Q: How do you feel about mafia romances?
For the most part I’m a rule follower who hates, absolutely hates, getting “into trouble.” Sometimes I get anxious about things that I haven’t even done because I worry someone will think that I have. Case in point: I’ve been told so many times that I look young for my age that I still get nervous showing my ID to people when I buy alcohol and I am now 35 YEARS OLD. WITH LINES ON MY FACE THAT DEFINITELY INDICATE THAT I AM NOT USING A FAKE ID.
But all of that is to say that I still really enjoyed Hers to Tame by new-to-me author Rhenna Morgan. It’s sexy as heck with an independent heroine and an old-fashioned kind of hero who also happens to be an avtoritet, a mafiya enforcer of sorts.
Kir Vasilek was reporter Cassie McClintock’s source on a previous groundbreaking story about a rival mob boss. He was also briefly her lover—until she discovered that he was suspected of working for a mafiya family.
Cassie doesn’t feel great about how she ghosted Kir so she apologizes for her actions at the beginning of this book. That should be the end of that. Only, one of Kir’s men has been murdered and all signs indicate that it’s a revenge killing related to the aforementioned rival mob boss. Kir realizes that Cassie is the best starting point for information related to his family-member’s murder, and that’s just great because he hasn’t gotten over her.
The dynamics between Cassie and Kir are combustible. They’re also complicated in a way that I mostly savored but that occasionally grated. Kir’s protective and chivalrous to the max, demanding and possessive. While he’s loving and obviously delights in taking care of Cassie, he also makes highhanded decisions about their relationship and Cassie’s safety (and even protection during an admittedly overall hot sexual interlude) and just assumes that she’ll go along for the ride. (This is sometimes frustrating…at least to me.)
There are times when Cassie’s independence makes me cheer, especially when she raises some hard questions about Kir and his role in his family. She doesn’t just fall into the relationship blindly and their conversations—with her wanting to take responsibility for her own beliefs and decisions and him speaking so deliberately and truthfully—won me over despite my initial reservations about their ultimate compatibility.
I'm also cheering for the author because Rhenna Morgan doesn’t shy away from tackling the real-world implications of a reporter who gets too close to a suspected mafiya man. Her willingness to go there make me appreciate this sizzling and bold romance even more.
Still, Cassie’s naivete and unwillingness to challenge Kir’s directives and vague statements at times make me want to shake my head....although I suppose that it's probably best for their present and future happiness if Cassie doesn’t push or question too much, especially when it looks like a murder-retaliation is on the table.
Mafia romances will never be my favorite but Rhenna Morgan does it really well with Hers to Tame. There’s lots of heat and a compelling, emotional story that grabs me by the heart, but this romance also wrestles with some of the deeper issues that seem inherent to a relationship like Cassie and Kir’s. It turns out that you can sign me up for that.
You can get your copy of Hers to Tame on March 16th. I received a complimentary ARC of this book from Netgalley but all opinions provided are my own.
I received a complimentary ARC of this book from Netgalley but all opinions provided are my own.
The evocative title Mermaid Inn—coupled with the fact that said book's written by the criminally under-recommended Jenny Holiday—made this one of my most anticipated 2020 reads. What I discovered is a delight from start to finish, a warm and funny and sexy romance that’s as unique as the place it’s set in. I loved living inside this world for a while.
Eve Abbott returns to Moonflower Bay to take possession of the Mermaid Inn, which was left to her by her great-aunt. She’s going to leave town as soon as possible—though she blissfully spent most of her childhood summers in Moonflower Bay, now the town holds only memories of the great betrayal committed by her former best friend and first love Sawyer.
But as they often do in romance novels, thank God or Sarah MacLean or whomever you pray to, plans often go awry, and Eve encounters Sawyer, now a sheriff, right away. Even worse for Eve, thanks to a dictate in her great-aunt’s will she has to stay in Moonflower Bay for a full year if she wants to sell the inn, so she’ll keep encountering him...over and over again.
Second chance romance is often a hard trope for me. I’m at the point in my life when couple break-ups make me (maybe disproportionately) sad whether they’re people I know or celebrities I don’t even really care about. But it’s really well done here, especially since Sawyer wears his yearning, affection, and regret on his sleeve. Like Eve in one relevant scene, I wanted him to be a little more aware of how annoying/damaging his highhandedness was (being guilt-ridden doesn’t necessarily equal being 100% remorseful for Sawyer) but overall, he seems ready to do the work needed for a proper second chance.
And as much as I rooted for that eventual HEA, I cheered Eve on for not making it easy on him. She has a right to be very upset and she makes him earn her forgiveness in a way that I appreciated.
Those dynamics aside, it’s clear this couple has some stuff to learn and the burden of communication’s on both of them. It’s a process that both characters have to embrace for any kind of a future together, whether it’s fully clothed and in the outside world communication or dirty talk during their super sexy not-as-clothed bedroom moments, and that resonated with me.
I wanted more legwork done to justify one particular aspect of the direction that Eve’s life takes in the conclusion, but overall, this is a well-rounded romance where little is taken for granted. It’s not just the leads who matter—it’s also their family and friends, their homes, their neighbors—and that thoughtfulness comes across throughout Mermaid Inn.
I can’t wait for the next time I’m in Moonflower/Matchmaker Bay. Once this girl *gestures toward self* falls for a book/community/place, she doesn’t mess around.
I received a complimentary ARC of this book from Edelweiss+ but all opinions provided are my own.
Who can resist a romance between a boss-of-bosses wedding planner and the brother of the man who once jilted her on her wedding day because said brother convinced the almost-groom to walk? Someone stronger than me, I know that much. I’m weak and The Worst Best Man is too good.
Wedding planner Lina Santos hasn’t suffered any real emotional fall-out as a result of being jilted three years earlier. In fact, she tries to suppress her emotions as much as possible, blaming them for a couple of significant embarrassing events in her life.
That fear of showing emotions is precisely why she acts like she’s never met her former fiancé, Andrew, and his meddling brother and Best Man, Max, when she’s presented with an opportunity that will either make or break her career: she and one of the brothers will create a marketing pitch to show why she would be the best choice for a wedding planner Director position that’s opening in a prestigious hotel chain.
Now she and Max—the man she blames for the wedding that didn’t happen—are tasked with working together. And Max? He’s got his own issues, like the fact that he and his brother have been competing since birth, and also would you look at Lina Santos, because she’s the sexiest woman he’s ever seen…
The heroine and hero in The Worst Best Man are fantastic. If competence porn is your thing, you’re in luck because Lina and Max both know their jobs inside-out, and the way they play off one another and build Lina’s pitch reveals their mutual professional respect. The can't-look-away-from-the-page-because-it's-so-good intimacy between them is convincing on a physical and emotional level; the moment when Lina relates the risks of showing emotion to being an Afro-Latinx woman is particularly stunning.
And Max. Oh, Max. He’s too adorable and part of it is his willingness to be vulnerable, from the sleepover with his best friend Dean to his respectful—and sexy—efforts to see if Lina can envision any kind of relationship with him. I fell hard for him and pretty much every other character in The Worst Best Man, including the secondary characters that circulate throughout (shout-out Lina’s family).
The Worst Best Man is adorable. Also smart and funny—if that’s your thing (and why the hell shouldn’t it be?!)—fiercely sexy and approachable. Yum.
About the Author
When my toddler and infant sleep--or are otherwise engaged--I write, read, and eat lots of chocolate.