Violetta lives in two worlds. Her aunt and uncle raised her since she was five, and they’re old world Italian but Violetta goes to public school and does regular teen girl things like her friends. She’s going to nursing school and has great plans for her future. Up until Santino Dilustro walks into their house one day and leaves with Violetta in tow. The next day she finds herself under armed guard, cut off from her family and friends, and forced into marriage to this man she doesn’t even know or like. Yes, he’s sinfully good looking, and in the mob he’s considered the king. He hasn’t hurt her yet but the subtle threat is ever present if she doesn’t go along to get along. Violetta feels like she’s living in an alternate universe and she desperately wants to go home. But her jailer says this is her home now and she’d better get used to it. How do you get used to having all your freedoms snatched away?
“Mafia Bride” begins very much like an enemies to lovers romance except C.D. Reiss skipped the romance and cut straight to the marriage under duress. Violetta’s transition from rebellious bride to accepting partner is the basis of this battle of wills that is thinly disguised as a romance. Santino is determined to subjugate her to his will without breaking her spirit.
The storyline is credible in an old-country way but anyone with a smidgen of feminism in their blood will balk at Santino’s methods. Typos aside, I found the writing to be a mixed bag grammatically and Violetta’s internal soliloquies to be tiring. This is just one of her periodic bursts of paranoid melodrama:
“His features are dark in the moonlight, so the predatory grin that crawls across his face is stripped of the pleasing costume. Teeth glow white and perfect—sharp in the front to bite me to pieces, framed by points to break my skin, and flat near the jaw’s source of power so my body can be ripped apart. He pushes back from the wall and does a somersault underwater. His abs glow in the pool’s light as he pushes off. He must know he’s as beautiful as any sleek cat at the top of the food chain. He must know he can use this to lure me, shock me with a venomous bite so he can luxuriate in eating me, discarding the bones, and leaving the rest in a dollhouse built into the side of a hill.”
Say what? I swear she wore me out. All that aside, what really ticks me off is the cliffhanger ending. Yep, you gotta’ shell out $6 for Book two. Think I’m gonna’ pass. Three stars.