Title: Dark Protector
Series: Stand Alone
Genre: Mafia Romance/Contemporary
Release Date: February 25, 2017
Descriptive Blurb: From the moment I saw her through the window of her flower shop, something other than darkness took root inside me. Charlie shone like a beacon in a world that had long since lost any light. But she was never meant for me, a man that killed without remorse and collected bounties drenched in blood.
I thought staying away would keep her safe, would shield her from me. I was wrong. Danger followed in my wake like death at a slaughter house. I protected her from the threats that circled like black buzzards, kept her safe with kill after kill.
But everything comes with a price, especially second chances for a man like me.
Killing for her was easy. It was living for her that turned out to be the hard part.
“Rough cut gem…but I kinda liked it.”
My Impressions: Love that cover. I was skimming through a book blog and it caught my eye. A HEA mafia romance…eh…but isn’t that an oxymoron or something? [I’ve seen all three Godfathers, so I know how these things end.] Not my usual read for a million reasons: 1st person POV *bleech*, gratuitous F-bombing and other associated crudeness, erotic nookie….all my classic triggers. (And by ‘trigger’ I mean things that usually set off my DNF reflex.)
The Mob Squad: Nice brisk pacing…no lulls in the mafia action. The storyline is pretty standard (but not so much that it wanders into cliche territory). There’s a change of leadership and hitman-for-hire Conrad and eyewitness-to-mob-violence Charlie get caught in the transitional dissidence as the new boss tests loyalties, rearranges the hierarchy, trims the fat, and whatnot. Nate provides some nice moments as Conrad’s sidekick smart ass. Nate’s motor mouth commentary is both funny and filthy at the same time. I would give an example, eh, but this is a family-friendly blog…lol. And I’d have to censure his banter to the point where the meaning is lost just to get it down to an R rating.
Love and Bullets: Despite the bullets, the blood and the brazen talk…Charlie and Conrad have a really nice chemistry. It’s what drew me to this book despite the fact that it is the exact antithesis of what I consider acceptable romantic fiction. And now after that thinly-veiled insult, I must contradict myself and recount how much I enjoyed the fast paced, but oddly layered unfolding of Charlie and Conrad’s personalities…and the building of their connection. Charlie is kinda like a twist on the usual good girl archetype…she’s not all good, there’s an edge to her that makes her connection to stone-cold killer Conrad more tenable. Still, she’s mostly good. Alas, Conrad is your typical mafia badass…shoot first and get the hell outta dodge before the police turn up and start asking questions. But, the backstory with his dad softens his edges a bit. *Sigh*…Con’s silent longing for her…her hero worship (he saves her on multiple occasions). The build up is so very satisfying until I was really kinda annoyed by the raunchy unromantic payoff…
Major Beef:…The sex scenes kill the romance! And not just with this book, this is the problem I have with almost all erotic romances. It’s not really that erotic, at least, not by my definition. When I think of something being erotic I think of it as arousing, sensual, and irresistibly risqué…like extra rich gourmet chocolate. I mean, you know it’s going to make you fat, but it tastes sooo good until you’re lulled into eating it anyway. An erotic love scene should be so seductive until it pulls you in, makes you want to read it despite (in my case, Christian values). But, nothing about the rough language and raw goings-on makes me want to read it even if I weren’t Christian. There’s no finesse or softness. They have sex like a prostitute and her john would…not like a rough neck with genuine affection for a good girl. The connection is there, the romantic potential is there in spades, even the physical chemistry is palpable in this one. So with all that, why kill it with crudeness?
FYI…Women do not refer to their own goodies as the “P” word. Yeah, they might use it to refer to some skank or her goodies, but not their own.
And of course, the ultimate WTF moment came seconds before the actual nookie went down. Literally, Charlie’s primed and Conrad is about to hit it…when He whispers, “I’m clean”. And she has the completely stupid thought that her bank account is empty but thank Gawd she’s been on 3-month Birth control since she was 15…even though she hasn’t had sex in years. (No joke. This is actually what she thinks as he utters the words “I’m clean”.) I don’t know which one is more ridiculous…the fact that she’s ok screwing a hitman she met 3 days ago bare back just because he verbally tells her he’s clean…Or that in the same breath she’s admitting that she has little money, yet had the business savvy to waste it on Birth control shots when she hasn’t had a man in years. I guess she figured that one day, out of the blue she’d fall in lust with the ghost of Johnny Stompanato and want to have unprotected sex with a perfect stranger without the pesky threat of pregnancy.
Wouldn’t it make more sense to just search the house for some condoms? It’s a guy’s house who was known to mess around on his wife, which means there’s condoms in a drawer somewhere. This is a perfect illustration for why erotic romances do not appeal to me…the fact that these sorts of conversations have to take place at all! If Charlie and Conrad were a normal couple in love, with some semblance of a dating relationship or normally progressing courtship, then last-ditch pre-sex disclaimers like…Relax Baby, I don’t have the Clap…wouldn’t be necessary. But that’s just me.
Random Thoughts: Or perhaps I’m just a raging prude hold over from Victorian times? I’ll let the readers decide.
Cool Points: Con walks a fine line between protective and controlling…and oddly, he doesn’t cross over that line. This is a major plus in my opinion. He’s bossy, tells her what to do, doesn’t give her a whole lot of explanation at first, but there is always this motivation of protection behind it. I got the distinct impression that if her life wasn’t in peril, he would have handled things much differently. And I liked that when Charlie disobeys him and goes rogue (with the shiv, the stun-gun, leaving the hideaway, the snares, eh, she followed very few of his orders now that I think about it)…And Con just blows it off, he doesn’t do the whole…”My word is the law” speech. Thank goodness.
Edge of the Cliff: Nope, no cliffhanger in sight. Keep calm and read on. Everybody gets theirs and Berty gets stuck paying the piper…and it couldn’t have happened to a nastier fellow. *grin*
The Verdict: Yes, its true, this book broke nearly all of my no-no rules, but I still kinda liked it. Geez, what is the world coming to when I can’t even count on disliking things I normally hate. *hunches up shoulders*
D. Alyce Domain