Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Review: Empire by Rachel Van Dyken

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 boil beneath the surface of a perfectly indifferent facade.
I am broken, I dont want to be fixed.
One last trip to New York, one last chance to redeem a lost part of the mafia family. 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.
The only issue is, the only way to fix, 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'll kill her myself.
My name is Sergio Abandanoto, 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.

5 of 5 Stars

First of all, if you have not read the other Eagle Elite books, stop reading this review.  It will contain spoilers from the previous books.  And second, get to one clicking!  Seriously, this series is one of the best!      

I was totally heartbroken at the end of Elude, how could Rachel do this to me??  She ALWAYS gives me the HEA.  I wanted to be mad at her and say that I didn't love the book.  But the reality was, Andi was supposed to die.  She was supposed to teach Sergio about love.  She served a wonderful purpose and without her, Sergio could not be the man he is today.  As devastating as Elude was, it was also beautiful and reminded us that life happens and is short.  We should live it to the fullest everyday.

Now, on to Empire.  I feel like we have been waiting for freaking ever for this book!  It is told from the POV of Frank, Sergio and Val.  I love that we get to hear from the elder of the Families and see what his emotions are as well.  I have always enjoyed his presence in the books and getting to hear his inner monologue was a true treat! 

Valentina is the daughter of the late Luca Nicolosi, mob boss.  But, she has no clue that the mafia even exists, much less that her life is getting ready to be thrown into a tailspin.  She is the polar opposite of Andi and while you want dislike her because she isn't Andi, you just can't.  She is too sweet, too good, and too wonderful of a character.  I really felt just as bad for her as I felt for Sergio.  She is thrown into a marriage with someone that is still mourning his late wife and is struggling with life in general.  

Sergio is quite possibly my new favorite mafia man.  His journey seems to be so much more deeper and I find myself more emotionally invested in him than I have been with anyone else.  It's as though I am struggling right along with him in his feelings for Val and the subsequent guilt and anger which accompanies them.  Yes he's made promises to Andi, but how do you keep moving forward when a huge hunk of your heart is still mourning.  When he first starts out he isn't ready to move beyond his love for her, and he doesn't understand how or even why he is drawn towards Val, so it's constantly a yo-yo effect from letting her in to completely shutting her out.  It's a truly heartbreaking struggle, yet is also so beautiful and written spectacularly.  

Even though Andi has passed away, there is no mistaking her presence in this book.  You can feel her in Sergio's actions, when he knows he is being a jerk.  You can feel her through the memories as Sergio is reliving them.  And her essence is and was without a doubt essential to the sequencing and timing  of events throughout this entire story.  In my mind it's clear, Andi's presence and influence are the breath and life of the words that make Empire such a beautiful story. 

As always, Rachel never fails as an author.  I can honestly say that I have NEVER read The End on any of her novels and thought, "I expected more."  It is always the exact opposite.  I always walk away craving the next installment and wondering how she can always execute an A+.  Now, how in the heck are we going to wait until 2017 for the next installment????  Gahhh!

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