Machiavellian by Bella Di Corte
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1 sentence summary: Desperate girl with a sad past enters into an arranged marriage with a mafioso who has vengeance on his mind.
Hero: Kiss, Marry or Kill? Kiss, because he is fine for sure but I would prefer not to tie myself to danger for the rest of my life. Big plus: From the get go Mac treats Mariposa with care, and even though there is some power imbalance there clearly is respect on both sides.
Heroine: World peace bringer or hell raiser? Puppy rescuer or needs rescuing? Needs some rescuing at the beginning of the story, but this is mostly due to circumstance rather than personality. Mariposa is determined to make the most out of the opportunities presented to her, even if it takes her a while to figure out her feelings.
The plot: Love it or leave it? An arranged marriage, a trip to Italy, long held secrets, shots being fired, complicated blood ties and bloody revenge: This book has everything you would want from a mafia romance. I particularly enjoyed that some time was spent at the beginning to really focus on the heroine, so that her desperation and confusion entering this world is palpable.
Happy with the ending? A standalone novel, Mac and Mariposa get their happy ending once they figure out that marriage could be more than just a business transaction and that love is in the cards.
Who should read this? Everyone who is into gritty mafia romance, arranged marriages in which the heroine is standing her ground, and wants some steam without the sexy bits overtaking the plot.