By Sin I Rise: Part Two by Cora Reilly

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Original post from my IG @booksofthemuggleborn

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• BLURB •

By Sin I Rise Part 2 (Marcella & Maddox)

A fatal bond that was never meant to be.

Marcella gave Maddox the impossible choice, and he chose her.

Still, she wonders if Maddox is ready to commit to a relationship, or if he’s scared of losing the uninhibited freedom his biker lifestyle offered him.

All his life Maddox knew who his enemies were, but suddenly he’s at a loss whom to trust. Will he ever find a place in Marcella’s life and family, or will old companions give him a new home and purpose?

Can enemies ever truly become lovers if the odds are against them?

•••

• MY REVIEW •


“Marcella is the queen I didn’t know I needed in my life. There’s no one I’d like to be led around by the balls by.”


*singsong voice* Everybody! Take a shot every time Marcella is remotely mentioned as being a “Queen.” LOL 🙄🥃

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Hmm. I have a lot of strong thoughts and emotions swirling in my head right now that I’m trying to unjumble and put into words. I’ve been reading Cora’s books consistently for a few years now and I found fairly early on that her writing is white-hot and all-consuming. With detailed world-building that practically transports you to her characters’ world, and the characters themselves stand-out effortlessly from a crowd. It’s a big reason as to why she’s easily an auto-buy author of mine. 

So, I really had trouble digesting that this book was written by the one and only Cora Reilly. When you have a much-loved OG series, it can be difficult to top or re-create the same likability in a spin-off or next generation series. The first book in this two-part story had potential, unfortunately I just think this conclusion missed the mark. It didn’t have the same vibe as the previous books set in this world. Other than the appearances from OG characters like Luca, Matteo, and Growl, it almost didn’t feel like a mafia-based backdrop, let alone one that had MC elements. 😐

The story is character-driven and focuses solely on Maddox and Marcella trying to navigate through their emotions about their relationship whilst figuring out how the Famiglia will accept Maddox into their fold—and for that reason, I found the book relatively repetitive.

I know I’m going to be in the minority here, and that’s fine. Not everyone is going to like the same books, or even the same characters— and I think that’s ultimately the reasoning behind this book being a miss for me. The characters. As I mentioned in my review for Part One, I am not a Marcella fan. As a child when her personality started to peek through, I knew when she would be of age, that either her “princess” personality would only grow tenfold, or Cora would revamp her character and show plenty of growth and maturity.

I found the preconceived notions the characters had of her in this book spot-on. She’s a spoilt, bratty princess who keeps insisting she can “rule” because she’s a Vitiello. Nope. Sorry. It’s one thing to say it, but it’s another to follow through and for people to believe it.

I couldn’t connect with either Marcella or Maddox, and I had trouble getting invested in their story. Their romance doesn’t seem genuine, and it was painful to easily see Maddox proclaim his “love” only for it to not be openly reciprocated by Marcella. The majority of the time it felt like Maddox was putting all the effort into their drama-filled “relationship”. It was not an equal partnership. Not even close. I almost pitied Maddox for being the one who constantly sacrificed a piece of himself whilst all Marcella did was take, take, take.


“Marcella makes the rules and I’ll follow her, if necessary, to the gates of Hades.”


*singsong voice* Everybody! Take a shot every time Maddox is willing to do anything and everything for Marcella! 🤦‍♀️🥃🥃

Shots

Is Marcella Vitiello really worth all this trouble? Ehhhhh. Not really.

They’re a pair of characters who I felt would’ve been fine and may have even done well all on their own. Their coupling lacked believability, visible connection, or even intensity that the past couples from this world had displayed time and time again.

The pace of the storytelling lagged, and lacked any in-depth development. In all honesty, the only positive aspects I found in this book is the fact that we get to see OG characters; more specifically Growl. 😍😍 I always hoped for another book for him just because I wanted to see how his life had turned out after he moved to New York and started working for Luca. (I know Growl and Cara have a novella in the Bound by Blood Anthology, but it wasn’t enough for me lol). This book actually shows a good number of snippets into what he’s been up to after all these years. All the parts that included Growl were by far my favourite scenes! I actually loved the contrast he brings in. There’s a cool dynamic between Growl and the Vitiello brothers.

I’m not crossing this entire series off, because that seems premature. I knew going into the Sins of the Fathers series that Marcella’s story would’ve been the book I probably would have liked the least. So now that hers is officially done, I am eager to see the next next-gen character in line. After reading this book, I have my eyes set on Amo’s story. He’s the only Vitiello offspring who I saw real potential in bringing back some of the old Mafioso flare that Luca Vitiello first ignited in Bound by Honor. He already has the vibe going for him, so I have my fingers crossed that his story ends up being an epic one!

I strongly recommend reading Cora’s Born In Blood series first before diving into Maddox’s and Marcella’s story, especially if you’re new to her books. This is not her strongest work, and it doesn’t provide enough world-building on its own. Reading the original series that started it all will not only give you the backstory behind the Vitiello family, but it explains the history behind the war between the New York Famiglia and Maddox’s MC (motorcycle club).

This may not have been my cup of tea but I have no doubt other readers will like it. Especially if they’re already a fan of Marcella. It’s light on both the Mafia and MC elements. It has more of a NA contemporary atmosphere to it.

RATING: ⭐⭐⭐

Thank you Cora Reilly and Emily Alice for the opportunity to read an advanced copy!

🔔 Interested in reading By Sin I Rise: Part Two? Grab your copy here: Universal Link  |  Amazon US  |  Amazon UK  |  Amazon AU  |  Amazon CA  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Apple Books

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🔥 Read my review for Part One!

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Original post from my IG @booksofthemuggleborn

📕 By Sin I Rise: Part One by Cora Reilly


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Happy reading, guys! Catch you in my next one! Xo

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Marriage & Malice by Trisha Wolfe

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Original post from my IG @booksofthemuggleborn

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• BLURB •

Rapture, desire, need – the yearning for our passions is the reason we strive, the reason we breathe. I’ve devoted my entire existence to the pursuit of my passion for dance. Ballet is my escape from the dark underworld I was born in to. As a Carpella and the daughter of a made man, I’ve accepted certain traditions. Yet, having just been promoted to principal within a prestigious dance company, I’m so close to being free…

Until a devil with blood on his hands and an Irish curse inked into his skin tears into my world, now passion holds a whole new, sinister meaning. With ruination in his steel-blue eyes and me in his crosshairs, Lucian Cross traps me in his gilded cage and uses me to deliver his retribution.

Forced to sign a marriage contract to unite two warring families, my father traded my life to save his own. Now I’m bound to Lucian, owned by a monster who swore an oath of pain and suffering to the Carpellas.

Lucian’s passion is revenge.

And because my family destroyed what he loved, he’s vowed to destroy what I love. Every night he forces me to dance until my breaking point. He wants to condition me to loathe the very thing that once gave me hope.

I can’t let him break me, but the closer we get to the wedding date, the more entangled I become in his dangerous, tempting world, and I’m losing myself in this man.

His vow is my pain.

My vow is not to fall for the enemy.

But how can I dance with the devil himself and not be singled by his fire?

•••

• MY REVIEW •

I have never read a romance story with a slow-burn romance that tortured me as badly with how sluggish it developed than this book right here! My gosh, it was like a gradual teasing build-up that led to more teasing and a whole lot of sexual frustration and torture for both protagonists… and *cough cough* me. 🤦‍♀️😅 If you enjoy angsty, SLOOOOW slow-burn mafia romance reads, this story might just be for you!

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Trisha Wolfe is a new-to-me author and this was my introduction to her writing. Marriage & Malice sets a gritty almost squirm-inducing atmosphere right from the opening scene. I was instantly immersed, needing to know what’s to become of Violet and Lucian in this all-out mafia war and enemies-to-lovers story.

Italian mafia vs the Irish syndicate, and caught in the crossfire is Violet who spent most of her life outside of it, training as a ballerina. The premise of the two worlds merging was what initially had me interested in reading this story and it doesn’t disappoint in terms of seeing a nice balance of both elements. There’s an obvious dynamic between Violet and Lucian the minute they meet and it only intensifies the longer they’re in forced proximity.

I did enjoy the build-up to their relationship and the suspense surrounding them. I only wish it didn’t take as long to admit their feelings for one another, and because of that I felt like by the time they were in it for more than the initial arranged marriage and Lucian’s vengeance, the emotions they were feeling wasn’t as in-depth or believable as I was hoping for.

For the most part it was steady-paced storytelling, only occasionally slowing down in certain parts. It’s told from dual POVs and gives you excellent insight into both Violet’s and Lucian’s pasts. Their romance is undoubtedly steamy and their growing attraction for one another is one of the most tantalizing things you can expect to see.

Overall, it had suspense, some unpredictability, and the secondary characters helped create layers in the world-building. It’s a pretty grim and dark atmosphere throughout and putting aside the romance aspect of the story, it has subject matters that may be triggering for some readers. It contains attempted sexual assault, graphic violence, abuse/ torture.

Whilst both protagonists have some character growth, it’s Lucian, in my opinion who had the most development. The further you delve into the story the more you see the subtle changes in not only his demeanor but his mentality towards Violet as he struggles with keeping his revenge. It may be a love story (albeit a dark one), but Lucian is the central character here and the story revolves around his agenda.

As much as I like this book, I do however feel an epilogue is very much needed, whether or not Trisha decides to revisit this world in the future. The ending just didn’t feel complete for a story that’s supposedly a standalone and I was left wanting more for their HEA. 🤔

Nevertheless, I think it’s a great addition to the Underworld Kings. It certainly brings in the darkness, the world of Made Men, along with complexity, villainous characters, and ulterior motives one can hope for in a romantic suspense read. The scenes with Violet dancing were beautiful, and such a contrast to the death and violence that consumed a large portion of the storyline. Lucian is Irish and a real alpha-hole… but for good reason. Violet is thrust back into the world she was born into and discovers she has more grit in her than anyone (including herself) could’ve ever imagined.

If you enjoy reading hate-to-love romances with a dark mafia backdrop to them, give this one a read.

RATING: ⭐⭐⭐¾

Thank you Trisha Wolfe and the entire Underworld Kings team for the opportunity to read an advanced copy! 💜

•••


💀 More reviews for the Underworld Kings! 👑

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📷 Underworld Kings Website

📖 Razor’s Edge by Mila Crawford

📖 Tears Of Salvation by Michelle Heard


•••

Happy reading, guys! Catch you in my next one! Xo

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By Sin I Rise: Part One by Cora Reilly

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Original post from my IG @booksofthemuggleborn

•••

• BLURB •

Maddox – Mad Dog – White hates everything the name Vitiello stands for, after he witnessed his father and his men getting butchered by the Capo of the Italian mob in their territory.

Raised by his uncle, the president of the Tartarus MC, Maddox is destined to follow in his footsteps. Now their chapter is on the rise again, but for their ultimate triumph they need to destroy the Vitiello empire. And what better way to do it than to steal the spoilt Vitiello princess and break her piece by piece until her father begs for mercy.

Known as the spoilt princess of New York, Marcella Vitiello grew up in a golden cage. If your father is the most feared man in New York, people gift you with reverence.

Destined to marry the boyfriend approved by her father, Marcella is sick of being treated like an untouchable porcelain doll.

She resents the life forced upon her by her family until everything she took for granted is ripped from her. Where she’s now, her name doesn’t bring awe, only pain and humiliation.

If you’ve grown up in a high castle, the fall is all the deeper.

Sins of the fathers have a way of catching up…who’s going to bleed for them?

** This book is part one of Maddox’s and Marcella’s story. 

•••

• MY REVIEW •

Five chapters in… 

Me: “Growl? Where’s Growl? Someone get me Growl!”

(He would’ve ended it all, right there and then!)

😜 I’m just joshing. But I’ve never been one to mince words or sugarcoat my thoughts in my reviews no matter how much I adore an author or the fictional world they’ve brought to readers, and I’m not about to start now. Please remember this is my honest opinion and experience from reading this book. If you find mine are different from yours, please be respectful and don’t take offence. Not everyone’s opinions are going to be the same. ✌❤

I’m in the minority here by saying Marcella Vitiello was one heroine a was never eager to read about. From her brief appearances in past books when she was a child, utterly spoiled and bratty constantly had me eye-rolling. So when it was announced that the first book in Cora’s next gen series would begin with Marcella’s story, well, you can just imagine my thrill.

But when it was known that it would be a mafia meets MC (Motorcycle Club) story, it did have me perking up with interest. Mafia romance and MC romance are like my bread and butter as far as romance genres go. Add in the anti-hero biker, who’s also an enemy to the mob? Finally, FINALLY I was intrigued as fuck! 😅

So now that I’ve finished reading part one, what did I think of it??

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With its well-paced storytelling, and multiple points of view, it was gradually winning me over… until it all came to a staggering halt. 🙈 Whilst there were plenty of things I did enjoy about this book, I’m not going to lie, there were also plenty of things that rubbed me the wrong way too.

It can be considered new adult, but make no mistake it’s dark themed romance. Before I get to the nitty gritty of my review, I must mention that this story does contain sensitive subject matter that may be triggering for some readers, such as graphic/ gruesome violence, kidnapping, attempted rape, and animal cruelty. Definitely for mature readers 18+ only. Please keep in mind before you start it.

Before this book, there was very little detail about Maddox, his family, and the Tartarus MC other than what we’ve seen mentioned by Luca Vitiello. There’s a gripping little backstory included that, in my opinion set the atmosphere for the rest of the book and a full understanding of Maddox’s mindset.

It’s character driven and a lot of the situations that transpired were emotion-based. There’s no doubt that there’s a strong attraction between Maddox and Marcella but as the story progressed I felt there wasn’t enough genuine development between them. They’re both put in difficult positions and it constantly tested their relationship. Some big events go down and the actions of these protagonists was ultimately what resulted in my overall conflicted feelings of this book.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the first half. I was completely absorbed and lusting after the little moments between the two. But looking at the bigger picture, their relationship’s choppy. They go through the motions but I didn’t see any real substance out of it. And if I had to make comparisons with other couples from this world, their relationship is lacklustre. The romance was alright but it was hard to believe the depth of their love with the timeframe they had together. It wasn’t insta-love but it wasn’t exactly a gradual romantic development either.

I wish I could say after reading this story that Marcella eventually grew on me. There was a moment or two I sympathized for her, but it was tough to like her as I didn’t agree with a lot of her actions. She’s a difficult character to get to know or connect with because she’s constantly projecting an image and created a standard for herself that I didn’t even think was wholly necessary. Aria and Luca have always been one of my favourite couples but I question how they ended up with a daughter like Marcella? 🤔😌

Maddox is one of the main highlights of this book. I love the complexity of his story and his character, and I was easily invested in seeing how his story would progress. I often wondered what some of the negative effects the Mafia may have had on people outside of their world and Maddox is a perfect example of the blowback. Sigh. I’m just going to say it— he deserves better. 

There’s quite a few secondary characters included that helped elevate the world-building. The different dynamics added dimension and was interesting to see the contrast between Maddox’s and Marcella’s respective worlds. The initial premise was mafia meets MC, and whilst there was strong mafia presence, I had hoped to see more elements from the MC side. There’s not a lot of light-heartedness as it’s a pretty gritty storyline, but appearances from certain characters provided calming moments to break up some of the tension and seriousness of the situation.

All in all, it’s not what I had expected or how I envisioned the story would play out but nevertheless I was still gripped from start to finish. Although this is only part one, and Maddox’s and Marcella’s story is unfinished, this book doesn’t completely end on a cliffhanger (if that makes sense). Let’s just say if the story happened to have ended here, I would’ve been content with the open-ended conclusion.

Buuuuut in saying that… since I have mixed feelings about this first part of the story, I am curious to see how it will all conclude in the second part. I’m hoping to see build-up, some in-depth development, and more maturity out of the characters.

Cora’s writing as always is easy to follow. The intrigue around her characters and their story is instantaneous that it’s hard to put down and By Sin I Rise was no different. It was refreshing to see some new faces introduced and expand from what is already an existing and vivid world-building.

It may not have ended up being one of my favourites from Cora’s mafia books, but I still think it has positive aspects and a lot of potential. It’s an intriguing introduction to the Sins of the Fathers, and it’s cool (and some getting used to) seeing the original characters I fell hard for in the Born In Blood Mafia Chronicles somewhat pass the torch to their children. I am officially ancient. 💀

Fans of Cora’s and of her mafia world will want to read this one. Romance readers who are still relatively new to this world, I recommend you read Born in Blood Mafia Chronicles first before starting this one. I don’t have any triggers but I must admit there were certain scenes from this book that I wasn’t prepared for and totally bawled my eyes over.

You can expect some plot twists, suspense, and if like me, a good hearty cry. If you like dark mafia romances with a forced proximity, captor/captive romance trope, give this one a try.

RATING: ⭐⭐⭐¾

Thank you Cora Reilly and Emily Alice for the opportunity to read an advanced copy! 💛

🔔 Interested in reading By Sin I Rise? Grab your copy here: Amazon US  |  Apple Books  |  Barnes & Noble

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Happy Reading, guys! Catch you in my next one! Xo

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Devil May Care by Amelia Wilde

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Original post from my IG @booksofthemuggleborn

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• BLURB •

What is a pirate without his ship? Without the sea?

I sacrificed everything to save Ashley. Now we’re hiding out while I build a new ship, a new life for myself. It’s paradise here on the island. Sparkling water and lush greenery. A beautiful woman by my side. But the threat of danger grows closer. The net tightens. We’re at risk every second we stay here, but there’s nowhere to run. Even the ocean won’t save us now.

Devil May Care is the third book in the Devil trilogy by USA Today bestselling author Amelia Wilde. The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea and A Deal with the Devil must be read first.

•••

• MY REVIEW •

Ohh-kay… mental note: Don’t mess with a man, his ship, and the sea! Get out of Poseidon’s way, people! ☠

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This is the conclusion to the The Devil Trilogy. The first two books will need to be read prior as this is a continuous storyline. I’m not going to lie, I thought this one was a bit of mixed bag for me. After reading the first two in the trilogy I was invested in seeing where Poseidon’s and Ashley’s turbulent relationship would end up. I was eager to read this book. But what surprised me is I ended up more absorbed in Poseidon and his brothers unusual relationship and their zany little interactions. The dynamics and the unique contrast they each bring was intriguing (and at times entertaining) to witness.

I’ve said this in my review for The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, I felt there was backstory between these brothers (at the time I hadn’t realized that Wilde had actually written separate book series’ for both Poseidon’s brothers all set in the same universe previous to this trilogy) but after seeing more of them in this third book, in my opinion it would be beneficial if their stories were read first before starting this trilogy. I had a lot of questions when they were first introduced in this story, and their reappearance in this final book only cemented the fact that I would’ve wanted to know more about Poseidon, his brothers, and their relationship in more depth — especially considering time has passed and both his brothers have their own families now. I felt a little lost at times. Other than a brisk overview of their stories, I still felt like I was missing a huge chunk of these brothers lives. Nevertheless, I found their unique bond and brotherly allegiance to each other my highlight of this read! It might have been brief but it’s what made this a hearty conclusion to Poseidon’s story. 😊

The length of the book is a relatively nice one for a full-length novel, with the pacing itself slower in comparison to the first two books. It’s character driven storytelling and a lot of it takes place in the one backdrop, and I felt just as equally frustrated as Poseidon and Ashley in having being stuck in the one place the majority of the time. Although, I thought Wilde executed the sense of dread and hopelessness in the atmosphere superbly. It certainly matched the environment they were in!

In regards to the writing format, I’m sure there are plenty of readers who find short, choppy storytelling to be lively but in this particular book I found it to be disjointed. Things constantly popped up only for it to be resolved just as quickly. I couldn’t connect with some of the more emotional scenes which was a shame considering those events were essentially life-altering for these characters. For example: Poseidon’s ultimate mission that had constantly been with him since the beginning concluded rather abruptly that the entirety of the story seemed somewhat anticlimactic. There was such mystery and suspense throughout just for it to end the way it did. Yes, overall it was a HEA but I don’t know, something was missing.

But in saying that, it still had plenty of dimension, with little side stories left, right, and centre. Poseidon’s and Ashley’s relationship was twisted and unconventional from the get-go and I all I can say is… it’s still going at it strongly! I’m talking an emotional rollercoaster — Passion. Drama. Angst. Tears.

I do have to point out there are sensitive subject matter that may be triggering for some readers. These characters are saturated in emotional, physical, and mental toll from their gritty lives. Please note it contains, violence, attempted kidnapping, domestic abuse, drugs, rape, and attempted suicide. It also contains strong sexual content — readers 18+ only!

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As a whole, I found it to be an appealing take on the Greek mythology of Poseidon. I think the secondary characters are just as fascinating as the main ones. Besides Poseidon’s brothers, his crew were quite a band of lovable humans. It’s a bit slow-going for the majority but definitely picks up pace in the last third of the book — which, including the epilogue was my favourite parts of the story. There’s intrigue, some unexpected plot points, and a new adorable character that gave Devil May Care a decent, honest-to-goodness ending.

A pirate, his modern day princess, and their happily ever after. I have no doubt readers will enjoy this story. A twisted, dark contemporary tale of the god of the sea!

RATING: ⭐⭐⭐¾

Thank you to Amelia Wilde and Candi Kane PR for the opportunity to read an advanced copy! 💙

🔔 Interested in reading Devil May Care? Grab your copy here: Amazon  |  Apple Books  |  Nook  |  Kobo  |  Google Play

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🔱 Read my reviews for The Devil Trilogy!

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Book One: The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea by Amelia Wilde
Book Two: A Deal With The Devil by Amelia Wilde

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Happy reading, guys! Catch you in my next one! Xo

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Requiem Of The Soul by Natasha Knight & A. Zavarelli

⚠ Warning: This review contains minor teasers
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Original post from my IG @booksofthemuggleborn

•••

• BLURB •

I was born with noble blood in my veins.

Heir to a powerful dynasty.

Wealth. Power. Aristocracy.

Temptations too dangerous to resist.

Until someone tried to steal it all.

Scarred and broken, I emerged from the flames.

Now I’ve returned to take what’s mine.

Revenge.

The first item on my agenda? Make Ivy Moreno my wife.

Second? Bend her until she breaks.

•••

• MY REVIEW •

😮😮😮 Holy book gods! I’m gonna need a minute. What did I just finish witnessing Ivy Moreno enter into with Santiago De La Rosa?! Sheesh. May the odds be ever in your favor.


“You’ve been chosen.”


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I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed in another Knight/ Zavarelli collaboration. They always manage to conjure up some deviously twisted dark romance! Requiem of the Soul is without a doubt a gritty mindfuck of what-ifs and know-hows.

First off— the world building is so crisp, so vivid that you can’t help but imagine if exclusive societies such as this one exists in reality (and for that matter… are they as dirty and shocking as this one has been made out to be?!)

Trigger Warnings: It contains sensitive subject matter that may be triggering for some readers. Violence, non-consensual sex, and abuse occur throughout. Please take into consideration before starting it. For readers 18+ only!

This book is set in such a dramatic and intriguing atmosphere right from the opening scene that I was having a hard time putting it down even for a bathroom break. 😅 I happily read it in one sitting but after the killer ending it leaves you with, I was cursing for not having paced myself. I have now joined the ranks of my fellow ARC readers in saying, “I need book two now!” Ugh. 😭

It’s gripping, with a complicated captor/captive type, arranged marriage between a man who has the power to call all the shots, and a young woman who is determined not to break in the life she’s been forced into. I am hooked and utterly invested in seeing this through to the end!

It’s one of those dark romance storylines that has you narrowing your eyes, trusting no character in sight, and trying to figure out the direction the plot is heading. Putting aside the elusive world of The Society that has been richly described, there are a handful of characters coming and going who all seem to have their own agendas. For secondary characters they all have such strong personalities that it’s interesting to see the contrast amongst them whenever they interact. If you’re a fan of morally grey characters, you’ll get your fill from this one! I am absolutely itching to discover certain secondary characters’ stories, and that’s just one of the reasons why I found the world Knight and Zavarelli created so multifaceted— with its untold history and full of secrecy that’s just waiting to be revealed. There’s so many things happening from all different directions, yet they all blend together seamlessly to give you a grand picture of the situation.


“Some call us thieves in the night.”


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A thrilling, fast-paced storytelling told from dual points of view. There’s a gradual build-up of suspense that’ll have you on the edge of your seat waiting for the pin to drop. Santiago De La Rosa is a larger than life personality who tends to lurk in the shadows that you almost think this is one of those stalker type, crime books. He’s a complex character. To be honest, there were times he gave me mental whiplash with his back and forth indecisiveness when it came to his game plan with Ivy.

Ivy Moreno is no better. I like that she has determination and I respect her ultimate reason for why she’s putting up with everything she’s enduring… but I wish she stuck to her guns a lot more. But putting those issues aside, I am truly fascinated by these two protagonists. Santiago oozes mystery… and craziness. Not to mention, when you discover the story behind his appearance, you’ll be all the more invested in seeing everything unfold.

I’m even more curious when it comes to Ivy. I’m really liking the fact that Knight/ Zavarelli has written in some diversity with their characters. Especially when the backdrop of this world is all about the pretences of perfection and certain expectations.

Besides the intrigue surrounding The Society, the sizzling chemistry between Ivy and Santiago is palpable. I adored their sweeter, more civil moments just as much as their fiery banter. They have a Beauty and the Beast meets Romeo and Juliet type of romance where a lot of factors are in play that I couldn’t get enough of.

You’ll be second-guessing decisions made, actions taken, and questioning whether or not these characters actually have any redeemable qualities in them.


“Don’t let him be a monster.”


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✔ Broken characters

✔ Vengeance

✔ Male-dominated world

✔ Manipulation

Are just some of the things you can anticipate in Requiem of the Soul! This is the first book in The Society Trilogy and does end on a cliffhanger. But if you enjoy filthy as fuck, gritty romances that contain some BDSM elements, then I highly recommend you add it to your reading list. You’ll find a strong, consistent storyline, crafty characters, and a lot of little surprises here and there. Such a raunchy, thought-provoking read!

RATING: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to Natasha Knight, A. Zavarelli and Give Me Books Promotions for the opportunity to read an advanced copy!

🔔 Interested in reading Requiem of the Soul? Grab your copy here: Amazon Universal Link  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo  |  Apple Books

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🌹 Read my review for the Ties That Bind Duet!

Natasha Knight and A. Zavarelli’s Dark Mafia Romance

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📕 Book One: Mine by Natasha Knight & A. Zavarelli

📕 Book Two: His by Natasha Knight & A. Zavarelli


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Hope you’re all enjoying your week! Catch you in my next one! Xo

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I Thee Take by Natasha Knight

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Original post from my IG @booksofthemuggleborn

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• BLURB •

Scarlett

Cristiano is my enemy. He’s also the only man with whom I’ve ever felt safe. Protected.

But I have to remember that he married me with one purpose in mind. Revenge. I would be the
bridge to his real enemies.

I can’t let myself forget that he isn’t the hero of this story. His hands are covered in blood. I saw that
with my own eyes.

Cristiano

I thought I knew Scarlett’s past, but I didn’t know anything.

I thought I knew the worst of monsters, but I hadn’t seen anything yet.

Sometimes you have to lie to yourself to survive.

Sometimes it’s those closest to you who will bury their knives in your back.

Too many times it’s the innocents who pay for your mistakes. For your refusal to see.

I can’t let Scarlett pay for mine.

But I may be too late to stop it.

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• MY REVIEW •

👏👏👏 Natasha Knight has done it again! Another mafia romance I’ll be adding to my list of faves! This story had the right balance of elements to ensure it captures your attention. What an amazing conclusion to what was an incredible smack-in-your face beginning!

  • A strong continuous storyline
  • Character development
  • Drama and suspense
  • A gritty world

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What I find I can’t seem to get enough of from Knight’s mafia romances is the strong family bonds she includes in her stories (specifically the brotherly love). In this case with Cristiano and Dante. These characters have been hardened by their horrific past and consumed by anger and vengeance, yet as strong as their hatred is of their enemies, it’s evident these brothers are still capable of love. It’s crazy swoony to see their protectiveness and their ride-or-die mentality for one another! Seriously… 🔥    

I Thee Take is a much slower pacing in comparison to With This Ring. Whilst that one had a lot of build-up between Scarlett and Cristiano and seeing the beginnings of their relationship, this book focuses on what brought them together in the first place. Both their pasts have come back to haunt them and as secrets slowly unravel and the bigger picture sets in, they realize they need each other more than ever to survive it all.

Our hero and heroine both have hard outer shells with soft centers, and they both seem to only show that vulnerability to each other. Their chemistry was sizzling from the start and I’m glad to see it hasn’t wavered in this book. Their relationship is one that only grows stronger the more they’re together.     

The storytelling may have slowed down in pace but it’s jam-packed full of action! The fight kicks up a level in this book and as it did I’m not gonna lie, I started to get more and more anxious at what the outcome could be. Lol. 😅🙈 

A rollercoaster ride of emotions. And I’m blaming the characters! Not only our protagonists but all the secondary characters that brilliantly played their roles in getting me emotionally invested. Knight has cleverly kept her characters’ cards close to their chest until that perfect “mic drop” moment. Yeah, some you could pick out of a lineup easily enough from the start but then there’s the ones that make you second guess things. 🤔😈

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Not only had I become invested in seeing Scarlett and Cristiano together, I quickly became attached to Dante (Cristiano’s brother) and Cerebus — that loveable fluffball!

There were also these moments in the book that had me fist pumping the air with such satisfaction that if people knew what that was about, they’ll probably think I’m all out psychotic. Haha. If you love some good old fashioned violence (think Taken and John Wick), then it’s another reason as to why this is a must read. 

The world-building is very cloak-and-dagger. It’s a gritty, hell on earth underworld they live in and the further the story develops, the more you feel transported into it right alongside these characters. If Knight hadn’t included some light-hearted moments throughout, this book could easily have been a much darker story.

Right amount of sin.

Right amount of raunchiness.       

This duet as a whole is one gripping, edge-of-your-seat story, and the only reason why I’m not rating this book as high as the first one is because I saw where this second half of the story was heading. If you’re new to Natasha Knight’s mafia romances, then I have no doubt that you would rate it a four and half (or even five stars), but I’ve read most of Knight’s mafia books… she has certain tells and a lot of her books have common elements, and this one was no different. So once they started cropping up, I knew where the story was heading from there on out. Don’t get me wrong I honestly don’t mind seeing the same types of plotlines in Knight’s books — hey, I wouldn’t be reading any more of her work if I didn’t, right? But it did take some of the surprise out of it.

But in saying that… there was one little thing Knight included in the end that did have me perking up with anticipation. I won’t spoil it for you guys, but if you’ve already heard the early buzz then you know what has me all giddy! *skips merrily* 😍😍 

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I thoroughly enjoyed reading Scarlett and Cristiano’s story to bits. I couldn’t put it down and I was constantly on edge right alongside Scarlett and Cristiano as bombshell after bombshell dropped all around them. A thrilling mafia romance that’ll have you questioning anything and everything, narrowing your eyes at certain characters, clenching your fists when the situation calls for it, and more importantly… salivating at the angsty moments between Scarlett and Cristiano! Eeep.

A highly recommended dark read for my fellow mafia romance lovers. Just be aware before starting this duet that it contains sensitive subject matter that may be triggering for some readers, such as human trafficking, relatively graphic sexual assault and violence. Also remember that this is part two of a duet and you must read With This Ring first in order to read this one.         

RATING: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thank you Natasha Knight and Give Me Books Promotions for the opportunity to read an advanced copy!

🔔 Interested in reading I Thee Take? Grab your copy here: Amazon US  |  Amazon UK  |  Amazon CA  |  Amazon AU  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo  |  Apple Books  |  Google Play

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Read my review for the first book in the duet!

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Original post from my IG @booksofthemuggleborn

📕 With This Ring by Natasha Knight


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Happy reading, guys! Catch you in my next one! Xo

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With This Ring by Natasha Knight

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Original post from my IG @booksofthemuggleborn

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• BLURB •

When I rescued Scarlett De La Cruz from her tower it’s not like her prospects were looking so great. You’d think she’d show a little gratitude. Thank me for putting my ring on her finger and marking her as mafia property.

My property.

I’ll keep her safe. And the trade-off isn’t so bad. Most women would jump at the chance to sleep in my bed.

Not Scarlett, though.

My Cartel Princess has a big mouth and an even bigger attitude. But it’s her furious caramel eyes that keep me coming back for more. That and the way her body bends to mine like it already knows it belongs to me.

Scarlett is my enemy. She’s also the one woman I can’t keep my hands off.

But if I don’t keep my head on straight, everything I’ve worked for all these years will have been for nothing.

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• MY REVIEW •

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OMGOMGOMGOMGOMG!!!

If you’re ever in the mood for a reaaaaally honest to goodness mafia captor/ captive romance, I can without a doubt tell you to check out any one of Natasha Knight’s books! And after having finished reading With This Ring…? I can easily say it’s become one of my faves! 😍😍😍

The minute I started this book, I didn’t put it down. I read the entire thing in one sitting and I have no regrets! Yeah… I probably should’ve taken my time considering this is only part one of the duet but whatevs! 🤷‍♀️ I’ll read again it when it gets closer to the release date of book two; I Take Thee!

I’m no stranger to Knight’s books, having read quite a few in the last year. She has written quite a handful of captor/ captive mafia romances, and she has perfected the balance of a light and dark atmosphere, the romance, and the suspense. I was completely invested and hooked on Cristiano Grigori and Scarlett De La Cruz’s story. I love the mixture of the mafia and the cartel in this one, with an enemies-to-lovers romance between our anti-hero and heroine.

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What starts out as a war between territorial, power-hungry families, turns into a struggle for vengeance. But what’s left of both sides are forced together as bigger unsuspecting threats are on the rise and has taken aim at both the Grigori and the De La Cruz families.

I’m a big fan of Knight’s writing style and she has a way of easily getting you to fall in love with her characters. Cristiano is a scarred hero who is secretly struggling with life, and hates showing any vulnerability. But it’s his sensitive side that makes him all the more human and authentic. He’s not necessarily the most damaged hero I’ve read of Knight’s but he still manages to have an air of intimidation, darkness, and strength to him. And when you discover his story, you can’t help but feel a little protective of the guy (despite the fact that he can kill in a blink of an eye).

Scarlett is broken in her own way and just as tortured as Cristiano. What I like about her is despite what she’s going through, she still has the character in her to be selfless. Her emotions and actions are understandable, and you can’t help but root for her to succeed.

Cristiano and Scarlett are driven, strong-willed characters. Their story is very much family bound. They may be rivals, but they have more in common when it comes to family than they are willing to admit.

There’s a lot of push and pull between these two. It’s hard to pick a side because honestly, you want things to go both Cristiano and Scarlett’s way. The character growth is slow yet gradual, and as their journey progresses they start opening up. Putting aside the sparks between them, it’s the quiet moments where they’re simply learning more about each other that are some of my favourite parts to read through.

As a mafia romance lover, this book ticks every box in my checklist of what I consider an amazing mafia romance book.

  • Storyline with a solid, well-developed plot
  • Vivid, expanding world-building
  • Complex, intriguing characters you can connect with
  • Chemistry between its protagonists
  • Suspense and unpredictability
  • Secondary characters that add another layer
  • Swoon-worthy romance!

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What keeps you engaged in this story is the constant unease of what could happen next between Cristiano and Scarlett. They’re from enemy families — one seeking retribution, whilst the other is just wanting to survive, yet both unaware that they share the want and need for freedom from responsibilities that’s been demanded of them. The build-up is 🔥 in this one, people!

Call me cruel, but seeing them struggle with their feelings, and be in constant denial was entertaining as hell to see! 😈😄 I wanna say theirs is a slow burn romance but to be honest I think it’s because I simply wanted more! Knight is skilled at teasing her readers with just enough raunchiness to the point where the anticipation for a full-blown scene will emotionally kill you. Lol. Sigh.

A well-paced storytelling, told from both Cristiano and Scarlett’s points of view. You’ll see backstories to these two families. It’s very modern Romeo & Juliet set in the underworld. There’s a few vital secondary characters who are just as evasive as our lead characters that you’ll wanna keep an eye on. There’s also a few sub-plots that interconnect with the main that’ll have you itching to uncover. As I mention earlier, it’s suspenseful. It keeps you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end and will have you grumbling when you discover how it concludes. Ugh. 🙈🙉🙊

If you love a forbidden-esque enemies-to-lovers trope with tons of heated banter between your protagonists, I think you’ll thoroughly enjoy this read. It does have some sensitive subject matter that may be triggering for some readers but not overly graphic or detailed. I would still advise that with the dark themes included, readers 18+ only!

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Overall, another much loved book from Knight that I am happily recommending to my friends and fellow romance readers. It’s such an intense, emotional story of two broken souls who are left to pick up the pieces and fight on! This is the first book in the To Have and To Hold Duet, and I love it so much that I consider the brutal cliffhanger well-worth the pain!

RATING: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thank you Natasha Knight and Give Me Books Promotions for the opportunity to read an advanced copy!


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Happy reading, guys! Hope you enjoyed. Catch you in my next one! Xo

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The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea by Amelia Wilde

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Original post from my IG @booksofthemuggleborn

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— BLURB —

A modern-day pirate.

An heiress lost at sea.

And the treasure of a lifetime.

He’s beautiful. Calculating. Cruel. And he’s taken me hostage.

When pirates board my boyfriend’s yacht, I jump overboard to save myself. Drifting asea. Until one man rescues me from the endless ocean.

Except he has plans of his own. I’m worth too much money for ransom. He’ll keep me on his ship and in his bed. The real danger lies in his dark-depth eyes. He wants more from me than money. Than passion. He wants everything.

He rescued me, but I’m far from safe.

There’s an entire sea of danger threatening to drag me under.

The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by USA Today bestselling author Amelia Wilde is a dangerously sexy contemporary romance that will blow you out of the water.

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• MY REVIEW •

My first book from Amelia Wilde, a new-to-me author. Whilst the blurb was short and sweet, it was enough to get me eager to reading this book.

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Now that I’ve read it? 🤔 The prominent thought the comes to mind is that it wasn’t completely what I had expected. Not only with the storyline but with the characters themselves.

But before I get into detail with my thoughts on the book, I have to mention first (as I hadn’t realized this until after I had read it) that this book is actually part of a series, and it does end on a cliffhanger. Keep that in mind if you’re considering reading it.

Okay! 👏 Now that that disclaimer is out of the way, let’s get down to the nitty gritty!

Honestly rating this book was more difficult than I thought it would be, and I feel like my rating doesn’t qualify how much I enjoyed reading it overall. But I feel like I have to justify why I couldn’t rate it a solid four stars (as much I wanted to). This story, whilst I truly found the premise intriguing, in my opinion it just fell a little flat on execution.

There’s so much mystery surrounding the protagonist and anti-hero, Poseidon. It took a little while to figure out what exactly he does for a living. The way he’s work is described is relatively vague, and that’s not even the half of it. You get introduced to his brothers (both named after Gods too), which makes you wonder if this story is more than just “a modern-day pirate” story. I found myself wondering if this is also a retelling of sorts of the Greek Mythologies — Which I would actually have loved because I’m a fan of mythologies, but unfortunately his brothers and his relationship with them didn’t go into enough detail for me to get any sort of connection to that part of the story. It’s evident there’s history amongst the brothers but it’s skimmed across and you’re left feeling like you walked into a meeting where everyone is already in mid-conversation and you’re trying to catch yourself up.

Now, I don’t know if Wilde has plans to write the brothers’ stories in the future but if not, I’m at least hoping we’ll get to learn more about them in the next book. I like the idea that these brothers could be a lot more than meets the eye.

This story also starts out with a relatively present day atmosphere with Ashley being introduced as a your typical rich, carefree young woman, holidaying on a yacht, and glued to her phone. But as the story progresses, the backdrop gradually changes into a dark, fantastical world of pirates where any sort of laws or rules are thrown out the window. It’s almost as if it’s in its own little bubble within reality, and Ashley has the unfortunate luck of being thrust into it.

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It’s all very intriguing reading through this story as it slowly unravels. I found myself just as captivated by Poseidon as Ashley was. He rarely gives anything away, and you’re left feeling both frustration and anxiety for him to reveal anything about himself or his feelings. I want to say there’s some character development there but I can’t help but assume that this book is only an introduction to this mysterious modern day pirate that is Poseidon, and that we’ll see real growth in the next book. Nevertheless, it’s enough for you to realize that there’s a lot more to him. If you love grey characters as much as I do, who are just a little bit of a complicated puzzle, then I think you’ll like Poseidon. 😄

To be real with you, I didn’t agree with all his actions and his reasoning behind them, but I strongly believe that his character has the potential for growth and improvement.

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And Ashley, bless her… She needs some street smarts in her, stat! She comes off as naïve and sheltered, and as much as I really wanted to snap some sense into her on more than a couple of occasions, there’s no denying that she no way deserved the things she goes through in this story. Good thing there’s a few goodhearted people on her side.

There’s nice beginnings of world-building present with a couple of memorable secondary characters in play. It’s not overly in depth or layered but as I mentioned earlier with the character development, I’m hoping we get the “hearty meat” of these elements in the next book.

A good amount of chemistry and zingy scenes between Ashley and Poseidon kept me engaged throughout. I never knew where the story was heading so that was another factor that had me needing to know what happened next and not wanting to put the book down.

It’s a relatively quick read. With an entertaining storyline coolly consisting of pirate wars, a treasure hunt, a damsel in distress, and a smidge of Greek mythology thrown into the mix. I haven’t come across a smexy-as-sin pirate since Killian Jones from Once Upon a Time. Add in Captain Jack Sparrow’s savviness and his quirky but good-natured crew, and you have yourself Poseidon and his men! 🏴‍☠️

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If you enjoy dark contemporary romance books with a captor/captive trope, then I say add this one to your list! But be prepared for the cliffhanger! Hopefully the next book won’t be too far along! 🤞 Please be aware that there is some sensitive subject matter included that may trigger some readers.

RATING: ⭐⭐⭐¾

Thank you Amelia Wilde and Candi Kane PR for the opportunity to read an advanced copy! 💙

🔔 Want to read it? Grab your copy here: Amazon  |  Apple Books  |  Nook


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Hope you enjoyed this review! Be sure to check out the book if you’re interested! Happy reading. Catch you in my next one! Xo

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Violent Beginnings by J.L. Beck & C. Hallman

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Original post from my IG @booksofthemuggleborn

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— BLURB —

The deal was sealed the moment she stepped onto that stage.

It was like seeing a ghost. Sunshine blonde hair, pale skin, and azure eyes that held a thousand secrets.

I didn’t know what caused her to end up on that auction block.

And I didn’t care either.

All I knew was that I had to have her…no matter the cost.

One-million dollars later and she became just that.

Mine to break.

Mine to use.

Mine to keep.

But we all have secrets and when I discover hers no one will be able to save her from me.

•••

— MY REVIEW —

Oooh. Second book in The Moretti Crime Family is a hiiiiiit!! 👊 If you love your dark romance reads with a little juicy mafia captive/captor romance trope, then you gotta add this one to your TBR!

This book had intrigue and suspense dripping out of it right from the get-go when Markus sees, bids, and successfully wins Fallon at a flesh auction. 

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But is one million dollars worth reliving your pain-filled haunted past? Yes. Annnnnd no. 

Markus may be seeing a ghost right in front of him in the form of Fallon but what he didn’t factor into his plans is her stubborn attitude, deceitful stories and constant emotional roller coaster.

What are my thoughts on Fallon? Ehh… She’s not my favourite heroine. I can’t say I would know how I’d act or feel if I was ever put into the same position as her, but I do know that I wouldn’t risk pushing a person who can kill in .05 seconds flat past their limit time and time again. 🙄😒

I hoped to have liked Fallon a lot more. She has some great qualities to her character but her relentless mindset was hard to overlook, and I just wasn’t a fan of it. Even with Markus’ willingness to try where Fallon’s concerned, she constantly makes rash decisions against better judgment, consequences be damned! Ugh. Not cool, chicky. Not cool. 🙅‍♀️

Thank the book gods my love for Markus was more than enough to outweigh the issues I had with Fallon. It’s a big reason as to why I enjoyed reading it overall. Clearly, I’ve gone into the deep end when it comes to dark/ mafia romances because despite the fact that Markus is danger personified, who lacks any sort of emotion that would make him the warm, fuzzy type, I still found him to be credible, alluring and protective— for a ruthless, coldblooded killer… that is. 

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Thank goodness for his experience and expertise when it comes to this dark, cruel world or else who knows what would’ve become of Fallon.

I found this book slower paced in its storytelling and in my opinion could’ve been a few chapters shorter and still would’ve kept the twists and turns and intrigue. It didn’t necessarily drag but I felt like when it came to Fallon and Markus’ constant disagreements and miscommunication it did get a little repetitive. 

Although told from first person, dual POVs, Markus’ inner dialogue was an absolute highlight to see throughout the book. For someone whose norm is to be discreet, hard, and emotionless, seeing an internal battle over his feelings towards Fallon, having him slowly open up and be a little more heart-warming towards her… well… it’s a swoony sight to see. 

Didn’t hurt that despite the whole captive/ captor situation they’ve got going, there’s definite sparks between them. Whether they’re bantering, or in a full-blown comfort sesh, their chemistry is undeniable. *waggles eyebrows*

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There’s little expansion to the world-building from what was already existing from the first book, other than when Markus mentions his job in the mafia, how dangerous that world is and how it’s not to be messed with it’s not exactly in the forefront. It’s a character driven story, with the mafia world merely in the background to cast an overall gloomy atmosphere.

Despite Fallon lacking a little for me as a heroine, I did find the story itself filled with an edge of dread that keeps you hooked. They’re both keeping things to themselves, with Markus surprisingly being the more open one — which I think is why he had a gradual character development in comparison to Fallon. Markus (as they say) is like an onion… with the layers. You can’t help but be curious and to see him unravel. And if I’m going to be honest, I couldn’t help but chuckle at some of the things he did (and considered to do) to ensure things were kept in order. Lol. 🙈🤭

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A story with a few surprises here and there. I would’ve loved to have some more intensity and edge of your seat moments before everything was revealed but I could not dislike the ending either.

The majority of the story focuses solely on our protagonists. Any side characters that make appearances play minor roles or are cut short for certain reasons. Nevertheless, it was enough to provide some dimension and give us readers different dynamics depending on who they interacted with (besides one another).   

All in all, mafia romance lovers will enjoy this book. I sure did! 😊 It’s a great addition to the series and follow up to Savage Beginnings. I’m already anxious to read the next book! Eeep.

The Moretti Crime Family is a series of standalones, but the guys’ backstories are somewhat interconnected that I would recommend you to read Savage Beginnings first. Previous characters make appearances in this one and you’ll have a better understanding of where they stand with one another.

As far as dark romances go, Violent Beginnings is on the milder side, but I can assure you it’s still gritty. There’s serious subject matter included in this storyline that may trigger some readers such as graphic violence, sexual abuse and human trafficking. So please keep that in mind, when considering this book.  

RATING: ♥♥♥♥/5

Thank you to J.L. Beck, Cassandra Hallman, and Candi Kane PR for the opportunity to read an advanced copy! 💛

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Read my review for Savage Beginnings!

📓 Savage Beginnings by J.L. Beck & C. Hallman

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Read my review for Savage Christmas (The Moretti Crime Family — Christmas Novella)

📓 Goodreads Review 


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Happy reading, guys! Catch you in my next one! Xo

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