{ARC} Book Review: Sempre by J.M. Darhower

August 25, 2014 Review 0 ★★★★

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

{ARC} Book Review: Sempre by J.M. DarhowerSempre by J.M. Darhower
Series: Sempre #1
Published by Gallery Books on 2014 February 25
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 528
Format: E-book {ARC}
Source: Netgalley
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four-stars

THIS IS A STORY ABOUT SACRIFICE... DEATH... LOVE... FREEDOM. THIS IS A STORY ABOUT FOREVER.

Haven Antonelli and Carmine DeMarco grew up under vastly different circumstances. Haven, a second-generation slave, was isolated in the middle of the desert, her days full of hard work and terrifying abuse. Carmine, born into a wealthy Mafia family, lived a life of privilege and excess. Now, a twist of fate causes their worlds to collide. Entangled in a web of secrets and lies, they learn that while different on the surface, they have more in common than anyone would think. In a world full of chaos, where money and power rule, Haven and Carmine yearn to break free, but a string of events that began before either of them were born threatens to destroy them instead.

Murder and betrayal are a way of life, and nothing comes without a price-especially not freedom. But how much will they have to sacrifice? Can they escape their pasts? And, most of all, what does it mean to be free?

This is an overdue review, one of the leftovers of my ARC pile during my long hiatus.  And I must admit that I only forced myself to read it due to the fact that I should still fulfill my responsibility as a reviewer no matter how late my submission is.    I am very glad that I did because Sempre turned out to be a gem.  It was everything that I expected it to be when I sent in the request.

So I didn’t know that this book started to be as a Twilight FanFic until today and it somehow scared me.  I don’t think I can handle a repeat performance of Fifty Shades of Grey.  But OMG, this book was anything but Twilight.  The storyline alone was enough proof of that.  There’s modern day slavery here and violence… a lot of it.  With this said, I don’t think Sempre will be for everyone as it’s dark and messy.  I wouldn’t be surprised if some will DNF it even before they reach the second chapter.  But in my case, Sempre really connected with me in a lot of ways.

Where do I even begin? One of the primary reasons I requested this book is because of the synopsis.  Look at that.  It’s about the Mafia. And ever since I watched the Godfather, I developed this crazy fascination about the Mob.   The way they worked together, their hierarchy, the way they put the Mob first over their families are all interesting.  Sempre made me missed the Corleone family and how united they are despite the odds.  They are not good people…they’re despicable (beyond redemption maybe) but I admire how they protect their own.  The La Costa Nostra family in Sempre is also the same.  They’re f**** bastards with no hope of salvation….they murder, they rob, they enslave people… but when it comes to their women and children, the ruthless veneer comes off and you will find insecure, overemotional people who will do what it takes not to drag the former into the mess.  Oh, I am not saying that they should be forgiven… It’s just that there’s still good in there somewhere.

So aside from getting immersed into the Mafia way of life, another thing I liked about Sempre is the character development.  Obviously, because we’re talking about the Mafia here, there are so many characters to keep track of.  And as you know, a story with so many characters rarely succeeds in capturing the hearts of the readers.  But Sempre did not suffer that because the overall character development was awesome.  I am especially in awe with Vincent DeMarco, Corrado Moretti and of course, Carmine DeMarco—our male MC.  The latter could really curse well. What a broken…broken boy.  I do have an issue with our female lead, Haven Antonelli.  As I am writing this review, I still couldn’t figure whether to hate or love her.  For the most part, she maintained a passive stance, generally accepting of her life as a slave. And I don’t like it because I love feisty females. But I also reasoned out that making her the way she is was the most realistic course of action the author can take given the fact that she grew up as a slave.  Well, at least, I get to see her finally making decisions for herself and debating with male MC as we go deeper into the story.

The romance in Sempre was also remarkable.  I could not believe it either because the situation where our two main characters are in is quite doomed.  Add the fact that this book is New Adult which as you know is littered with crappy romance stories that are brimming with incessant sex and kissing.  But the romance in Sempre progressed nicely and the intimate moments were somewhat underplayed.  We get to see how our characters handled their relationship even though it was dangerous…even if the girl was a slave and the boy was the son of the slave’s master.  There will be a lot of people who will think that the relationship is going to be unhealthy but it wasn’t.  As a matter of fact, the relationship gradually turned them into better individuals.  They didn’t change overnight but you can see that they’re striving hard to be worthy of one another.

The plot was perfectly balanced.  There was romance and action that made me interested until the end.  Sensitive issues were also covered here.  Sempre’s story is not just about the cold-blooded killings, the cringe-worthy slavery, and the romance but it’s about rising above one’s baser nature… that even if our souls have been tainted with so much evil, we can still get up and start anew.

Overall, Sempre is a beautifully written story that took me on a wonderful journey… unexpected but definitely worth the 400+ pages.

 

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