Tuesday, May 31, 2016

#Review: Empire by Rachel Van Dyken - 5 Wine Glasses

25544961Title: Empire 
Series: Eagle Elite #7
Author: Rachel Van Dyken
Published: May 31st 2016
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Reviewer: Crystal
Source: Author/Review Group
Rating: 5 out of 5 Wine Glasses

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.

Crystal's Thoughts: 
Coming off the devastation of Elude, I had no idea what to expect next. Luckily for us, Rachel Van Dyken never disappoints! Empire was an edgy, sexy romance that pulled on every one of my heartstrings! *NOTE: Be sure to read the beginning of Sergio's story in Elude, before starting Empire.

Darkness and despair is all Sergio Abandanoto knows these last two months following the death of his wife, Andi. He's a shell of the man he was before and his heart is no longer whole. But despite that gripping loss, he must travel to New York where he is expected to marry another woman - for the Family. Determined to follow through with his promise, he vows to protect his young wife with his life, but he also vows that she will never have a piece of his tattered heart. 

Oh. My. Goodness. How to even put the emotionally eclipsing  entirety of Empire into just a few short paragraphs? Again, don't read this story until you have read the beginning of this touching saga, or you will miss half of the story - and what am amazing one it is. And with that, I will also say that is you haven't read Empire yet, then this review is sure to have a few spoilers for you.

Elude opens up with Sergio who is full of anger and heartache. He hasn't been able to move on from the loss of Andi, understandably since it has only been two months, and he still ives with the ghosts of the past. However, he is being forced into another arranged marriage for the good of the Family. And the Family is all he has left since he lost his heart, not to mention he made a promise to Andi to live. Yet the woman he is to marry is not what he expects. Val is young, naive to the ways of the world, and ignorant of her own family's affairs. In just two days she is inducted into the Family and married off to a stranger, her world turned upside down. The only thing that gives her hope for the future is mysterious letters containing a fairy-tale story of a beast. 

“Sergio Abandonato, my husband, was not living. He wasn’t even dead. He was a ghost. And only he could set himself free.”

Val was a delight to read. While Sergio is all darkness, Val is a bright, shining light. And while her naiveté was a bit disturbing at times, she was strong and adaptable. One would have to be.... living with a beast. Sergio and Val's journey will leave you feeling raw and exposed. There was so much sizzling tension between these two. At first, Sergio doesn't want to acknowledge Val as a real, living being. He won't even look at her as a whole because he wants absolutely no connection with her. To him, their marriage is a business arrangement only.  It will break your heart, Sergio's thoughts and actions. And not only because how they affect Val, but because how it tears Sergio up inside as well. He feels that his acceptance, his like, his attraction of Val, is a betrayal to Andi's memory.

Sergio is a broken man, but phrase by enticing phrase the author pieces him back together again through Val's love and acceptance...and a little help from Andi. There is so much deep emotion wrapped up in this story, along with gripping tension between both the main characters, and the rest of the Family, I loved every moment of it. Andi's last wish for Sergio, and her last act of love for him, was to give him an epic love story. And boy did she ever. 

“In her arms, I wasn’t a widower . I wasn’t mafia. I wasn’t anything but a guy; she made me feel that way, like nothing else mattered. It was cheesy. It was beautiful. It was like breathing for the first time.”

Is there enough of Sergio's heart left for Val to squeeze in? Will Sergio accept it even if there is? Or will his guilt and anger destroy any possibility of a second chance at love? 

Explosive, fast-pasted, and masterfully written. Rachel Van Dyken has weaved together an unforgettable tale in Empire, exactly what fans have come to expect from this talented author. The Eagle Elite series is an addictive ride that  you won't want to ever get off! If you haven't started the series yet, then I highly recommend that you do so ASAP, you won't be disappointed.

Suggested Reading Order:
Enchant (Eagle Elite, #0.5) - Amazon 
Elite (Eagle Elite, #1) - Amazon 
Enforce (Eagle Elite, #1.5) - Amazon 
Evoke (Eagle Elite, #1.6) - Short Story from Author
Elect (Eagle Elite, #2) - Review | Amazon 
Entice (Eagle Elite, #3) - Review | Amazon
Elicit (Eagle Elite, #4) - Review | Amazon 
Enamor (Eagle Elite, #4.5) - Short Story found in the back of Elicit
Ember (Eagle Elite, #5) - Review | Amazon 
Elude (Eagle Elite, #6) - Review | Amazon
Empire (Eagle Elite, #7) 

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