Monday, February 23, 2015

RELEASE/REVIEW: By Any Other Name by J.M. Darhower

Book 1 of the Forbidden series
Deep in the heart of New York City, where murder and mayhem reign, love sometimes grows where it doesn't belong, and not everyone can walk away unscathed. What do you do when you find yourself falling for the enemy?

~Book Review~
4.5 Stars
By Any Other Name is a story of New York mob families, most specifically the Galantes and the Barasantis, who become involved in a mob war where outside their own territories neither family is safe. But Genevieve (Genna) and Matteo (Matty-B) have lived largely on the outskirts of that crime life, not engaged in the family business until Matty returns to town to be near his ailing mother, and Genna’s mischievous girl nature lands her in the court system. A chance meeting puts them in each other’s orbit, their true identities initially unknown.

This is a sweet, sexy, and dangerous forbidden love story. Genna and Matty are meant to be enemies but what they feel for each other is far different. Both characters are likeable: Genna exhibits some “bad girl” spunk and though she fears her father’s wrath, she also isn’t afraid to push boundaries. Matty is kind-of the prince of the crime world. He really doesn’t care about it and thus walks to the beat of his own drum as much as possible. I liked how Matty had confidence, but as the story progressed we also saw his vulnerability. All-in-all they make a cute couple (I loved their billiard wagers), and there’s some real chemistry here. 
“‘I want your panties…In your mouth…Gagging you…As I f*ck you from behind.’”  
The theme of identity, looking beyond a person’s name or image and seeing their true self, is an important one and sadly one that the younger generation of these families can see but their fathers are too blinded by their hatred and revenge to understand.

I appreciated that the story avoids some pitfalls that some contemporary romances embrace when a couple has to go against the odds. There isn’t any unnecessary misunderstandings between them, they remain monogamous to each other, and face their uphill relationship battle together. 
“‘I risk coming here because one of us has to take that risk. One of us has to be willing to take the chance.’”
The story is engaging and I give the author a lot of credit for that as told via 3rd person narration, I often have a difficult time getting into 3rd person stories and while I did crave Matty and Genna’s inner thoughts at times, I still enjoyed the tale.

The prologue and epilogue brings the story full circle, making it somehow feel complete for certain characters and yet at the same time leaves you craving much more for others.

"A Roman Coke," Genna mused. "What's that?"
"It's rum and Coke. We just call it a Roman Coke around here."
"Because you're Italian?"
"And because when you get drunk enough, it all just slurs together anyway."
"Ah." Genna picked hers up, motioning toward him with it. "So what are we drinking to?"
He nodded. "Right now, this moment. Let's drink to it."
Smiling, she clinked her glass with his. "Today, then."
They threw them back at the same time. The liquor hit Genna's taste buds and she grimaced, the vicious burn seeping down her throat and settling deep in her chest. "Ugh, is there even any Coke in this damn thing?"
Matty laughed, setting his empty glass down. "Just a splash."
"I couldn't tell."
"That's because I prefer it that way," he responded. "Strong and rough, enough to leave a lingering ache. I like it to hurt just a bit."
Oh good God. Those words sent a chill down Genna's spine, one she couldn't hide, as Matty waved for the waitress. Eyes never leaving Genna, he ordered another round of drinks.
"Another?" she asked, picking up the water to take another sip, this one to soothe the sting in her chest. "You said one drink."
A sly smile curved his lips. "I like to keep them coming."
"Is that right?"
"Absolutely." Matty stood, leaning across the table, his lips near her ear. "Maybe you'll let me show you later."

J.M. Darhower is a USA Today bestselling author, best known for her Mafia romantic suspense novels. She lives in a tiny town in rural North Carolina, where she churns out more words than will ever see the light of day. She has a deep passion for politics and speaking out against human trafficking, and when she isn't busy writing (or being a fangirl) she's usually ranting about those things.

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