Tag «mafia»

Trope Thursday: Crime Families [7]

Trope Thursdays: A monthly feature where I look at various reading tropes. Each month I will pick a trope and examine all aspects of it. I’ll discuss the classic features of the trope, what I love (or hate) about it and share some books that use the trope in their plots.

So I haven’t been the most proactive about getting these posts out on a monthly basis but that’s ok! I’m back this month with a new trope!

I dunno how I came up with this trope but it was on my list of topics for the year. I think as a society we have this fascination with the law and the people who break it. You see it everywhere from court trials of infamous cases to fictional TV shows based on crimes (Criminal Minds, Law and Order, CSI) to the people/families who commit the crimes (Sons of Anarchy, The Sopranos). I know I’m a sucker for a good “crime family” story and I’ll explain why below.

October’s Trope: Crime Families


crime family is a unit of an organized crime syndicate, particularly the Mafia (both in Sicily and in the United States), often operating within a specific geographic territory. In its strictest sense, a family (or clan) is a criminal gang, operating either on a unitary basis or as an organized collection of smaller gangs (e.g., cellsfactionscrews, etc.). In turn, a family can be a sole “enterprise”, or part of a larger syndicate or cartel.

~Wikipedia (“Crime Family“)


For the sake of this post, I’m sticking with books or series that involve families that perform syndicated crime. I’m not focusing on characters that have had run-ins with the law or simply have a criminal past. I’m focusing on books that have organized groups that perform crimes.

Common Features:

  • Dark love
  • Possibility for Forbidden/Taboo Love
  • Loyalty
  • Violence
  • Crimes
  • Mafia
  • Revenge
  • Motorcycle Clubs
  • Debts to be Paid

What I Like About The “Crime Families” Trope:

I love books that have me on the edge of my seat and I find books that centre around crime families have that suspense to them. You never know who to trust; there’s always the risk of mortal danger; and the stakes always seem to be higher. It makes for a thrilling read.

I’m a sucker for a good villain and I find your crime family stories supply some truly evil and despicable bad guys.

I also like the aspect of family and loyalty to that family. Some of these families can be so dysfunctional that they work so it’s a neat aspect to watch unfold. They say blood is thicker than water and I think that always rings true in novels that focus around crime families.

What I Dislike About The “Crime Families” Trope:

I sometimes find that the books can go too far with the “shock factor” and things seem out of hand. Then that just makes the whole plot seem ridiculous.

While I do enjoy the occasional dark romance, I sometimes find romances in crime family stories really straddle that line of toxic and unhealthy. Yes, fiction is fiction but I don’t overly enjoy how normalized and romanticized some of these toxic relationships get in these books.

Books that Use the “Crime Families” Trope Well:

Perhaps one of the darkest novels I’ve ever read, I loved this serialized series for many reasons. A kick-butt heroine bent on revenge, a passionate romance and some pretty dire circumstances, this novel will keep you on your toes! It’s the darker side of a motorcycle club.

>>Series Review: Gypsy Brothers


This series is all about family and the loyalty you feel to that family (or maybe why you don’t). There’s just so many layers to this series and it provides ample character development throughout. Add to it an overarching plot with the motorcycle club and you’ve got yourself one wild ride.

>>Series Review: Thunder Road


Others: Son of the Mob  |  Heist Society

Books that Didn’t Use the “Crime Families” Trope Well:

This series is here for two reasons: 1) the somewhat abusive romance and 2) the boring leads. Sometimes I thought these two had great chemistry and then our “hero” would “show his dominance” and it just turned me off immediately. It was cringe-worthy–even though I had prepared myself for the darker romance.

>>Series Review: Kingpin Love Affair


“You know when teenagers attempt to act like adults and it just makes everything a little awkward? That’s what the plot is in this story.”

Everything here is super over dramatic thanks to the young ages of the cast. It just pushed the drama and the like over the top and made everything seem unbelievable. I think if this was a New Adult Series with older leads, it would have been better. This was definitely a guilty pleasure read for me because it’s like a bad, cheesy TV show.

>>Series Review: Made Men


Others: Once Upon a Crime Family  |  Crossing Stars

Do you enjoy books with the “Crime Families” Trope?

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Series Review: Kingpin Love Affair by J L Beck

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:


Synopsis for Indebted (from Goodreads):
It was suppose to be a debt settled, just a price being repaid.
Instead love was born…
…from unpaid dues it bloomed.
See, that’s the funny thing about love, you never expect it.

After losing her mother to cancer a few months prior to graduating, Bree Forbes was finally able to take some time away and enjoy her college days. That all changed in a blink of an eye the moment Bree came home for break. She didn’t expect to find her dad strapped to chair, a gun pointed at his head.

Alzerro “Zerro” King wasn’t a man to be messed with. Women flocked to him and men ran from him. He ruled the mafia with an iron fist and no one ever crossed him unless they wanted to pay the price. He believed the only way to pay for something, if unable to do so, was to do it in blood. Nothing got him harder than stringing someone up, and putting a bullet in their head.

That is until Bree.

One look is all it took for him to know she could pay for her father’s debt in many other ways… Ways that could get him hard.

Could a big city mafia king fall in love with the small town country girl? Would she be able to handle his dark and demanding ways? When push comes to shove, would Bree end up running only to be killed? Or would she sacrifice herself for love?


Series: A Kingpin Love Affair
Author: J L Beck
# of Books: 4 (Indebted, Inevitable, Invincible, Injustice)

There is a novella #4.5: Infringe

Book Order: Chronological (Indebted + Inevitable); Connected (Invincible + Injustice)
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Dark, Romance, Contemporary, Erotica, Mafia
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: November 2014 – August 2015
Source & Format: Own & Kindle Unlimited–eBook


PLEASE NOTE: This review is only for the first two novels of the series (Indebted & Inevitable). Find out why I didn’t read books 3 & 4 below.

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I found Indebted as a freebie on Amazon one day. On occasion, I enjoy a dark romance read–when they are done right. I had totally forgot about this book until I was cleaning up my Goodreads TBR and reread the synopsis: I was really intrigued.

I love stories where someone falls for the enemy or reluctantly falls in love with someone.

The Concept:

You know, I don’t read a lot of books dealing with the mafia. Crime stories yes, but most of them seem to be about motorcycle clubs nowadays. So in a way, it was refreshing to spend some time with the mafia setting.

The Plot:

The story here moves really fast thanks to the somewhat simple plot. And I don’t mean simple in a bad way. I liked how uncomplicated this story was because it gave more meaning to the secrets and twists when they did occur. It was great to just read about these characters as they went through the motions.

I will say that the plot was stronger in Indebted vs Inevitable. Indebted focuses more on the situation whereas Inevitable has slightly more romantic tone to it.

The Characters:

To be honest, neither lead really did it for me. While I understood the reasoning behinds Zerro’s personality, he wasn’t my ideal dark romance hero.

Bree was boring as well. Her emotions are all over the place–which is understandable when you start falling for a guy who essentially kidnapped you–but I just didn’t like her hot and cold approach to things. Her overreactions to certain things and not others bothered me a bit.

As for the rest of the characters–I think my lack of desire to read the next two books shows how much I didn’t really connect with the cast.

The Romance:

The romance here is one that gave me mixed feelings. I’m all for a good forbidden and dark romance but not when it borders on abusive like this one did.

There would be moments where I really liked these two together; then Zerro would have to “show his dominance” and it would just turn me off immediately. Their relationship isn’t healthy by any stretch of the imagination so if you don’t enjoy relationships that straddle the line between abusive and normal–stay away from this one!

Will I Finish It?:

I’m satisfied by the conclusion we get in Inevitable so I have no desire to continue on with the series. I’m impartial to the other leads and while I know they would be quick reads, I would rather spend that time on a series I’m more excited to read.

Series Rating: 3/5

Indebted 3.5/5 | Inevitable 3/5 | Invincible N/A | Injustice N/A


If you are a fan of darker romance and are looking for a quick read, this one might be worth picking up. However, if you want to try your hand at a darker romance–this isn’t the one to try to wet your tastebuds. There are definitely stronger titles out there.

Read if You Like: dark love, mafia, suspense romance
Avoid if You: dislike dark love, can’t read potentially abusive romances



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Series Review: Made Men by Sarah Brianne

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:


Synopsis for Nero (from Goodreads):
Nero is the king of Legacy Prep, living a life of power.
Elle is the school’s punching bag, living a life of fear.
The only good girls Nero knows jump in his bed when he tells them to.
The closest Elle has come to a bad boy like him is in the cafeteria line.
The mob boss gave him orders to find out what she knows.
Her mouth is sealed.

I just want to be a fu**ing made man.
I’m just a fu**ing waitress.


SERIESous’ Top Picks: Guilty Pleasure 2015
Series: Made Men
Author: Sarah Brianne
# of Books: 6 (Full Reading Order)
Book Order: Connected but Chronological Events
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult/New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Bad Boys, Dark
Heat Rating: really warm *spicy YA*
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: June 2014 – December 2018
Source & Format: Own–eBook


Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I don’t remember how I found this series. I think it was recommended to me by Kobo from my previous purchases OR I found them when I was buying other books. Regardless, the synopsis sounded intriguing. I love reading about player bad boys who get turned around by a girl they never expected and that’s what Nero looked like it was going to be given what I read.

Also, those covers! I’m not just talking about the attractive models, there is just something so visual striking about both of them. So I picked both Nero and Vincent up for under $5 and put them on my TBR.

The Concept:

I always really enjoy Mob/Mafia Family stories. While I’m normally not a fan of romantic suspense stories, I enjoy the complex nature of mafia-orientated stories. You have family loyalty tested and the perfect setup for forbidden love.

The mafia in this story is pretty stereotypical but that’s exactly what I expected. I also like how there is an ongoing plot regarding the family that links all the books together despite their focus on a different set of lead characters.

The Plot:

Hmmm…where to start…When I first started Nero, I almost put it down. You know when teenagers attempt to act like adults and it just makes everything a little awkward? That’s what the plot is in this story. I had to remind myself numerous times that these characters were 17 and in high school–not 24 and in college. Everything was really melodramatic and over the top. Some of the things Nero and his crew do blew my mind and had me shaking my head to make sure I was reading everything correctly. The plot in this series is definitely over the top…but the weird thing was that I kinda grew to like it.

Reading Nero reminded me of watching Secret Life of the American Teenager for the first time. You watch one episode to see what it is about and then you find yourself 5 episodes in because it is so cheesy and ridiculous you can’t wait to see what crazy stunt they are going to make the characters undergo next.

This series reads like a soap opera but with a lot of suggested violence and descriptive sex scenes. It really isn’t unlike anything you might see on your typical teen TV soap nowadays but everything was just taken to that little bit too far for me.

Basically, this series was so bad it was good–in a total guilty pleasure kind of way. I feel like if I hadn’t bought these books (thus feeling a compelling need to read and finish them), I would have DNF’d Nero and never picked up Vincent. And now that I am two books in, I feel the need to read Chloe when it comes out because I need to know what happens next…damn.

The Characters:

I like a confident guy but, as you can already guess, Nero was a little too much for me. He did have some really sweet moments but for the most part, I wasn’t a huge fan. He seemed too wish-washy in his personality (sometimes he would act like a teenager and other times he acted like a 40 Christian Grey) and that made it hard for me to get a solid grasp on his character. Elle was the same way. I liked her desire to protect her friend but I didn’t like her character development too much. In Vincent, I didn’t really care for either of the leads for the exact same reasons.

The girls in both Vincent and Nero really bothered me and I explain why in the Romance section.

The Romance:

This is where my mixed feelings about Nero come in. Near the end of the story, I really started to root for Elle and Nero. Like I said before, I have a soft spot for forbidden love and stories where the bad boy falls for the nice girl.

However, at the same time, their relationship really disturbed me. Again, part of the problem is their young age and how I felt like they were playing pretend adults throughout the story. I thought their relationship dynamic had its moments where it just wasn’t healthy. It really upset me how easily Elle fell into a submissive role and it worries me that young girls will read this and find Nero’s possessive and dominating attitude “sexy”. Some moments boarded on abusive, making it hard for me to love their relationship.

It was the exact same situation in Vincent, even if the heroine of that one did seem to be aware of the situation. And given the potential characters in Chloe, I know it is going to be the exact same. My hope is that people will read this romance and see that it is FICTION--not realistic or reflects romance in the real world.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Chloe is going to focus on a love triangle–normally a huge turn off for me and to be honest it still is here. However, I’m curious to see how it will play out. I’m not dying to get my hands on it, but I will consider picking it up if I come across it after its release and the price is reasonable.


–February 7, 2017–

I have opted not to continue with this series. I don’t even remember anything about the characters so I think now is a good time to let this series go.

Series Rating: DNF

Nero 2/5 | Vincent 2/5 | Chloe N/A | Lucca N/A | Angel N/A


If you like over-the-top, melodramatic books where teens try to be adults, you will really like this series! For me, it was just too much and I had a hard time taking it seriously. In the past, I’ve read a lot strong YA/NA series that have a similar tone but a better execution.

Read if You Like: melodramatic series, high school new adult
Avoid if You: dislike alpha males, dislike soap operas



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Single Sundays: Crossing Stars by Nicole Williams

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Crossing Stars (from Goodreads):

While the city of Chicago sleeps, a war wages in the streets between two powerful families. While the public assumes organized crime is nothing more than a chapter torn out of America’s history, the Costa and Moran families battle for territory and domination.

Caught up in the middle of this sinister world is Josette, the only child of Salvatore Costa, the ringleader and notorious godfather of Chicago’s Italian mafia. After the Irish Morans attempted to assassinate her when she was a child, Josette’s parents hid her behind the walls of their sprawling estate and kept her contact with outsiders to a minimum. But now Josette’s eighteen, and she’s questioning if a long life behind walls is worth trading for a potentially short one filled with excitement and adventure and all the things she’s only lived in her dreams.

On the night she decides to risk becoming just an anonymous face in the crowd, Josette realizes that death isn’t only a possibility—it’s a certainty. Yet when a young man comes to her rescue, the turbulent waters between life and death are further muddied.


SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Authors, Worst Standalone Reads 2014
Author: Nicole Williams
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Retelling
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: May 7, 2014
Source & Format: Own–eBook


Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I love Nicole Williams other works so when I read that her next standalone novel was going to be a modern retelling of Romeo and Juliet, I was excited and immediately put it at the top of my to-buy list. I loved the Romeo + Juliet movie with Leonardo DiCaprio all those years ago and Crossing Stars seemed like it was going to have that same edge to it with the two rival mafia families.

The Concept:

And for the most part it did have that interesting modern edge. The rivalry between the two families was well done and kept my attention. I also liked that this book wasn’t just a modern, word-for-word retelling of Romeo and Juliet. It did have its own plot events that weren’t necessarily parallel or occurred in Romeo and Juliet.

The Plot:

But that modern edge wasn’t enough to save this book. It really dragged in parts for me (the last two chapters were really fast-paced). Part of the problem was Josette. She was a dull heroine who couldn’t manage to capture my attention throughout the novel. Rylan was a bit more exciting to me but I think it was because he was more of a mystery to me because his POV is not given. I understand why it wasn’t but I wish it was because I think it would have made things more interesting.

The Romance:

I know Romeo and Juliet is the classic example of a love-at-first-sight story but I just had a hard time grasping it in this one. I think it was because Josette had just finished reading it and seemed to know that everything about it was crazy with her and Rylan but still did it anyway. It might have also helped to have Rylan featured more because he was missing for a good majority of the book. Perhaps that is the whole “romantic” part of the story but it’s not my cup of tea (even though I love Romeo and Juliet as a play).

My Rating: 2/5


This story just didn’t do it for me. I’ve read better Romeo and Juliet stories. It had a few interesting twists but nothing outstanding. If you read anything and everything about Romeo and Juliet OR insta-love stories, then you will probably want to read this. Otherwise, watch the 1996 movie instead.


  • Son of the Mob by Gordon Korman (Son of the Mob Series #1)


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