Monday 23 February 2015

Review ~ By Any Other Name (Forbidden #1) by JM Darhower

Reviewed by Donna ~ 4.5 Stars

**ARC received for honest review**

“Their families didn’t just carry animosity - they were mortal enemies, hell-bent on destroying each other. The two of them were a disaster waiting to happen, and they had just been fooling themselves if they thought anything good could come out of this thing.”

There is no doubt in my mind that JM Darhower is the queen of Mafia, no matter the story JM Darhower always manages to draw me in to this corrupt underground and always leaves me salivating for more at the end.

There is nothing like a forbidden love story and throw into the mix that the end consequence is literally life or death, then the term “forbidden” takes on a whole new meaning. JM Darhower weaves a tale full of suspense and intrigue, a modern twist on Romeo and Juliet where the romance was condemned even before it began. A connection that was born as strangers but when identities are revealed the world crashes down, a connection and love so fierce and intense, that no matter the consequences they just couldn’t stay away. Could they get away with it or would this be the end for them and their families?

“It’s too late for me, though. I already looked the soul-stealer in the eyes.”

This book is centred around the Barsanti’s and the Galante’s, two Mafia families in New York that were once friends but their friendship turned deadly and toxic sixteen years ago. Through bloodshed, death and violence the families would never recover and an intense rivalry and mafia war was born.

“The only good Barsanti is a dead Barsanti.”

Matty-B (Matteo Barsanti) has tried to stay away from “the family business,” having been sent away for his own protection initially he has never wanted to be a part of his father’s business. However, a sick mother brings him back to New York and having been away for so long means that he is way out the loop and does not recognise anyone anymore. He went away a child and has come back a man.

Genna was the only Galante daughter and as such was intensely protected and sheltered. But when that protection becomes over bearing, she acts out as a small act of defiance against her father. Her father calls her bluff though and lets her take punishment for her misdemeanours. It is while stuck in an elevator at the court house that Genna and Matty meet.

Through Matty’s absence and Genna’s “protection” neither one recognises the other. Neither one realises that they are fraternizing with the enemy. With only being on a first named basis the penny doesn’t drop and over drinks and a coupling that goes totally against their norm a connection is born that is so strong and so magnetising, neither one can stay away from the other despite trying.

“He played her body like an instrument, plucking her strings and stroking her keys, leaving her a quivering mess yet again.”

While reading, you know that nothing good can come of this union, I was on the edge of my seat the whole time, just waiting for the war to begin, just waiting for the repercussions and I was constantly dreading the fall out. I read as slowly as I possibly could so that I could devour every word, every emotion. While their connection was kind of insta lust in the beginning, their relationship develops slowly, all cloak and dagger and subterfuge. It is this lure of the forbidden that keeps those pages turning, that draws you into their relationship so deep that you cannot let go. I had an intense connection to these two characters; neither were interested in what the family did and what they were doing. This was the first time that either of them had found love and why should two surnames keep them away from what they both wanted? Why should a family war keep them from what they desired, keep them from who they love?

“But that’s all there is…The after. Every moment is just the aftermath of whatever came before it.”

This is a story about families, loyalty, loathing, turf wars, protection, trust and love. A story that could never have a fairy tale ending but would the protagonists die trying? Families so intent on destroying each other that they cannot see the bigger picture. Where that intense rivalry, clouds judgements and actions and can only end one way…the wrong way.

This was a rollercoaster ride; I ran the gamut of emotions, fear being the most prevalent. I was constantly anxious, my heart was beating erratically and I desperately didn’t want this book to end. I loved Matty’s fierce love for Genna, his protectiveness and willingness to put everything on the line for the one thing that he has forever desired, to be loved. Seeing that reciprocated only makes you warm to them even more, you cannot help but champion these two, you are constantly willing love to conquer all, even with that deep dread seated in the pit of your stomach.

“They were merely standing in the eye of the hurricane…and it only stayed calm for so long.”

Once again JM Darhower has nailed it and I cannot wait to read more of this series. Bring it on!

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