Book Review: Bound by Temptation (Born in Blood Mafia Chronicles, #4) by Cora Reilly

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

Liliana Scuderi has been in love with Romero from the moment she first saw him. After her sisters were married off for tactical reasons, she hopes she might be allowed to choose a husband for herself, but when her father promises her to a man more than twice her age that hope is crushed. No begging can make him change his mind.

Romero has always ignored Lily’s flirting. Her age and status made her off-limits but even someone as dutiful as him has only so much control. Wanting her when she’s supposed to marry another man could mean war between New York and the Chicago Outfit, and Romero has always put the Cosa Nostra first.

Lily suspects her sisters and Romero would risk everything for her, but is her happiness worth that much? Is love worth a war between the Cosa Nostra and the Outfit?

My mini-review:

“She wasn’t the little girl I’d first met. She was a woman in marriageable age now.”

The review for this sequel is going to be a lot shorter than the others simply because not much happens. There’s a forbidden romance. Sneaking happens. Sex happens. And then war happens. Or at least, it lurks in the near future. This isn’t to say that it was boring to read (because it certainly wasn’t), it was just fairly standard in regards to plot development. It was all about the love and lust and hidden kisses, and there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with that. This book would definitely fall under the category of “Guilty Pleasures”.

I don’t want to spoil the plot for anyone but there is quite a cliffhanger at the end. Tensions are running high between The Outfit and the Cosa Nostra. And since we are all out of Scuderi sisters, I’m wondering if Fabiano is going to get to tell his story in Bound by Vengeance. I have no idea what to expect but I can’t wait!

★★★★ (4 stars) for sweet Romero.

Book Review: Bound by Hatred (Born in Blood Mafia Chronicles, #3) by Cora Reilly

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

When Gianna watched her sister Aria getting married to a man she barely knew, she promised herself she wouldn’t let the same thing happen to her.

Matteo – The Blade – Vitiello set his eyes on Gianna the moment he saw her on his brother Luca’s wedding, and Rocco Scuderi is more than willing to give his daughter to him, but Gianna has no intention of marrying for any other reason than love. A few months before the wedding, Gianna escapes her bodyguards and runs away. She has enough money to flee to Europe and begin a new life. But staying undetected when the mob is searching for her is a challenge that takes everything, especially as one of their best hunters and assassins is after her: Matteo Vitiello.

After six months on the run, Gianna finally settles into a tentative routine in Munich, but then Matteo and a couple of her father’s soldiers find her with another man.

Despite her pleads they kill her boyfriend, and Gianna is forced to marry Matteo. Her emotions alternating between guilt over having dragged an innocent into her world and hatred toward Matteo, Gianna is determined to make life hell for her husband. But Matteo is a master at mind games and their struggle for power soon turns into hate-fueled nights of passion.

My review:

“Love is when you feel safe in someone’s arms, when he’s the first thing you want to see in the morning. Love is surrendering. You risk getting hurt but you don’t care. You are willing to give someone the power to break your heart. Love means seeing someone at their worst and still seeing the good in them; love means someone is perfect for you despite their imperfections.”

Here we go again! There’s no doubt that Gianna is very different from Aria and Valentina, so of course her story will differ greatly from theirs. She wants nothing to do with Matteo. She’s repulsed by him, by her father, and most importantly, this life she has been born into.

I appreciate her perspective because it explores what happens when you actually do something about a situation that you don’t want to be in. This is a girl who knows what she wants–or doesn’t want–and leaves before someone else can decide her fate for her. Unfortunately, leaving doesn’t always result in the best consequences.

This book shows that hatred can fuel sex just as much, if not more, than love. In most ways, Gianna and Matteo’s relationship is the least realistic of the bunch, but it does provide some great drama. There’s nothing more entertaining than a love/hate relationship. Emphasis on the hate.

★★★ (3.5 stars) for a different kind of hatred.

Book Review: Bound by Duty (Born in Blood Mafia Chronicles, #2) by Cora Reilly

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

Dante – The Boss – Cavallaro’s wife died four years ago. On the verge of becoming the youngest head in the history of the Chicago mafia, Dante needs a new wife and Valentina was chosen for the role.

Valentina lost her husband, too, but her first marriage had always been for show. When she was eighteen, she agreed to marry Antonio in order to hide the truth: that he was gay and in love with an outsider. Even after his death, she kept his secret, not only to preserve the honor of a dead man, but also to protect herself. But now that she’s about to marry Dante, her castle of lies threatens to crash. Dante is only thirty-six but already feared and respected in the Familia, and he’s notorious for always getting what he wants. Valentina is terrified of the wedding night that might reveal her secret, but her worries prove unfounded when Dante shows her the cold shoulder. Soon her fear is replaced by confusion and indignation. Valentina is tired of being ignored. She’s determined to get Dante’s attention and desire, even if she can’t get his heart that still belongs to his dead wife.

My review:

“So I’m not just going to manage a casino, I’ll also be a bordello queen.”

This was a nice continuation of Bound by Honor, kind of. I assumed the sequel(s) would focus on the Scuderi sisters so it was a little surprising to have the focus of this book shifted onto Valentina. In retrospect, this makes a lot of sense. We now have a little glimpse from The Outfit’s side of things. This is beneficial to readers of the series so we’re not just seeing things from the Cosa Nostra’s perspective.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love any book or film that discusses the inner-workings of the Mafia. Bound by Duty is a great example of the business, or duty side of things, but don’t be fooled–this series is far more Romance/Erotica than the synopsis lets on. Yes, there is certainly action, but most of it takes place in the bedroom. With that being said, there’s still quite a bit of bloodshed to look forward to. And there are always rats to be dealt with.

I’m looking forward to Gianna’s story.

★★★★ (3.75 stars) for a great concept. I’d love to see this type of scenario portrayed in a movie or television show. And I miss The Sopranos.

Book Review: Bound by Honour (Born in Blood Mafia Chronicles, #1) by Cora Reilly

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

Born into one of the leading Mob families in Chicago, Aria Scuderi struggles to find her own path in a world where no choices are given. Aria was only fifteen when her parents betrothed her to Luca – The Vice – Vitiello, the oldest son of the head of the New York Cosa Nostra to ensure peace between the two families.

Now at eighteen, the day Aria has been dreading for years is looming dangerously: her wedding to Luca.

Aria is terrified of marrying a man she hardly knows, especially someone like Luca who got his nickname ‘the Vice’ for crushing a man’s throat with his bare hands. Luca might be one of the most sought after men in New York thanks to his good looks, wealth and predator-like charisma that radiates power, but the society girls throwing themselves at him don’t know what Aria does: that the bad boy aura isn’t just a game; blood and death lurk beneath Luca’s striking gray eyes and arrogant smile.

In her world a handsome exterior often hides the monster within; a monster who can just as easily kill as kiss you.

The only way to escape the marriage to Luca would be to run away and leave everything she’s ever known behind but Aria can’t bear the thought of never seeing her family again.

Despite her fear, she decides to go through with the marriage; Aria has grown up among predators like Luca and knows that even most cold-hearted bastards have a heart and she has every intention of working her way into Luca’s.

My review:

“If I’d done that today, you would have lost control. The only reason why you didn’t was because I treated you like my husband, not a monster.”

This book is the perfect example of a guilty pleasure, or at least one of my guilty pleasures.

Some of you may or may not know this about me, but I have a particular fascination with anything Mafia-related. I’m not sure if I should credit that to spending my childhood watching Al Pacino movies with my older brother, re-enacting The Godfather, and writing scenes of bloodshed for the big screen, but damn… I’m pretty sure I spent a solid year of my life thinking I lived in the setting of “A Bronx Tale”. Don’t ask me why. I was an odd kid. Anyways, my point is that this is my kind of novel. This was long before I discovered YA Fantasy. Back then, my version of fantasy was far from faeries and werewolves. In fact, I wrote something similar to this book when I was in high school (granted there was a substantially smaller amount of sex in it) but it was thrilling just the same. But I digress. This book was action-packed.

There were a couple of things that bothered me, but I won’t mention them because they are spoilers. You’ll have to read the story for yourself. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of alpha males. And not the white-collar kind of alpha male. I mean the kind that kills a man when he’s only 11-years-old. That kind. It also goes without saying that this is pretty much an adult novel. I’m never sure what counts as erotica but this probably falls somewhere in that category.

I should also mention that aside from some spelling mistakes that made me cringe–hard–the writing was very easy to read. The writing, like the characters and the action itself, was fast-paced and didn’t waste any time.

★★★★ (4 stars) because y’all are tripping if you think I haven’t already got my hands on the next three books! I need to know what happens to the rest of the characters! Who’s next?

Book Review: In His Corner by Vina Arno

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

No sex for almost a year could kill a guy, but when you’re the boxer known as the Juggernaut, it’s the price you pay for turning pro. Tommy’s fully dedicated to his craft, until he meets the incredibly gorgeous Dr. Siena Carr. Now he’s looking forward to taking on this prim and proper lady in a wet and wild workout…

Siena has seen many patients come through the ER, but none as sexy as Tommy Raines. With a nasty cut over his eye, she knows he needs stitches, but after he takes off his shirt, she needs some air. With rock-hard abs and taut biceps, it’s clear this man takes care of his body. And all Siena can think about is letting him take care of hers…

My review:

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influences my opinion of the work.

“She was around five-foot-three and probably weighed 110 pounds. He could bench-press two of her. It would be nice to “power lift” her onto his bed.”

Before I say anything about the actual story, let’s all take a moment to appreciate the guy on the cover who bares a strong resemblance to Jake Gyllenhaal (as Dastan) in Prince of Persia. Much appreciated. Fun Fact: This is basically how I imagined Tommy Raines.

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Now that the ogling is out of the way, I have to say that this story was a little lackluster. Romance novels are a guilty pleasure of mine. They are mostly predictable and somewhat raunchy, but they are incredibly fun to read. Unfortunately, this one was just a little too tame. It needed something more.

Initially, I was surprised at how quickly things escalated between Siena and Tommy on their first date, but it seems like everything became very mild after that. If you read the book, you’ll know what moment I’m talking about. I’ll probably be reminded of it the next time I sit on one of those high stools at the bar.

On another note, I really liked the author’s writing. It didn’t go on and on about unnecessary details and it always got to the point. There weren’t a thousand silly words to describe their private parts (that always cracks me up) and useless metaphors about a flower blooming or a cascading waterfall, when the girl just wants to have sex. That was refreshing to see in a romance novel. I also liked how Tommy never “growled”. In other books, the alpha males are always “growling” or “grunting in approval” and doing other caveman-type things… but this book stayed clear of that. Thank goodness. And it was very quick to read.

What I did not like is how the relationship seemed completely based on physical attraction. I didn’t feel the connection on an emotional level, even though the characters were claiming otherwise. I just didn’t see it. Also, I could not stand Siena. And it’s very hard to enjoy a book when the protagonist is extremely annoying. I mean, I didn’t like how often Tommy called her a snob (because that’s kind of rude), but she is actually such a snob that I stopped caring about that.

The highlight of this book is the fact that Tommy is an alpha male in the best way possible. He doesn’t try to be an alpha. He’s not trying to control his love interest. He takes life in stride, and he seems a lot more realistic than most male characters these days. He’s just a kind boy who likes to brawl and have a good time.

For all intents and purposes, this is a good book to read when you want some quick entertainment. This is not the type of story you get particularly attached to. It’s just something fun and simple. A guilty pleasure.

★★★ (3.5 stars) for Tommy. I wouldn’t mind reading a more developed story about his character, preferably with Siena out of the picture.

Wrap-Up: March 2016

Hello, lovely readers! What a good month it has been. By “good”, I mean that this month was slightly better than February in terms of the number of books read, as well as the quality of those books. The month in general had me in a life slump, but that’s not important.

If you can’t be bothered to read the rest of this post, you can watch my wrap-up on YouTube instead. Just click here.

In total, I read 12 books this month. Among those 12, I’ve acquired two new all-time-favourites: An Ember in the Ashes and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. For the sake of being organized, I separated all the books by their star ratings and linked to their full reviews (for your convenience).


★★★★★


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Full review here.

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Full review here.

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Full review here.


★★★★


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Full review here.

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Full review here.

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Full review here.

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Full review here.


★★★


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Full review here.

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Full review here.

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Full review here.

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Full review here.


★★


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Full review here.


That’s all, folks!

Feel free to leave me any questions or comments regarding what I’ve read or said.

Book Review: Billionaire Undone by J.S. Scott

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

After four years of working for “the billionaire boss from hell” Ally Caldwell thinks she finally has her life on the right track. Her fiancé is out of dental school, ready to go to work at a thriving practice, and it would finally be her turn to go back and finish her college degree. Unfortunately, her carefully planned future crumbles when she finds out that her fiancé, the man she’d nearly killed herself to help get through school, has been cheating on her. With her wedding looming in the near future, Ally’s blindsided, realizing she’d never even knew the man she’d been planning to marry. Suddenly, her carefully organized life is turned upside down, and not one single thing is turning out the way it was supposed to happen. Even her boss, Travis the Tyrant, is beginning to act differently, throwing Ally into an even more confused and chaotic state of mind. Travis, the one man who she’d always counted on to be a jerk, was now the guy who actually steps up to try and help her straighten her life out again. Unfortunately, she doesn’t much care for his high-handed arrogance or his methods of “helping.” Ally wants to hate Travis. It makes her life so much simpler to fight with him than to admit to the combustible chemistry growing between the two of them. But as she begins to see more and more of the real Travis beneath his dark façade, she can’t seem to resist the dangerous lure of their unlikely attraction.

Billionaire Travis Harrison does everything he possibly can to repair the Harrison name after a scandal nearly destroyed his family years ago. He makes sure he keeps himself and his actions in check, his emotions buried under a thick layer of ice. Only his secretary and assistant, Alison Caldwell, makes him come close to losing his carefully constructed image. The obstinate female keeps shoving him closer and closer to the edge of sanity every single day. But when he finds out about her fiancé’s betrayal, his protective instincts roar to life inside him, making him want to ensure she’s never hurt again. The only problem is…Ally doesn’t want his help, and the infuriating woman does everything she can to push him away, even as the two of them are swept into an undeniable passion that neither of them can possibly ignore. Before long, Travis finds himself in ruthless pursuit of something much more important and elusive than just a business deal.

Can these two very different, very stubborn people actually be meant to be together?

My review:

“He wished his damn c*ck would just explode into tiny little pieces and put him out of his misery.”

This book took my virginity. My audiobook-virginity, that is.

Although I willingly chose to partake in this experience, I’m still sitting here in the aftermath, questioning all of my life decisions. Why did I read listen to this? Well, let me first say that I have nothing against romance novels or erotica as long as there is an actual plotline (and some character development).

Basically, I was watching videos on YouTube whilst scanning my textbook (as I should have been studying) when I saw this video in my recommendations. I noticed that the video was actually an uploaded audiobook, so I thought I might see what all the fuss was about. I just wanted some background noise to keep me alert.

There isn’t much else to say. According to Scott, her books “almost always feature an Alpha Male and have a happily ever after because she just can’t seem to write them any other way!” That is about as accurate as a description can get.

It was not terrible but I have certainly read better. For avid readers of this genre, I can see why its ratings and reviews are so positive. I just feel like I’ve read a hundred variations of the same story already, and unfortunately this variation is one of the least exciting ones for me.

As for the actual listening experience, I have to say that I quite enjoyed giving my eyes a rest while still technically getting to “read”. That being said, I still have my doubts. I could tell you the general premise of this book, but I feel like there are no details that stuck with me. I often found myself in a tranced/passive state, like I was ready for a nap. On a more positive note, I think I may have found a cure for my insomnia.

If I go by my own star scale, this gets ★★★ (3 stars). There are good things and bad things about this book, but it is certainly not my cup of tea.