By Skye Warren
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Once upon a time the daughter of a mafia king fell in love with a foot soldier…
My sister and I barely managed to escape alive, and we’ve lived in relative hiding ever since. I’m safe now, but I can never forget the boy who gave his life to save mine.
Except there’s a chance that he’s still alive. And he’s fighting a war.
Even knowing the risks, I have to find him. I have to find some way to protect him, the way he protected me. But he isn’t the boy I left behind. He’s a violent man. A criminal. And he’s been waiting for me–the final pawn in a dark game of survival and love.
The forbidden love between Giovanni and Clara in the prequel “Tough Love” stoked a lot of promise – their love was young, pure and true, regardless that she was a mafia princess and he a foot soldier. He would do anything to save Clara – and he did: he lost his very soul at the hands of his captors, who brutally tortured him for three months. Gio endured so much torture that it’s a miracle he even survived. It becomes apparent he survived physically, but emotionally and psychologically, he’s damaged forever. His love for Clara, however, remains his single greatest motivating factor.
This is an emotionally grasping read – it’s dark, sensual, gripping, gritty, sad, foreboding and forbidden, and the twists and turns that edge themselves into the storyline always seem to come lurking out of the shadows. Violence, brutality, loyalty, power and lies. Love, lust, romance, freedom and absolution. Gio and Clara reunite after eight years apart as strangers, yet the one vulnerability that’s never really in question and is sheltered between the lines is their undying and unconditional love for one another. Clara’s innocence hasn’t truly wilted and Gio’s softness hasn’t totally disappeared, regardless if he says it has or not. One thing is never in doubt: Gio and Clara are destined to be together.
This book seems to leave several unanswered questions: what happened to Gio’s mother, and will she be found; what happened to the monster Javier Markam, and does he still roam seeking revenge and power; and will there be a romance brewing between Lorenzo and Amy?
“Beautiful,” he murmurs. “Whether it’s a real date or not, you’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.”
“Don’t,” I say, my voice thick with tears. I don’t want to soften toward him, but God, I already have. I could never really be hard toward him. He’s dragged me back into my worst nightmare and somehow made me want it.
Fairy tales are the stories we tell ourselves when we need them. They serve their purpose. Hope. And I need all the hope I can get right now. I was raised a mafia princess, bred to marry a king. That makes me the queen, and I’ll be damned if I let Juliette ruin my ending.
“So I want to stay with you.” Some of my confidence falters. He’s not the only one who changed. I’m not the girl he knew before. “Unless you didn’t fall in love with me.”
His expression is stark with need as he nears the bedside. “Fall in love with you? How could I fall in love with you when I loved you with every breath, every heartbeat, every lash of the f*cking whip? When you invaded my dreams, my hallucinations. I can’t stop loving you, bella. I’ve tried. God help me, I’ve tried.”
The “huh?” part?
I’m not convinced Gio had to kidnap Clara, but perhaps I missed out on the explanation for it.
The intimate moments between Clara and Gio were well done, especially if the reader has read Tough Love, which I’d recommend ahead of diving into Hold You Against Me.
Yes. It did seem to progress slowly at points, and I also felt that in places I was missing out on something – whether it was part of the story wasn’t there, or what, I can’t quite put my finger on it.
Review originally posted on Amazon and Goodreads on July 3, 2016.