By Isabella Starling
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
“You will bend to my will, or you will regret it, princess.”
For the first time in her life, Bianca Da Costa feels free, even when she is bound by chains. Kidnapped from under her mobster daddy’s nose, she has no way of escaping the Hound – the Abbate crime family’s most vicious hitman.
But maybe she doesn’t want to escape. Maybe her savior is the dark beast himself… And to face him, Bianca will have to look right into the eyes of the monster.
Matteo Salini is trained to kill. Pumped with drugs and used to blood, he doesn’t expect to flinch when he has to take Bianca’s life. She’s beautiful – there is no doubt in that.
But Matteo has women servicing him left and right, and he doesn’t need a spoiled mafia princess to screw with his head. Bianca is much more than that though, and her tenderness finds its way under Matteo’s rough skin. She might be his only chance of redemption.
She’s his prisoner, he’s her savior.
And DARK BLOOD is about to be spilled.
Be ready to grab on from the get-go and expect a wild, dark ride in this one. The storyline grabbed me from the first page and didn’t let go. I was drawn into the characters, into the darkness, into the mystery bubbling up from the past, and then before I knew it, I was pulled into needing to know how the story would end, what would happen next – and what happened before Bianca was born.
I really like a story where the chemistry and emotions are palpable for the reader – and in this book, that’s the case with all the characters. The plot has a lot going on, and similar to what happens in real life, there is typically more to a story than what might immediately appear on the surface. The reader will be confronted with all sorts of questions, wondering what the connection is between this character and that character, between this situation and that one – and then eventually, the story twists full circle and the reader is confronted full-on with the answer, or a reason. This story promises a lot of layers and depth of character – and surprises. And the missing puzzle piece connecting everything may just be the element of darkness that never really, truly comes to light.
First-time author Isabella Starling hits this one out of the park. She masterfully ties together several plots and subplots in this tale. In addition, the character craftsmanship, especially the evolution of Matteo and his father, was unexpected but done exceedingly well, and woven into the storyline in ways the reader can’t imagine. The connection between Matteo and Bianca, too, was smoldering.
And underscoring it all? The storyline isn’t one of those tried-and-true varieties. This one promises some intense and sobering elements like nothing you’ve probably seen before; I know I haven’t read anything like it. As dark as it is, it’s one of the most refreshing and entertaining reads with an out-of-the blue HEA that left me speechless…but satisfied. Wow.
The “huh?” part?
There was some pretty intense stuff. The “punishments” exacted, especially by Lorenzo towards the end, really left me befuddled and shaken. His darkness is downright scary, but it promises another searing plotline should Starling decide to write a sequel focusing on him.
It’s probably the character craftsmanship. The evolution of Matteo and his father, especially, was unexpected, but done exceedingly well. The connection between Matteo and Bianca, too, was smoldering.
Review originally published on Amazon and Goodreads on June 27, 2016.