Okay, so this is going to be a weird 5-star review, but just bear with me for a minute, lol. I wasn’t sure that I even liked this book for the first 30% or so – I was more fascinated than anything, and it definitely took awhile to wrap my head around the characters. This wastes zero time jumping right in; that blurb is pretty misleading, and our couple has actually been working together for over 6 months when the story begins (she is NOT his captive). I really wasn’t a fan of the antihero at the start, and there’s very little overtly “romantic” content. But every time I debated setting this aside, I realized that I didn’t want to. I wanted to see what happened next. And somewhere along the way, this brutal, exceedingly violent, mafia suspense novel transitioned into a subtle and unique love story… it just happens to feature a coldblooded killer as the leading man.
The story follows a woman, let’s call her Ash, who has entered the mafia world for… reasons. She’s on a mission, and she’s put up with a lot along the way – she’s been raped, she’s become desensitized to bloodshed, and violence happens on a daily basis. Her newest boss is the best one so far, not because he’s particularly nice (he’s not), but because he doesn’t treat her poorly. She mostly tries to stay out of his way, but a trip forces them to spend time together – and that changes the whole dynamic. It’s not long before Ash is seeing the kinder side of Raize, and the silent killer seems to become more fond of her as well. As the two fight for survival, they bond in unexpected ways.
This is as much a suspense novel as it is a romance, with a SIGNIFICANT focus on the darker side of mafia life. I couldn’t even begin to list the number of violent scenes, and there’s triggering content on every page. BUT not between our antihero and heroine. Raize doesn’t talk a lot, but he speaks volumes with his actions – and he’s actually got a sweet side buried deep, deep inside of him. Very deep. Once this reaches the halfway point, the romance becomes more central to the story, and I loved the quiet moments between these two. It’s steamy and intense and oh so brutal, but absolutely immersive and completely engrossing. I can definitely name some issues that I have with it (please, ladies, don’t bang hot killers without protection when you know they had frequent drug-filled sex parties in the days before you got together), but I actually really enjoyed this. It’s not a safe or easy story in any way, but its distinct vibe makes the romance shine.
🎧 Audio note: I also have mixed feelings about the audio, go figure. I switched back and forth between the ebook and audio, and it’s clear that the book was edited some more after the audio was completed – there are a few notable discrepancies between the two. You also shouldn’t be too excited about Connor Crais – only about 10% of the book is told from his perspective, the rest is narrated by CJ Bloom, whose peppy, upbeat voice really doesn’t match the tone of the book. She also voices a few Mexican characters, and… yeah, no. Not a great idea. But it’s easy to listen to and mostly well done, so I did enjoy the audio for the most part. This is steamy and violent throughout, so I’m not sure that I’d recommend it as a workday listen. The runtime is also significantly longer than a workday, so it’ll likely run over two days. So, I do recommend the audio overall, but it’s not without its own issues.
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We were on the front lines in that world, the mafia world.
There was nothing soft or glamorous about it.
Who you were before no longer mattered. Names didn’t exist.
I joined anyway. I had no other choice because they took my sister.
Join. Find her. Try and make it out alive.
Then he won me in a poker game.
I hated him instantly, thinking he was like my other bosses before him.
He wasn’t. He was worse.
He wasn’t just cold. He was dead inside.
It didn’t matter that he was gorgeous.
He was the most lethal thing I’d ever met.
He was also the only person who could keep me alive, if he didn’t kill me himself.
A/N This is a 102k mafia/cartel standalone.
This is the most violent book Tijan has ever written.
Trigger warning: references to sexual violence
“Canaries sing to save lives. I sing and people die.”
About the Author:
Tijan is a New York Times Bestselling author that writes suspenseful and unpredictable novels. Her characters are strong, intense, and gut-wrenchingly real with a little bit of sass on the side. Tijan began writing later in life and once she started, she was hooked. She’s written multi-bestsellers including the Carter Reed Series, the Fallen Crest Series, and the Broken and Screwed Series among others. She is currently writing a new YA series along with so many more from north Minnesota where she lives with a man she couldn’t be without and an English Cocker she adores.
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