Blurb: Since his brother’s death, Benny Bianchi has been nursing his grudge against the woman he thinks led to his brother’s downfall. He does this to bury the feelings he has for Francesca Concetti, his brother’s girl. But when Frankie takes a bullet while on the run with Benny’s cousin’s woman, Benny has to face those feelings.The problem is Frankie has decided she’s paid her penance. Penance she didn’t deserve to pay. She’s done with Benny and the Bianchi family. She’s starting a new life away from Chicago and her heartbreaking history.Benny has decided differently.But Frankie has more demons she’s battling. Demons Benny wants to help her face. But life has landed so many hard knocks on Frankie she’s terrified of believing in the promise of Benny Bianchi and the good life he’s offering.Frankie’s new life leads her to The ‘Burg, where Benny has ties, and she finds she not only hasn’t succeeded in getting away, she’s doesn’t want to.
Review: Writing this one is hard because it is the first time I’ve had to give a KA book a less than stellar review. Also for the first time, I actually struggled to stick with this during the first half of the book. It really almost feels as if the first half was written by another author.
Since this book is really placed chronologically right after At Peace, it started off hitting a speed bump. It kind of threw me off that the last couple of books that I’d just read in this series hadn’t happened yet. I thought for a while that there’d be a time skip to get us past those books to current time but that never happened.
Several of the important plot points early on were confusing to me. The break with the Bianchi family and why there was that break really tripped me up and it just didn’t make a whole lot of sense. The entire family blamed Frankie for Vinnie’s choices and his resulting death to the point they completely shut her out for years, but she gets shot and all is clean slate, no revelations that the choices where his not hers, no explanations, just straight to no hard feelings all is forgiven. On all fronts. That all goes from full stop zero contact to all in your face we love you closeness. An emotional wound like that takes at least a little time before things can get to smooth, so this whole thing was really off for me.
Along those same lines, Benny and Frankie’s relationship made no sense at all to me in the beginning. Everything seemed like it went from all out hate on Benny’s side to no doubts totally in love in a second. It felt completely unrealistic as I felt like there was a huge part of the foundation for that relationship missing. We did get a little bit of that in the end of At Peace, but not enough to really explain how these two are actually attracted to each other.
I wasn’t a fan of Frankie’s character. Not at all. I thought she was spunky and smart and good crazy when we met her in the end of At Peace, but it was like she underwent a personality transplant between the two books. Here she is (at least in the beginning) neurotic, flaky and really kind of a crazy bitch. We do get a little bit of an explanation of why, but again, it just doesn’t really work. Like there is something missing.
Benny isn’t a whole lot better except he is more of just an ass. The whole first half of the book he talks to Frankie as if she doesn’t have a brain in her head and it seems as if he doesn’t have any respect for her at all. He doesn’t listen to what she says and when she talks his attitude is all “Aww cute! She is trying to be smart. Let’s shut her up by throwing her around and screwing her until her brains fall out. She doesn’t need them anyway.”
KA is the queen of writing bossy alpha males. She does it in such a way that the bossy rides a knife edge of tough that is still sweet without falling into true asshole. We did not get the sweet in this, at least not the first half. The way Benny was bossy was missing that essential KA element that made it truly sexy and not dickish.
I won’t say that I disliked this book because I didn’t. It got way better in the last half and is the only reason I gave this the higher rating, but by the end I still wasn’t much of a fan of either of the main characters. As of right now, it is my least favorite KA book and more than likely I won’t ever take the time to read this one again.
I think it is sad that the absolute best part of this book was the speech given at Vi and Cal’s wedding rehearsal dinner. That was absolutely beautiful and had me crying like crazy yet it had not one thing really to do with the main characters in this book.