“You were mine, even when you were his.”
I finished this book with happy tears in my eyes and the most content feeling you can imagine. It was pure Vintage KA awesomeness. Frankie & Benny’s story truly delivered everything I’d hoped for and more!
Before anything, please note that you must read At Peace at some point before this book. You don’t have to re-read it per se but The Promise starts about a week after At Peace ends and is strongly tied in with that storyline so you do have to be aware of what happened in that book in order to fully appreciate the events in this one. I will say though that I hadn’t read At Peace since 2012 (!!) and it really speaks volumes for KA’s writing skill that she made me emotional to the point of tears in the scenes that tied in with At Peace even though it had been 2.5 years since I’d read it. Now that is freaking fantastic writing!!!
I can also say in all honesty that At Peace was one of the very best books I’ve ever read but interestingly, I’d always felt like it was a complete story (and I’m referring to the Joe/Vi storyline) but after having read The Promise, I realize that now it’s complete. The sheer beauty of the additional Joe/Vi scenes in this book was breathtaking. Absolutely breathtaking.
Ok… I should really start talking about Frankie and Benny now 😉
You can always count on a KA book to have you laughing and feeling with all your heart right from the start and this book took off with a bang with Frankie just getting out of the hospital after a gunshot wound.
It was a messy situation and I don’t want to explain it in too much depth because it’s best to just experience it for yourself but I’ll just say that seven years ago, Frankie’s boyfriend was shot and killed. This was after he’d joined the Mafia. His brother Benny had loved Frankie from afar for years though and even though his family had blamed her in some ways for his brother’s demise, he wasn’t going to let anything get in the way of showing her how really he felt about her. This was his chance, and he was taking it.
“No boy who looks like that comes to the hospital every day for a girl who looks like you ’cause he’s keepin’ an eye on his seven-years-dead brother’s girlfriend.”
Trouble was, Frankie was having none of it. Sure, he made her heart race but to her, he was off limits in so many ways. She felt he deserved better than her and Benny had a long road ahead of him to convince her of how much she meant to him.
“I get you’re scared and I know why… I haven’t earned it, baby. I don’t even fuckin’ deserve it. But I gotta ask you to trust me anyways.”
Benny was the kind of guy who was open, honest, and in control. No games, no bullshit, no holding back. He didn’t complicate anything, didn’t beat around the bush, but was patient, kind, and strongly protective.
“You done being a hotheaded, protective, Italian guy?”
“I’m never done with that.”
I will say though that so many of their scenes with them butting head-to-head had me laughing out loud 😉
“I’m not takin’ you home. I’m takin’ you to MY home,” he clarified…
“So, what you’re saying is, you actually HAVE kidnapped me.”
“You wanna look at it that way, go ahead.”
See, Frankie was self described as “hotheaded, impatient, dramatic, and crazy-stubborn” and she had no problem seeing her own flaws. But what she needed to learn was that in Benny’s eyes, she was perfect just as she was. In his words, she was “Sweet and spicy. What more could a man want.”
This book embodies everything we love most from KA’s writing. It’s smart, sassy, emotional, witty, deep, and written in that delightful KA writing style that makes all her fans’ hearts’ race.
I think she just has this way of highlighting these little things that give the story this added depth and weight that is so special and powerful. Like, for example, her description of Benny’s voice….
“I got warm just hearing his voice. It was deep and easy. The kind of voice that could talk you out of being in a snit because something went bad at work. The kind of voice that could make your heart get tight as you listened to him talk to a little kid. The kind of voice that would make you feel at peace with the world before you closed your eyes to sleep after he whispered good night in your ear.”
I loved how realistically-paced their relationship was. They had a history to be sure, a messy one at that, but it was also filled with a lot of goodness. Despite their history, I loved that they didn’t just rush into anything. By the time they became a couple, you really believed in it and in them.
“What makes you happy? What do you want outta life?”
“I… Why do you ask?”
“‘Cause I wanna know if it’s in me to give it to you.”
Family love, relationship love, friend love — this book had everything. It was beautiful, powerful and heartfelt. There were moments of quiet (where you were just experiencing life along with the characters you loved), moments of action (where my heart would race as the crazy plot began to unfold), and so many gorgeous moments of romance that showed the true depth of Frankie and Benny’s love for each other.
“Been waitin’ years for this, baby. Thanks for makin’ it worth the wait.”
This was about so much more than just a romance too. It was about letting go of the past in order to build a better future, about embracing each other with their pasts and accepting that they’d live in the now and stop allowing their pasts to dictate their future. The message about never giving up on love, never letting go of family, and following your heart came through so strongly.
Oh gosh and there was this one scene in the middle of the book that was SO beautiful that tears were just pouring down my face from happiness. The sheer beauty of what was said in those two pages will stay with me forever. Just WOW.
The story is told in dual POV but it’s done in a way where the heroine’s side is in first person, but the hero’s side is third person so we definitely get to see both sides of the story. I love the way KA shows us the issues from both perspectives. Yes, stupid stuff does come up but the truth is that real people do sometimes make bad choices. But I love that we’re shown the reason behind these choices so that even if you can’t empathize, then you can at least sympathize and hopefully feel invested enough in the characters to want to see them work through the issues that led to those problems in the first place. It’s a beautiful process.
“Know one thing…. love is NEVER wrong.”
I also loved that this book retained the exact same “feeling” as the first books in this series. It totally matched up to them but at the same time, it delivered something new and unique.
I’m being asked 2 questions a lot, so I’m going to answer them here:
- Do I have to read the whole series before I read this book? — Technically, no. The only one that you have to read first is At Peace. However, all the characters from those books do play some sort of role in this one and also the actual crime-solving part of the story is an issue that ties in with some of the other books so my personal recommendation is to read all the books in this series in order. I loved them all and you’ll get a much deeper understanding of the story that way.
- Should I re-read the other books right before starting this? — It’s up to you. I didn’t have time to and just jumped in and I was fine so I think it’s just a matter of personal preference. You won’t be lost if you don’t re-read though because you’re reminded of the important stuff as you read.
Oh…. and by the way, the epilogue is gorgeous !!!!!! 🙂
The stories in Kristen Ashley’s books reach right into your heart and soul. These powerful stories of love and family are the kind that stay with you forever. Every single romance reader owes it to themselves to experience a KA novel at some point and this would be a wonderful series to start with.
Rating: 5 stars!
** SERIES READING ORDER **