I thought the world of him. Then he showed the dark monster lurking beneath.
He says he’ll protect me from anything. He doesn’t know the only thing I need protection from is him.
• MY REVIEW •
Lucca and Claire’s story was one that I was looking forward to reading ever since snippets of it were shared in Violent Beginnings. I would have happily waited for the release of Broken Beginnings but when J.L and Cassandra shared the news that a prequel to Lucca’s life when he just started working for Julian (Moretti Crime Family) and how he first met Claire was available (and free mind you), I knew I had to jump onto it first before the Broken Beginnings release.
There’s very little to go on about Lucca so far, but after reading this little story, you’ll definitely have a better understanding of the current situation he’s gotten himself into since we last heard of him in Violent Beginnings, his relationship with Claire, and why she’s so important to him.
“Claire… My name is Claire.”
Honestly, this was both a juicy and cruel teaser to what’s to come in their full-length novel, because there was once full of heart, understanding, and an innocence to their unique bond and friendship, that easily turned into one of heartbreak and shattered rose-coloured glasses.
This may be short but it already provides readers with both protagonists’ points of view. With Claire being a child, still dependent, and with Lucca just starting out his independency, the dynamic between their mindsets and different mentality are evident — especially during the event the changes everything for both of them.
You feel for Claire. She’s young and fragile in this prequel, and I can only imagine how she’s turned out over the years since. With the drastic and life-altering events that occurred to her, I’m eager to see how she’s coping with life. Lucca’s new to the mob life, still relatively young himself, but he already had a aura of danger and power surrounding him, I can only imagine it growing ten-fold over the years too. But I’m most looking forward to reading Broken Beginnings to see how Lucca will rectify his relationship with Claire.
Next Door Neighbours
Dark, Mafia Romance
Friends to Enemies to Lovers
Great chemistry created (despite their age gap), amazing world-building introduced, and a storyline I’m already blubbing over with anxiousness to continue in Broken Beginnings!
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.
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.
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*
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. 🙈🤭
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.
Thank you to J.L. Beck, Cassandra Hallman, and Candi Kane PR for the opportunity to read an advanced copy! 💛
It started with a single look, my obsession, my desire and need to possess the sweet, and incredibly naive Elena Romero.
Like a thief I came in the dead of night and stole her away from her protected castle and placed her in a gilded cage made of gold.
The arrangement had been made. Her father knew I was coming, knew I had intended to make him pay.
His empire was crumbling. He had no money, nothing of value to me, nothing except… her.
Which is why he agreed.
His precious, virgin daughter in return for a debt paid.
He thought I would break her, kill her, he had no idea what I had really planned.
She would become my wife.
She would bear my children.
She would bend to my will.
And I would go to any lengths to keep her by my side.
*This is a dark mafia romance that contains mature themes, graphic violence, and sexual content.*
— MY REVIEW —
So many emotions running through my mind thinking about what I had read. After having read the prequel Stolen Bride first, I was pumped to get onto the main book. I was lured into the mystery surrounding Julian and being in the same boat as Elena at not knowing what exactly was happening.
This was one roller coaster of a read! *phew* 🎢
It started off with a bang! Julian walks in, then walks out not even 10 mins later with his new bride-to-be in tow.. Who I might add did not have a single clue of what was happening. Poor girl.
Immediately, I was eating it up! I love a good mafia romance filled with secret agendas and motives — and Julian had it in spades. Told from dual perspectives, but even that doesn’t really help you with what the secret is. Why Julian has truly taken Elena.
It’s a relatively nice pacing, at least for the first half of the book but to be honest, I thought it started to drag a little by the second half. At times it felt like the story wasn’t progressing any further and was stuck in a loop of constant mistrust and apprehension when it came to Elena and Julian’s relationship.
Once they start divulging their feelings and open up to one another, there was almost always something popping up that kind of makes them second-guess everything that’s happened. Hence the roller coaster. They have so much hurdles to jump over, but to be honest their issues could have very well been resolved a lot earlier it wasn’t for the uncertainty between them.
Elena made a sweet first impression as the young, innocent girl who cares deeply but after a while, it got a little boring. You figure, once it all sinks in that she’s being held captive by a dangerous man and being forced to marry that she would be a little more wary and alert. Unfortunately as the book furthered along, Elena stayed just as naive and gullible as ever. Didn’t even want to see what was right in front of her.
I wish she had more character development. I would’ve liked to have seen her mature a little more and pluck up some courage to stand up for herself once in a while.
Julian was a little more of a developed character. He went from someone who strictly had a goal (which is to mete out revenge), to someone who eventually grew some conscience over Elena’s feelings.
Julian isn’t the biggest, baddest Mafioso I’ve read about. Maybe my preferences have gotten darker and darker over the years when it comes to mafia romance, but I felt this one was just too tamed. Yes, there’s violence. Yes, there’s definitely some war brewing between enemies. But there wasn’t enough build-up, and by the time I reached the end, it was all very anti-climactic.
There was a lot of loose ends with this book that bothered me, and I can’t help thinking if the authors had initially stuck with their original plan of having a duet instead of one full-length novel, the entire world-building as a whole and character development would’ve been more in depth.
I was curious about the secondary characters introduced in this book, specifically Markus and Lucca, the closest men working for Julian. But they were literally only present in the book at the beginning and at the end, which was a pity because I saw some real potential for further world-building by having more people in play within the story. Both Markus and Lucca clearly have their own stories, so I couldn’t help think are there plans for books of their own? Will it become a series or is Savage Beginnings still a standalone? There are also other characters mentioned that seem to already have backstories — Once again, are these characters from past books and are just making appearances? Questions. Questions. Questions.
But unfortunately, their history with Julian is only brushed upon, and I was left wondering what their deal was, and how they all came about to know one another. 🤔
The secondary characters are fairly minor in this story line. Strictly centering around Julian and Elena, and seeing their progression from captor/ captive to man and wife. Not going to lie, there’s instant chemistry and spark between the pair. It’s one of the main reasons I was drawn to the book. But after having some time to let it all sink in, I’m also questioning whether the relationship was truly love or a case of Stockholm Syndrome? Although there is some obvious attraction between them, by the end I still wasn’t completely sold on their loving relationship. Like I mentioned earlier, maybe if this was duet, I would’ve seen their relationship grow at a more realistic pace. There was very little development in getting to know each other on a deeper level. Julian’s bossiness and dominance was consistent from start to finish despite considering giving Elena more freedom, yet it never came about. Not really.
I easily give the first half of the book a solid four stars. I’ve had to lower my overall rating a smidge in the end due to some repetitiveness in the story, the anti-climactic ending, and the stories involving Julian’s men that were left open. I still found the overall plot gripping. If you like semi-dark mafia romances, with hostage/ captive story lines, then this is an absolute must. Both Julian and Elena are remarkably decent people who happen to be living in a grisly world with its own set of rules. A good book for readers wanting to dip their toe in mafia romance but not quite ready for full-out grittiness and brutality that usually comes into play with this genre.
Thank you to J.L. Beck, C. Hallman and Candi Kane PR for the opportunity to read an advanced copy! 💛
Read Stolen Bride the prequel to Savage Beginnings!
Stole in the dead of the night I forged her signature on an unbreakable contract.
She would become my wife.
She would give me a heir.
She would help me destroy her father and get my revenge.
**This is a prequel to Savage Beginnings which is a +125,000 words standalone dark mafia romance novel.**
— MY REVIEW —
This was a nice introduction to what’s to come in Savage Beginnings. There’s enough intrigue and mystery in Julian who’s come out of nowhere to take Elena as his.
I’m usually not a fan of prequels (especially if the main novel hasn’t been released yet) because it’s literally a teaser. But there’s some positive aspects to prequels as well — There’s enough to give you a gist of what you could expect in the storyline, between the characters, and you get an idea of what the author (or in this case; authors’) writing style is like.
J.L. Beck and C. Hallman are both new-to-me-authors but after having read this little novella, I’m sold that I’ll have to check out their other collaborations. There’s a nice flow and pace to their storytelling. It’s easy to follow. Right from the beginning I was already curious about Julian’s motive and why he wants Elena so badly. The mood is set and it’s deviously juicy!
With very little revealed in this novella of how this story will develop (other than the contract), I did gather that Julian is the big bad mafioso that you don’t want to mess with, and Elena is pretty much the innocent young lady who’s going to change everything. Hehe 🤭
Mafia Romance? ✔
Arranged Marriage? ✔
Suspense? ✔ Revenge? ✔ Betrayal? ✔
If any of these elements call out to you, then you might want to add this one to your TBR.
Sidenote: I’m currently reading an ARC of Savage Beginnings and yes, I highly recommend you read this prequel just before or when Savage Beginnings is released so that you won’t have to wait too long to see the interactions between these two leads. Trust me, you won’t want to wait! 😉
I normally wouldn’t bother rating a prequel because like I said earlier, it’s an introduction to a book… but for the sake of this mini review (and in conjunction with my upcoming review for Savage Beginnings), I’ll add one in.
Read this prequel before the upcoming release of Savage Beginnings!