St Martin’s Press, $7.99, ISBN 978-1-250-10407-6
Romantic Suspense, 2018
Rocco is the third entry into Sarah Castille’s Mafia dude romance series Ruin & Revenge, and the first few chapters almost have me convinced that the author may be on to something good here. Grace Mantini displays some self awareness and is conflicted over being the daughter of a ruthless gangster boss. Will this mean that she will feel morally conflicted over her impending boinking with the meanest, Mafia-est, dude-est dude with the dood, Rocco De Lucchi?
Oh please. The moment she meets him again, this story immediately tips over back into that abyss that contains all those badly written stories that exist solely to make readers writhe in orgasmic delight over the idea of being penetrated and impregnated by Mafia dudes, biker bros, MMA machomen, and other guys with generic tattoo sleeves who, for some reason, never actually behave like what they are said to be.
Here, Rocco ends up trying to protect her from Mafia stuff – of course – while she insists on poking her nose into his affairs while at the same time coming up with all kinds of justifications that he is somehow good inside. Whatever helps her sleep easier at night, I suppose. Her chief attraction to him seems to stem mostly from his looks, though, and the fact that he took her virginity when she was sixteen and he twenty-six. Hey, don’t judge. These are all Mafia guys… well, except that the author makes sure that Rocco isn’t anywhere as Mafia-y as all those bad and ruthless guys in the story. Sure, the author claims that Rocco is “cold”, “hard”, and what not, but in the end, I suspect that she’s just cheating and is actually referring to that hero’s erection. Or something.
The whole thing is as predictable as can be, and indeed, the “suspense” elements here are designed solely to remove any conflicts or threats standing in the way of Rocco and Grace having a happily ever after in a too-obvious manner. That and for sequel baits to show up and remind me that I’ve read the previous two books in the series too and I didn’t like them.
And come on now, who speaks like this?
“He wasn’t like how he is now. Some part of me knew he was suffering, although I didn’t know why, and I wanted to bring some joy into his life.”
The only way the author can get away with such stilted lines is if Grace were reading aloud a script while auditioning for some Hallmark movie. Since she isn’t, oops.
Rocco is all about missed opportunities. Instead of the heroine experiencing genuine conflict, she willingly sells her supposed morals and convictions away to resume bouncing away on the hero’s pogo stick. Instead of a man conflicted between his career choices and a life with the woman he loves, Rocco may very well be some undercover cop posing as a Mafia guy, given the lengths the author goes to make him “likable” in a contrived, fake manner. This one is a Mafia romance for readers who don’t want anything too much like the Mafia – just like how some readers want a sexy romance that isn’t too sexy, or a vampire romance where the hero doesn’t drink blood, I suppose.
At any rate, I’m done with this 100% artificial series that serves only as an excuse for the author to peddle Z-tier “alpha male” romances, so I’m off while these wannabe poseurs can all go sleep with the fish.