28 March 2015

Malavita (Blood and Honor 0.5) by Dana Delamar

 A son determined to avenge his family. A daughter desperate for peace. Two fathers intent on destruction...

Enrico Lucchesi never wanted anything to do with the Mafia. But when his brothers were murdered, he accepted that he would someday be the next don. However, he doesn't accept that he must marry the daughter of the man who killed them. Enrico will never trust an Andretti, never mind love one. The Andrettis are up to something with their so-called "truce"—and Enrico must avenge his siblings. But will his dark secret spell the end of his vengeance—and possibly the Lucchesis?

After Antonella Andretti's father tries to destroy the Lucchesis, she persuades him that an alliance—achieved by her marriage to Enrico, the "golden boy" she's loved from afar—would be in everyone's best interests. As her wedding day approaches, people close to her father start dying, and her fiancé's behavior is suspect. When she learns Enrico's true feelings about her—and what her father's actual plans are—will Antonella damn their families to eternal war, or will she broker a peace that might destroy her heart?
Malavita was an intensely compelling read. I was glued to my Kindle for the first half of the book, and when I had to take a break for a couple of hours to do some paperwork, I could not get back to my Kindle fast enough. I connected to Toni’s character almost immediately and because of her upbringing – both as an Italian and as a principessa – I often forgot that she was only 16. The life into which she was born required that either she grow up with a maturity and understanding of the world that most her age don’t have or she grow up completely sheltered and naïve. What we learned of Antonella (Toni) over the course of the book is that despite his old school ways, her father, Carlo, seemed to have struck a nice balance between the two that gave her far more insight into that world than a female normally gets while maintaining her innocence. And ultimately, it is this combination of maturity and innocence that wins Enrico over.

In his own right, Enrico was put in an unenviable situation that left me feeling badly for him on many accounts. And while his lashing out at Toni was understandable, I was relieved when he finally saw the error of his ways – even if his initial reason for doing so was out of revenge rather than understanding. Because of this, he unintentionally gave Toni the opening she needed to unknowingly work her way into his heart. While Enrico’s path to revenge was a bit grisly, it was appropriate to the situation and storyline. This was one of those situations where I felt that the violence added to the book and Enrico’s character development rather than being added just to shock the reader.

I felt the author did an excellent job of striking a balance between the romance between Toni and Enrico and the machinations of the men in power – Carlo, Rinaldo, and Enrico. There was only one actual sex scene and it was glanced over, similar to fade-to-black sex scenes on television. As Toni is only 16 and a virgin, there were a few scenes showing her and Enrico making out and this served as an extended bit of foreplay that provided just a bit of heat while preserving her chasteness. Ms. Delamar demonstrated that an author does not have to include graphic sex scenes (which we know I’m all for) in order to ramp up the heat in a novel. Even knowing that Toni is considered a woman in her culture, I was quite pleased with the manner in which the author dealt with the sex (or lack thereof) scenes because it helped to maintain Toni’s overall innocence. This allowed for more of a focus on the romance that develops once Enrico takes the time to look past Toni's last name and give them an honest chance. Malavita was an exciting introduction to the Blood and Honor series and I hope to be able to read the next book in the series soon as I need to know what life (and Carlo) has in store for Enrico and Toni. 
Dana Delamar is the author of the "Blood and Honor" romantic suspense series, which is set in Italy among the Calabrian Mafia. An avid traveler who loves to learn about different peoples and cultures, Dana often sets her books in exotic locales. She grew up in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest, and today makes Seattle her home. She's an omnivorous reader with overflowing bookshelves, a passionate love of "Supernatural," "Firefly," "True Blood," "Mad Men," and a zillion other TV shows. Where she finds the time to sleep is a mystery. You can visit her at http://www.danadelamar.com.


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