This is a story about sacrifice… death… love… freedom. This is a story about forever.
** NOTE ** This book was just re-released by a major publisher and so I’m bumping my review from 2012 back to the front page in hopes that it will convince you to read this awesome story. Just bear in mind that this was actually one of the first reviews I ever wrote 😉
“Could someone do bad things, but not be a bad person?“
I think the blurb described this novel best actually. It’s “about two seventeen-year-olds — one a victim of human trafficking; the other the son of the man who enslaved her—who fall in love and question everything they ever believed…”
I absolutely loved this story!! It was completely and totally different than anything I’ve ever read yet in that it did a fantastic job of blurring the lines between good and bad. So many times when reading it I felt conflicted. Everything about some of the situations were so wrong but at the same time, I was liking, maybe even loving, the characters who were doing evil actions. Good guys put in bad situations, forced to make hard decisions that made them do wrong things for the right reasons but in the end the wrong thing to do actually ended up being the right thing… Yeah, if that confuses you, it sure as hell confused me too lol. And I loved it!!!
The story was quite the emotional roller coaster… I cried a little, I laughed a little, it made me care a lot for the characters.
The main character, Haven, is a second generation slave who grew up in a horribly abusive household and is bought into a Mafia family where she ends up falling in love with Carmine, the handsome, hot-headed yet inwardly tormented son of the man who bought her.
“[Carmine] never went looking for it, but trouble seemed to find him every time he turned a corner. And Carmine turned a lot of motherfucking corners.”
The book is long. 530 pages. But I didn’t want to stop reading. At times it is a little slow, in the sense that its not always a burning page turner, but don’t let that put you off. The story takes its time in the right places, it takes its time as Haven and Carmine fall in love, as she starts to recover from her abuse, and as she begins to come out of her shell. Sometimes I like books that don’t just rush through the story – it helps me immerse myself even more in the world and in the character’s lives.
“Colpo di fulmine. The thunderbolt, as Italians call it. When love strikes someone like lightning, so powerful and intense it can’t be denied. It’s beautiful and messy,cracking a chest open and spilling their soul out for the world to see. It turns a person inside out, and there’s no going back from it. Once the thunderbolt hits, your life is irrevocably changed.”
I love how this story explores boundaries and extremes. Master/slave, good/evil, right/wrong, excusable/justifiable actions… I’d say the over all theme though of the story is sacrifice.. Does the ends justify the means? To what ends are you willing to go for the ones you love?
“Right there in the moment, it was just her and him, no one and nothing else. They were all that mattered – two people, desperately in love and wanting to show each other. No master and slave, no class divides.”
And I fell in love with all the Italian endearments that Carmine calls Haven – they just melted my heart!!… I love Haven’s quiet strength, and Carmine’s fierce protectiveness of her. I loved that he was a character who could be an ass on minute but then have no problems apologizing and admitting it and trying to do better. It felt very honest. He made mistakes and tried again.
“There was an ache in his chest, originating in the center of his heart. It was the pain of all-consuming, overflowing love, so powerful it took his breath away.
“Do you feel this? We belong together.” He kissed her. “ Sempre.” “
“They’re titles other people give us. They don’t make us who we are. If you’re just a slave, then I’m nothing more than a Principe. Is that all I am, Haven? A Mafia Prince?
“No, of course not.”
That’s what I thought,” he said. “Just because some people see us that way doesn’t mean it’s what we are. We’ll overcome our labels together. They don’t matter, they don’t make us who we are. We make us who are are. Fuck those motherfuckers.”
She laughed. “When did you get so smart?”
“Baby, I’ve always been smart,” he said playfully. “I’m just lazy as hell and rarely show it.”
I fell in love with the whole DeMarco family. Dominic, Carmine’s brother, was delightful! Light hearted, caring and protective. And Vincent, the father… I’ll admit he made me a little swoon-y at times. It was really great that the author took the time to tell his story and to get inside his head because it gave such insight to the ‘why’ behind so many questionable actions throughout the story. I’d love to read a book about him. The bits of the book about him and his wife made me teary.
This tension in this book comes from all unanswered questions. Who is Haven? How can she, a slave, and Carmine, the son of a high ranking Mafia member be together? Who is the good guy? Who is the bad guy? To what lengths will people go to save the one’s they love?
The first 70% of the book is very character driven. And then all the pieces come together and everything kind of blows up and I almost felt like I was watching a movie, instead of reading a book for the last 30%… lots of action, lots of Mafia warring… quite delicious!
I loved watching Haven’s inner and outer strength develop over the course of the book. I loved how fiercely she and Carmine loved each other, how he wouldn’t let anyone look down on her… I *felt* their connection so strongly and this story is the kind that stays with you long after you finish reading the book.
This book had a happy ending but definitely left the story open for more development.
“How about we just be Haven and Carmine?” she suggested. “We don’t know the ending, but we can always hope for the best.”
“I like that,” he said. “Besides, there’s a reason we don’t know how the story ends.”
“Because it doesn’t.”
Rating: 5 stars!!