The Family, Book #2
Heat Factor: I think sex on a public train car might be a first…
Character Chemistry: “I can trust a man who wants to protect me so he can fuck me. Your motives are clear.”
Plot: It looks like a mafia book, but it’s actually more like a road trip/heist book
Overall: This book is so unbelievably fun.
I follow Katrina Jackson on Twitter, so when I saw her drop the novella that’s the sort of unresolved prequel to start this series, I thought, “I think I need that.” And then when I saw this book drop, I thought, “PUT THAT IN MY KINDLE!”
Now, I spent most of 2020 digging out from all of the reading obligations I took on when what I really wanted to do was mood read, so it has taken me this long to read this book. But then, if I’d read it earlier, it might not have gotten me out of my “Why is everyone having problems that are all the saaaaaame?” reading funk. So. Thanks to Katrina Jackson for writing a book that is just plain fun. And also sexy.
You don’t have to read the prequel to read this book, but if you want to know what happened before (especially when Salvatore starts fantasizing about Shae), it’s helpful because it sets up what’s going on with all these characters in a more rounded way than just picking up this book on its own. But fair warning, the novella ends on a cliffhanger because S&S are going to have their own book later on.
Long story short, Giulio is the hitman for the leader of the Naples mafia (Salvatore), and he has been instructed to lay low on a “holiday” after his last assignment. Zahra, meanwhile, has just discovered that her movie star fiance has been cheating on her with her best friend and a reality TV stripper. She discovered this thanks to it being splashed all over the media the morning of her wedding. So Zahra goes on her honeymoon by herself.
Naturally Giulio and Zahra are at the same isolated resort, and their rooms are next door to each other. Also naturally, Giulio’s business invades their vacation.
The voice of this book is really what makes it. Zahra starts out a whole mess, and she just leans right into that.
For example, when Zahra confronts her fiance and best friend at his hotel:
My mind cobbles together…all the ways this moment could unfold. I could talk to her, listen calmly as she tells me what this is, since it’s apparently not what I and the gossip news sites think. I could push past her and find Ryan. Or I could punch her.
I’m a rational human being.
I punch her.
At which point I was like, “This is fabulous.” And it just continues, like when she’s cried her way to Milan and is making her way out of the airport, masking her crying jag with some Chanel sunglasses purchased with her ex’s pilfered credit card:
…these big ass, expensive glasses make me feel less like a train wreck and more like a classy train wreck. They’re cute, expensive, and cover half of my face.
Meanwhile, Giulio’s priorities are unapologetically guns and sex. For example, here’s how he introduces himself:
I like to think of myself as a man of action. Not in the impulsive knobhead kind of way, but in a “point me and my gun at the problem and let me kill it” kind of way.
As for the sex bit, sometimes a horny hero is “bleh” but I very much enjoyed how Giulio had priorities and went for it. Like I said: unapologetically. After fantasizing how much sex he’s going to have on his vacation, he meets the smiley hotel concierge and thinks:
The concierge smiles nervously at me, and I decide that she absolutely smiles far too much. I’d still fuck her.
And, true to form, he approaches Zahra at the pool because he thinks she’s totally hot, not because he’s struck by some new, inexplicable feelings. That comes when they go on the lam.
The voice is playful like this all the way through, and it makes the characters feel really authentic. They have their serious moments (because of course, they’re falling in love, hello), but even that is broken up with some humor.
Like when Giulio tells Zahra about his past:
“I’m not a good man,” I remind her.
“Yes, I haven’t forgotten that. Believe me. But even bad men deserve to be understood. At least that’s what every Hollywood movie for the past thirty years has told me.”
Or when Zahra realizes she’s been selling herself short with her fiance for a long time:
I don’t necessarily need a man who works a regular nine-to-five and comes home every night for dinner, but I do need a man who thinks my opinion is more important than a fan site run by a sixteen-year-old girl in Brazil.
THE WHOLE BOOK IS LIKE THIS. Zing. Zing. Zing. It’s so fun to read. I didn’t want to stop reading. It does wrap up pretty fast, but I think that’s because each of these books is going to roll right into the next book, not quite picking up where we left off, but acknowledging that the story is ongoing. It’s not going to be everyone’s style (definitely not if you want a neat bow with an epilogue that shows the idyllic future), but if you want to be entertained… It’s just delightful.
Bonus points for a sexy hirsute hero.
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