COVER REVEAL: Marauder

I spent the early days of my quarantine season curled up with Bella Di Corte’s first Gangster’s of New York book, Machiavellian, and I adored it.

Coming later this summer is the second book in this series: Marauder! It’s Cash’s turn to be in the spotlight and I’m so excited for this book. I mean, check out how gorgeous he is on the cover!

Available as of August 7th, I can’t wait for the story to continue and congratulate Bella on her success so far! You can learn more about Marauder below:

Synopsis:

He stole my heart out of revenge.

There was one thing I always thought was mine to give: my heart.

I never imagined a marauder would steal it out of vengeance—vengeance that had nothing to do with me. His greatest enemy happened to be the man in love with me, and somehow I became nothing but a pawn. I was no damsel in distress, though. More like an archer, ready to battle.

And my target? The marauder himself.

Cashel “Cash” Kelly.

Kelly might have been as gorgeous as he was ruthless, but he had no idea what I’d do to steal it back. Or better yet, get even.

She was determined to keep what was mine.

They say hearts can’t be stolen unless they’re willing to be. Tell that to the man everyone on the streets called “the marauder.”

Me.

Because by the time I was through, Keely Ryan’s heart would be mine. And my enemy’s? As good as broken. Trouble was, the archer was precise with her aim, and her arrow was pointed at my heart.

Marauder is the second of three books set in the savage world of the Gangsters of New York series. Each book can be read as a standalone, but they are all based in the same world.

RELEASE BLITZ: Machiavellian

Happy birthday, Mac!!

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Today is a big day for author Bella Di Corte, as she releases this incredible story to the world! Machiavellian is the first book in the Gangsters of New York trilogy and it is a book that will steal your heart with every chapter. Full of pain, love, and the importance of deep connections, Machiavellian is a story you won’t want to miss out on.

I was lucky enough to receive an advanced digital copy of this book so I could participate in the blog blitz for release day and I honestly didn’t think I would fall so deeply in love with it as I did. When it comes to romance novels, they are pure escapism for me and I grew up laughing at them before I started to appreciate the stories they were telling. My guilty pleasure, above all else, has always been mafia-based romance. I saw the word “mafia” and jumped right on being a part of this blitz, and wow am I so happy I did.

I’ve included a full description of the book at the bottom of this post, but the gist for this top-half review is this: Mariposa has been running away from pain her whole life, always just shy of absolute suffering on the rough streets of New York. Her trauma weighs heavily on her when it comes for asking for help, which means she doesn’t. But when things reach an absolute peak of unbearable, she ends up in the arms of Capo Machiavellio, a reclusive gazillionaire with more than intimidating connections to the dark underbelly of the city. As the two work circles around each other to get to the core of who they are and their connections to each other, there are other wolves on the prowl that threaten to take away all that they have and more.

When I first started reading this story, I went in with My Fair Lady vibes where a rich man takes a rag of a girl and makes her into something beautiful, but the story of Capo and Mari is so far from that. To break them down a little as people, Mari is the kind of take-no-shit woman who has been dealt hand after hand of shitty cards. She has fought for every last thing that she owns – even if she doesn’t own that much – and is determined to survive by the very skin of her fingernails. But despite all she has been through, Mari is not a cutthroat person. She is still kind herself, thinking of others before herself (to a fault in some cases), and still enjoying the little things in her life such as colouring her anxieties away in children’s colouring books. On the other side of the coin, we have Capo. Capo has literally been put through hell at the hands of his own family and it has made him hard, cruel, and vengeful. He is a rough man who had what he wanted torn from his hands and now he is demanding it back, no matter what it takes. However, Capo is not just a ruthless prick. There is warmth deep within him and he fights hard because he wants to protect those who have more warmth than he feels he is capable of himself. He walks a fine line in the jerk category, but is very good about not crossing it.

The way the relationship builds between Capo and Mari, and the way they tug each other back and forth, finding buttons that shouldn’t be pushed but pushing them anyway, is so wonderful. Written in dual first-person perspectives between the two of them lets us into their minds and allows us to see the reasons behind their actions, even the stupid actions. It’s a beautiful back and forth that stole my heart on several steamy occasions.

Ripe with intense mafia action that is edge-of-your-seat stressful, it’s funny that my favourite part of the book is a quiet moment. No spoilers, I promise. As Capo’s family in Italy slowly comes into the picture, we get to meet his grandfather. All of the moments with Nonno are so picturesque and in these current moments of unrest, made me cry. To make things personal for a moment, at this time I am unable to see my 98-year-old grandmother as visitors are not permitted in her retirement home (understandably so). The moments where Mari gets to talk with Nonno and connect with him, on top of the moments where Capo gets to be a little less hard with his grandfather… They both made me miss my grandmother so much while also reminded me to cherish every memory I have with her until I can see her again. In a book that gets pretty rough, pretty quick, the soft moments felt like home and I applaud Bella Di Corte for truly capturing these moments.

I could honestly go on and on and on forever about how I was touched by this book but then, I think, it would almost be shorter to read the book itself. I was honestly not expecting to love this book as much as I do and I’ve been dying to post this review for over a week now. The violence is just as real as the love and if you love mafia stories but are looking for something new and fresh, I implore you to buy this book. Let Capo steal your heart just as much as Mari does. And then send me an email so I can have more people to yell about it with, haha!

I know that Mac is only just on shelves today, but I’m already itching for book two. Let’s hear it for Gangsters of New York!


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Title: Machiavellian (Gangsters of New York, Book 1)
Author: Bella Di Corte
Genre: Mafia Romance
Release Date: May 8, 2020
Hosted by:
Buoni Amici Press, LLC.

Add on GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/51802347-machiavellian
Buy on Amazon:
https://amzn.to/2xZQHvd

Book Description:

Machiavellian is the first of three books set in the savage world of the Gangsters of New York series. 

I hungered to be seen.
There were three things I knew about Capo Macchiavello:
He was gorgeous.
He was reclusive.
He was considered one of New York’s most savage animals.
And he wanted me as his wife. A simple arrangement – you do for me, I do for you. Nothing owed, no expectations. Except for one: never leave.

 Life was never that simple, though. By the age of twenty-one, I was parentless, jobless, and homeless, and I had come to learn the hard way that nothing was ever free. Even kindness comes with strings.

Capo might’ve been the only man to ever see me, but I had made a vow to myself: I would never owe anyone anything. Most of all, the man I called boss.

 I killed to stay hidden.

Mariposa Flores thought she owed nothing to no one, but she owed everything…to me, the ghost the world had once called The Machiavellian Prince of New York. 

About the Author: 

Bella Di Corte has been writing romance for seven years, even longer if you count the stories in her head that were never written down, but she didn’t realize how much she enjoyed writing alphas until recently. Tough guys who walk the line between irredeemable and savable, and the strong women who force them to feel, inspire her to keep putting words to the page.

Apart from writing, Bella loves to spend time with her husband, daughter, and family. She also loves to read, listen to music, cook meals that were passed down to her, and take photographs. She mostly takes pictures of her family (when they let her) and her three crazy dogs.  

Bella grew up in New Orleans, a place she considers a creative playground.

She loves to connect with readers, so don’t hesitate to email her at belladicorte@gmail.com if you’d like to reach out. 

You can also find her:

At Home: http://belladicorte.com
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BellaDiCorteAuthor
On Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/belladicorte
VIP Access: https://www.facebook.com/groups/BellaDiCortesRoseRoom

Follow:
On Spotify: https://spoti.fi/2UsKj89
On Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/belladicorte/
On Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B085949YN9
On Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/belladicorte
On BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/bella-di-corte

REVIEW: The Bromance Book Club

From the moment I saw the title, I knew this was a romance novel that I needed in my life. The title? Flawless. The concept? Hysterical. The cover? Gorgeous. From top to bottom I wanted this book so badly, which meant I went into it with ridiculously high expectations. Especially with the opinions of friends and it being a BaeCrate selection, Lyssa Kay Adams – a new to me author – had a lot to live up to.

So after devouring it in a week was it everything I hoped and dreamed of? Absolutely.

For those unfamiliar with the book, The Bromance Book Club follows Gavin and his wife Thea after they struggle to hold their marriage together after a large fight. Gavin feels horrible about his behaviour and wants to do everything and anything he can to keep Thea and their daughters in his life, but Thea is seeing the fight as a line in the sand and wants a divorce. When Gavin’s teammates hear how bad things are, the pull him into their secret book club, using romance novels to teach him how to not be a dick and think about what Thea wants.

The book is written in third person but still jumps between what’s going on in Gavin’s head and what’s going on in Thea’s head. It’s a quick read because of how it sucks you in, making you laugh while also pulling at your heart when things get rough. It’s not a tear-jerker but it does get real about how our parents’ relationships can cause long lasting trauma that affect our own. Of course then it’ll turn right around with a shenanigan or two that will have you laughing your head off.

This was the kind of romance novel I live for and I’m so excited about book two. Given how much I loved everyone (seriously, every last character is wonderfully written and feels so alive) I can’t wait to read about them again!


Did you know I’m also a BaeCrate rep? April boxes are on sale now and you can get a 5% discount if you use the code Lucien5 at check out!

#countdowntodarkdawn: Godsgrave

Throughout August, I did my best to keep up with the #countdowntodarkdawn event hosted Instagram’s @sammaybereading, @grumplstiltskin, and @amandasnoseinabook. After the weight of the density of Nevernight, I felt a little intimidated by Godsgrave but after a month and a half I finally got through it (with a little help from the audiobook).

Godsgrave picks up a few months after the ending of Nevernight, but does get into it rather quickly. After learning what she’s really up to, Mia teams up with the traitor, Ashlinn, and the two formulate a plan to help further Mia’s want for revenge against Duomo and Scaeva. The plan? To sell herself into slavery in order to fight in a gladiator-style death match known as the Venatus Magni and kill the pair when they declare her the winner.

If y’all thought the first book was not meant to be in the YA section, then this one definitely should never be considered YA. In the most delicious way possible, this book was violent, graphic, and smutty. I loved the way all of it tied together in the most devastating and gruesome ways, showing sex as another kind of chess game in this world of master players. Topping it all off with some of the most wild reveals I’ve ever read, this book had me cheering one moment, and cussing it out the next. Especially towards the end.

Again, this was a rather dense read, so listening to the audiobook in small doses was a big help in getting through it but that doesn’t make me enjoy it any less. I loved the tidbits of more information we get about the darkin even if it’s the most vague nonsense you’ve ever been given. Eclipse and Mr. Kindly were scene stealers amidst the chaos of Mia’s slave life and their little interlude brings up so many questions! I’m like Oliver Twist standing before Jay Kristoff begging for more and knowing full well he’s not going it give more over (and I’m not even mad about it).

I didn’t throw this book across the room once I finished it but that had more to do with not wanting to chuck my phone across the room. While I do need a break before reading Darkdawn, I’m itching to get my FaeCrate hangover kit for it so I can see if I get any of the answers I’m looking for thanks to Godsgrave.

Damn you, Mr. Kristoff.

We love you so much.

REVIEW: Red Rising

During July, I tried my best to participate in the FaeCrate #bloodydamnfae Red Rising read-a-long, but sadly was too caught up in other things to finish it on time.

BUT I FINISHED IT NOW AND BLOODYDAMN HELL WHAT

HOW DID IT TAKE ME THIS LONG TO GET INTO THIS SERIES?!

The story follows Darrow, one of the best miners in his colony beneath the surface of Mars. After his wife, Eo, is martyred, Darrow has a choice to give up or fight for what the girl died in hopes of. Darrow is then thrust into a world he isn’t entirely prepared for, fighting fights without rules against those who were ready for all of it.

Immediately, I was hypnotized but Darrow’s distinct narrative style that Pierce Brown brings. There’s a harshness, a bluntness, there that shows the jagged edge of a young man that Darrow has while also melting it all away when he talks about love and family. Darrow is so observant and self-disciplined and it’s incredibly unique. Considering how aggressive and full of rage he is as a character, Darrow is the kind of alpha male that doesn’t suffer from the nonsense that is toxic masculinity.

Thinking of toxic masculinity, Red Rising is such a great example of not only classism and nepotism, but also of privilege in general and how that plays a factor in the toxic behaviour of some of the male characters. For some minor spoiler alerts, as the plot gets into something of a Lord of the Flies situation, the rougher boys turn to horrible acts of mutilation, slave driving, and sexual assault of the girls who are weaker than them. Darrow and a few of the others oppose these actions right away, but the way Darrow earns over the trust of the rest is a thing of beauty. Even as he consults with victims of abuse later in the book, it’s a true look at how victims should be treated.

I’m honestly at a loss for words over this one.

It did get a little slow in the middle while Darrow was in his transformation, this 400 page paperback is such an intense read it goes by in a blink. I love the characters, I love the world, and I want more as soon as humanly possible.

Bloodydamn brilliant.

The Assassin & The Empire

I don’t have a review for this one, or much of a synopsis. Although anyone who started the series prior to reading the novellas will know what happens. As I felt it would be after reading the previous novella, The Assassin and the Empire is about how Sam died and Celaena ended up in Endovier.

I had to DNF this one.

Having heard time and time again about Sam being killed in the main books, I just couldn’t bring myself to care about the details in this novella. I didn’t care that Arobynn was a dick, because we already knew that, and I didn’t care about how it broke Celaena.

Having really liked the previous novella, I was hoping for more, but I’m sad to say I was disappointed in how bored I was with this final one. Perhaps if I’d read the novellas before the actual books I would have gotten more out of it, but instead I found it repetitive.


Today’s photo prompt was ROYALTY but I forgot my crown is in storage (oops!) so here’s a beautiful dagger. Be sure to tag me on Instagram at @lucieninthestars and use the hashtag #TWOTOGCountdown so I can see all of you’re beautiful photos!

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And finally, be sure to check out the wonderful A.K. Lee over on her site! There would be no read-a-long without her support and she’s an incredible author and friend. 

The Assassin & The Underworld

In the fourth novella, The Assassin and the Underworld, we see Celaena put in a rough position as she needs to decide what she truly wants while also trying to break free of Arobynn’s hold on her. Faced with the slave trade once again, Celaena and Sam team up once more to see if they can solve her problems together.

I really enjoyed this one! We finally got to see Sam as more than just an annoying brat like Celaena which made me really like him because it made me see him as more than someone equally as annoying as Chaol. Plus the way his feelings and Celaena’s came out felt a lot more natural than the majority of the other flirtations Celaena has had.

Although thinking of Chaol, I legitimately squealed with joy when he and Dorian so obviously showed up at the party. The way Dorian and Celaena flirted was beautiful and – as much as I’ve come to love Rowan – I’m still sad that they aren’t together in the current timeline of the story.

Honestly, the only thing that made me uncomfortable in this story is how SJM conveys the consorts. The way these girls idolize having their virginity auctioned off and have no issue with old men falling over them makes my skin crawl. There’s nothing wrong with sex work, but in the YA context of the story and the way something so dangerous is held to such a high position feels wrong. But maybe that’s just me. Regardless, an aspect of this that I did like was that is accentuated how gross Arobynn is so that’s a plus because he’s gross. 

We have one more story left which I get the feeling will end up being about when Sam is killed and Celaena gets shipped off to Endovier. I hope I’m wrong because I honestly feel that that point in her life is brought up so often that to include it seems redundant. But we shall see.

In the meantime, The Assassin and the Underworld gets 5 out of 5 for me because the parts that made me uncomfortable were seriously outweighed and overshadowed by the cameo from Dorian.


Today’s photo prompt was DEATH. Be sure to tag me on Instagram at @lucieninthestars and use the hashtag #TWOTOGCountdown so I can see all of you’re beautiful photos!

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The next prompt is ROYALTY as we move into the final story, The Assassin and the Empire!


Also just want to say thank you to those who are following along for being patient with me this week! I’ve been trying really hard to stay on the schedule I made for myself but as I said on Twitter, life just gets in the way sometimes.

And finally, be sure to check out the wonderful A.K. Lee over on her site! There would be no read-a-long without her support and she’s an incredible author and friend. 

The Assassin & The Desert

The Assassin and the Desert follows Celaena on her trek through the desert to meet with the Mute Master and gain his approval or be disowned by Arobynn back in Rifthold. Put in close quarters with strangers for the first time in a long time, Celaena needs to learn what she really wants.

This story started out long and boring, Celaena being spoiled and full of complaints as usual. However, it picked up as Celaena got more and more comfortable with Ansel and Mikhail and even Ilias. This one was a story about patience, and what loss and pain can do to a person. It showed Celaena being given a real choice at how she chose to live her life as she was faced with Ancel, a girl who faced the same fate Celaena had as a child, and what that violence did to her. It made Celaena feel more human to me which is something that I’ve found rather laking in her character.

The only downside I found in this story was Celaena realizing she loves Sam after Ilias tries to kiss her. Maybe it’s just me but the romance plots are not great in this series. Things are getting better in the central plot now that Rowan is around, but still. There’s a lot to be desired there. I do look forward to the next story, and I hope we get to know what happened to Sam after Celaena got beaten (if only so she’ll stop moping about it) and give him a chance to be a person I can care about.

Overall, four and a half out of five!


Today’s photo prompt was VAST. Be sure to tag me on Instagram at @lucieninthestars and use the hashtag #TWOTOGCountdown so I can see all of you’re beautiful photos!

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The next prompt is DEATH as we move into the third story The Assassin and the Underworld!

The Assassin & The Healer

The story of The Assassin and the Healer is set almost immediately after The Assassin and the Pirate Lord. After having returned to Arobynn and revealed that she freed 200 slaves, a beaten and bruised Celaena has been banished to train with The Mute Master in the Red Desert. On her way there, she stops in a hellish hovel of a town called Innish where she meets an interesting young healer.

I liked this story a lot more than the previous one. Sure, Celaena is still miserable so there is nothing new in that regard, but Yrene Towers is a darling. I liked her character and her sense of doing what’s right even if she isn’t happy with the outcome of her life so far. I especially enjoyed Celaena taking time to teach the other girl how to defend herself around the aggressive drunks and hooligans of Innish so she knows how to get out of trouble should someone attack her.

I honestly don’t think Celaena has enough female friends, and the lack of a lot of female characters in general is disappointing, so I really liked this story showing two gals being pals, even if it was just brief.

I give this one four out of five stars.


Today’s photo prompt was FIRST AID. Be sure to tag me on Instagram at @lucieninthestars and use the hashtag #TWOTOGCountdown so I can see all of you’re beautiful photos!

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The next prompt is VAST as we move into the third story The Assassin and the Desert!

The Assassin & The Pirate Lord

The story of The Assassin and the Pirate Lord follows Celaena and her companion, Sam, in a moment set before the series begins. Sent away after the death of some of Arobynn’s best, Celaena and Sam are charged with doing business with Pirate Lord, Captain Rolfe, and end up in a situation neither of them particularly likes… The slave trade.

While I enjoyed the story and it’s nice to see that even when she was being ruthless, Celaena cared for people in need, I was annoyed with a lot of it too. Celaena feels spoiled and brattish in this story and her rivalry with Sam feels unnecessary to her character as she literally fights with every boy she’s ever met in the same way. She picked fights like this with Chaol, with Rowan, and also was constantly calling Dorian out for things. It feels boring and repetitive to be entirely honest.

I want to like Sam, knowing how much he comes to mean to Celaena, but as of right now, he’s honestly falling flatter than Chaol. Which is saying a lot coming from me… I hope I get to learn a little bit more about him in the next story so I can care more.

Overall I give this a 3 out of 5. I dig pirates and while she annoyed me, it was nice to see Celaena actually doing things instead of complaining about the things she needed to do (like how she was in Heir of Fire).


Today’s photo prompt was PIRATES so I went to the local boating club and grabbed a few shots of the boats down there. Be sure to tag me on Instagram at @lucieninthestars and use the hashtag #TWOTOGCountdown so I can see all of you’re beautiful photos!

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Tomorrow’s prompt is FIRST AID as we move into the next story The Assassin and the Healer!