#darkromance #interracial #mafiaromance #suspense #captiveromance


(He was the one thing she couldn’t run from.)

Beatrice Arsenault has spent the last ten years running. She’s changed her looks and changed her name and lives her life off the books or under the table, constantly looking over her shoulder for the one person she knows is looking back.

(She’s the one thing he could never leave.)

Dominic Xiang is a name that strikes fear into the hearts of hardened criminals. He runs an empire of vice and blood, which he rules with an iron fist. But when he met Beatrice ten years ago, he had just enough of a heart left to break.

(If they don’t bury the past, they’ll bury each other.)

Now he’s found her again, and she’s dancing on the edge of his knife. Whether it cuts her ties or ends her life is all up to him . . .

My Review

Dark, intense and more than a little crazy! 5 stars

Rent Girl by Nenia Campbell is an unapologetic dark read containing Dominic Xiang, a hot but crazy villain with few if ANY redeeming qualities, and Beatrice Arsenault, a troubled heroine whom he sets his sights on. He is the LAST person she needs to be with but unfortunately for her, as soon as he notices her there is no escape. The phrase you can run but you can’t hide certainly came to mind when I read this book!

I love the dark romance genre which allows the writer and reader to delve deep into the psyche of bad men such as Dominic. His world is not a pretty one and this book contains scenes of violence, murder and abuse, not to mention morally questionable behaviour towards the heroine. Although I was shocked at some scenes and at times felt that Beatrice would be better off without Dominic, the author slowly but surely turned it round and as the story progressed my dark heart started cheering this complex couple on. I was SO immersed in the interplay between the couple and the wider characters and plot that I read it in little more than a day.

The book has two timelines, one after the couple first meet and the other ten years later when Beatrice’s luck runs out and Dominic, intent on revenge, finds her once again. Dual timelines do not always work for me, but I found it done really well here and it helped illustrate how the dynamics between the couple changed over time and how they grew as characters.

Beatrice finds herself held captive and consumed by Dominic for much of the read and is revolted by his world. The author does an excellent job of showing us just how deep this revulsion goes. I loved how despite being powerless she stood up to him as much as she could. I enjoyed her character growth and Dominic’s realisation that perhaps she means more to him than he thought.

Just how far will Dominic go when it comes to punishing Beatrice for her deceit? Has he ANY capacity for forgiveness, love, or redemption? Will Beatrice ever be more than the rent girl/whore she sees herself? Can she love a monster? What will happen to her once he grows tired of her, especially given how he deals with his enemies and those who get in his way… These questions and more buzzed around my head during the read.

I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough as the book approached its finale, and I was a quivering mess as various chickens came home to roost for the couple. I loved the ending. It was just perfect.

Recommended for fans of the genre.

Purchase Links

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Author Links




*ARC REVIEW* ~ The Green Viper, A James Ryker Thriller #4, by Rob Sinclair

#thriller #espionage

Book Blurb

I need your help. Call me.
Ex-intelligence agent James Ryker receives a coded message through a secret drop point, a means of communication known only to him and one other person. The problem is, that other person is his ex-boss, Mackie… and he’s already dead.
But the cry for help is real, and it’s a request Ryker can’t refuse.
Travelling to New York alone and without official sanction, Ryker has a single goal in mind, yet even he couldn’t have bargained for the violent world he’s soon embroiled in. Caught in the middle of a spiralling chaos with the FBI on one side, and two warring underworld bosses on the other, Ryker must put all of his skills to the test in order to come out on top, and keep his word.
In a world full of lies and deceit, loyalty is everything, and it’s time for James Ryker to pay his dues.

My Review

Edge of Seat Thriller – masterfully executed ~5 stars

The Green Viper by Rob Sinclair is a masterfully executed edge of seat thriller, ideal for fans or the genre or those looking to lose themselves in an addictive read.

Although the book is the fourth in the author’s James Ryker series it works perfectly well as a stand-a-lone. Readers who have been following Ryker in this series and in the author’s previous Carl Logan books will however appreciate revisiting the shadowy world Ryker inhabits and witnessing his shifting moral compass.

The book opens with  Ryker taking some extended time out from his on/off life of espionage and violence. Whilst visiting London to carry out some personal business he soon becomes embroiled in a mission: the widow of his former mentor Mackie requests that he prevents her son Scott Campbell from getting in over his head with the very worst of organised crime.

For Scott, after losing his respectable London based accountancy job, relocating to New York with his girlfriend Kate seems like a dream come true, offering him the chance to make it big. Henry Green, Kate’s father, is one of the big fish Scott is out to impress – he knows this man’s business interests are not wholly above board but has seen enough to know that this goes with the territory. When Henry seeks his advice Scott finds himself drawn into Henry’s inner circle, swallowing any misgivings he has. When Ryker appears Scott is already in over his head, tormented by a toxic combination of fear, awe, respect and revulsion for Green.

The scene is set for an exhilarating read involving mob bosses, secret services and violence and twists aplenty as a number of other players join the party. I hugely enjoyed the evolving dynamics between Ryker and Scott and Scott and Green. Indeed, the characterisations of the central plot players – Ryker and Scott (whom Ryker has known since he was a boy) and Green are multi layered and believable. Ryker is once again at the top of his game as he gives his all to save his mentor’s son. Some of the scenes necessary to illustrate the world in which Scott has become a part of were downright ugly to read – Green and his ilk are not ones to cross. It is a hallmark of the author that he recounts these scenes necessary to advance the plot, in in a matter of fact, albeit graphic style.

Is Ryker too late to save Scott? Does he want to be saved? What of Henry’s daughter Kate? What impact will the actions of others who have taken an interest on Green’s activities have? I was glued to he read until the end of its electrifying dénouement.

Highly recommended.

Reviewed by Tina Williams
Please note that an ARC of this book was given to me by the author for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

Author Links




Publisher Bloodhound Books

*REVIEW* ~ The Mobster’s Girl, by Lily Harlem

#erotic #romanticsuspense #mafia #mobster #romance

Adult/18+ read


When the going gets tough, Beth Rammada has no choice but to get the hell out of Chicago. Her family is sinking fast and she’s at risk of being used as bait to hurt her father.

But living on the streets of New York is no walk in the park, until that is, she’s taken under the rather dubious wing of Roper Hermanus. He’s rough and hard and likes it kinky, or so he says. But should she stick around and help her sexy new friend turn a few tricks? Or should she be running for the hills?

As their journey reveals secrets, Beth falls for the man who’s shown her a new side to her erotic self. It seems their demons are compatible—the underworld, extortion and blackmail is their currency.

That is, until the biggest secret of all has to be announced to their families. Will Beth’s life ever be the same again? Does she want it to be? And will her mobster lover be there when she needs him most?

My Review – Hot and down and dirty read! ~ 5 stars

I LOVED this fast paced and oh so sexy erotic romantic suspense from Lily Harlem. It’s perfect if you fancy a quick, hot and down and dirty read! Mobster Roper is all alpha male and likes it hot, hard and rough, but has a heart of gold when he takes pity on Beth, a young homeless woman in New York and offers her a meal and a room for the night.

Roper is willing to take all Beth offers him (what man could refuse?) in what starts off as a no strings attached arrangement. Neither are looking for a permanent relationship. For her part, Beth is profoundly grateful for his gifts of a hot meal, a warm bed and a roof over her head, after months of being destitute. The hot sex is a bonus she soon becomes addicted to. Roper is all man and introduces her to some mad, bad and distinctly addictive type of loving she can’t get enough of. So what if he is a bad man!

Their no strings arrangement soon develops into something deeper. However, things soon come to a head as unbeknown to Roper Beth is on the run from a complicated and dangerous past. Beth has welcomed the anonymity of New York as she has needed to lie low for the benefit of preserving her own life and that of her family. This is all about to change…

Beth discovers that Roper’s past and present is not as far removed from her own. Just how will Roper react when he finds out the truth about Beth and what she represents? Will he protect her or sacrifice her?

I enjoyed the premise of the plot and Lily Harlem uses it to create a hero and heroine who find that they have lots more in common than they first envisaged. The lovemaking scene between them are scorching as Roper introduces Beth to his love of kink and hot, dirty and raw sex!

Recommended for fans of erotic romance who love tales on the wild side.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

Please note that a copy of this book was given to me by the author for the purpose of a fair and honest review.


Purchase Links

Amazon UK  Amazon US

Connect with the Author

Facebook  Website

*ARC REVIEW* ~ The Red Cobra, by Rob Sinclair

#crime #spy #thriller


Carl Logan dedicated nearly twenty years of his life to the Joint Intelligence Agency. Now living in a secret location, under the new identify of James Ryker, he wants nothing more than to be left alone, the chance to start a new life away from chaos, violence, destruction and deceit.

It’s not long, however, before Ryker’s short-lived idyll is destroyed when he is tracked down by Peter Winter, his ex-boss at the JIA. Winter brings with him news of the murder of a woman in Spain, Kim Walker, whose fingerprints match those of one of Ryker’s former adversaries who’s been missing presumed dead for years – an infamous female assassin known as the Red Cobra.

A cyberattack at the JIA led to the Red Cobra’s profile being compromised, and Winter believes JIA agents may now be at risk too, Ryker included. But Ryker knew the elusive Red Cobra better than anyone, and when he sees the grisly pictures of Kim Walker’s corpse, he has news for Winter – she isn’t the assassin at all …

So just who is the mystery dead woman? And where is the real Red Cobra?

The Red Cobra is a fast-paced thriller filled with twists and turns and intrigue that will appeal to readers of big-hitting thrillers by the likes of Lee Child and David Baldacci, and with echoes in its plotting and breadth of the globe-trotting spy thriller I Am Pilgrim.

My Review ~ Engrossing and Expertly Written Spy Thriller ~ 5 stars TOP READ

This read is  another tour de force from bestselling author Rob Sinclair. In his latest Spy Thriller, The Red Cobra, we are reunited with James Ryker (aka Carl Logan from the author’s page-turning Enemy series). Prepare for a white knuckle ride as Ryker goes up against the mafia, intelligence services, bent policeman and a mysterious figure from his past. The read is a standalone but the book’s conclusion lays the ground nicely for the continuation of the series.

Ryker’s life in Spain has become an idyllic one, far removed from his previous life as an employee of the Joint Intelligence Agency. However, he is tempted out of retirement by his former boss, to investigate a vicious murder in Spain. The victim’s fingerprints match those of a notorious female assassin, the Red Cobra, whom Ryker has encountered in his former life as Carl Logan. Ryker knows that the body is not that of his old adversary and it appears that moves are afoot to compromise the identity of fellow agents rendering them at risk. It is a race against time to track down the perpetrators and prevent more lives being lost.

The plot is fast moving and totally engrossing. Much of the action takes place in Spain, although some chapters pan back to the past in the Soviet Union and beyond where we find out about The Red Cobra and her shared history with Ryker. This added a great deal of depth to the story and helped explain their motivations. There are a number of well drawn secondary characters  who accompany Ryker on his quest to put the pieces of a complex puzzle together. Aside from the main protaganists, I also enjoyed the character of Eva. Ryker certainly has his work cut out to identify friend from foe, find out the whereabouts of the real Red Cobra and the identity of the murder victim.

I enjoyed how in this read the author has further developed the complex character of Ryker, who I met as Carl Logan in his previous books. Although Ryker still maintains his hard and ruthless persona with his take no prisoners approach, as events unfold we witness how this complex man has now developed his own code of honour and is not simply just a blunt instrument of his employers. I loved the role of the enigmatic Red Cobra in the plot and the part she played in Ryker’s past and thought that the author portrayed her role as a female assassin in expert fashion.

There is plenty of action, suspense and some violent and gory scenes as the plot unravels and Ryker carries out his mission in the sweltering heat of Spain’s Costas. The stakes are high and there are twists aplenty! Indeed, The Red Cobra is a real treat for lovers of Spy Thrillers and is, I feel, the author’s best Carl Logan inspired book yet. I am so looking forward to the next in the series.

Please note that an ARC of this book was given to me by the author for the purpose of  fair and honest review.

Purchase Links

Amazon UK  Amazon US

Connect with the Author



*BLOG TOUR* ~ LEVERAGE, by Nancy S. Thompson ~ Includes Author Interview, Excerpt & Giveaway

Blog Tour Banner

 We are delighted to help host the blog tour for what I think is one of THE most exciting releases of this year! LEVERAGE, by Nancy Thomson continues the tale begun in THE MISTAKEN, A Dark Romantic Thriller par excellence. Read on for the book synopsis, a substantial excerpt and teaser. You can also enter the author’s giveaway where e-books of both THE MISTAKEN and LEVERAGE are up for grabs alongside some SIGNED PAPERBACKS. Don’t forget to read my interview with the author where she answers questions about her writing and ideas for future works. Tina 🙂

Leverage - Front Cover


Four years ago, Tyler Karras’ quest to avenge his wife’s
death led to all out war with San Francisco’s Russian Mafia. With the Bratva’s collapse and its king, Dmitri
Chernov, long dead, all Ty wants now is to put it behind him and enjoy a second
chance at life with his new bride, Hannah, and the child they’re expecting any
day. But Chernov’s heir, Grigory Dmitriev, has returned, bitter and determined.
He wants his kingdom back, and he’s more than willing to leverage Ty’s new
family to get it. 
First he targets Conner, Ty’s brooding nineteen-year-old
stepson, manipulating the boy into a vortex of sex, drugs, alcohol, and
gambling. Then he turns his sights on Hannah. At eight months pregnant, she’s
the ultimate bargaining chip. With both their lives in jeopardy, as well as his
unborn child, Ty has little choice but to do as Grigory commands—even if that
means assassinating the new leadership resurrecting within the Bratva.

 But Tyler
swore he’d never kill again. He buried that monster four years ago and means to
keep it that way. Grigory, however, makes that vow impossible to keep. 

With his new family on the line, Ty will cross further into
the dark side than he ever has before, challenging everything he believes about
himself, and forcing him to face the ghosts of his past. Only then will Ty
discover if he has the strength to do the unspeakable, to sacrifice his last
chance at redemption and save the lives of those he loves most.
Teaser - Bent on my Destruction

The discomfort, as bothersome as it was, couldn’t chase away the unease that flittered through my stomach like butterflies. That feeling had become a permanent fixture in my core as of late, like there was all this extra room inside me now. I felt incomplete, half of me missing, and what remained couldn’t function on its own. It wasn’t an unfamiliar sensation. I’d been here before, and all the old habits and cravings associated with that came into sharp focus, while everything else pushed to the periphery and blurred.

I kept a small collection of liquor in the corner of my construction trailer, for those times when the client came by to celebrate the completion of a project or the granting of a long-embattled permit. I kept one bottle half-filled with water, my own little secret. No one ever questioned it. They all assumed it was vodka. But tonight, it stood empty, while the others danced temptingly before me like harem girls beckoning me to peek beneath their veils.

Come to me. I’ll help you forget. You know I can. I’ve done it so many times before. It doesn’t have to hurt anymore. Just take a drink, one small sip…

That voice clamored so loud, I couldn’t even remember pulling the stop from the decanter, or pouring the tequila into the stubby lowball glass. But there it was, my old friend, the amber devil, staring me in the eye after all this time.

How many times had I heeded its call, had I given in to the temptation to simply not feel? Because that was it, really, what brought me to this point, that pain, that loneliness, that undeniable knowledge that I had destroyed everything most precious in my life.

I feared that knowledge and ached to reject it in the quickest way possible. The amber devil had always granted me that wish, and oh, how I wanted it to yet again. For just one moment, just an hour, just this single evening. I wanted that drink. I needed that drink.

I peered down into the devil’s face and saw my past reflected back at me, all the weeks and months I’d spent drunk, scheming my vengeance, releasing my wrath against an innocent woman—Hannah. And then there was Nick, my troublesome little brother, who’d kept everything a secret in order to protect me. He’d sacrificed his life in our father’s name so that I might live.

And that pretty much summed it all up. I was half a man without Jill. I was half a man without Nick. And now, half a man without Hannah. What did that make me but a speck of humanity?

I tried to reconcile that with the man I once was, before I ever married Jill or Hannah. I relished my independence back then, which was why I’d tried so hard to disengage my brother from my life. I’d wanted to find out what it was like to be just me, on my own, with no one else to shape the boundaries of who or what I was. But over time, Nick and Jill had become enduring components in my life, and most certainly maneuvered the tools that cut and contoured the man I’d become.

After dealing with the crap that had consumed my world following their deaths, I thought I’d finally pulled myself together, and with Hannah a daily reminder of both my failings and my resurrection, I believed I’d come full circle. But no, I hadn’t. I was living, breathing proof you could never truly leave your past behind. It clung like a shadow, at times unseen, but never farther than my reach, always dark, forever uncontainable.

That’s what looked back up at me from that glass—that shadow.

My past.

Teaser - His Essence


NancySThompson-author (1)


Nancy is a sunny California transplant currently living in dreary Seattle, Washington with her husband of twenty-four years, their son, a student at Seattle University, their giant snow dog, Jack, and his kitty, Skye. She works as a freelance editor and also has her own interior and architectural design business. When she’s not  writing, editing, designing, or marketing—a rarity these days—Nancy keeps herself busy by cooking and baking, that is, when she can pull herself away from Facebook, also a rarity.  




a Rafflecopter giveaway 


1. When did you start to write and what prompted you to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard? 

I started writing my debut, The Mistaken, in March 2010. I was inspired by Jared Leto’s lyrics to “Hurricane” for his band Thirty Seconds To Mars: “Tell me, would you kill to save a life? Tell me, would you kill to prove you’re right?” It made me wonder what could make an otherwise good man commit a violent crime and could he ever return to the man he used to be. Those issues continued in the sequel, Leverage, as well.

2. Where do you find the inspiration for your writing?

In music mostly, from my favorite bands like Smile Empty Soul, Three Days Grace, Alice in Chains, Red, and Staind, all of whom produce very emotionally charged songs. But I also take some liberties with my own life experiences. It’s that whole “write what you know” thing.

3. How do you carry out your research to ensure that your writing reflects the people and the places you portray in your novels as accurately as possible?  

As far as characters, it’s mostly just observation and pulling from my own life. Same with setting. I write about the places I’ve lived most of my life, San Francisco and Seattle predominantly. My villains are based on someone I had a little run in with a long time ago. Pretty scary, that one. I will admit to doing a great deal of research on the Bratva, or Russian Mafia, their presence in both San Francisco and Seattle, their businesses, their structure as an organization, their members, including prison life, and the meanings behind their notorious tattoos.

4. Your current series falls into the category of dark romantic suspense. Do you see yourself writing in any other categories in the future? 

They’re more thriller than suspense, with emphasis more on a ticking clock and less on “whodunit.” The reader pretty much knows that up front. While I love every aspect of the thriller, I don’t do cops or detectives or political conspiracies. I prefer using everyday-type people. But as far as other genres, yes, I do have a more classic contemporary romance planned out, though, of course, it will have a very dark element to it. I can’t seem to stay away from the darkness.

5. Describe your writing process in three words. Planned, organized, & structured.

What have you found is the best thing about being a writer?   I’d have to say it’s a toss up between having the freedom to express myself creatively, and meeting and becoming great friends with so many other writers and authors. It’s a tight community where most everyone pays it forward.

6.What have you found the most challenging aspects of being a writer?

That’s easy, the marketing. I hate promoting. I’m terrible at it. I don’t really know how to do it effectively, nor do I have the money and time to sell, sell, sell. But mostly, it bothers me to have to toot my own horn all the time, a necessary evil.

7. Have you any immediate plans for a future novel and if so are you able to share anything about it with us?

I have several brewing, but two in particular won’t leave me alone. One is the contemporary romance I mentioned earlier. It’s about a young woman, age sixteen to about thirty or so, and the three men in her life, her first love, a man who hurts her terribly, and the great love of her life, all whose lives intersect in one devastating event. The other is about an author who pens erotica. She finds herself the object of a madman’s obsession, a man who thinks the women who write and read BDSM actually invite violent sexual encounters.

8. Have you any advice to anyone who is thinking about becoming an author?

I could fill a book with advice, but I’d say the most important thing is to learn the craft. With self-publishing so easily accessible, there’s been a glut of hastily written books with poor writing, erratic structure, and very little editing. While the current market may be able to bear this, it won’t for long, so if a writer wants staying power in a sea of mediocrity, learn how to write well.

9. What do you like to read when you are not writing?

I’ve become so very picky lately, mostly because I’m an editor, as well as a writer, which means, when I’m not writing, I’m usually editing. When I do have time to read for pleasure, I’ll often pick up ten books before I find one that grabs and holds my attention. It’s typically a thriller with a strong romantic element running through it, but I do enjoy contemporary romance, too, as long as it’s not predictable and formulaic, a real problem in the genre as a whole. Whatever I read, it must be well-crafted and edited, and, most importantly, believable, even time travel books, which I LOVE!

Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions Nancy and good luck with LEVERAGE and your future releases!

Tina 🙂 

New Release, Marsh Island #1 of The Hirebomber Series, by Oliver F. Chase

309985_113790502160320_351626349_nRelease of First Instalment of Exciting New Mystery/Thriller Series!

Oliver F. Chase is a veteran Marine with a career in the FBI, whose mystery/thriller book, MARSH ISLAND (AEC Stellar Publishing Inc., November 22, 2013), is the first installment of The Hirebomber Series.

After a crushing injury, Army Ranger Phil Pfeifer is left for dead in the mountains of Iran only days before the start of the Gulf War. America cannot reveal such a violation of national sovereignty mere days before Kuwait is invaded. The body may heal but the heart takes longer.

Seeking a new life as a private investigator, Phil is hired to find a wayward husband who’s become enraptured with stars and predicting the future. A simple case and the midlife crazies stop when a boat captain is murdered at his feet and the Mafia chases him through the backstreets of Las Vegas. Pleading with Phil to continue, the terminally ill wife sends him into the tropics to face death, sharks, miles of open ocean, and prison.

Here’s what others are saying about it:

SHANNON A. THOMPSON, Award-winning author of the Young Adult Paranormal Romance, Minutes Before Sunset:

“What an absolute thrill. The mystery left me unable to guess what would happen next, and the prose was both delightful and haunting. Oliver F. Chase created a troubling beauty, even in the desert landscape, and the stars were as bright as the storyline. A great read for fans of detective fiction, suspenseful mystery, and thrillers.”

RANDOLPH PLOTTS, Avid reader of thriller books:

“The characters seemed real and knowable, and there was a wide variety of them. The author has a knack for description, not only for people but also for locations and situations! The book was a page-turner. I wanted to read just one more chapter before putting it down.”

Oliver Chase picABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Oliver graduated high school and wanted to be able to fly, which was really all he ever wanted. The war was on and the Marines offered a way.  He took it. Some five years later, Oliver was a vet with a Distinguished Flying Cross and a long list of combat missions – even a couple in that dark, secret world of political deniability. Oliver spent five years in a police department working narcotics and SWAT, and the next 22 in the FBI. He and his wife live on a small farm along the Gulf Coast near New Orleans.

Marsh Island by Oliver F. Chase 

AEC Stellar Publishing Inc. – ISBN: 0989312801

Price: $13.79 –  ISBN-13: 978-0989312806    –     Pages: 328, Paperback, 8.3 x 5.8

Pub Date: November 2013

Media Contact Heather Hebert

Arcadia Burns, by Kai Meyer

arcadia_burns[1]Suspenseful Paranormal Romance

Arcadia Burns is an exciting and compulsive paranormal read. Although it has a romance at its heart, it also contains strong elements of suspense and mystery. The book is set in the mafia world and has overtones of Romeo and Juliet. It features lovers Rosa and Alessandro, heads of the rival Alcantara and Carnevare clans, who, as Arcadians, can shape shift, Rosa into a snake and Alessandro into a panther.

The novel is the second in a trilogy by author Kai Meyer, the first being Arcadia Awakens and the third, Arcadia Falls, scheduled for 2014. Although I have not read the first, I had little difficulty in picking up the plot as the history of the characters is cleverly woven into the early chapters. Rosa has unexpectedly become head of the Alcantara clan, after the murder of her sister and her aunt, and is trying to get to grips with the position. She departs for New York in search of answers to events that happened in book 1. Whilst there, she encounters the American branch of the Carnevares. Rosa barely escapes with her life, in one of the most nail biting and gory scenes in the book. We are left in no doubt as to how the animal instincts of the Arcadians come to the fore when they have shifted from their human form.

Rosa is also reunited with her mother and some truths about her family are revealed. Revelations about the horrifying experience she was subjected to in book 1 are also made, before she returns to Sicily and Alessandro. There are many who wish to undermine their relationship, and the influence of  unforeseen forces and a mysterious and ancient organisation hovers in the background. The plot is full of secrets, mystery and intrigue and ever present danger, with the only constants being Rosa and Alessandro’s love. We also learn more about the ancient history of the Arcadians. There is much betrayal and bloodshed ahead before the gripping and action-packed conclusion.

At the heart of the novel is the romance. Rosa and Alessandro both struggle to head their respective clans, without letting centuries of hatred and mistrust between their forebears tear them apart. Rosa matures quickly as she strives to end some of the Alcantara’s more shady, albeit profitable, business dealings. She has also had to adapt to learning that she is part of a shape shifting dynasty that can change into a snake. In this novel Rosa tries to come to terms with the events that happened to her in New York, of which she has no memory, but which are key to the plot development. Alessandro is a truly likeable hero and it is easy to understand why Rosa is so enamoured of him. Although he withholds some secrets, I feel that he does so with Rosa’s interests at heart, as he is  both loving and protective, whilst still respecting her independence.

Secondary characters include Trevini, the Alcantara family lawyer, and Iole, who appeared in the first book. Others that were pivotal in the events in book 1 also make an appearance. The grim reality of prior events are slowly revealed, as are enemies out to destroy both Rosa and Alessandro. The secrets which are revealed from those now departed from this world are as shocking as those kept by the living. I was kept in suspense throughout and I could not anticipate the next plot twist or the exciting conclusion.

I liked the author’s writing style. The book has a complex plot, with strong characters and evocative descriptions. I particularly liked the descriptions of New York early on in the book, as well as Sicily, the setting for most of the scenes. I was compelled to read the book to have all of the questions raised within the plot answered and I was also hoping for a HEA for Rosa and Alessandro. I think it is very brave of the author to tackle so many emotive and difficult issues in a book aimed at younger readers. It is done in way which is sensitive yet not in any way patronising, recognising that young people, as well as adults, wish to explore challenging issues in the safety of a fictional environment.

Although the book worked very well for me as a stand alone, I would also like to read the first instalment to fully appreciate the back story of all the characters involved. I recommend the book to young adults and adults. I would definitely like to read more from this author and I am looking forward to reading the conclusion of this trilogy.

This book was given to me by the publishers, Templar Publishing, for the purpose of an honest review.

Author Kai Meyer’s website.

Templar Publishing website

Cover art by kind permission of Will Steele

Click her for my colleague Caroline’s review of Arcadia Burns.

Arcadia Burns (Arcadien #2) by Kai Meyer

arcadia_burns[1]‘Arcadia Burns’ is the second book of Kai Meyer’s Arcadien Trilogy. A Reader’s Review Blog received this novel gratefully from Templar Publishing in return for an honest review. After not having read the first book of the trilogy, ‘Arcadia Awakens’, I was conscious that there may be some gaps in my knowledge of the story thus far and the characters. However, once I began to read I found that the introduction was really great. The reader is made aware from the very first chapter of Rosa and Alessandro’s family history and their relationship with one another. This in itself made me feel that this book could be read as a stand alone.

Rosa and Alessandro are both from Mafia clans, albeit different Mafia clans. This does have a ‘Romeo and Juliet’ effect in that members of these families want their relationship to end and will go to great lengths to see this happen. Their love for each other is a very strong bond and although some secrets are kept from each other, it is only with the others’ interests at heart and so they do not allow these to come between them. The novel focuses mostly on Rosa who has recently become head of her clan and is, therefore, expected to oversee quite a few decisions regarding her clans businesses, illegal activities and family problems. However, Rosa does not really want any of this. Rosa returns to New York to find out about her family history in Sicily from her mother. This does not necessarily go according to plan as she later finds that she is being chased from members of Alessandro’s family.

There is also a great paranormal twist with Rosa and Alessandro not always being human. Under certain situations of duress they transform into different creatures: Rosa, a snake, and Alessandro, a Panther. Throughout this novel we learn that Alessandro seems to have more control over his transformation, whereas Rosa still needs to learn how to control hers. It doesn’t help matters when Rosa is injected with a serum, against her own wishes, from a member of Alessandro’s clan, that prevents her transformation from happening for a period of time. This is a fascinating read.

‘Arcadia Burns’ is recommended for young adults, or those age fourteen and over, quite rightly so as there are dark action scenes. However, it is a gentle introduction to some Mafia activity. It allows the reader to absorb what is happening without terrifying them. I think that Kai Meyer has written this very carefully to ensure that this book is suitable to it’s targeted audience.

On opening the book initially, I noticed a beautiful chapter layout, making it very easy to navigate to the last page that has been read. Although the book as a whole is quite lengthy each chapter isn’t so, allowing busy readers to be able to read the story in their own time without having to put the book down during a vital scene. This also added an air of lightness, which is rather nice considering the darkness of the story.

Throughout reading this novel there were occasions when I felt that the chapters didn’t always flow nicely into each other. Sometimes the reader is left wondering what is happening. But, with a little patience and perseverance within a couple of pages my questions were answered. There were also times when I felt that the story was moving a little too slow, however as  the story unfolds and we begin the latter chapters everything is put into persepctive and the reader becomes engrossed with the action, hoping for the best possible outcome. Originally written in German, ‘Arcadia Burns’ was translated into English by Anthea Bell. It would be unfair of me to say how the translation has affected the story as I do not speak German, and therefore haven’t read the original. However, the story is very good, beautifully written with some really strong characters.

‘Arcadia Burns’ has left me hoping that Rosa and Alessandro make it and are allowed to live their life together without intervention of others. I have no doubt in Alessandro’s love for Rosa and hope that it stays this way. This novel has been likened to ‘Romeo and Juliet’, ‘Twilight’ and ‘The Godfather’. Whilst it is a diluted version of ‘The Godfather’ and has a strong love bond between the two main characters from opposing family clans, I feel that it’s likeness to ‘Twilight’ is not so apparent. I can only assume that this is due to the paranormal sides of the story, but personally I found ‘Arcadia Burns’ to be completely different and original.

Kai Meyer’s ‘Arcadia Falls’ will be the third and final instalment of the Arcadien trilogy and is due to be released in 2014.

Publisher’s website: http://www.templarco.co.uk/

Cover art by kind permission of Will Steele

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

For another take on ‘Arcadia Burns’ please take a look at Tina’s review.