I may not like a lot of country-western music, but I like Johnny Cash. So what does Johnny Cash have to do with Soraya Naomi’s new mafia book? Well, Johnny was known as The Man in Black, and the whole time I was reading this, I imagined Michael looking like a devilishly handsome younger Johnny Cash.
This one is part of a series, but it is a standalone. I think that the series is more of an interconnected series about a lot of friends who are getting their relationships and then showing up as side characters in other books more than it is as a serial kind of series that builds on each book and if you miss one, you’re kind of SOL. I haven’t read the other books, so don’t quote me on that, but I had no problem with wondering what had gone on before and there didn’t seem to be a lot of overall story that I had to work up to understanding.
So, let’s talk about Michael and Brielle. Brielle moved to Chicago when she was 18 in order to go to school, and because she needed a change from New York after her parents died. Now she’s the new pastry chef at the hot new upscale restaurant, Palermo. She’s thrilled about that because it’s her first job out of culinary school and she got a great starting wage and her desserts are already making a big splash. One night, after everyone else has left and she’s just about to leave, she hears a strange noise. When she turns around and looks, she finds a gun, just sitting on a counter that she knows was empty just a minute ago. When someone walks into the kitchen, she raises the gun and points it at him, at which point Michael asks her to not point his own gun at him.
Michael was the former boss of the Syndicate in New York, but after his finace was gunned down, he moved back to Chicago to work with his friends. Now he’s a high up in the Syndicate and is working as security director for the restaurant. He tells Brielle that’s why he carries a gun. Now, she’s tweaked his radar, because of the bracelet she wears. it’s related to his past, and he needs to know what she knows or if it’s just some weird coincidence and cosmic joke that she’s working at the Palermo. He’s going to have to get closer to her in order to find out.
OK, and this is why I wanted to smack Michael for a lot of the book. He really pushed and pulled at Brielle. One minute he’s kissing her, the next he’s literally pushing her away and telling her that nothing can happen between them. He gives her a ride home and fixes her door, but wants to have nothing to do with her. It’s confusing as hell, especially since when he’s pulling her towards him, he’s doing things that men interested in a relationship would do. Of course, he’s doing it all for his own motives, but he’s so far into his grief that he can’t really see what it looks like from the other side. Brielle just ends up reacting like any reasonable person would. When he flirts with her, she flirts back. When he pays attention to her, she basks in it. When he pushes her away, she gets mad and hurt, and then he pulls her back in. How the fuck is anyone supposed to feel when that is going on? Michael makes a point of emphasizing that he’s 12 years older than Brielle, but there’s a lot of the time I think that she’s the more mature one.
See, young Johnny Cash was pretty hot.
OK, I overall enjoyed the book, but one thing that I wasn’t a big fan off is the fact that it appears to have only been 4 months from when Michael’s fiance died to the start of the book. That’s not my problem. My problem is that people kept acting like he should be totally over everything and that he’s closing himself off because he’s still grieving. Grief takes a while, and if it has only been 4 months, then he still has a lot of things to work through. If, on the other hand, it has been 4 years, I could see that he was stuck. But that’s just me, and I may have the time period off. It wasn’t enough for me to not read the book or to dislike it, but it was just one of those things that caught my attention.
If Michael had just asked Brielle about her bracelet at the beginning, things would’ve been much easier on everyone, especially Brielle. I do think he really kind of drug her through hell with the way that he was acting. She really forgave him a whole hell of a lot faster than I would’ve. Then again, I’ve been known to hold a grudge.
OK, that’s all I have to say about this one. Go check it out! Happy reading!