Damian Cavallo is at a crossroads.
He lives a life of crime, but it’s his life. He lives comfortably and does what he can to make the city of New York a better place. If that sometimes involves violence, so be it. He was ruthless because it was the only way he knew how to be. On his own since the death of his parents, he has known no other way…until a visit from Farrell Black changes things.
Nico Vitale, newly reinstated head of the syndicate, has noticed trouble brewing and has sent Farrell to enlist Damian’s help. Primo Fiore has gotten out of hand and is taking control. Some of the things he has been doing have gotten Nico’s attention: human trafficking, drugs and violence. Things have gotten out of hand.
At first, Damian is reluctant to accept help from Farrell and Nico, sure that he has things under control. However, the prospect of greater strength and having the backing of the mob is tempting. He is also offered control of the New York district of the mob, should he accept their offer.
Damian is willing to do a trial run through and, should he be able to take down Primo, Damian will consider their offer. There’s just one catch: Primo’s sister Aria Fiore. Damian already knows that he will do anything he can not to hurt her. What he isn’t counting on is his attraction to her…
Aria Fiore didn’t choose a life of crime. It chose her. After the death of her parents, Primo has taken care of her. If that meant that he turned to a life of crime to provide for her, she was okay with that as long as she turned a blind eye to the things he was doing. However, lately Primo has become mentally unstable and is being controlled by a man more ruthless than he is. She loves her brother but knows he’s heading for trouble.
When Damian visits Primo and gives him an offer to step aside, Primo refuses. Aria hears her brother planning an all-out war against Damian. Aria knows that the only way to save her brother is to go to Carvallo and let him know what is about to happen. She pleads with him to spare her brother as he’s the only family that she has left.
Neither of them are prepared for the attraction that blooms along their skin. When Aria’s life is put in danger, that attraction erupts into a full-fledged fire…
What I love most about Michelle’s writing are the characters. These are not your typical cardboard, cookie cutter characters that people romance novels. These are people of real flesh and blood that you grow to care for as you read. They have depth and heart and substance. There are some returning characters from earlier novels by St. James and it was like seeing old friends again.
What makes this novel so strong, though, is the love that builds slowly between Damian and Aria. Both of them are hurting and both are drifting in a sea of loneliness. They gather strength from each other and take courage from what begins to spark between them.
Make no mistake, St. James doesn’t shy away from the difficult storylines. She deals with physical abuse and neglect, the plight of orphans and looking for something better in this world; but she does it all with the skill and the depth I’ve come to love and appreciate from her work.
To say that I loved this book would be putting it mildly. I lived this book, right alongside Aria and Damian. The characters lit a fire under my skin and I can’t wait to find out what happens in book two of the New York Syndicate!