Series: Stripped #4
Genres: Alpha Guy, Contemporary Romance, Dark, Erotica, Mob, New Adult, Romance, Suspense
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Once upon a time the daughter of a mafia king fell in love with a foot soldier.
This fairy tale didn’t have a happy ending.
My sister and I barely managed to escape alive, and we’ve lived in relative hiding ever since. I’m safe now, but I can never forget the boy who gave his life to save mine.
Except there’s a chance that he’s still alive. And he’s fighting a war.
Even knowing the risks, I have to find him. I have to find some way to protect him, the way he protected me. But he isn’t the boy I left behind. He’s a violent man. A criminal. And he’s been waiting for me—the final pawn in a dark game of survival and love.
I came into this series not having read any of the other books in the series, but I have been on a serious mafia kick lately so I was really looking forward to reading this book, plus I recognized the authors name so I figured why not, let’s give this book a go. This is one of those books that was actually really hard for me to give a rating to, because for me the book felt like two very different distinct ratings. The beginning of the book lagged for me, big time, I wanted to just give it a pass. But I stuck with it and I was ultimately really glad that I did stick with it, because somewhere around the middle the book picked up and it started working for me.
Obviously, this being a mafia book, this two people did not have ordinary upbringings. Clara and Gio start this book off when they are younger, when Clara wants to get close to Gio while at the same time wants to run from the violent life that awaits her and her sister. In the beginning I honestly found there dynamic between them a little blah, maybe it’s because they were young, who knows, but that’s how I felt. But I also understood why it was so important for the girls to get away from the life that awaited them.
When the book picks up 8 years later, I was way more interested. Clara is basically living the life they always dreamed she would. She’s an art student, she has a boyfriend, she’s just your everyday kind of girl, and I was happy for her. She still mourned the loss of her first love Gio, but that was totally understandable. And then she finds out Gio is still alive and he is so not the boy she remembered falling in love with. So much happens to Clara from the beginning of this book to the end, but pretty much the whole time she was a really likable character for me, and I wanted her to find her happiness, she definitely deserved it.
Gio was definitely an interesting part of this book to be sure. He was so sweet when the book started, I mean he wasn’t innocent or anything, but you could tell the way that he cared about Clara was one of those innocent first loves kind of things. And then when he shows up eight years later he is SOOOO much different. Time has really changed this man. He is hard and violent, and sometimes more than a little bit scary. But even amongst all of the changes that have happened to him over the last eight years it was easy to see how much the bond between Clara and him still existed.
I really liked the way these two characters interacted once the time jumped happened, they had great chemistry on the page, and were more than a little hot together. I’m really glad I stuck with this book, I was really worried in the beginning of the book that it was going to be some cutesy mob story (which in my opinion should never exist), but I was wrong, the book was dark and gritty, and took me on a great ride. If you like mob books you should check out this book.
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Something moves me gently, constant and rhythmic like waves. I’m warm. There’s something soft curling around my arms, wrapped inside my fists. Padding beneath my cheek that smells like home.
An unnatural darkness weighs down on me, keeping me from waking up—a demon’s whisper in my ear. You’re warm, you’re safe. Sleep.
But something is wrong.
I remember falling asleep, so suddenly, remember drinking water that I hadn’t filled. And I remember the phone call from Amy telling me that Giovanni’s alive. Impossible.
Awareness pricks my skin like a cold breeze. Wherever I am, I’m not alone.
I blink rapidly, forcing my eyes open. They adjust to the darkness quickly, taking in the tinted windows on either side and the wide leather bench curving beneath me. I’m in a car. A limo, to be exact. And it’s moving.
On the opposite side of the long space, a large body reclines. I can see the wide stance of his legs, the pale white of his shirt. A suit jacket tossed beside his hip. His face is hidden in the shadows of the vehicle.
I was raised by the head of the Las Vegas mafia, the capo. I grew up around guns and violence, so I know when a man is armed. It’s the way he holds himself, the warning shimmering around him like a dark halo.
This man is armed and extremely dangerous.
Every muscle in my body tenses. My mind still swims in thick water, because I must have been drugged. He drugged me, this faceless man. Why did he take me? It won’t be anything good, that’s for sure.
Even worse, I suspect this has something to do with my past, with my family. It’s messed up that I’d rather be taken by some random psycho. But at least then I’d have a chance of getting away.
“Who are you?” I demand, my voice hoarse from whatever drugs they gave me.
There’s a long pause, the weight of his regard as heavy as a finger trailing down my neck.
“Have I really changed that much, bella, that you don’t recognize me?”