2021 Favourite Reads

Guess who’s back with another favourite reads post!?

Yep. Last year I posted a round-up of my favourite reads, and this year I decided to do it again! Could it be the start of a new tradition… Who knows? 😊

Ha! I thought 2020 was a tough year to get through. Sheesh. If I knew how sucky 2021 ended up being, I wouldn’t welcomed it with open arms. Lol.

But like I said last year and every year I’ve been reading… it’s always been my form of sanctuary and escapism. I’m your stereotypical introvert who prefers books to company. Who prefers a cozy night in with a swoon-worthy book and comfort food over late-night partying with outfits that’s all-too binding, uncomfortable shoes, and the stench of sweat in the air. 😅

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This year, I’ve compiled my top 12 favourite reads of the year. Ideally, I wanted one favourite book from every month but… some months had doubly amazing reads, whilst others had mediocre ones not completely worthy of this list.

Even though I had a few reading slumps along the way (nothing new), after compiling my top reads, I realized that the majority of the books were from new-to-me-authors, so despite a few hiccups along the road, this year introduced me to some incredible authors who’ve quickly become auto-buy authors!

So here we go!

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Original post from my IG @booksofthemuggleborn

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• Contemporary Romance •

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📖 Kiss Me First by Anna B. Doe

(Small Town, Coming of Age, Sweet New Adult Romance)

📖 Kiss To Remember by Anna B. Doe

(Second-Chance, Sports Romance, Love Triangle, New Adult Romance)

📖 The Hate Love Duet by Lauren Rowe

(Hate-to-Love, Rockstar, New Adult Romance)

— ♥ —
*Not Pictured* (Honorable Mention):
📚 The Reed Rivers Trilogy by Lauren Rowe

(Age-Gap Romance, Friends-with-Benefits, Workplace Romance)

— ♥ —
📖 Brutal Blueblood by Becker Gray

(New Adult, Enemies-to-Lovers, Bully Romance, Academia Setting)

📖 Sweet Devil by Becker Gray

(New Adult, Hate-to-Love, Secret Crush, Academia Setting)

📖 Till It Hurts by Cora Brent

(Second-Chance Romance, First Love, Fake Relationship Trope)

📖 Lessons In Sin by Pam Godwin

(Taboo Romance, Forbidden, Secret Romance, Age-Gap, Academia Setting)

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• MC Romance •

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— ♥ —
*Not Pictured* (Honorable Mentions):
📖 Saint by Nicole James

(MC Romance, Suspense, Marriage of Convenience, Age-Gap Romance)

📖 Climbing The Ranks by Nicole James

(MC Romance, Suspense, Whirlwind Romance) *Trigger Warnings*

— ♥ —

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• Mafia Romance •

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📖 With This Ring by Natasha Knight

(Dark Mafia, Suspense, Arranged Marriage, Enemies-to-Lovers)

📖 Kiss Of Death Duet by L.P. Lovell

(Suspense, Enemies-to-Lovers, Forbidden Romance, Russian Assassins/ Italian Mob)

📖 Tears of Salvation by Michelle Heard

(Enemies-to-Lovers, Suspense, Dark Romance) *Trigger Warnings*

— ♥ —
*Not Pictured* (Honorable Mention):
📚 The Saints Series by Michelle Heart

(Suspense, Marriage of Convenience, Arranged Marriage, Opposites Attract, Assassins, Dark Romance) *Trigger Warnings*

— ♥ —
📖 A Vow Of Lust & Fury by L.P. Lovell

(Dark Romance, Arranged Marriage, Age-Gap Romance, Enemies-to-Lovers) *Trigger Warnings*

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• Dark Romance •

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📖 Secret Beast by Amelia Wilde

(Beauty & The Beast Retelling, Suspense, Enemies-to-Lovers, Forbidden Romance, Captor/Captive Romance)

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Annnnnd… there you have it! Yes, I snuck in a few books that technically did not make it to my top 12 list but came a very close (hence the mentions)!

Like last year, if you want to see all my reads for the year, check out my Monthly Wrap-Ups. I posted my December one earlier and I wanna say I have reviews up for all the books I read this year… but sadly there’s some still waiting to be written. Sigh. But links are up for those available.

I hope you all had a relaxing Christmas (if you celebrate), and now enjoying the holidays (hopefully you have holidays)! I sincerely wish everyone a safe yet happy New Year’s Eve/ Day! 🎉

Thank you for the support you’ve all given me for my reviews and my book blog in general! I’m in awe of the amazing people I’ve met through this bookish community and the copious amounts of books I’ve discovered over time. I’m truly thankful for the friendships I’ve made. As well as the opportunities I’m fortunate enough to be a part of.

I truly hope 2021 will be a year of nothing but happiness, love, good health, and good fortune for us all!

Happy reading, and as always catch you in my next one! Xo

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A Vow Of Lust & Fury by L.P. Lovell

⚠ This review contains minor teasers!

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Original post from my IG @booksofthemuggleborn

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• BLURB •

My uncle is the boss of the Chicago Outfit, but there’s one man even he fears, Giovanni Guerra. And he just sold me to him —as his wife. For an alliance. For power.

The boss of the New York family is beautiful, and deadly, and he stokes a fire in me that might just destroy us both. Giovanni was sold a submissive little mafia princess, but he’s about to find out that I am no one’s pawn.

The only vow I make is one of lust and fury.

A Vow of Lust and Fury is part of the Underworld Kings Universe. A multi-author series of standalone books filled with mafia families waging war, danger and violence, arranged and forced marriages, angst, love, and everything in-between.

Light or dark, twisted or sweet, the Underworld Kings has something for every reader.

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• MY REVIEW •

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Eeep. This is a perfect example as to why I am obsessed with dark mafia romance reads containing broody, excessively intimidating alpha heroes! AVOLAF had all the elements I love from this genre.

The premise was what initially had me wanting to read this story. From the first chapter, the protagonists had me intrigued. As it progressed, the storyline kept me engaged. There’s constant build-up and suspense, a torturous slow-burn between Gio and Emilia, and on top of that, their enemies are practically at their doorstep. Ugh. It’s one savagely edgy dark romance! 😍😍


“A better man would look away. A better man would let her go, but she’d made a fatal error; she’d drawn my attention.”


The Kiss of Death duet was the story that introduced me to Lovell, and the dark, all-out gritty mafia world she had created. This book not only lives up to the high standard that that duet had set, but it was a pleasant surprise to see the characters from said duet crossover into Gio’s and Emilia’s story. It’s honest-to-goodness like going back and visiting one of my favourite bookish worlds and seeing the gang together again. 🙌

If you haven’t read the Kiss Of Death duet, I think AVOLAF is a great introduction to their world, and the tight-knit circle of friends within. Not only will you be invested in Gio’s and Emilia’s developing relationship, but the supporting cast included will have you wanting to know their story too! The strong familial bonds amongst Gio and his friends are just as equal a highlight as the addictive push-and-pull romance.

Despite the slow burn, the storytelling is relatively fast-paced and action-packed. Lovell has created an atmosphere of uneasiness and danger surrounding Emilia and you can’t help but feel the dread right along with her. The desperation Emilia exudes has you sympathising her and the situation she’s inevitably been forced into by the lack of options she’s been presented with.

Please note: This book contains sensitive subject matter that may be triggering for some readers, such as graphic violence, domestic abuse, and sexual assault. Explicit mature content intended for readers 18+ only.

I always yearn for a strong, gutsy heroine in my reads as I find the majority never live up to the “fierce, independent heroine” tag they’re supposedly described to be. But Lovell doesn’t disappoint in providing one in Emilia. In a male dominated world, she may not be as physically powerful in comparison, but she’s not one to back down and take brutality either. It’s what makes her a likable character that earns both awe and respect. Her vulnerability is what makes her relatable and genuine, and quite a contrast to the confident, and overprotective men in her life.

Gio is your typical anti-hero who does some questionable things but within reason. It’s hard to turn your back on him — he’s merciless, calculating, danger personified, yet within their society’s Underbelly there’s also an ulterior motive to his power and reputation. I love grey characters and he’s one of a few within this world that I was instantly hooked on. He’s arrogant with a little bit of a cheeky side to him that’ll have you suppressing a giggle or two, not wanting to admit that his charm has gotten to you. 🙈🤭

A mafia romance with an arranged marriage/ forced proximity trope. It’s dramatic, angsty, and keeps you on your toes the entire time. It’s very character-driven and emotion-based. Told from dual POVs, Emilia and Gio are both fighting the sizzling chemistry between them, and as their relationship builds, the intensity only deepens. For lack of a better word, it’s hot! 🔥🔥🔥

As the plot thickens, you see a gradual shift in their relationship. It might seem small in the grand scheme of things but the scenes where they get snippets of each other’s characters when their defences are down only added more dimension and complements the dark and gritty side of their story.


“He was the key to my shackles, and it occurred to me that while I’d been trying to escape him to find freedom, perhaps he was that freedom.”


True to its genre, it has equal parts mafia to romance elements. The antagonists here are legit villains. Lovell has created a diverse range of characters, all of which evoke strong emotions out of you. The writing is high quality, with such vivid world-building that I couldn’t get enough of.

Read the books from the Underworld Kings, they say.

They’re all standalone dark, mafia romance books, they say.

Um well… 🤔😅

At the rate I was devouring this book, I was completely blindsided by this, and I know plenty who considers it to be a deal breaker, especially if there’s no warning in advance, so I have to mention that this book is NOT a standalone. It ends on a massive cliffhanger that had me 😩😭😭 and needing the sequel baaaadly!

But despite the savage ending that leaves you desperately hanging, I still absolutely, without a doubt recommend this book. Lovell has quickly risen to auto-buy author status and AVOLAF has fast become one of my favourite dark romances. I will read this one over and over again. It’s a must read!   

RATING: ⭐⭐⭐⭐½

Thank you L.P. Lovell, the Underworld Kings team, and Candi Kane PR for the opportunity to read an advanced copy!

🔔 Interested in reading A Vow of Lust & Fury? Grab your copy here: Universal Link

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👑💀 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

Marriage & Malice by Trisha Wolfe

Kingdom Fall by A. Zavarelli


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

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The Saints Series by Michelle Heard

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Original post from my IG @booksofthemuggleborn

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Mafia & Bratva Romance. Set in the same world with connecting characters but these books are all STANDALONES and do not have to be read in order. All the books are told from dual POVS. 

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• Book One | Merciless Saints •

BLURB

Alliances are made. Loyalty is owned. Love is taken.

I’ll show everyone I’m a threat, and they will fear me.
For my family. I have to protect them.

The second I hear the name Damien Vetrov I know I’m in trouble.
He’s an arrogant Russian God.
Only, I have zero intention of bowing to him. Ever.
Attractive and lethal. He’s such an intoxicating mixture.

Every second we spend together, the pull between us becomes stronger, and my fear grows.
While my body wants him, my head knows better. He has the power to kill my family.

But when blood is shed, I’m forced to depend on Damien for my life.

Being at his mercy, whether he’ll kill me or protect me, is still up for debate.

•••

MINI REVIEW

Damien & Winter | An Irish and Russian marriage of convenience/ formed alliances romance.

Their story surprisingly have me bawling my eyes out! A heartbreaking storyline that just kept hitting the feels! I was emotionally drained after reading this book and a lot of it was due to the brutal tragedy that befalls Winter.

It’s action-packed and constantly moving forward. There’s just the right amount of build-up, suspense, and tons of shock value. I certainly wasn’t ready for how this story progressed, but despite the hardships these characters go through, I was instantly invested in not only Winter and Damien but all the secondary characters who were also introduced. The bond and brotherhood smacked me from the get-go. I was in awe of how little it took for me to believe the history, love, and loyalty these characters had with one another, and besides the romance aspect, was a big reason as to why I knew I would love the series! The family dynamics and strong ties will have you swooning just as much as the romance elements.

Winter and Damien had a sizzling push-and-pull chemistry. The writing felt effortless to follow and the emotions that both Winter and Damien displayed felt so genuine. It’s a relatively quick read that can be finished in one sitting. I enjoyed the pacing for the most part as the story came off hearty and full of dimension. I enjoyed the backstories, especially from Winter’s POV as it truly transports you to her life as if you’re experiencing her emotions in those events right along with her.

Right off the bat, the thought of an elite Academy who trains high-end assassins and has dealings with the underworld had me on the edge of my seat hooked! And seeing Winter and Damien start out as students of this Academy who eventually become two of the most dangerous, most powerful players in their Mafia world had me giddy with excitement at not just their budding romance, but the start of an intricate world-building. Although it’s a standalone story, it was amazing introduction to St. Monarch’s Academy and the entire cast of characters who’ll be reappearing in all the books to come.

RATING: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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• Book Two | Cruel Saints •

BLURB

Alliances are made. Loyalty is owned. Love is taken.

Little did I know my love and freedom would be taken to form a new alliance.

Brutal, possessive, and dangerous, Lucian is feared by all. Including myself.
When his father is assassinated, Lucian takes his rightful place as head of the Cotroni family. They rule the Mafia with an iron fist, and he’s set his sights on my family.
Until now, we’ve been the only threat, but when a new one emerges, my father is forced to arrange a marriage between Lucian and myself.

He might be handsome but he’s not the kind of man who loves. He takes what he wants and right now, it’s my body.
I might belong to him in name, but the question remains – will our union be consummated in blood or love?

WARNING: This book contains subject matter that may be sensitive for some readers. There is dark and triggering content between these pages. 18+ only. Please read responsibly.

•••

MINI REVIEW

Lucian & Elena | A Italian Mafia arranged marriage/ formed alliances romance story

It had my arms flailing and my eyes glued to the pages! I absolutely devoured this book! I loved the opposites attract trope between Lucian and Elena. They were the epitome of a knight in shining armour and the damsel in distress (in a dark Mafia setting). This was a refreshing dark mafia story as Lucian’s family was surprisingly the sweet, loving dynamic that’s not usually the norm in mafia romances. I’ve read countless books from this genre but I don’t think I’ve encountered one where the hero’s family was the one oozing love and happiness, and a genuine bond between father and son.

This story was one of the more grittier storylines and it includes sensitive subject matter that may be triggering for some readers such as domestic abuse, sexual assault, and graphic violence.

Although I don’t have triggers, I’m not going to lie, some of the scenes in this book was tough to get through. Michelle has written these stories with such vividness, that you’re already emotionally invested in these characters and their world right from the beginning, and seeing one suffering is gut-wrenching. Learning their backstories added more dimension and an understanding of these characters’ mindset in the present day.

Perfect balance of light-heartedness and darkness throughout. There’s evident character growth from both protagonists as the story progresses and seeing their bond grow from strength to strength makes this a touching and empowering romance story.

It’s intense with lots of action and suspense. There’s a nice gradual build-up in their romance that makes their relationship go from a marriage of convenience to genuine love and loyalty.

The secondary characters in this book will also steal your heart.

RATING: ⭐⭐⭐⭐½

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• Book Three | Ruthless Saints •

BLURB

I move in the shadow of death. I’m the villain. The monster everyone fears.
I’ve been born into a life of depravity and ruthlessness. It’s kill or be killed.

Until her…
The moment she smiles at me, my world changes.
I keep coming back. Watching her brings me stolen moments of peace.

Until I can’t stay away…
She doesn’t know who I am, that she’s flirting with death.
Slowly we fall deeper until she loves the lies I’ve told her.

The danger that follows me, creeps closer and the façade I’ve built comes crashing down around us.

And lovers turn to enemies.
But there’s no going back for me.
I want her. I will have her.
She doesn’t have a choice.

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MINI REVIEW

Carson & Hailey | An opposites attract, mafia/outsider romance story

OMG! Might just be my favourite story (after Alexei’s and Isabella’s)! I was just as immediately intrigued by Hailey as Carson was when she first walked into the room. The opposites attract in this particular story popped with bubbly, happy-go-lucky Hailey and enigmatic, broody, lurks-in-the-shadows Carson. The curiousity gets the better of Carson and seeing him struggle with wanting to know more about Hailey and steering clear of her was a gripping development to see play out throughout.

The inner dialogues by both these protagonists had me giggling at times and gave such comic relief and lightheartedness when you least expect it.

Similar to the first two books, it’s another action-packed, suspenseful quick read. By this third one you get the gist that each of the books within the series contains the build-up in the first half of the story with a somewhat swift conclusion by the end, which I would normally be disappointed with but since these books present character growth, steady romantic development, and an overall detailed storyline, it doesn’t feel like it’s ending abruptly.

Hailey and Carson, in my opinion had one of the more complex and heart-wrenching storylines from all all the couples, and despite the heartbreaking scenes that were tough to see play out, I could not put it down until I finished it. It’s an angsty, dramatic rollercoaster ride that had me ugly-crying for a good chunk of the book.

With Carson being Alexei’s younger brother, they certainly have the talent to turn heads. *waggles eyebrows*

I’m also loving the entire innocent-outsider-enters-the-mafia-world. It’s thought-provoking seeing their dark and gritty world from an outsider’s perspective, and once again I adore the fact that the hero is another protective, caring sweetheart who’s just the right amount of dominating alpha.

RATING: ⭐⭐⭐⭐½

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• Book Four | Tears Of Betrayal •

BLURB

My father is the head of the Bratva, but being born out of wedlock, I’ve never been a part of that world.
Until a hit is taken out on me. I’m kidnapped in the dead of night and waking up, it’s to come face to face with Demitri Vetrov.

Dangerous and heartless, Demitri is the most feared man in the world. I’ve heard whispers of what he’s capable of.

I’m thrown into a nightmare where I don’t know who I can trust, and fear for my life is my only constant companion.
I’m forced to be at Demitri’s mercy, I’m just not sure he has any. It also doesn’t help that he’s disarmingly attractive.

Tall, dark, and deadly.

Knowing this, he uses it against me like a weapon, breaking down my walls faster than I can put them up.

There’s a war coming, and I’m right in the middle of it.
The only question is, will Demitri be the one to save me or kill me?

WARNING: This book contains subject matter that may be sensitive for some readers. There is dark and triggering content between these pages. 18+ only. Please read responsibly.

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MINI REVIEW

Demitri & Ariana | A captor/captive, forced proximity Bratva romance story.

Ooh okay… I feel like after reading Alexei’s story, there was a lot of anticipation in reading Demitri’s story— just for the fact that he was this quiet but deadly character who was strictly all business.

First thing that comes to mind after reading this book is how much I couldn’t get enough of their inner dialogue—especially Ariana’s as her mindset was so genuinely relatable… and so girly. Lol.

If you love sexual banter, you will enjoy the hell out of this one. The unsuspecting one-liners that come out of Demitri had me snort-laughing, and it’s these moments that break the tension and gloomy atmosphere that overall surrounds the situation that Ariana (and Demitri) find themselves in.

Another storyline with tear-jerking moments (honestly, I don’t think there was single book from this series where I didn’t cry at one point or another).

And after having reading all the books, I realized that each one had strong family presence. These may be a bunch of mafiosos and assassins but trust, loyalty, and family are paramount in their world.

Demitri and Ariana had somewhat of an insta-love romance yet slow-burn at the same time. Best way I can describe their romance is there’s a ton sexual build-up and teasing before their relationship develops deeper.

RATING: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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• Book Five | Tears Of Salvation •

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Original post from my IG @booksofthemuggleborn

Alexei & Isabella | An enemies-to-lovers, Cartel and Bratva romance story.

At the time I read this book it was also part of the Underworld Kings author-collaboration series. It was my introduction to Michelle Heard and the rest of The Saints. After having read Tears of Salvation I knew I had to go back and start from the beginning of the series. Best. Decision. Ever! ❤

RATING: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

📖 Read my full review here: Tears Of Salvation by Michelle Heard

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I have myself another favourite romance series that I will surely read (oh who am I kidding, I already have) over and over again. I love how they are all relatively short reads so whenever I need an all-consuming, passionately hot romance read to perk my mood up or get me out of a reading slump, these will be my go-to books for sure!

One word to describe this series— the characters, the storylines, the romances, all the developments…

OVERALL SERIES RATING: ⭐⭐⭐⭐½


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

By Sin I Rise: Part One by Cora Reilly

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Original post from my IG @booksofthemuggleborn

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• 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

•••


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

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Twisted Cravings by Cora Reilly

booksofthemuggleborn_twistedcravings
Original post from my IG @booksofthemuggleborn

•••

• BLURB •

Mafia meets illegal street racing in this action-packed standalone in the Camorra Chronicles!

As the youngest brother of the notorious Falcone clan, Adamo grew up surrounded by blood and violence. Drugs soon became his way of coping.

Becoming a Made Man like his brothers was his destiny but never his passion. When he becomes the organizer of his family’s successful illegal street races and one of their thrill-seeking drivers, he finally asserts his own path in the harsh mafia world.

His purpose isn’t the only thing Adamo discovers on the fuel-soaked roads he calls home…

​Dinara Mikhailov is the only female race driver and hard to ignore. Not only because of her flaming red hair and ruthless driving style, but also because the Bratva princess is allowed to drive in enemy territory.

Soon Adamo and she find themselves entangled in a passionate game that goes beyond the race track. Yet, both haunted by events in the past, their dark cravings put everything on the line.

As what they crave the most, comes with a brutal price.

•••

• MY REVIEW •

My my. Adamo’s quite a bad influence… 🙈🙉🙊

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I wanna say it’s what I was anticipating… but it wasn’t. Well… not completely. I was of two minds during and after reading it.

Whilst I was giddy with the initial premise of the book — I mean c’mon, mafia meets illegal racing?? Umm. Yes please! It wasn’t what I had expected. Yes, there’s the mafia side of things and elements of the illegal car racing but it felt more or less a means of bringing in the Bratva more so into what was initially the Italian mafia world, as suppose to having the majority of the storyline center around Adamo and that race world he found solace in. Don’t get me wrong, I’m as intrigued by the Russian mob as much as the next fan of this world, but I just would’ve loved a lot more of that racing scene… and in detail.

It started strong with an opening scene to Adamo’s world since we last heard of him in the previous books and to be honest I was wondering if I was going to see him as all grown, broody and oh so swoon-worthy… orrrrrr if I was still going to picture him as an adolescent, still reckless, and still finding his place in the Camorra.

I’m going to be in the minority here but I definitely did not see him like I do Remo, Nino or Fabiano… or even Savio. 😅 Despite now being a young man, I just couldn’t believe it… ugh… he just wasn’t believable enough to be all grown up and a full-fledged Made Man in my books. He didn’t completely come off as a Mafioso. Put aside the Camorra and his family, you would think he was just a wealthy guy with connections, who runs illegal car races and who happens to be a nifty driver. The darkness the supposedly surrounds him wasn’t obvious. I didn’t feel it, it didn’t leap off the pages, and I wasn’t convinced whenever it was demonstrated. Which wasn’t as much as I thought it would have been considering the brutal events of his past.

I really wanted his story and his struggles to be delved into a lot more than what was provided. There was just something missing that didn’t give his story the oomph I was hoping for.

But! In saying that…. do I love Adamo? Yes. No doubt. He may not be as gritty and yeah okay… not as hardy as his older brothers but he certainly had remarkable qualities that I was happy to see a Falcone brother possess. Traits in which I did find myself grinning at seeing whenever Adamo effortlessly displayed it. (And I’m not talking about his talents with his hands, mouth or dick).

In some ways I think Adamo’s personality is one of my faves from the Falcone brothers. He seems to have a lot of the traits I loved from all of his brothers within himself. And in general I loved seeing the contrast of relationships Adamo had with each one of them. Not to mention his relationships with the extended Falcone clan.

Now—What can I say about Dinara Mikhailov? She’s spunky, I’ll give her that. If you know me or have read any of my past reviews concerning heroines in Mafia worlds, that I would absolutely pick a chick who’s independent, can stand up for herself, kicks ass, and doesn’t back down easily over a meek, damsel in distress type any day… (Ooh wait now that I think about it… there is one exception though). *waggles brows*

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Dinara caught my attention right after she stole Adamo’s. 🤭 Her style alone is winning! *chef’s kiss* Add in her determination and how she holds attention, and next thing you know, you’re hooked and invested in seeing her story unravel.

As someone who’s read quite a few DARK reads, what you discover about Dinara in this book can so easily be tough to get through. I don’t know what level of darkness Cora had intended for Dinara’s story (and I can’t speak for others) but in my opinion her story wasn’t difficult to read. There was a sense of detachment—I don’t know if it was me and I couldn’t quite connect with it, or if it was Dinara herself and how she came across whenever her past was brought to light. Either way, it didn’t come across as dark as some of Cora’s previous mafia books.

Individually, both Dinara and Adamo are likable leading characters. For two people who knows nothing else but the mob life, they both have such softer personalities in comparison to the other couples. There’s an evenness in their relationship that was somehow calming to see. There was no sense of dominance with either one of these two, making it seem like they’re on equal footing with one another. But of course, things are never all that simple. Adamo and Dinara prefer to keep their turmoil to themselves, hence why they seem less blaring, and why they have a pull towards one another. Twisted Cravings is definitely a bang-on title for their story. They feed each others’ cravings that they can’t find anywhere else or weren’t being provided for by the people who were closest to them. As much as I perked up every time they danced around each other and their feelings, the further their relationship developed, the more I questioned: How healthy is their relationship? 🤔

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Dinara and Adamo are similar in so many ways having similar vices and coping mechanisms to get them through and connecting that way. Their relationship is a seesaw of emotions where it could go very bad, very quickly with just the smallest trigger. You can’t help but be on edge seeing how things will go down between them.

This book had some new elements that were thrown into what I consider staples of Cora’s in her Mafia world, and I was digging it! It was both refreshing at times and at other times unsurprising yet simply comforting. I always love seeing how Cora will expand her already vivid world building, and one thing that never fails to get me hooked for more are the secondary characters that make appearances or ones she introduces that seem to hold my attention as much (if not more) than the characters in the foreground. This book was no different. It was also interesting to see how certain dynamics and environments have altered over time.

🤐 If I could, I would shout it from the rooftops who I was swooning over in this book, what scenes had me ooh-ing and ahh-ing, and the eye-catching tidbits I noticed here and there where the Falcones are concerned. All in good time. All in good time.

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Twisted Cravings is as much Dinara’s story as it is Adamo’s and told from both their points of view. It’s a slower-paced story, in comparison to the previous books in the series, and despite the sensitive subject matter and trigger warnings this book contains, it’s nowhere as gritty either. With Adamo and Dinara being young, this had a lighter, more NA vibe to it… although the smuttiness is very much present.

I wanna say it’s a pretty straight forward storyline. The first part gripped me, it slowed down in the middle, but by the final third of the book it picked back up and finished strong! There wasn’t much plot twists, but there were a couple of moments that had me taken aback. Look forward to some lighthearted banter, some Falcone charm, and vodka! 🙌

As much I thought I would come away from reading this book loving all the romance. I actually ended up loving the family interactions more. There’s such strong family bonds in this one that I couldn’t get enough. In a cruel world like theirs it was so satisfying to see somewhat of a normal familial relationship included.

Overall, a great addition to the Camorra Chronicles. Adamo’s story has been very much anticipated and in terms of seeing him finally have his happily ever after, it certainly doesn’t disappoint! This book can easily be a bit too topsy-turvy, but when it did reach those highs, those moments were completely epic! This book has such heart. And there were parts that had me sitting up in attention and daydreaming of the future and what’s to come!

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I don’t think I need to say this but I will anyways—It’s a must read for any fan of Cora’s and the Camorra Chronicles. If this was to be the absolute final book in the series, I can happily sigh with contentment that all my Falcone babes found their haven.

RATING: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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

🔔 Interested in reading Twisted Cravings? Grab your copy here: Universal Link

•••


Read my reviews for The Camorra Chronicles!

booksofthemuggleborn_camorrachronicles

📕 Book One: Twisted Loyalties by Cora Reilly

📕 Book Two: Twisted Emotions by Cora Reilly

📕 Book Three: Twisted Pride by Cora Reilly

📕 Book Four: Twisted Bonds by Cora Reilly

📕 Book Five: Twisted Hearts by Cora Reilly


•••

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

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Fragile Wings by J.L. Beck & C. Hallman

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•••

• BLURB •

Broken Beginnings Prequel

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.


“Hey, butterfly.”


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“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.

  • Age Gap    
  • 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!

RATING: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

•••


FragileWings_FreeTeaser

Read Fragile Wings FREE!

📙 Broken Beginnings Prequel

(Limited time only)

•••

Read my reviews for the previous books set in the Moretti Crime Family world!

Prequel: Stolen Bride by J.L. Beck & C. Hallman

Book One: Savage Beginnings by J.L. Beck & C. Hallman

Book Two: Violent Beginnings by J.L. Beck & C. Hallman

Christmas Novella: Savage Christmas by J.L. Beck & C. Hallman

•••


Happy New Year! Happy reading and as always, catch you in my next one! Xo

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2020 Favourite Reads

*pheeeeeew*

We’ve been saying “I can’t wait for 2020 to be over” constantly throughout the year and it’s fiiiiinally here! 🙌 In just a few short hours we can officially say adios to the crap-stick that is 2020 and ring in the New Year!

I’m sure plenty can relate that this year was a tough mudda (more so than usual) to get through. But I hope everyone at least found some goodness in between. Books and reading has always been some form of sanctuary and escapism for me. It’s partly why I can easily prefer reading books to spending time with company. 😅

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Weird thing is with having been at home for the majority of the year, you’d think it’d be easy to knock out book after book but nope! With work, general adulting, life slumps, and the occasional I’m-not-going-to-do-shit-today mood swings, I’ve not read as much as I would have wanted to. 

But in saying that… I did so happen to be fortunate enough to have read some unbelievably soul-shaking stories that completely had me in stitches, and/or ugly crying… which then resulted in either a hangover, rereading, thinking about day and night, and/or all of the above. 

I won’t be including old faves I’ve reread this year. This compilation is strictly all new books I discovered in 2020. And surprisingly (probably to me more than anybody else, really) they’re not all five star reads. But I can’t stress this enough… they are all loved, and ones I would happily recommend to friends (FYI that includes YOU!) 😊

In no particular order (mostly because I’m too lazy to chronologize the shit out of it lol). But I have at least sorted them into sub-genres because I know not all romance readers read all romance, amirite? 😉

So here we go! 

•••

• Contemporary Romance •

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📖 Kiss To Forget by Anna B. Doe

(Hate to Love, New Adult Romance)

📖 Wicked Idol by Becker Gray

(New Adult, Bully Romance) 

📖 Pretty When She Cries by A. Zavarelli

(New Adult, Hate to Love, Bully Romance) *Trigger Warnings*

📖 One Moment Please by Amy Daws

(One Night Stand, Hate to Love, Adult Romance)

•••

• MC Romance •

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📚 Blood Fury MC series by Jeanne St. James

(Dark MC) *Trigger Warnings*

📖 Tempting the Biker by Glenna Maynard

(Dark MC, Age Gap Romance) *Trigger Warnings*

📚 Devil Kings MC series by Nicole James

(Dark MC, Opposites Attract) *Trigger Warnings*

📚 The MC Sinners series/ MC Sinners Next Generation series by Bella Jewel

(Dark MC, Second-Chance Romance) *Trigger Warnings*

📖 Fury by Marie Jordan

(Second-Chance Romance) 

•••

• Mafia Romance •

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📚 Unholy Union Duet by Natasha Knight

(Arranged Marriage, Hate to Love)

📖 Birdy by Dee Garcia

(Love Triangle, Dark Romance)

📚 Ties That Bind Duet by Natasha Knight & A. Zavarelli

(Forbidden, Dark Romance) *Trigger Warnings*

📖 Sweet Temptation by Cora Reilly

(Arranged Marriage, Age Gap Romance)

•••

• Paranormal Romance •

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📖 Branded by Fire by Nalini Singh

(Shifter Romance, Fantasy, Hate to Love)

📖 Kiss of Snow by Nalini Singh

(Shifter Romance, Fantasy, Age Gap Romance, Enemies to Lovers)

•••

• Dark Romance •

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📖 The Danger You Know by Lily White

(Stalker Romance) *Trigger Warnings*

📖 Guts & Glory: Brick by Jeanne St. James

(Fake Relationship, Military-Type Romance) *Trigger Warnings*

📖 Stealing Cinderella by A. Zavarelli

(Modern Day Fairytale Retelling) *Trigger Warnings*

•••

Aaaaaaand there you have it! 😁 Not sure if this will become a yearly thing for me so this could very well be the one and only. Hehe.

If you want to see all my reads for the year, don’t forget to check out my Monthly Wrap Ups. My December one will be posted shortly so keep an eye out for it! Happy holidays! I sincerely wish everyone a safe but happy New Year’s Eve/ Day! 💙 

Thank you for the support you’ve all given me for my reviews and my book blog in general! I’m in awe of the amazing people I’ve met through this bookish community and the copious amounts of books I’ve discovered over time. I’m truly thankful for the friendships I’ve made. As well as the opportunities I’m fortunate enough to be a part of.

Happy reading, and as always catch you in my next one! Xo 

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Bound By Blood Anthology by Cora Reilly

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Original post from my IG @booksofthemuggleborn

•••

— BLURB —

Born in Blood
Sworn in Blood…
…isn’t only the motto the Famiglia lives by.
Bleeding for love is something every couple in this book has experienced. Through hardships their love morphs into something even more beautiful and resilient. A love each of them is willing to fight for.

This anthology contains stories for the following couples:

Aria & Luca
Romero & Liliana
Growl & Cara
Mauro & Stella
Matteo & Gianna

•••

— MY REVIEW —

First off — I am so fucking ecstatic that we get more updates from OG couples from the mafia world that started it all, Born In Blood! 

Warning: Lots of cussing ahead! And minor teasing!

Okay. Here we go. First up?

*drumroll*

📖 1: Luca & Aria

What can I say about these two other than I love them, and seeing even a snippet of their lives whether it be past, present or future always leaves me with a buzz of happiness. Their short story pulls at the heartstrings — not only with how much they’ve come a long ways in their relationship since they first met, but with how much their world has evolved. It’s also a nice breather from the gritty, mafia side because this story is focus more so on their private life together.

Luca was my first love from this world, and I honestly don’t think I could ever tire of reading about him.

I’d like to see one person come away from reading this little novella without a smile on their face. C’mon. Prove me wrong! You’ll smile, you’ll giggle, you’ll flail your arms, and you’ll sigh with happy contentment! 

😜 Not a surprise but I know a lot of readers are looking forward to this:

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Next up? Fresh meat!

📖 2: Mauro & Stella

Ahhhh. Mauro and Stella. Two new characters that I didn’t realize I needed until I read their story. Now I am in desperate need of a full length novel! *Looking at you book gods. Make it happen.

Who loves a step-sibling romance trope in their reads? I’m not embarrassed to admit it’s a trope I can easily be iffy about just because of the whole cringe factor that can be displayed if the story or characters are written in a weird incest sort of way. Uuck. But Forbidden Delights had none of that whatsoever!

Gripping, edge of seat chemistry. The build-up of sexual frustration was both adorable as fuck and intense. Add Mauro to your book boyfriend list? ✔✔✔   

Since I had already read this novella when it was initially released in the romance anthology; Love In Lockdown, I’ve already written and posted my full review. To read my thoughts on Mauro and Stella, you can find it here: Forbidden Delights by Cora Reilly

😳 Here’s something to look forward to:

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Things are heating up. Next one up is the couple that is “made for hell.” 🔥

📖 3: Matteo & Gianna

*exhales…*

Okay. This one is a little tougher to review. Whilst I was on the edge of my seat the entire time reading their novella, I did have mixed feelings about the developments. I wouldn’t be surprised to see their novella divide a lot of the readers who love Matteo and Gianna. When it comes to Gianna, you either love her or hate her. Just so you know, I’m on #TeamLoveGianna (I definitely prefer her more than Aria), and whilst their situation was all kinds of WTF?, her decisions are understandable, her feelings are relatable, and I, for one have always accepted her… opinionated attitude and all! 

In saying that, Matteo has and always will be my adorable shark-grinned cinnamon roll! Seeing him wrack over his emotions just about gave me chest pains. The guy just has so much heart! This may be a novella but it packs a punch and gave a much needed update to the next chapter in their lives. Not only has this story showed how much Matteo and Gianna have gone through in their relationship, but it reminded me of how much time has passed, of how old I am, and how long it’s been since Bound By Hatred! 😅 But phew… What a journey! Have tissues at hand.

(Oh, and I knew there was a very good reason as to why I love Luca and Matteo’s brotherhood!) *sigh* 🤗        

🙈 What you’re getting yourself into with this one:

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Up ahead: Sugar and spice, and all things nice!

📖 4: Romero & Liliana

I don’t know why Romero and Liliana are underrated. I loved Bound By Temptation to bits and Romero is such a refreshing change from the arrogant, alpha type Made Men who enjoy the blood and grittiness. If you’re in need a true gentleman, who’s caring, protective and adorably romantic — Romero will not disappoint. And neither does this story. It was just straight up sweet! 

Besides their intial book, for the most part Romero and Liliana haven’t been in the forefront, and this short story pretty much sums up their quiet life. They’re practically living the dream with having found a balance between the Mafia world and their own little heaven outside of it. It’s cool to see that there’s at least one couple in this world that doesn’t have too much drama going on around them constantly. Such an effortless coupling.    

But not to worry, Romero will still bring out the raaaaawr!

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And finally… the feels!

📖 5: Growl & Cara

I’m gonna admit it right here, right now — this couple’s story was the one I was anticipating reading the most! Why? Well, as much as I have a lot of love for Matteo, at least we got snippets of him in previous books. But with Ryan? The most we got was a name drop here and there. 

And now? 

Fuuuuuuuuuck! This story completely punched me in the gut. I felt like the rug was ripped right out from under me and it resulted in me bawling my eyes out! Ugh. As much as this story shattered my heart, it’s still probably my favourite one from this collection. I didn’t think I could love Growl anymore than I already do but he wormed his way in deeper into my heart! 

Tissues! Where are the bloody fucking TISSUES!!!!? 😭😭

Their story was full of sorrow, but one of family, peace and healing too. Even if we don’t get another full length novel from Ryan and Cara, I think this novella will leave fellow Growl fans satisfied with the open-ended conclusion. When one door closes, another opens.

💘 Something not to be missed:

  TomHardy_PuppyLicks

🖐 Fantastic stories! A great compilation from couples I so lusted after from the Born in Blood Mafia Chronicles. Great seeing little snippets of what-ifs and possible teasers for future book storylines. A must read, and must have for all Reilly fans! 

RATING: ♥♥♥♥½

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


•••

Happy reading, guys! Thank you so much for stopping by and as always, catch you in my next one! Xo

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

booksofthemuggleborn_violentbeginnings
Original post from my IG @booksofthemuggleborn

•••

— 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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The Benedetti Brothers by Natasha Knight

After having read some of Natasha Knight’s newer releases, I was curious about her backlist. Decided the Benedetti Brothers series was a good place to start with.

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Original post from my IG @booksofthemuggleborn

The series consists of five books in total. Each book in the series can be read as standalone. The first three books in the series are on the Benedetti Brothers (the two books following are just set in the same world).

This review is for the first three books! 😊


📙 Book One: SALVATORE


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Lucia

It all started with a contract signed by him, then by me, while our families watched. While my father sat silent, a man defeated, giving his daughter to the Benedetti monsters.

I obeyed. I played my part. I signed my name and gave away my life. I became their living, breathing trophy, a constant symbol of their power over us.

That was five years ago.

Then came the time for him to claim me. For Salvatore Benedetti to own me.
I had vowed vengeance. I had learned hate. And yet, nothing could have prepared me for the man who now ruled my life.

I expected a monster, one I would destroy. But nothing is ever black or white. No one is either good or evil. For all his darkness, I saw his light. For all his evil, I saw his good. As much as he made me hate him, a searing passion burned inside me.

I was his, and he was mine.

My very own monster.

Salvatore

I owned the DeMarco Mafia Princess. She belonged to me now. We had won, and they had lost. And what better way to teach a lesson than to take from them that which is most precious? Most beloved?

I was the boy who would be king. Next in line to rule the Benedetti Family. Lucia DeMarco was the spoils of war. Mine to do with as I pleased.

It was my duty to break her. To make her life a living hell. My soul was dark, I was hell bound. And there was no way out, not for either of us. Because the Benedetti family never lost, and in our wake, we left destruction. It’s how it had always been. How I believed it would always be.

Until Lucia.

REVIEW:

Dark, mafia romance. ✔ Enemies to lovers. ✔ Arranged Marriage. ✔

With lots of banter, intimidation and lust! 🤤

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This is a great start to the series. It immediately gets you intrigued with Lucia being forced into a secluded life with Salvatore. There’s history between these two characters and their mafia families. What starts out as hatred, slowly but surely turns into lust, then eventually love. It’s a Romeo and Juliet type romance along with their two warring families.

I always enjoy some banter in my hate-to-love romance books — and this was a good one! There’s a nice little build-up. Lucia and Salvatore can deny their attraction for each other all they want but it doesn’t mean it’s not evident.

But there blossoming romance comes with issues. Not to mention Salvatore’s own personal conflicts with his family and the pressure of being the next one up to head the Benedetti family and all that comes with being in the mafia.

This book is full of drama. With a few swoon-worthy moments here and there.

RATING: ♥♥♥½


📓 Book Two: DOMINIC


BLURB

He’s the last born son of the mafia king. The one with nothing to lose.
I’m the daughter of a foot soldier and the sister of a snitch.

Monsters have been part of my life for as long as I can remember, but none as dangerous as Dominic Benedetti. None as cruel. None as broken.

I have no illusions about what he is. I have no desire to save his soul. And I can’t care about his bleeding heart.

But love isn’t always beautiful or kind.
It can be a twisted, ugly bitch.

I’d always known this was the kind I’d find. The only kind that could touch me.

Because some of us, we belong in the dark.
And Dominic and I belong in the dark.

REVIEW:

This is a captive/ captor romance. Contains sensitive content that may trigger some readers (e.g. kidnapping, violence, trafficking).

But ahh… Who doesn’t love the bad boy from the bunch?! 😜

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I knew from Salvatore’s story that I had to read Dominic’s book. He’s the black sheep of the family. He’s the youngest, who was never considered to rule so he causes trouble where he can, whenever he can. When everything crumbles around him, he leaves it all behind… but what happens when he can no longer escape his past?

Dominic is the bad boy with the attitude and he knows it. He doesn’t pretend to be anything else. His story is one of acceptance, growth, and healing.

The developing relationship between Dominic and Gia not only saves both their haunted lives but it changes them. Despite the fucked up way that they meet, in the end there’s no doubt that they are well suited for one another. I loved seeing Dominic’s character growth, from when you’re introduced to him back in Salvatore’s book all the way to this one. You can’t help but not hate him (even with everything that’s happened).

Besides the romance, his story had a good chunk of family dynamics. Reading this book made me understand and see his family in a new light… including Dominic himself *whispers* …and I had already loved him when he was being an asshole. 🤭

And who says bad boys can’t be romantic as hell?!

RATING: ♥♥♥½


📕 Book Three: SERGIO


BLURB

I’m the first-born son of the mafia king. The favorite. Destined to rule, I’m a dangerous man, a ruthless one. But in my world, you have to be.

Then Natalie stumbles into my life. Wrong place. Wrong time.

Twice, fate put her in my path.
Twice, fate placed the innocent lamb at the mercy of the monster.

I gave her a chance to walk away. Told her it would be better for her if she did.
But she didn’t listen.
And now it’s too late.
Because I’m not good. I never wanted to be. And I won’t let her go anymore. See, I’m not the hero. When I touch her, it’s with dirty hands.

I know my reckoning is coming though. I know I’ll burn for the things I’ve done, the sins I’ve committed. And I don’t deny hell is where I belong, but I want my time first. I want my time with her.

She’s mine.
Forever.
No matter what.

REVIEW:

⚠ WARNING: If you have yet to read Salvatore, please be aware this review for Sergio contains spoilers! 

Aw, this was bitter fucking sweet! Ended the trilogy of the Benedetti brothers with possibly the best brother and book from them all!

This is a somewhat opposites attract romance. Such a contrast between Natalie being this innocent young woman, and Sergio being the next in line in the Benedetti family to be the Mafia king, yet the attraction is fire! 🔥

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“Wrong place, wrong time, sweetheart.”


Going into this book knowing that Sergio Benedetti wouldn’t be surviving the end, I mentally prepared myself. What I hadn’t counted on was that Sergio would become my absolute favourite brother. Dammit!

The more I read, the more I dreaded getting closer to finishing the book because Sergio stole my heart from the second he appeared… and knowing that I would have to read and experience his demise was gut-wrenching.

Yes, I cried. 💔

I’m so glad Natasha decided to write his story. It’s definitely worth the read. I love that Sergio and Natalie’s love was fierce. They knew their time together would be limited and they didn’t bullshit around. Sergio knew what he wanted, and damn well got it!

Not only has the book wrecked me, but it’s also made me wonder how Sergio (and Natalie) would’ve lived out their lives had they had the opportunity to. After now having read all three books, I have no doubt that Sergio would’ve been the best man to rule. Personality-wise, I thought he was the most balanced out of the brothers. Considering he was in the business of death, danger and darkness, he still had the most heart.

Thoroughly enjoyed reading every bit of Sergio and Natalie’s short but sweet romance. Beautifully told.

RATING: ♥♥♥♥


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OVERALL RATING: ♥♥♥½

As mentioned earlier, each book can be read as standalone and technically in any order. But I recommend you still read them in publishing order despite the fact that Salvatore’s book contains the biggest spoiler for Sergio’s story.

Relatively quick reads. All told from dual points of view.

Besides the continuous family issues in each book, the only other similarity is with the brothers’ possessiveness over their heroine. They’re all mafia romances but each story and couple have a little something different from the last. These boys are alpha, but you’re bound to love one, two or all three of them! 😉

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Happy reading and as always, catch you in my next one! Xo

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