My mind still rebels against second chance romances, but I usually end up enjoying them, especially when they have an interesting twist. Like this one, which involves the mafia in Detroit. I have a love/hate relationship with all things mafia, and while it leaned more towards hate in this one, I enjoyed the story overall.
I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
The daughter of a mafia boss comes home to see her ailing mother and reconnects with her high school sweetheart, an undercover FBI agent trying to take down her father. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.
Gabriella, known as Blue to her high school boyfriend, has been hiding at her aunt’s farm in Colorado for several years, staying away from the life her father has built as the head of the mafia…a life she wants no part of. But her mother is dying of cancer, and she needs to go home and say her goodbyes. On her flight home, she doesn’t think it’s weird that she comes across her high school boyfriend, Tyson, who she left after her father told her that Tyson was using her so his father, a cop, could get information on her family.
Tyson wasn’t using Blue back in high school, but as an undercover FBI agent, he’s working to get the information he needs about her father. After thinking Blue had just left him and being angry, he can’t stop his feelings come back for her now that they’re together again. Though he’s technically using her, he still has genuine feelings for her, so you know things are going to get complicated and angsty.
All the Normal Stuff…and Crime
The romance between the two is pretty straight forward. Tyson has a secret that you know is going to cause issues when Blue finds out. Blue has a family that you know is going to cause problems for Tyson. Yet their chemistry is high and their feelings are real, so you want them to have a happy ending, and even though it’s a romance novel, where a HEA is guaranteed, that journey is still kind of rough.
He’s a Murderer for Crying Out Loud
I often dislike family members of the main characters, because there’s always that one who’s a complete douchebag. But I had a very strong reaction to Blue’s father: I loathed him. In fact, I hated him so much, I had a hard time reading the book at the beginning because he was so completely horrible. It didn’t help that Blue had that same “daddy” reaction that so many heroines do: she just couldn’t hate him and still wanted his approval…blah blah blah. Then her poor sick mother tried to stand up for him and talk Blue into doing what her father wanted her to do (basically marry the new mafia boss that would be taking over). And I wanted to like her mother, but that little scene made it hard.
If my hate reflexes were triggered early, my tear ducts were activated later. I mean, Blue’s mom is dying of cancer. There are some scenes that were heartbreaking, and while this moved the story slightly away from the love story, it was also an avenue that allowed more relationship development between Blue and Tyson.
Things That Should Not Be Ignored
I liked Blue. I liked how she’d changed from when she was younger and how even though she still had the whole family loyalty thing ingrained in her, she also wanted to break away from her family’s name.
She wasn’t a dumb character, but I questioned the fact that she never thought it was a strange coincidence that she met Tyson on a plane to Detroit (when he seemed to live in Detroit) nor did she think it was weird that he wouldn’t discuss details of his life and work with her. I understand that she was blinded by her feelings to an extent, but she knew she belonged to a crime family. Girl, if I were a mafia princess I’d be questioning the ice cream guy’s motives in the flavor he tried to sell me.
People Getting Offed
Also, she’s basically being told she has to marry some creepy older guy (I did like that she actually had an attraction to him, even though she didn’t have emotional feelings towards him, because it added an interesting spin). Of course she plans on saying no and continuing to see Tyson, but once again, I would have thought she’d maybe have a suspicion that her dad might try to off Tyson, especially because he offed Tyson’s father.
The Romance Factor
Sure, it was a second chance romance, but considering they hadn’t seen each other in years, it was like they were getting to know each other again. No spoilers, but Tyson’s words and actions at the end of the story were pure sweetness and wrapped it up perfectly. 4/5
The Steam Factor
I feel like maybe I’ve read so much erotica that even steamy books are starting to feel a little tame to me. While suitably titillating, I didn’t feel like this one pushed any boundaries. However, it didn’t need to. The sex was well written and well placed, and there were definitely a few blush-worthy moments. 3/5
Despite finding her father to be a complete tool (yay for comeuppance), I enjoyed the story. I didn’t realize that one of the side characters was set to be the main character in the next book until the very end (and after I read the synopsis of the next book), so that was kind of a nice surprise. The writing is solid, and despite Blue’s minor lapse in judgement, the characters were pretty great. Definitely a recommended read.