Bound by Honor by Cora Reilly
Series: Born in Blood Mafia Chronicles #1
Published by Smashwords on December 14th 2014
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Born into one of the leading Mob families in Chicago, Aria Scuderi struggles to find her own path in a world where no choices are given. Aria was only fifteen when her parents betrothed her to Luca – The Vice – Vitiello, the oldest son of the head of the New York Cosa Nostra to ensure peace between the two families. Now at eighteen, the day Aria has been dreading for years is looming dangerously: her wedding to Luca. Aria is terrified of marrying a man she hardly knows, especially someone like Luca who got his nickname ‘the Vice’ for crushing a man’s throat with his bare hands. Luca might be one of the most sought after men in New York thanks to his good looks, wealth and predator-like charisma that radiates power, but the society girls throwing themselves at him don’t know what Aria does: that the bad boy aura isn’t just a game; blood and death lurk beneath Luca’s striking gray eyes and arrogant smile.In her world a handsome exterior often hides the monster within; a monster who can just as easily kill as kiss you.The only way to escape the marriage to Luca would be to run away and leave everything she’s ever known behind but Aria can’t bear the thought of never seeing her family again. Despite her fear, she decides to go through with the marriage; Aria has grown up among predators like Luca and knows that even most cold-hearted bastards have a heart and she has every intention of working her way into Luca’s.
I was after a particular kind of book and Bound by Honor was just what I needed. The beginning had me smiling so it was evident I had chosen well. In the mood for a bad boy, Luca began to tick all my boxes. The opening scene is of Luca and Aria at their wedding, and then the story backtracks to explain how they came to standing before one another.
It was a strategic move between families to solidify and strengthen the mafia as a whole. With other organised crime groups edging in on their territory, united families was what was needed to maintain their control. It’s decided that an arranged marriage would be the best way to unite the Chicago and New York families and the preparations for Luca and Aria’s marriage begin. Luca immediately takes the situation seriously and exerts his authority ensuring his fiancé-to-be is upheld in a manner that befits his status. Initially, he came across as indifferent and confident with a streak of compassion glimmering through his cold exterior. Aria, on the other hand, was crushed but accepting of her situation and occupied her time by comforting her siblings.
Luca and Aria are both familiar with the expectations of the mafia but Luca being a made-man has a lot more insight than Aria who has been shielded from the darker side of their world. She’s not ignorant, but still being young she has a lot to learn in a relatively short time. What was good was that in spite of her youth she had a level head. She did have a few moments where her lack of life experience showed through. The sad part was, they were both major players in a bigger picture and were aware of the importance being placed upon them. Selflessly Aria accepts her fate, knowing the consequences that would fall upon her loved ones if she was to do otherwise.
The first book in the Born in Blood Mafia Chronicles has a definite air of introduction about it and I have a feeling the second book will be a bit different. Like Aria, I felt unsure of the other characters around her, not sure who could be trusted and what life would hold for her. The angst between the marriage and her becoming accepting of her new life kept me on the edge of my seat. Once the focus was off their wedding, the story became more about them than the family. It then became a story about a new bride and the ‘honeymoon’ stage rather than a mafia book.
Both characters were great, but I needed more story to back up the between the sheets action. The secondary characters are interesting and hoping their stories will be covered within the series. I started out thinking this was a 5-star book, but then it lost me around the 60% mark. I would still recommend this book. The great news is Bound by Honor was free at the time I got it and for the first book in a series it holds the promise of being a series I am planning to continue with!
What I struggled with:
- Her father’s attitude
- Her mother’s weakness and lack of communication
- The dress that was chosen for her first meeting…reduced to a pound of flesh
- The traditions
- Luca having to appear indifferent
- Grace, her snarky remarks, and actions
What I loved:
- Luca’s strength and kindness
- Sister time
- Fabiano and his loyalty to Aria
- Aria’s ability to hold her own in the most difficult situations
Lily’s Rating: 3.5 Stars
Bound by Honor is a dark and dubious book, with no sugar coating of the mafia at all and I could not put it down. It didn’t matter that I had a to-do list with 50 gazillion items on it, I just read away like I had all the time in the world.
Luca was definitely an anti-hero. A bad man who does bad things but who wants to do right by the woman he considers his. I didn’t like some of his actions, and there was one major one that gave me definite pause. Although never approving of what he did, I did come to some understanding of his thought processes that brought him to it. I did love that once he understood where Aria stood on things, he did a complete turnaround for her, which was unusual and could be somewhat dangerous in their world.
Aria, although bound by who she was with limited choices, was a fairly strong heroine but who definitely had some weak moments. It seemed when it came to the safety of those she loved, she had a backbone and could be almost fearless, but then she’d fall apart when it was just her. Her fear of sex was a huge issue I had with her and seemed out of character for how she was portrayed. She ended up letting her fear rule over her, and I never have patience with that kind of thing, much less when it’s based on something stupid.
I loved how it showed that not only Aria but Luca too was a prisoner of his birth. How they both fought against having feelings because feelings were deadly in the world they were born into. The brutality of their world was front and center throughout the book. In fact, the mafia politics almost could be considered a character in its own right. A harsh, unforgiving, and unrelenting dark and evil character that’s always lurking in the background making everyone watch each and every word or action lest they do or say something to bring his wrath down on their heads.
Besides Aria’s backbone issues, there were some other things that set me back a bit. Aria’s sister Gianna was too much of a brat. Her actions were OTT and didn’t come off as believable. In the world being portrayed she would have presumably been shut up in increasingly terrifying ways until she either zipped it or died, but also because for someone who professed to care so much for her sister, the things coming out of her mouth would have put her sister at risk of repercussions. Luca’s ex-hookup actions were too OTT and there didn’t seem to be any repercussions for her actions. One, in particular, should have earned her a mafia style pair of concrete shoes and a dip in the nearest river.
Still, I literally couldn’t put this book down. I had blog work, housework, and errands to run but I just kept reading and I plan on diving into the next one as soon as I can get to it. Because of this, where I was leaning towards a 3.5 star rating, I’m bumping it up. Anything that keeps me away from doing laundry deserves an extra half star.
Spice’s Rating: 4 Stars
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