Renee Rose-His Queen of Clubs

Renee is back with her mafia series all about the Taccone family. In His Queen of Clubs, we are taking a decidedly eastern turn though, since we are going to go to Russia and play with the bratva.

So, a book or two ago, Junior Taccone went to a restaurant and killed himself a bunch of Russians. The fact is that they asked for it and the lead guy there that day really deserved it. But that day has had repercussions. There are always consequences, right? And the Taccones are about to meet theirs.

Junior has decided to have a surprise wedding, and where else do you elope to but Vegas? And if your brother owns a huge hotel and casino, you already know you got somewhere to stay. So Junior packs everyone up and heads to Vegas, including his little sister, Alessia, the only daughter in the family.

Meanwhile, Vlad has been watching so that he can get his revenge. The Russians that were killed were his guys. He had to go to Russia for a funeral, and while he was gone, his dipshit second made a stupid move and then badabing badaboom. Not only did they kill his guys, they also orphaned a 12 year old kid named Mika. When Vlad got back to Chicago, he found Mika, alone, in an apartment where he had been scrounging. Now he’s taken Mika under his collar. But today, they are in Vegas and they are going to make the Taccones pay. He is going to take the one woman who it will really hurt the family to lose, Alessia.

Vlad did so much research, but he missed one little thing. He missed that Alessia has diabetes and is insulin dependent. And that causes all kinds of issues.

A lot of times, I hate-ish the male main character in the beginning, before he starts to change a bit. But Vlad wasn’t like that. I think there is only one time when I outright disliked him, and that was because he was being stupid af. Mostly, I liked him a whole lot. I think that he was a pretty good guy from the beginning, even if he didn’t want to acknowledge it. Even when he was telling Alessia that she only had to stay married to him for a period of time, he was doing what he thought was the best and right thing to do, for Alessia, if not for him. Alessia was a good influence on him though.

I like Alessia. She’s feisty. She knows who she is and knows her worth. I liked how she really wanted to be independent, at least from her brothers, even though she knew that it would be pretty much impossible. I also like how caring she was, and how even though she was this whole mafia princess, she wasn’t spoiled or entitled or any of that. She just was truly a loving caring person who wanted to do what she could to make the world a better place.

I did get mad at her brothers though. I think that they pushed into places where they didn’t belong and frankly, she shoulda just smacked the shit out of them at least once or twice. I understand that they loved her and all that, but still.

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Sabina. I totally get why she did what she did, but damn. Bitch.

OK, that’s all for this one. Go check it out! Happy reading!

Nicolina Martin-Shame

Shame is the latest addition to the Russo books by Nicolina Martin. This one is technically a prequel and it can be read as a standalone, so no worries if you don’t know the characters.

This is Carmen’s story, really. Yeah, you are dealing with Luciano and Lucas, but really, this is all about Carmen. Most of the story is from her POV, so we really get to know her really well. We also have some from Lucas’ POV, but nothing from Luciano, and I can’t say that really bothers me a bit. I really don’t want to see any more into his head than we really have to, thank you very much.

So, Carmen came from Columbia with her uncle. After having left her uncle, she’s done what she can to survive, and sadly, there isn’t a whole lot for her to do. So she ends up selling herself. For a while, she freelances and splits an apartment with some friends. However, she eventually ends up in a house owned by Luciano Salvatore, the biggest mobster in San Francisco. While it’s definitely a step up from where she had been, there’s one big drawback. And that is Luciano Salvatore. He will occasionally send for a woman from the house to come and service him. Usually, she only goes once, and then she comes back to the house, forever changed. Sometimes, though, they never come back. This time, it’s Carmen’s turn. Everyone kind of looks at her like she’s the walking dead. When she walks out of the house, she sees the driver, who she thinks looks like a young Viking.

Lucas, the driver, is pretty young. He’s only 20-ish to Carmen’s 18. He has been doing a lot of little jobs for the Salvatore family, but he wants to get further into the family. He wants the freedom and such that can come from being a mobster. But for right now, all he is is the driver. So, he drives a beautiful young Carmen to Salvatore’s house so she can service him.

I’d like to say that Luciano was nice. Of course, I’d also like to say that I was a multi-millionaire. Too bad I can’t say either of those things. Luci was so far from nice that there aren’t even words to describe it. Let’s just stay that when Carmen did get back home, she was in bad enough shape that she had to have days of morphine to handle the pain. Lucas looks at the poor broken butterfly and starts to feel something for her.

Like I said before, this really is Carmen’s story. We get to see her try to put herself back together and come to grips with the aftermath of her trip to Luciano. Since we see her POV the most, we really get to see the psychological effects of what has happened to her and what it looks like to be the survivor. Carmen has some changes in her views of things that were interesting to watch. She is awfully cynical for someone who is so young, but then again, I can’t blame her for that, because, well, look at everything that she does go through.

I mostly like Lucas, but sometimes I just think he’s so young. Of course, my son is 24, so of course I think Lucas is young. I think the parts of him that kind of made me frustrated or angry were mostly because of that very young part of him and they would change as he got older and a little less naive. Because face it, he really is kind of naive.

Luciano. Well, what can I say about Luciano other than that he’s a massive prick who should die in a lake of hellfire?

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I thought for a few minutes that I might have to yell at Nicolina, there towards the end, but I should’ve had more faith in her.

OK, that’s all I have to say about this one. Go check it out! Happy reading!

Measha Stone-Valor

Valor is the 11th book in the Cavalieri Della Morte shared world, and I think that this is the last one on my blog calendar, at least I’m pretty sure it is. Measha has brought us a couple that just would not leave my head. Dustan and Cherise both insisted that there was more to the story, and wouldn’t listen to me when I told them that I had read the book and that was all there was. Dustan is a pushy, dominant asshole. Hopefully, they’ll leave me alone when I’m done with this.

Dustan is one of the CDM, and Arthur has sent him out on a new job. This job is to get rid of a guy named Antonio Merde. He’s apparently skimming off the top from his family. I had to laugh at his name, because merde is shit in French, so every time his name came up, I read it as shit. My inner 12 year old was amused. Anyway, Dustan is going to kill this guy. He’s been sitting in a bar waiting for Merde to come and do his business. He keeps to a routine, which lets Dustan know when and where he can off him. The only thing he didn’t plan on was the hot woman who walked up and sat down next to him.

Cherise, who tells Dustan her name is Cherry, is trying to break out of her shell. She has dressed herself up, given herself a fun nickname, and gone to a bar she wouldn’t normally go. And then she saw Dustan. Since she was nervous as all get out, she needed someone to shelter behind, and Dustan worked. When he walked out the back of the bar, she decided to follow. Much to her chagrin.

Dustan was both more hardcore and lighter than some of the other heroes in this world. Which, don’t ask me how that works, but that’s what I think, and it sorta works for him. He doesn’t seem as much on the dark side, if you know what I mean. Yeah, he’s an assassin, but he doesn’t seem as gritty and… Ugh, I can’t come up with the right word to describe it. I know what I mean, but I can’t make it come out of my head to the screen. That’s totally frustrating. Don’t get me wrong, he’s not your happy, fluffy, dancing assassin a la Sam Rockwell in Mr. Right. If he gets the order, he’s going to kill you. If you do him wrong, he’s going to kill you. And he’ll do it without hesitation.

Cherise was a mix too. She’s both bold and retiring, which is a really interesting juxtaposition. When she gets scared, she gets assertive, snarky, and mouthy. It’s a lot easier to be all of those things than it is to be scared. When she’s not so scared, she’s more in her head and ready to hide away. I can really relate, because snarky and mouthy is my fall back when I’m upset, scared, tired, angry, well, you get the idea. Of course, it works better for me, because Dustan isn’t telling me that bad things come to bad girls and waiting with a belt for my ass. I did like her a lot, mostly because I did relate to her so much.

One thing I did find really interesting is that Arthur barely makes any appearance in the book, and none of the other Cavalieri are in there at all.

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Bobby. Yeah.

Ok, that’s all I have to say about this one. Go check it out! Happy reading!

Jane Henry-The Bratva’s Bride

Jane Henry is back with another high ranking Bratva member. We met Demyan back in the first book, but The Bratva’s Bride is all about him. Well, him and Calina/Larissa. You’ll see the reason for the name being written like that.

So, years ago, Larissa had a mother, father, and her twin sister. But then there was a car accident and her parents were killed, her twin sister suffered brain damage, and everyone thought that Larissa had died. Her sister, Calina, is now locked up in a Russian facility so that she can be safe. When Larissa goes to visit her sister, she discovers that Calina has stolen a huge buttload of money from the Bratva. Which, yeah, not the smartest thing ever. She knows that they are going to come after her, so Larissa manages to get her out and takes her place so that she can be Calina and take her punishment.

Demyan has tracked down Calina and knows her record. He knows that she’s smart but her brain suffered damage after an accident and she has been in a locked facility because she isn’t as safe as she could be otherwise. It’s not that she’s nuts, it’s more that her brain doesn’t function in the same way that it used to, and she makes some… not wise decision. Like, oh, say, stealing a bunch of money from the Bratva. He is going to get her and she is going to pay off her debt, one way or another. His preferred way is that she pay it off under him.

I thought that the whole Larissa/Calina thing was an interesting take on the whole mistaken identity thing.  The whole identical twin thing is really a nice twist on the trope. I do like how much Larissa loves her sister. I mean, she is pretty sure that she’s about to die, and she just wants to make sure that Calina is OK. That’s her entire goal and her entire mindset.

Watching Larissa as she learned to settle into Demyan’s world was fun. She still kept expecting him to kill her, and frankly, I don’t blame her, I would’ve thought that too. And I would probably have fought against him a lot harder and a lot longer than Larissa did. But, I’m really stubborn like that and I have serious issues with authority. I would love to see another story with these two just to see how the Bratva are handling Larissa, and how she’s handling them.

I’m looking forward to seeing who is going to get bitten by the lovebug next in this universe.

Pretty, right? It’s a kokoshnik style tiara from the Russian Imperial crown jewels. Kokoshniks were part of Russian folk dress, but were generally only worn on special days and would be handed down through the generations because they were often highly decorated. I just thought it was great for this story.

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It seemed to me that Demyan was completely blindsided by the idea that Larissa was Calina’s twin sister. He did research on her, so he should’ve known about her.

OK, that’s all I have to say about this one. Go check it out. Happy reading!

Megan Michaels-Hard Daddy

I’ve never reviewed one of Megan’s Daddy books on here, but her new release, Hard Daddy, gives me the chance to do that.

Some of the other Daddy books I’ve written about are fairly light and sweet. That’s not Megan’s jam. She’s on the darker and not nearly as sweet side. Don’t get me wrong, her Daddies are still loving, and they take care of their little girls very well, but, well, they are also stern disciplinarians, and really serious, and more hardcore. And damn, but it works so fucking well.

Mace is a former SEAL and Mafia hitman. Now he’s just a simple IT guru. OK, maybe not simple, he runs a very successful business and makes a lot of money doing it. And best of all, it’s away from his family and the Mafia, and is a straight job.

Kyleigh has a shitty boyfriend who she just found is in the Mafia. They are on their way out to dinner when she tells him that she wants to break up with him. Instead, he drags her into an alley, and tries to rape and kill her. Luckily for her, she screams loud enough to attract Mace’s attention and he is able to save her from the jackass’s attentions. Mace decides the best way to keep Kyleigh safe is to take her home and hide her at his house for a few weeks.

Of course, nothing is ever that easy. Well, at least it’s not that easy for Kyleigh. She is stubborn, and bound and determined to get home, to her own home. She’s willing to do just about anything, including climbing out a 3rd story bathroom window. Now, since this is a Daddy book, and Mace is a guy, you can probably guess that Kyleigh isn’t the Daddy here and her ass isn’t going to fare so well.

I like Kyleigh, she’s got a lot of sass and is stubborn AF. I have to wonder how bright she is sometimes, because she doesn’t necessarily seem to learn all that quickly, even with object lessons at hand, so to speak. I think that she does well under Mace’s care, even if she says she doesn’t like it. I think that Mace will be good for her. More importantly, I think she will be good for him.

Mace is a little high-handed sometimes, and I would probably try to kick him in the face a time or two. OK, maybe I should wonder about Kyleigh’s brightness at learning lessons, if I’m willing to try to kick him in the face a few times. I think that maybe he jumps into things a little fast where he should have asked a question or two a couple of times, but since it works out well in the story, so I may be wrong. It does happen, on occasion. LOL.

All in all, this is a smoking hot story with a very hot pacifier, and one that is a great addition to my Daddy collection on my Kindle.

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I love the way that Megan handles humiliation in here. It’s almost as good as how Emily Tilton does, and we all know that I think she’s pretty much the queen at that. The small hand towel? Genius.

OK, that’s all I have to say about this one. Go check it out! Happy reading!

 

Nicolina Martin-Ruin

Nicolina has given us a second book in her Russo series, with Ruin, and it knocked me right the fuck out. It was a very intense book that had quite the impact on me. For those of you keeping track, yup, that’s the second book this week that killed me right down dead.

Ruin is the story of Anna and Eric. Eric is a guy who does bad things for Salvatore Russo, including tracking down money that has been stolen from him and punishing those who stole the money. And that’s what he’s doing right now. And Anna is part of his job.

Anna is now working for a small printing company, after having left her previous jobs, because of bad things. She has spent the past year basically in hiding, not talking to anyone but her dad or the people she works with. She doesn’t want to have anything to do with anyone, and she’s perfectly happy that way. Or so she tells herself, regularly.

Then, Eric. She goes out for coffee and meets him at the nearest coffee shop. And he makes her feel something.

This story is incredibly and intensely intimate. For most of the first half of the book, we only see Anna and Eric. They are put into a high pressure situation. They learn a whole lot about each other in that situation. And it develops a bond that goes straight into their souls. You often hear about people talking about soul mates or people who are the other half of their soul, and I think that for Eric and Anna, it is so true. Neither of them were complete without the other, and neither would be complete without the other. I think that they were only existing until they met each other. They both put on good faces, but there isn’t an Anna without Eric, or the other way around. But this book is more than just the journey of Eric and Anna getting together. It’s also Anna’s journey back into life. And that is a painful journey, but it would have to be, because she’s dealing with scarring and not quite healed spots.

The story is mostly told through Anna’s POV, although we do get to see a little bit of Eric’s head. I think that having mostly Anna’s POV really helps to make it so intimate, but I can’t exactly pin down why. But it also means that when we get to see inside Eric’s head, it’s like having a bucket of cold water poured on our heads, since we don’t see as much from him.

I liked meeting Christian, although he does seem a little scary, and it was nice to see Nate again. I’m hoping we get to see Christian’s story soon.

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I like how it seems like Christian and Anna eventually become friends, which I would think would be weird, considering, but that’s the feeling I got from them.

I was really proud of Anna for doing what needed to be done in the beginning, because I don’t think I would have been able to do it.

OK, that’s all there is for today. I cannot recommend this book enough. Really, I can’t. Go read it right now. Happy reading!

Claire Marta-His Salvation

His Salvation is Claire’s addition to the Cavalieri Della Morte series. (And do you know how hard it is to type Claire when your name is Clara?) It’s the 4th book in the series, and the 3rd I’ve reviewed here. It looks like it may have some overlap with the next book in the series, which is India R. Adams’ Ivy’s Poison. But, as that doesn’t come out until next week, I can’t say for sure.

So, Salvation is the story of Kay and Evelyn. Now, before you look at me or Claire and say, but ladies, Kay is a girl’s name, keep in mind that a lot of names that we now think of as exclusively girl’s names started out as male names, like Marion, which was John Wayne’s birth name. Anyway, Kay is an old name out of Wales and Latin, which is an interesting mix, if you look at it, but those old Romans got around. It means happy or rejoicing, which I find to be really interesting. Yes, I fell down the rabbit hole when I was looking at names. More useless trivia for the trivia monster who lives in my head.

In the original Arthurian tales, Merlin took infant Arthur from his parents to keep him safe from anyone who might want to hurt him. He gave Arthur to Sir Ector to raise. In some stories, Ector knew who Arthur was, in others, he didn’t. Ector already had a son named Kay. Please, don’t ask me how much of the Arthurian tales I already knew before I even started reading the CDM series. I may end up embarrassing myself. And I swear, Disney’s The Sword in the Stone had nothing to do with my Arthurian education. Probably. Yeah, I’m rambling today.

So, Kay. Assassin of the Cavalieri Della Morte. Doesn’t fail. Doesn’t kill innocents. Has a Spidey Sense. Just about to get into serious trouble. He’s in Rome and his hit has just gone bad. The target somehow got switched on him and now Russian pros are on his tail. Injured and bleeding, he has to get away from them somehow. He needs a car that no one has seen him with. So what does he do? He carjacks a pretty tourist.

Evelyn is a British tourist. She just won a luxury trip to Rome, and is sitting outside in her car, trying to find the paperwork she needs so that she can check into the hotel, when a stranger gets into her car, points a gun at her, and then carjacks her. She’s pretty sure that she isn’t going to live another minute, but he drags her into a No-Tell Motel, and the story builds from there.

OK, Kay. I’m not sure what I feel about Kay. I know that I’m not neutral on him, but other than that, he’s confusing AF to me. I think he’s confusing himself right now, and I’m pretty sure he’s confused Evelyn all to fuck. I think that Kay was emotionally stuck a little bit, which could be why I have a hard time getting a good read on him. He goes back and forth between different emotional states. I think I really like that. I think that it made him a lot more human than he might otherwise have been. Claire showed us a flawed man who is trying to come to grasp with things that are beyond his control.

Evelyn. Hmmmm… Most of the time I thought that she was a pretty good character. She didn’t really do the damsel in distress thing, except when it was appropriate to the story, but even then, she wasn’t going to go gently into that good night. She was going to fight as hard as she could and leave her mark. I do think that she was slightly naive a couple of times, at least towards the beginning, and Kay may have been an asshole for being as blunt as he was when he was explaining the facts of life to her, but I think she needed to hear it bluntly to get it into her head.

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There are a couple of things that happened that I didn’t really guess, but it was more like wouldn’t it be interesting if… There were other things that I thought the same thing about which didn’t happen. I’ll leave it to you to try and guess which ones were which.

OK, that’s all for this one. Go check it out, as well as all the other CDM books. Happy reading!