— BLURB —
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!
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Read my review for Stolen Bride!
Savage Beginnings by J.L. Beck and C. Hallman
Release Date: July 17, 2020
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Happy reading, guys! Catch you in my next one. Xo