Romero came into my life when I was thirteen and taught me how to fight. To stand up for myself. He helped me survive. But his promise to protect me and my mother washed down the drain the night she died. I was sixteen. He let me leave, and then he didn’t call. Didn’t even try to make sure I hadn’t died in some seedy hotel. That was just how I wanted it. Until two years later, when my meager earnings at a failing shoe store couldn’t cover all my expenses and sleeping in a broken down car wouldn’t last. It only took one phone call—hearing his voice again—for all my walls to come crumbling down. The first night back under his roof, I stumble into his private den to ask for money, inadvertently interrupting him and his ridiculously gorgeous, wealthy friends playing poker. That's when his friends start to bid on me. On my virginity. They're all dangerous—I can feel it—but not even I know just how dangerous until it's too late. Even though Romero tries to stop me, I can’t help but consider giving my body up for money. Except the way he looks at me makes me think he's the one that wants to take what I'm offering.
Romera is Julietta's stepfather but they only know each other a couple of short years before her mother is found dead of a drug overdose. Soon after Julietta runs away from her stepfather and tries to make it on her own, only to finally give up and call to ask if she can come back home while she goes to college.
He agrees and we get our first real interaction between them. Let me tell you, I didn't like him. Something felt off. But there was nothing overtly weird about him other than the fact that he was a little bossy. But then he tells Julietta to stay in her room and not come down to the basement while his friends are over playing cards. Again, something felt weird, so when she just has to talk to him about something that could have waited until morning, she is met with a mad Romero and several lethal looking guys who after finding out she needs money for a car, offer to give her the money if she does something a little bit sexual and a little bit taboo. Romero is livid and tells her several times to go back upstairs but doesn't actually get up and make her go upstairs. He could have easily just gone upstairs with her and talked to her for a minute to stop what happened next but instead, he does nothing. That was red flag number 1.
Julietta is just barely 18 years old and Romero is 20 years older than her. I found him just about as sleezy as the guys he was with at the table playing cards. But Julietta is dumb, in my opinion she is one of those characters I would call TSTL (Too Stupid To Live) and I hated her character for her overt stupidity that she shows over and over again. Red flag number 2 is that Romero turns out to be a Mafia Don and he should have known that getting close to Julietta would put her in danger because it did. But Julietta shows her stupidity once again by running away right after they all find themselves in danger. At least stay with the people who can protect you, ya know?
Red flag number 3 was when we find out later how Romero knew Julietta's mother, how they first met. Good grief, can this guy get any worst? He did not illicit any type of romantic feelings for me because I just wanted her to get away from him and have a real, safe life.
Now while this isn't my usual type of read, I've read other mafia romances and liked them but this one just made me feel dirty for even reading it. The only saving grace for this book is the writing was done well, the storyline and action scenes were great. I would read a different book by this author but not another book in this series.
I give this book 2 out of 5 stars.