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“Fear, hatred and respect are the three most important feelings a Capo must instil in other people.” Dante
“In your wife as well?” Valentina
“Hatred and fear have no place in a marriage.” Dante

After briefly meeting and learning a bit of Dante, the 35 year old Capo of the Chicago Outfit, a Mafia Clan who rival their New York counterparts, and Valentina, Aria’s 23 year old cousin in book one, we couldn’t wait to immediately delve into their story.

After four years of being on his own following the loss of his wife, the pressure is on Dante to remarry and produce an heir. This Capo had been deeply in love with his wife and is still living and breathing the memory of the love of his life. Dante would marry for duty only. Emotions and love would not become a part of it.

Valentina on the other hand had married her late husband to protect his secret. Antonino was gay and in a bid to keep his secret hidden, she married him and despite their marriage not being a physical love, they shared a strong friendship.

Dante chooses Valentina as he expects her to share his feelings to mirror his, unaware her marriage was a sham and not one borne out of love. Dante assumes they can have a marriage of convenience, no emotions involved and produce the children that are expected of him.

Cora Reilly sure does write male characters that make it hard to love and Dante was no exception. We really had our work cut out for us with him. Dante was quite the cold, aloof and closed off man. He had built a brick wall higher than the sky to shield his emotions and protect his heart and breaking down those walls was no easy feat.

‘Maybe I couldn’t make Dante forget his first wife, and I didn’t want to, but I could help him move on.’

We felt desperately sorry for Valentina, after one loveless marriage, she had hoped to win over Dante’s affections and experience some amount of love both physically and emotionally. Could she thaw Dante’s cold heart? Well we sure did hang in there to see if this was possible and we loved how it all unfolded.

‘I knew many women in our world preferred a beautiful lie to the harsh truth any day.’

But boy did Dante test our patience but the thing we particularly love about this series is how the author stays true to her characters, she doesn’t give them an easy way out therefore  retaining the essence of who they are and whilst we understood Dante’s reasoning, he certainly did push us to the limits a few times. It’s for this reason we felt a Dante POV here and there may have softened the blow and enabled us to really connect to him on an emotional level a little more….you know, to hear what was in his heart first was crucial to us.

“I’m a heartless bastard, Valentina. Don’t try to see anything else in me. The business suit and emotionless face is the thin layer covering up the fucking abyss that’s my soul and heart. Don’t try to glimpse beneath it, you won’t like what you find.”

We’ve been inhaling this addictive series, immersing ourselves in the Mafia world which has become a bit of a guilty pleasure. So if you love Mafia stories about men who make no apologies for who they are and the life they lead, if you love men who protect their woman with a possessive fierceness and love sassy heroines who give them a run for their money, then grab this series!!!

‘Men in our world were possessive. Men like Dante and Luca were something else entirely.’

Synopsis

Dante – The Boss – Cavallaro’s wife died four years ago. On the verge of becoming the youngest head in the history of the Chicago mafia, Dante needs a new wife and Valentina was chosen for the role.
Valentina lost her husband, too, but her first marriage had always been for show. When she was eighteen, she agreed to marry Antonio in order to hide the truth: that he was gay and in love with an outsider. Even after his death, she kept his secret, not only to preserve the honor of a dead man, but also to protect herself. But now that she’s about to marry Dante, her castle of lies threatens to crash. Dante is only thirty-six but already feared and respected in the Familia, and he’s notorious for always getting what he wants. Valentina is terrified of the wedding night that might reveal her secret, but her worries prove unfounded when Dante shows her the cold shoulder. Soon her fear is replaced by confusion and indignation. Valentina is tired of being ignored. She’s determined to get Dante’s attention and desire, even if she can’t get his heart that still belongs to his dead wife.

** Book #2 in the “Born in Blood Mafia Chronicles”. This book can be read as a standalone. **

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