I figured out pretty quickly that my reading tastes don’t necessarily run to the typical mafia romance conceits, in which the suave, capable mob guy swoops in to save (in whatever capacity) the other main character. However, I was more than willing to take a chance on this subgenre in the hands of one of my favorite authors. So, while this story is pretty much exactly like that on a surface level, Lindsey’s excellent storytelling and how they twist the tropes makes this book a definite exception to the rules on multiple levels.
Alonso very much swoops in to save Poe in a literal sense, in a strange sort of not-meet-cute that had me instantly intrigued. The sparks between them in the immediate aftermath are definitely of the trauma bond variety and likely would never have developed if Alonso hadn’t stuck around to keep cleaning up a mess that Poe is inadvertently involved with. A bit of forced proximity comes into play instead, and Alonso’s attempt to be as real as possible with Poe while also keeping so many secrets means he reveals enough of his true character that the initial trauma-based attraction shifts to a more visceral connection. Ultimately, I had mixed feelings about this book being entirely from Poe’s perspective because it meant there was a lot I didn’t quite get about Alonso’s side of the equation and why he falls so hard and deep. At least Poe was aware of the many inequalities of the unexpected relationship that develops between them, and I both appreciated his attempts at hesitation and was willing to suspend any disbelief about him going all-in anyway. This would feel like a “fated mates” situation in a more fantasy-driven subgenre; instead, Lindsey does a wonderful job of showing that love at first sight can be as much a burden as a gift.
Half the mystery of this book is that Poe doesn’t know the full story of what’s going on, for various reasons. This book is set in the same world as another Lindsey trilogy I have read, but it easily stands alone, and I hope other familiar readers enjoy seeing glimpses of the other side of that story and some of its long-term effects as much as I did. They also include compelling secondary characters, both new and familiar, in this book that I look forward to seeing more of in their own well-deserved stories.
Disclaimer: I received a digital review copy of this book from the author.