Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Review: EMPIRE by Rachel Van Dyken

empire smash cover art

I have lost everything.

My purpose

My love

My soul

Death knocks on my door, I want to answer, but every time I reach for the handle -- the promise I made her brings me back.

So I breathe.

I live.

I hate.

And I allow the anger to oil beneath the surface of a perfectly indifferent facade. I am broken, I don't want to be fixed.

But the Empire is crumbling and it's my job to fix it.

My job to mend the pieces that were scattered over thirty years ago.

A trip to New York, only one chance to redeem a lost part of our mafia family.

The only issue is, the only way to fix it, is to do something I swore I'd never do again.

An arranged marriage.

Only this time.

I won't fall.

Or so help me God, I will kill her myself.

My name is Sergio Abandonoto, you think you know my pain, my suffering, my anger, my hate?

You have no idea.

I am the mafia.

I am the darkness.

Blood in. No out.

Did you fall in love with Sergio's story in ELUDE like I did? Then EMPIRE is an absolute must-read. Have you not read ELUDE yet? Then stop right here and go read it, because Sergio's story is amazing and heart-breaking and heart-healing and one of my favorites, and EMPIRE completes this amazing journey. 

The Elude/Empire combo is a remarkable journey. My heart broke alongside Sergio's in Elude. My heart grew and broke and I didn't know how it would be healed in Empire, but I had faith that it would. And healed it was! 

What can I say without giving it all away?

1.) Rachel Van Dyken writes one amazing journey of the heart. Do you believe in love and soulmates? Take this journey and see how beautiful Sergio's discovery of the depths of love is.

2.) Sergio will break your heart. But not just because he's mourning the loss of his wife. He'll break your heart because he is fighting against his heart. He's fighting himself, and I loved the honesty and emotion and rawness of the fight. Sergio will also make you mad, because he can be a real jerk. He broke my heart with his sadness, but he also broke my heart when he broke Val's heart. Sergio's journey wasn't always beautiful. It was ugly and hurtful and raw. But it was real and when that ugly healed, it was glorious. Watching him fight first against himself, then for himself, was captivating. And when he finally embraced his life, his love, his future, his heart. That was the most beautiful of all.

3.) Val was really captivating. I loved the dichotomy of her character. She was so young and innocent in the beginning, knowing nothing of the mafia or men or anything. She was completely compliant and kind and easy-going and genuine. Watching her grow into herself, embracing her life, being brave and bold but also standing firm in who she was, was refreshing. She wasn't a doormat, but she wasn't crazy and irrational. She was brave and vulnerable. She was accepting yet challenging. She was so different from Andi, and that was the most refreshing of all. And she was the perfect match for Sergio.

4.) Though gone in body, Andi was there in spirit, playing a truly fascinating role. A bit of a puppet-master you could say. The interweavings of the story were addicting. Though Andi was not the focal point - this was not her story - she did impact the story greatly, but not necessarily in the way you might think. This made things all the more fascinating.

5.) And let's not forget the rest of our Mafia family. I loved seeing everyone and their special roles and relationships. Phoenix continues to transform before our very eyes, and I'm so happy for him. The guys are hilarious, bringing awesome comic relief (the whiskey-drinking scene was classic). The guys also bring the truth, not letting Sergio get so caught up in himself. And the girls bring the love and the fun and the family. We also get an extra POV from a certain Mafia member, and I'm so glad we got to hear from him. And let's just say I can't wait for Dante's book.

EMPIRE was a journey of heartbreak and hope, hurt and healing, past and future, friendship and love, and ultimately peace and soulmates. I'm in love with Sergio's journey and with his and Val's story. It wasn't easy, but it was so very worth it. 



Get the beginning of Sergio's story in Elude

Twenty-Four hours before were were to be married--I offered to shoot her.

Ten hours before our wedding--I made a mockery of her dying wish.

Five hours before we were going to say our vows--I promised I'd never love her.

One hour before I said I do--I vowed I'd never shed a tear over her death.

But the minute we were pronounced man and wife--I knew.

I'd only use my gun to protect her.

I'd give my life for hers.

I'd cry.

And I would, most definitely, lose my heart, to a dying girl--a girl who by all accounts should have never been mine in the first place.

I always believed the mafia would be my end game--where I'd lose my heart, while it claimed my soul. I could have never imagined. It would be my redemption.

Or the beginning of something beautiful.

The beginning of her.

The end of us.

Rachel Van Dyken is the New York TimesWall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author of regency and contemporary romances. When she's not writing you can find her drinking coffee at Starbucks and plotting her next book while watching The Bachelor.

She keeps her home in Idaho with her Husband, adorable son, and two snoring boxers! She loves to hear from readers!

You can connect with her on Facebook www.facebook.com/rachelvandyken or join her fan group Rachel's New Rockin Readers. Her website is www.rachelvandykenauthor.com.


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