WHAT I’VE READ – “The Family” Series by @SamCrescent
“THE FAMILY” series by Sam Crescent
Once you’re part of The Family there’s no getting out!
After Paige’s father disappeared without a trace she never expected her mother to find another family, but she does. Paige’s world is turned upside down when she discovers Donnie Martinez is her brand new stepbrother. He’s dangerous, vicious—and Paige realizes the rumors about Donnie and his family are true. Her new stepfamily is part of the mafia. Paige doesn’t intend to stick around to get mixed up in those problems. The moment she can, she’ll be gone.
Ordered by The Family, Donnie has to get close to Paige in order to find out what she knows about her father’s disappearance. But he finds Paige herself to be worth more than her information. He doesn’t want her to end up dead, but on the day of her eighteenth birthday, there is only one way to save her.
Indebted to Donnie, Paige has no choice but to do as he says. She must marry him in order to stay alive. But how can she be with a man who has taken lives for The Family? Is there any way out for all of them? Is it possible for Paige to love a monster? Can Donnie overcome a lifetime of training to discover love?
** Paige has a secret. Her Dad gave her a bank card and a code and told her to keep it secret… and then he disappeared. Her Mom decides to move in with Donnie’s Dad, one of the heads of the Family, moving up from being his housecleaner to his Stepford wife. Donnie is supposed to get close to Paige in order to find out if she knows anything about what her father hid – but she has absolutely no desire to get close to him. Yup, it’s a stepbrother trope with a mafiosa background – and when Donnie’s father plans to trade off Paige on her 18th birthday, Donnie steps up and says he is going to marry her in order to save her from another abusive man. I’d probably be a lot more comfortable with this story if they weren’t in high school. Just sayin’. But no v-cards are punched until after the 18th birthday, and thankfully the sex is kept towards the latter half of the story. Interesting concept but I like to pretend it was college age kids. (Just showing my age!)
There is an uprising within The Family. They do not like young men taking over, and it’s up to Tonio, Donnie, Luiz, and Jake to take out the problems. But Tonio can’t pay proper attention to his new duties because his memories haunt him. He grew up in The Family with a secret he hasn’t even told his friends. His father would beat and torture him if he didn’t go down to the basement, and what Tonio had to do there turned him into a monster.
Zara is trapped. Her father died and left her with a debt she can’t pay, and she hates her life. When Tonio saves her from being raped and killed, Zara knows she has to help him. No matter how hard he tries, Tonio can’t keep the infuriating little virgin from getting under his skin—but he won’t give in to his feelings for her. Tonio thought he loved a woman once, but it turned out to be a lie, and he’ll never trust himself again.
However, what will happen when he does fall for her? Will Zara stay with the man who saved her, or will she run when she sees the monster lurking within?
** The new heads of the Family are trying to clean it up and protect the Family’s women, but the old school guys aren’t willing to give up their easy lives of using and abusing. Unfortunately, Zara gets caught up in this struggle when the Family tries to call in a debt with her as the payment. Tonio, who lost the girl he felt was the love of his life to an abusive husband, jumps to the rescue. Some themes repeat such as parents sacrificing their children to save themselves, and young blood striving for change, and the other friends / couples stories continue to weave in and out. Not sure how believable I find the concept of four barely 20 year old kids taking over a mafia family, but please be aware that there are some really dark concepts in this story regarding Tonio being used for entertainment purposes and was taped by his father doing morally reprehensible things. Buyer beware… but it also makes it much more enjoyable when he finds his HEA with Zara!
Luiz has a secret. Seven years ago he got a girl pregnant, and they had a beautiful baby girl together. But his father sent men to kill Luiz’s only tie to anything outside The Family. Too late to save his baby’s mother, Luiz got there just in time to save his daughter, Christie, and her fifteen year old aunt, Raine. Putting Raine and Christie in the protection of a guy he trusted, Luiz knew he had to keep them safe. No one else knows they exist.
Raine has put her life on hold to help protect her niece. In seven years, she hasn’t gotten close to anyone, but with Christie growing older, Raine needs more.
Luiz never expected to be jealous, but he doesn’t want Raine giving any guy the time of day. He wants her for himself, and that is the way it’s going to stay.
When his girls are attacked, Luiz knows it’s time to let his secret out. Will his friends accept his family? Luiz can’t let Raine go. He loves her. Seven years he’s been running and hiding, and the time to stop is now.
But there is still the attack on his girls to deal with, ordered by a mysterious figure from the past. Does he even have time for love? Nothing is ever simple in the mafia, or in The Family.
** In a way I found this to be the weakest of the three, as it seemed unlikely that Luis would have been able to keep visits secret from friends AND enemies, or that he would continue to think he was protecting Raine and his daughter by keeping them away from him, rather than protected within his own walls. After watching his sister be abused by her husband it just seemed weak to think that he was protecting them to keep them away. I never quite wrapped my head around that. This book opens five years after the overhaul of the Family, but I think it was also a bit more honest about their age because it showed that they hadn’t quite (maturely) grasped the reality of taking over the Family. Oh well – I look at this book as the equivalent of a relay race, where you’d put your weakest athlete in the 3rd position, figuring that the final athlete will catch up any slack. Guess that will be Jake, and I have to admit – I’m really waiting for his story because as the son of a soldier, and always putting himself into a bodyguard role, it will be interesting to see how, or if, he grows into his position in the Family and life with Emily!