22 October 2016

Salvatore: A Dark Mafia Romance (Benedetti Brothers, Book 1)

Synopsis from Goodreads: 


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 passion hotter than the fires of hell burned inside me. I was his, and he was mine. My very own monster.


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.

Author’s Note: Salvatore and Lucia’s story is a steamy standalone romance with a happily-ever-after. No cliffhanger and no cheating. It is intended for mature readers.

Stats for my copy: Trade paperback, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2016

How acquired: Bought.

My thoughts:  Mafia, mobsters, gangsters, and the like – not the type of hero who has ever appealed to me. Violent men in violent worlds, breaking laws and laundering money and killing rivals. What's to love about those men? But the author of this book is Natasha Knight, and I very much like her, so I took a chance and doled out the $11.99 for it. And I'm happy to say I have no regrets.

The premise is a little horrifying. Two heads of rival mob families signing a contract for peace between the families, with one man giving his teen-aged daughter to the other man's son. Lucia is forced to sign a contract that effectively gives ownership of her to Salvatore. Would it hold up in a court of law? Of course not. Lucia is a minor and slavery is outlawed. But the mob doesn't follow our laws, and both Lucia's and Salvatore's fates are sealed that day.

Fortunately, Lucia is sent away to a boarding school for the first five years of the contract, so she's of legal age before she is actually physically handed over to Salvatore. She hates him of course, and his father and brother, not to mention her own father for putting her in this position. But she's strong and feisty, and refuses to cower down.

The story is told in first person POV, alternating between Lucia and Salvatore, and I don't think the story could have worked as well otherwise. Hearing Salvatore's side of the story, his thoughts and feelings about a contract that he, too, was forced into, helped make his character sympathetic. He wasn't just a mobster, he was a man who lived under the thumb of his overbearing father, who still mourned the loss of his older brother, and who was determined to protect Lucia and make the situation as easy on her as he could, albeit while still maintaining control of her.

Definitely a relationship with a rocky start. And then a war is brewing, and with Salvatore's brother and Lucia's sister and cousin involved, it's hard to imagine our hero and heroine ever coexisting peacefully. When you're born into a mob family, it seems your life is never just your own, but you can't just walk away. For Salvatore, there is some soul searching, a yearning for a different kind of life. Men who seek redemption – what's not to love about them? 

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