The Banker by Penelope Sky
Oh Penelope Sky, queen of mean heroes.
The heroine is definitely no simpering victim and actually goes toe to toe with the hero for much of the book. This aspect of the story was really enjoyable and does not happen all too often in dark romances. She is convincingly able to catch and then keep his interest by being just as self-assured, cool and strong-willed as he is. The hero is an uber asshole, arrogant, and as the heroine quickly and rightly summarised very much a pig. Definitely earning its dark romance designation, he is also brutal and merciless. If you like your heroes arrogant, mean and utterly without pity, you might really enjoy The Banker.
I do enjoy dark romances, and accept that the authors have an almost impossible task. The hero must be mean, actually horrible, and yet somehow redeemable in the end. But every reader will have different lines that cannot be crossed without rendering the hero ultimately a villain, even in the hands of the most skilled author. The Banker for me became that villain by casually mentioning the torture and killing of innocent wives and children of his business partners at his hands. As this is only the first part of a series, there might be a twist to it, we will see. If he really did these things, however, I really don't see how I can root for him and the heroine certainly deserves so much better.
Another quibble was the setting: The story unfolds in Florence, Italy with Italian characters. Yet they very much read American, from the names to the use of language and vernacular, culture and so on. For example, at one point they go to an Italian restaurant and the heroine makes fun of the hero for not having cheese. As in: You always have to have a cheese dish when eating Italian. What? This sort of thing frequently took me out of an otherwise very engrossing story.
Will I read the next part of the story. Certainly! Now I want to know how it ends. Will I end up really enjoying the book or end up tossing them to the side? Not sure yet. As thus I give it 3.5 stars for now.