Nicolina Martin-Absolution

Absolution is the second book of the Savage Duet, which is part of the Russo Saga. I think that Nicolina definitely had the right idea when she decided to break these books up into 2 instead of trying to cover Kerry and Christian’s story all at once. It’s an intense story, and with as much of a roller coaster as Redemption was by itself, the full story together would’ve been OMG-ish. Breaking them into two books allows us to catch our breath a bit in between the two. It also allows us to get longer books, which is always a yay kinda thing.

Before I get started, it’s important for me to warn you that there will probably be spoilers in here. I’ll try not to spoil anything, but the fact is, they are a duet, and the first one was cliffhanger-y. As always, I’ll try to keep it vague and any spoilers down below the pic, but any spoilage you get now is all on you.

So, we left Kerry with baby Cecilia. She has run away and hidden in the backwoods of Canada, and is nearly off the grid. By a crazy series of coincidences (or, you know, a sadistic author), Christian has found them. And Kerry has pretty much fallen apart. She’s terrified that he’s going to kill her at worst, or just take Cecilia and leave at best. Remember, the last thing she knew about him was Luci telling her that he couldn’t control Christian. So, for all she knows, he’s been searching the past 2 years to kill her. Frankly, I don’t blame her for how she’s feeling.

Meanwhile, Christian has pretty much jumped the rails. He knew where she was in Chicago, and kind of kept an eye on her, but after she left, no one could find her. So, he’s gone a little crazy. He kinda just doesn’t give a damn anymore. He is doing all kinds of terrible things, just so that he doesn’t have to think anymore. But, here’s the thing. He isn’t doing these terrible things because he wants to, he’s using them like a drug or something. They are a way to numb the pain that he is feeling inside. He’s pretty much a walking, talking black hole at the moment. Which, really, I don’t blame him for that. Chris knows what he did and where he went wrong.

Kerry spends a lot of the time in Canada simply existing. I don’t think that she’s really alive, just exists. If she isn’t with Cecilia, then she’s just a shadow of herself. When she has to interact with Christian, she does so from a purely instinctual place. She’s being a mama who is trying to take care of her daughter and herself. There’s not much else to it, she’s just swiping at him so that she and Cecilia will be safe. Everything she does is for that. Of course, she doesn’t necessarily make the best choices that way, but she gets to a point where she’s just reacting so much that she can’t think of consequences because there just isn’t any room in her head for that.

I loved seeing what happens with Kerry and Christian. They do not have an easy journey because they have to go through all that history first, and Kerry has to deal with all the things that she would really rather not have to deal with, like Luci, and that’s hard for her. But, I think that their hard journey makes what relationship they do get a much better one, because they have worked through some of these things. They know the worst that could happen, because it’s happened.

I will reiterate that I really fucking hate Luci. I know that Nicolina is working on his story right now, and she tells me that we will like him after this, but she’s going to work really damn hard on that one. I’m not going to doubt her, because I know that she can do it, but Luci is just such a fucking asshole. I mean, he’s a nasty, prolapsed, pig asshole, so, you know, a lot of work. I can’t wait to see it though. Luci’s redemption, not a prolapsed asshole.

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I love Luci and Kerry’s interaction when she finds out some particularly crucial information. I cheered for her and then laughed my ass off.

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

Lee Savino & Stasia Black-Innocence, Awakening, and Queen of the Underworld

Innocence, Awakening, and Queen of the Underworld are a 3 book serial that is, among other things, a modern twist on the Hades and Persephone story. I thought about reading them as Lee and Stasia wrote them, but I decided that it would be much safer on my poor heart if I waited for Queen to come out and read them all at once, so that’s what I did. Since they are a serial, it will affect how I review them here. Mostly, I’ll give some info about the first book, and then highly gloss over the rest of the books. You know how I do.

So, a brief brushup on the Hades/Persephone thing. Demeter, the Greek goddess of the harvest has a daughter known as both Kora and Persephone. Hades, God of the Underworld wants a bride, and he spots Persephone. He manages to take her, gets her to eat 6 pomegranate seeds, and says he’s going to keep her. Demeter goes on strike and there are massive famines, droughts, all that. Zeus steps in and the agreement is struck that Persephone will reign in the Underworld for 6 months, and be above ground for 6 months. Zeus, by the way? Persephone’s daddy and uncle. Which also makes her husband Hades, her uncle. Those Greek gods, all kinds of incestuous.

Here’s how our story goes here. Cora is a sweet 19 year old girl who has run away from her tyrant of a mother, Demi. Her mother kept her completely isolated on a farm in the middle of nowhere. She would lock Cora in the cellar, yell at her, mistreat her, and be an all-around nasty bitch.  Cora wants nothing more than to get as far away from her mother as possible, and runs away to New Olympus.

Cora, who pretty much has no clue how the world works, because she’s been isolated on a farm all her life, ends up being a live-in nanny. After one particularly bad day, she heads out to a club with some friends. But, she also ends up drugged and dragged out of the club. She manages to get away from the asshole who has her and runs through a door, where she meets Marcus.

Marcus is known as the Lord of the Underworld. He’s a very powerful man in New Olympus. He is taken with the beautiful young woman who is drugged and soaking wet from the rain and takes her home. He woos her, cherishes her, and whisks her off her feet.

But of course we wouldn’t have 3 books if it was as easy as all that, would it? There is a whole lot that happens in these books. Marcus isn’t what he seems. Cora isn’t what she seems. Secrets swirl around her, and they aren’t ones that she is holding. In fact, she is like Jon Snow, and starts out knowing nothing. That slowly but surely changes, and things that Cora never expected or even imagined could happen actually happen.

I hate Marcus sometimes. I mean, downright can’t freaking stand the man. Of course, as we learn more about him, we find out why he has made the choices that he has, not that I’m excusing him in any way, shape, or form. He’s a grownup, he’s reasonably intelligent, he could’ve chosen other options, but he didn’t. Other times, my heart truly aches for him. He does put himself into some nearly impossible situations, and I don’t know why he chooses to do that. I think he’s operating under faulty logic.

I like Cora, most of the time. I think that she needed to grow up a little faster than she did. She really did hide her head in the sand almost willfully sometimes. But, when she decided to make her stand, she really made her stand. You’ll see what I mean. I think that she will end up as a serious force to be reckoned with, and that she’s going to make people see her. If they try to ignore her, I’m pretty sure that she’s going to hurt them, big time.

We have some great secondary characters. Armand, Anna, Olive, Andrea Doria, and definitely Sharo. All of these people are related to other mythological figures, and they all play fairly heavily into the story. Then we have Waters and Sturm, who are very interesting characters.

Along with the main Hades and Persephone, we get a glimpse at Orpheus and Eurydice, and Ares and Venus. I love how those got wound into everything else and how Lee and Stasia made it all fit together.

For more information about how the various characters relate back to mythological characters, check out the end of book 3. Lee left a nice message for everyone.

There are going to be more books in this world, featuring more myths. I’m really looking forward to reading them.

 

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Ugh. Demi. What a bitch. I mean, burn in hell woman. A lot. In a big firey pit.

Poor Sharo. His story was just so sad.

AJ needed serious, serious, serious punishment.

OK, that’s all from me. Go check out these books. Happy reading!

Alta Hensley-Caged

Alta wasn’t happy with just one surprise release in the past few days. She had to come out with two! Caged is a fun, filthy, dark, little Mafia tale, involving, guess what? That’s right, cages!

We start out at a funeral with Nayla. One of her co-workers has been killed in the line of duty of taking out one of the big Mafia families. And of course, one of those two families decides to interrupt the funeral with a little gunplay, because what funeral doesn’t need a whole lot of people getting shot. Nayla is lucky enough to survive it.

She’s a prosecutor who is after one of those two families. She has pix of the head of the family, Eddie, on her apartment’s wall because it is supposed to help her focus on her job. She stares at him a whooooole lot. I mean, like a lot a lot. Then, one day, she meets the real thing. In her apartment. Who has come to take her away. Yeah.

Meanwhile, Eddie has decided that he’s going to take Nayla. He has his reasons to do it, and he kinda doesn’t care what she has to say about it. He’s going to do what he wants.

There is a lot of fun and filthy filthy filth in this. And I love it, a lot. A lot a lot. There’s just something about the way that Eddie treats Nayla that is so twisted and kinky and hot like burning.

Overall, I really like Eddie. You wouldn’t know that he was the head of a Mafia family unless you knew that he was the head of a Mafia family. He seems like such a good man. OK, I’m not saying you can’t be a good man and a crime lord, but you get what I mean, right? Anyway, he is definitely honorable, and has very definite ideas.

I liked Nayla too. With that said, I thought that there were times that she was a little naive. I dunno, naive might not quite be the word, but I think that’s the closest that I can come to it. She’s willing to believe the good in people who might not have that good. I think that she might also have a little bit of a black and white view on life.

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I have to say, I love Eddie’s house. And his choice in dinner parties.

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

Jane Henry-The Bratva’s Captive

Jane Henry is back with her sexy, sexy Russian boys in The Bratva’s Captive. Today, we are getting Maksym and Olena’s story.

So, several months ago, Maksym was held captive by his Bratva’s enemies, The Thieves. They spent several days torturing him. It wasn’t pretty. But Maks, being a Bratva member, is tough, and he didn’t give them any information. Luckily, his pals rescued him. His time changed him, a lot. When his boss decided to go visit old friends in America, Maks went with, partially because his woman, Taya, told him that she couldn’t be with him the way that he was. Then The Thieves killed Taya, and all bets were off.

Olena’s father just happens to be the head of The Thieves. He’s a huge fucking asshole. She had been staying in the US with her mom, until her mom died, so now she’s back in Russia, living under her father’s “care”, which she hates. Olena has no freedom, can’t hang out with friends, no dating, none of that. She’s lucky that she has a job. Maybe.

One day, a gorgeous man named Maksym walks into the cafe where Olena works. She’s flattered that he’s flirting with her. Right up until he drugs her, kidnaps her, and oh yeah, chains her to the bed. And spanks her!

Maks goes through a lot in this book. He has to deal with what happened to him at the hands of The Thieves. He has to deal with the loss of Taya. Then he has to deal with his changing feelings about Olena. She was only supposed to be his revenge against her father. He was going to take Olena so that he could draw out her father and kill him for having Taya killed. But, the best plans of mice and men, right?

All Olena really wants is freedom. She was isolated when it came to her mother because they were mostly in hiding. Her father is up to his eyeballs in shit and he doesn’t let her have any freedom either. Then, of course, there’s the ultimate lack of freedom when Maks takes her. She wants to be as far away from her father as possible, which he makes impossible. Maksym isn’t disposed to let her go. He confuses the fuck out of her. Which, considering how confused he is himself, isn’t all that surprising.

I really found myself cheering hard for Maks and Olena. I wanted them to win and stay together. That’s not to say that I didn’t get mad at Maks, because of course I did, but a lot of his problems were things that he wasn’t able to easily handle. He was stuck in his head, which kept fighting against his head. That made it really hard for him to go through everything he needs to go through.

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I liked the little old lady. She definitely knew a whole lot and she wasn’t afraid to share it, even though she knew who Maks was. I would love to see more of her.

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

Nicolina Martin-Redemption

You remember yesterday how I said that Eva Dresden’s book broke me? Well, Nicolina broke me too, with Redemption. I flat out ugly cried. I mean, just straight out super ugly cried. And I told Nicolina that it was 3 different places where I was ugly crying, but the truth is that I pretty much started from the first place and had tears running down my face for so much of the time after that. It was very intense and it squeezed my heart and hurt me.

I will tell you before I get started that while this is part of the Russo Saga, Redemption is a duet, so yes, there is a cliff.

This story is Kerry and Christian’s. We met Christian back in Ruin, Eric and Anna’s story.  Christian went with Eric on the job where he met Anna. He was intense, but I really liked him. There was just something about Christian that I was really drawn to. But, he hadn’t had his own book yet.

Kerry works at the center where Luci’s son David goes. David is autistic, and she is working with him to help him. One day, David says something about all the red on the man. Kerry tries really hard not to think too much about it, but then the next time she sees Luciano, she asks him about it. He tells Kerry some story, and then stares at her. The next thing she knows, David has been pulled from her center. That totally breaks her heart because she was really attached to him. So, she and her friends go out to get smashed.

Meanwhile, Luci has decided that Kerry is too nosy and knows too much. He calls his favorite nephew and ruthless killer, Christian. He wants Christian to kill her. So, he looks up all the info on Kerry that he can, and then follows her out with her friends. He meets her at the bar, and then takes her across the street to a diner, and finally home. He realizes that there is something about her. They don’t fuck that night, but they come close.

Now, remember, Christian is a ruthless killer, and he’s been tasked to kill her. Luci wants to know what’s taking him so long, because Christian should’ve had it done the first day. But, you know, it’s not much of a story if Christian offs her immediately is it?

Christian and Kerry tore me apart, just straight up fucking wrecked me. I really don’t like Christian at all right now. He was pretty terrible and the things that he did to Kerry were just horrifying. And I’m not meaning the lovely night of kinky strangle sex either. I’m talking later. He makes choices which have some terrible consequences. Some of them are consequences he’s dealing with, but more of them are Kerry’s. I’m really hoping that Nicolina can redeem him in the next part, because I’d like to like him again.

Kerry, our poor, sweet, summer child, Kerry. She gets broken, put back together, broken again, put back together again, and so on and so forth. The problem with breaking and put back together that many times is that it creates weak spots. Those spots are always going to be a place where you can break further. The more you break, the harder it is to put yourself together and the more pieces of you get lost.

And fucking Luci. Just when I think I can’t hate him any more than I already do. Hellfire and lava is too good for him.

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You know, I don’t think there is anything that I can even put down here. Sorry, not sorry.

Go check this out, as well as the rest of the series. Happy reading!

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!