Series: Ruin and Revenge #1
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Source: ARC, NetGalley
Also in this series: Luca, Rocco
Also by this author: Luca, Rocco
A dangerous proposal
Las Vegas Mafia boss, Nico Toscani, is used to getting what he wants, whether it is having the City of Sin under his rule or a beautiful woman in his bed. But when he meets his match in the gorgeous, headstrong Mia Cordano, the daughter of a rival crime lord, all bets are off. . .
Sexy computer hacker, Mia, struggles to break free of her ruthless father’s Mafia ties…but she can’t resist the powerful and seductive Nico, who will stop at nothing to possess her. With their families locked in a brutal war for control of the city, Mia and Nico enter into a forbidden game. Will they surrender to the passion that burns between them—and risk tearing apart their families? Or will Nico be forced to betray the only woman who sets his blood on fire?
I love mafia romances. I love it even more when its romance between rival families. I haven’t read a Sarah Castille book before, but Nico is book 1 in a new series, so I decided to give it a shot.
The story doesn’t downplay the violence and illicit activities of the mafia. The men are ‘old school’ misogynists who have embraced the life of smacking women into submission, cheating on their wives, and bartering off their daughters. Mia is a mafia princess who has ‘left the life’ sort of. Honestly, the more I read, the more confused I got about Mia. She abhors her father, yet attends dinner every week with her family. She struck out on her own, went to college and runs a business now, all on her own, yet uses her family name to help bring in contracts. She was a bit of an oxymoron. I liked that she was smart and talented in the computer field, but I wanted her to extend that tough girl vibe to her family.
I was initially soured on Nico when, while visiting his uncle, he witnesses his cousin backhand a woman for bringing him cold espresso.
Although tempted, Nico kept his views about Tony’s abusive behavior to himself. This was not his house. The woman was not his servant.
So, obviously, Nico doesn’t start off well for me (this occurs at about 8% into the story). I will admit some hesitancy to continue at that point. But, I am glad I stuck with the book! I fear though that this first 10-15% will turn some readers off because it is pretty violent and abhorrent. Don’t say I didn’t warn you 🙂
I loved that Mia is intent on teaching young girls coding and computer information technology. She wants to empower these girls and I thought that was a perfect example of her not just saying she is a feminist but actually doing things to encourage women! I liked Nico’s protective nature as well. While I wasn’t thrilled with his early action, he is different with Mia so I am thankful for that! I thought their relationship was believable overall-the arranged marriages, the politics, etc all combined to create a very Romeo and Juliet feel (at one point, another character even references the play). If you enjoy your mafia romances with a bit more ‘authenticity’ then I think you will really enjoy this! There is certainly a lot of danger and it is plausible because you see that these characters will do anything to advance their agenda.
There were a few things that didn’t quite work for me. The random Italian phrases thrown in to add to the authenticity got annoying after awhile. I don’t mind a few words in Italian here and there and think it can certainly add to a story. But when the character says something in Italian, then translates it to English, this slows the story down. It happened repeatedly. Had Nico just used a few key Italian terms repeatedly that didn’t require translation, I probably wouldn’t be annoyed. But, it seemed that there were random Italian words tossed in for effect, just in case you forgot you were reading a story about the Italian mafia.
- POV: 3rd
- Tears: no
- Trope: mafia
- Triggers: View Spoiler »
- Series/Standalone: book 1 of a new series of interconnected stand alones
- Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
- HEA: View Spoiler »
“Welcome back, my friend.”
Wham. Nico had King by the throat and halfway over the bar before Mia had a chance to introduce him.
“Let him go.” Mia tugged on Nico’s wrist, dislodging his hand from the bartender’s throat.
“Sorry.” She reached across the bar to straighten King’s collar. “He doesn’t get out much.”
“Hey, no problem.” King held up his hands, palms forward in the universal sign of surrender. “Just being friendly, man. We got a hands off policy until five a.m. That’s when the clubs shut down and the strippers come in looking for some fun.”
“You.” Mia turned and poked Nico in the chest. “Take it down about one thousand notches. I know these people, and they know me. Nothing’s going to happen to me here.”
Nico grunted but didn’t look convinced. Mia ordered a couple of two-dollar drinks and found a small table near the back that wasn’t covered in empties.
“Don’t use the washroom unless you’re desperate,” Mia said, amused by how uptight her Mafia boss was in the pit of sin. Or maybe it was because he had left his bodyguards outside and he was alone for the first time in forever.
“I’ve got my piece.” He patted his jacket, and Mia laughed.
“Oh. It’s a gun. I wondered what that was when you were pressed up against me at the bar. I thought you wanted me.”
His eyes darkened and he reached over, dragged her chair toward him. “I wanted you back at the hotel. Now it’s a fucking need.”
Mia leaned over, kissed his neck. “Do you know what I need?”
He threaded his hand through her hair, pulled her closer. “What do you need, bella?”
“I need to dance.” She pushed away and wound her way through the tables to the tiny dance floor in front of the stage. How the hell could she make this work if she wanted to jump him every time they were together? She didn’t want to get emotionally involved in a fake marriage that tied her to the mob, especially when it was never meant to last. And yet, she was already emotionally involved. She could never have said ‘I do’ to a man she didn’t trust, a man she liked and cared deeply about. There was so much more to Nico than the cold, ruthless mob boss he let the world see. He was passionate, protective, deeply committed to his family, and so damn sexy she couldn’t keep her hands away.
Someone put the Clash on the jukebox and she danced with two biker chicks as punk rock videos played on the projection screen behind the stage. She glanced over at the table, but Nico was already behind her.
“You trying to fucking kill me?” He wrapped one arm around her waist, and pulled her against him, as if they were alone and not in the middle of a dance floor in a grungy dive bar.
“I was trying to dance.” Her nipples tightened as he ground his hips into her ass. “I see you want the X-rated version.”
He kissed his way down her neck, and nipped the sensitive skin on her shoulder, sending a shiver down her spine. “I could fuck you right here and no one would bat an eye.”
Mia turned to face him, wound her arms around his neck. “I knew you’d like it.”
“I like watching you.” He pulled her close and danced like his hips were unhinged, grinding against her until her clit throbbed and she was so wet for him, the thought of fucking him in the filthy bathroom held considerable appeal.
“Nico.” She moaned softly, and he thrust his thick thigh between her legs, rocking her against the rough fabric of his jeans.
“Can you come like this?” His voice was a low, sensual rasp in her ear, his hands firm on her hips, his body hot and hard in her arms.
“I don’t know, but I want to.”
He twisted her hair in his hand, yanked her head back, and kissed her fiercely. “How bad is the restroom?”
She slid her hand down, smoothed it over his T-shirt, tracing over his rock hard pecs, the ripples of his abs. Nico’s grip tightened and his voice dropped to a husky growl. “How much do you want me?”
“Worse.” She rubbed the palm of her hand along his rock hard erection. People danced around them, laughed, and joked. Their R-rated behavior was nothing in a bar where she’d witnessed X-rated shenanigans.
“Come.” He grabbed her hand, pulled her across the dance floor and through the maze of tables to the tiny, dark hall leading to the restrooms.
“Where are we going?”
His lips curved in a sensual smile. “To give you what you want.”