Haven Antonelli and Carmine DeMarco grew up under vastly different circumstances. Haven, a second-generation slave, was isolated in the middle of the desert, her days full of hard work and terrifying abuse. Carmine, born into a wealthy Mafia family, lived a life of privilege and excess. Now a twist of fate has caused their worlds to collide. Entangled in a web of secrets and lies, they learn that while different on the surface, they have more in common than anyone would think. In a world full of chaos, where money and power rule, Haven and Carmine yearn to break free, but a string of events that began before either of them were born threatens to destroy them instead. Murder and betrayal are a way of life, and nothing comes without a price - especially not freedom. But how much will they have to sacrifice? Can they escape their pasts? And, most of all, what does it mean to be free?
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I listened to this book and the narrator was fantastic. This book read like a movie. It was descriptive, concise, and paced evenly. I was apprehensive about the book when I saw the page count as well as the audiobook hours, but it flowed so well that I didn’t even notice the length. It wasn’t just a story about two damaged kids falling in love, but about choices and responsibilities. It was about freedom and redemption too. This wasn’t just Carmine and Haven’s story, this was Vincent & Mara’s story as well as a cautionary tale about “The Life”.
This book was much more than a tale about child slavery. It was a story of people trying to grow and move out of the shadows of their parents. Haven and her mother grew up as slaves in the house of Michael Antonelli until the day her mother convinced her to run away. Her mother Miranda overheard the lady of the house asking master Michael to get rid of Haven, so Miranda asked Haven to run for help. Her attempt to escape her slavers led her to Dr. Vincent DeMarco. Dr. Vincent DeMarco was an angry man. He was a physician who had been forced into serving La Costra Nostra, the Chicago Italian Mafia. His wife was murdered and his youngest son Carmine was acting up from grief. He was now a Consigliere, but now the mafia wants son Carmine. Dr. DeMarco is trying everything he can to protect his son Carmine, but had to follow orders as they were all dispensable. The addition of Haven to their lives complicated everything.
From the moment Haven moved into the DeMarco’s household, Carmine was mesmerized by her. Haven, on the hand, did all she could to avoid everyone in the household. She was used to living in the stables or basement, and she did not trust that the DeMarco household would be different from her prior home. Hope was a dangerous thing for slaves like her. As the story began to unfurl, it became clear that Dr. DeMarco’s taking of Haven was not a coincidence and there was more to Haven’s identity than even she knew. Haven was a pawn in a dangerous mob agenda, but then so was Carmine, the mafia Principe. Now the Slowly, the DeMarco family thought Haven how to live, and a year later Haven and Carmine were in love. That’s when the past came to catch up with Haven, and the DeMarcos.
The author did a great job with laying the foundation, and keeping the story interesting. I really appreciate the fact that there weren’t these huge emotional swings. Yes, there was sad events, but there was happy events and even funny scenes. The author mixed things up by interjecting characters like Dominic and Nicholas, Dia and even Aunt Celia, so there was a continual break in the serious tone of the novel.
I had a love-hate relationship with Vincent DeMarco, but I came to understand him as the novel went on, and I also came to find compassion for his actions. Carmine’s father was forced into “the life” by love and by his father, but he really loved his wife and sons. I was blown away by how well adjusted Dominic was and it was nice to see him be understanding of Carmine’s plight. Carmine was an impulsive kid that you wanted to smack on the back of his head and give a high-five at the same time. Carmine’s smart mouth was source of many chuckles from me. The narrator did a great job in giving each character very distinct voices, and I loved that about the audiobook.
If you want a New Adult book that isn’t wrought with cliché drama and dialogue, then this book is for you. I want to read the sequel but it isn’t out on audible. I don’t think I can just read it after enjoying this ride on audio, so it is likely that I will wait until the audiobook is offered at audible. But I really enjoyed this book and look forward to sequel.
I'd really give it more like 4½♥'s... It's like a New Adult Romance (but a little more 'vanilla' on the 'hot factor') meets the 'Family' (like Godfather type family) meets slave (like slave trafficking) meets... high school angst? It's VERY hard to describe, but I must admit I was captivated. *Whispers* Don't tell anyone- but I'm not really a big 'fan' of mafia-type stuff, but even I fell for this book.
I had SO many recommend this to me... and I kept dragging my feet. Over and over, no clue why. Maybe it's because organized crime doesn't usually make it's way into my romance books. For that matter, human trafficking doesn't much, either.
I most definitely will continue this series- and can I just say, Any Film Producers Out There? Take. A. Look. This would translate SO well to film, in my opinion. (And I do actually have theater and college film experience, so I'm not just whistling Dixie.)
In full disclosure, I did receive an eBook via NetGalley, but I also purchased the eBook and audio, so it should be MORE than obvious that I am willing to spend money on this book and these are my honest opinions.