hard.

The story is downright addicting. It’s full of twists and turns and with a depraved sort of grit that kept me glued to the pages. It was violent, unapologetic, and spared no detail. And this girl? SALIVATING.

I’m not sure how this series has flown under my radar for so long, but I’m rectifying that mistake as we speak by binging on the rest of these amazing stories!

Blog Tour & Jen’s Review: Enrage by Rachel Van Dyken

  • ENRAGE
    Series: Eagle Elite #8
    Genre: Contemporary Romance
    Author: Rachel Van Dyken
    Release Date: July 31st, 2017

Part of a world I loathe.

Part of a family who hates me more than I hate myself.

Living with a girl who reminds me of my darkness.

I’m. In. Hell.

Also known as the Cosa Nostra.

My life was over the minute I stepped off that plane.

Son to a murdered mob boss.

Heir to a throne of murder and lies.

My name is Dante Nicolasi.

And there will be blood.

 

AMAZON | iBOOKS


PLEASE READ THIS SERIES!!!!! PLEEEEEASE!!!!!

I loved this book because ALL THE REASONS!!! I loved it so much, I went back to the beginning and read Books 1-7 in 1 week because I could not put them down! I know. I know. I should have read this in order. I usually don’t care about reading in order, but I truly regret it this time. It doesn’t matter because I still enjoyed every…single…moment of this series. And I just want more because I can’t get enough! Obsessed is just the tip of the ice berg when it comes to my love for this series.

à la Mode St. » fashion
He was a danger my heart didn’t recognize – because sometimes the heart doesn’t give a damn if the person who holds it kills people – it just recognizes its soul mate and beats anyway.

à la Mode St. » fashionDante. 
Men like Dante Nicolasi existed in two places. Books. And in my arms.

Dante is the heir to a very powerful mafia line. He is violent and volatile and trained by the best of the best mafia bosses, all of them. Assigned to protect a girl in the Eagle Elite, he uses his skills to show how freaking awesome he is! Seriously, this guy. Ugh! He is all power and control but so swoony and charming. Dante is definitely one of my top favorites, especially in this series.

El.
She was the only soldier in a one-woman army
El was a prisoner, a slave, for a long time until she was freed by the mafia bosses. She yearns for freedom but still feels trapped. I loved loved loved that Dante doesn’t coddle her or pity her or treat her too gently because of what she went through. They are both tough with each other, challenging each other through the whole book. El is strong. All of the heroines in this series are badass!

I wish I could include ALL THE QUOTES because this whole book is awesome-sauce and beautiful-sauce.

à la Mode St. » fashion
Dante turned his head toward mine and kissed me softly on the mouth, I wasn’t expecting it.
I clung to his shirt while his lips moved nimbly over mine, softly caressing my cheek and then meeting my ear. “Speak to no one.” He kissed my neck again then whispered in my other ear. “I’m serious, El. Keep your eyes forward.” Another kiss. “Head up.” His mouth fused against mine, I gasped as his tongue slid past my bottom lip, licking me up like I was better than pie, better than vanilla. “Don’t worry. I don’t lose.”

à la Mode St. » fashion
I should have read all of these books in order.

I should have known this series would kill me.

Any regrets? Not one.

I sacrificed food and hygiene for this series, for these characters, for this phenomenal story that goes down in my reading history forever. I cried. I laughed. I died. This book killed me in all the best ways. It is everything. One my of favorite MAFIA series evah!

ARC courtesy of publisher in exchange for an honest review

Dante slammed his hand into the tree, his jaw popped as he gritted his teeth together and then calm washed over him as he whispered near my ear, “Want me to kill him?”

A few people walked by and stared at us, it looked like he was kissing my neck, like we were normal college students sharing a moment.

Nope. Wrong story, kiddos.

He just offered to kill someone for offending me, run along, nothing to see here.

“After,” I said. “Kill him after he stops being useful to you, to the bosses.” I couldn’t believe what was coming out of my mouth, what I was agreeing to. “Yes.”

Dante pulled back, his face broke out into a smile. “How messed up is it that I’m actually looking forward to that moment?”

I gulped. “It’s in your blood.”

“I wish it wasn’t,” he said gruffly. “I wish I didn’t crave it — dream about it — almost as much as I wish I didn’t feel guilt every day because of it.”

I sighed and put my hands on his chest, then ran them up around his neck, he didn’t move, or flinch, so maybe we were having a moment as our mouths almost touched. “The only shame in life, is not being who you were truly born to be. If that means you kill the bad guys — kill the bad, guys Dante. Just don’t lose your soul in the process.”

“And if it’s already gone?” He croaked his eyes darkening as he slowly leaned in until his forehead touched mine.

Days ago I would have been terrified that his body was this close.

Days ago, I would have shoved him away and run.

Days ago, I would have shuddered that his bloodstained hands were running up and down my skin.

But today.

Today was different.

Today I closed my eyes and drank in the wicked scent of Dante Nicolasi, the cologne mixed with soap. I inhaled.

And opened my eyes again.

Yesterday I was angry. I was afraid.

Today. Against the tree.

Pinned by Dante’s arms.

I was safe.

“I’ll help you find it,” I whispered.

“Just don’t damn yourself in the process, El.” He cupped my face with his right hand, his eyes fell to my mouth, his half-lidded seductive look could stop a girl dead in her tracks.

The wives always talked about how attractive his father was, even at an older age.

Almost like he’d aged backward.

Dante was no different.

If it was possible for a human to get more attractive by the day — he’d be the one to prove you right.

“Are you going to kiss me again?” I asked hopefully.

“No.” He pulled away.

My heart sank into my stomach.

“Because I don’t want to start something I have no intention of stopping.”

My head jerked, our eyes locked, and I saw it. The honesty.

“Told you I’d never lie to you, El.” His voice had a warning edge to it, like I shouldn’t push him, push whatever invisible boundaries he’d mentally set up between us. His eyes never left mine.

And I knew, this was what he looked like when he was telling the truth.

His eyes pierced through my defenses in an unapologetic search for my heart, my soul.

And I let them.

“We should get to class.” I finally found my voice and started walking, he fell into step beside me.

And I spent the rest of the day thinking about the non-kiss.

And the promise that came with it.

 Rachel Van Dyken is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author of regency and contemporary romances. When she’s not writing you can find her drinking coffee at Starbucks and plotting her next book while watching The Bachelor.

She keeps her home in Idaho with her Husband, adorable son, and two snoring boxers! She loves to hear from readers!

 Website | Facebook | Facebook Group | Instagram | Twitter | Newsletter | Amazon | Goodreads

 

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