Footsteps by Susan Fanetti
Series: Pagano Family #1
Published by Self-published on August 15, 2014
Genres: Contemporary Romance
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Carlo Pagano Jr. is the eldest son of a large Italian-American family in Quiet Cove, Rhode Island. He’s a disappointment to his father but a hero to the young son he is raising alone, after his wife abandoned them.
Sabina Alonzo-Auberon is a beautiful Argentine native married to one of the most powerful and wealthy men in New England. Though James Auberon is highly esteemed, the power and glamour the world sees hide a darker reality that exists within the walls of their home. Sabina is trapped in a life of control and abasement, living with a man too powerful and vengeful to escape.
Sabina doesn’t wish to be rescued and whisked away on a white horse. She’s not looking for a fairy tale hero; she knows the fairy tale is a lie. She’s waiting for the chance to save herself. But she won’t turn down help if it comes.
A fateful meeting with Carlo brings Sabina the chance to break free and make a life on her own terms. If any name demands respect and strikes fear more than Auberon, it’s Pagano. Carlo’s uncles head one of the most powerful ‘families’ in the Northeast, and they will offer their help—for a price.
What begins as an offer of assistance deepens into an intense bond, but before Carlo and Sabina can be together, they must overcome the obstacles in their path.
Together Carlo and Sabina seek true and honest love, and freedom from the demons of their pasts, but no quest was ever without its trials.
Explicit sex. Some dark themes.
The Pagano series is one I have been meaning to begin for some time now. Having devoured all the MC/Biker Romances Susan Fanetti has written, I have been keen to explore her other genres. Footsteps is the first book in a mafia dynasty series and while it doesn’t have a heavy mafia presence it builds as the story grows.
James has the infamous surname Pagano. It opens doors as a matter of consequence but not through his intentional use. His father worked hard to ensure his family remained separated from all the notorious business associated with them. Such was the divide the families sit on opposite sides of the church at Mass. Apart from blood and a name, they share little else.
James has broken away from his father’s construction company to go into partnership with a friend. It is at a social event, where he encounters Sabina, the wife of a cruel and powerful man. He refuses to look away when Sabina’s husband manhandles her leaving the event while everyone else turns a blind eye. So moved is he by her plight, he does the unthinkable and uses his heritage to shame her husband into stopping his public display of cruelty.
Cruelty to women is a trait James’ uncle abhors and is more than willing to assist. And so begins a complex relationship between the estranged extended Pagano families. A situation not welcomed by all and questioned by the people who can see the cost it will incur.
Serena is a character I struggled to connect with and as a consequence it impacted on my overall appreciation of the story. Her story of how she married such an ogre of a man was sad and heartbreaking. How she remained sane and unbroken for so long while she was with Carlos was astounding. The time she spent away from Carlos and with the Pagano’s was refreshing but it wasn’t without complications.
Circumstances bring James, his family and Serena closer together, and she develops a reason to embrace life again. The interaction she has with James’ son adds an endearing facet to this story to be relished. She’s a character I found hard to accept in many ways. The way she drifted in and out of broken English had me questioning the use of the idioms when they were used. While I can appreciate communicating in another language is difficult during stressful situations, it made connecting with her character a challenge. My other peeve was shortening her name to Bina, it shouldn’t have bothered me but it did.
There was a lot of inner reflection which had a tendency to be repetitive, slowing the pace of the story down for me. I did enjoy the secondary characters and while I found Serina frustrating at times, there was still much to appreciate in her and the way she interacted with the Pagano family. I picked up this book with high expectations of what the story would entail. Footsteps was exactly as the name implied, reflective and considered. Luca’s story is next and I am looking forward to beginning his story in The Pagano Family Book 2, Touched.
Lily’s Rating: 3 Stars
I really, really wanted to like Footsteps, but the more I read, the more I realized I was just reading it to get through it. I’m one of those that has to read a series in order, and I’d heard that the books after Footsteps were awesome. Lord, I hope so, because this did not work for me on several levels.
I love heroines who come from an abusive situation and end up with an HEA but I could not wrap my brain around Sabina. I kept wanting her to fight for herself but she wasn’t. There were no kids holding her back, seemingly no family. I couldn’t understand why she wasn’t selling the china for cash and disappearing as fast as she could. Instead, she was basically just laying down waiting to die. This did not work for me at all.
As for Carlos, he was hit with insta-love and then was putting everything on the line for her, including his child’s safety. He felt she was strong, but I just didn’t see it. Several of my notes indicated that he was either dumb or extremely naive.
There was a huge buildup to the showdown with James, and then it kind of fizzled out. What came after had me even more perplexed. I felt like Sabina had gained everything, and Carlos had lost it all. Even his son was horribly affected so that Sabina could find herself or whatever she was doing. By putting Sabina before his child’s needs, I ended up losing respect for both of them.
Along with not enjoying either main character, there was a lot of repetition of facts and inner thoughts. I also had a hard time with the way Sabina spoke. At first, it’s noted she had a slight accent which made sense since she’d been in the US since she was a child. As the book progressed her accent was so pronounced you’d think she’d only been here a short time. This drove me up a wall.
What I did like were the other characters. I’m intrigued by the Uncles and cousins, the ones who are actually in the mafia, and want to know more about them. I planned on continuing with the series before I started Footsteps which is why I made it through without DNFing. I’m really hoping the rest of the series won’t disappoint since I have already bought them.
Spice’s Rating: 2.5 Kids Always Should Come First Stars
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