CBR14Bingo – Minds: Because the dude’s a freaking psychopath (I KNOW) and one of the main ways he initially interacts with Posy is through playing games, mainly chess
Look, I don’t read mafia romance. It’s just not my cup of tea. So the only reason I picked this up was because I needed something for the “mafia” square on the Ripped Bodice Summer Bingo. I fully expected this to be a joyless slog, but instead I found an absolutely captivating romance between a psychopath and a disgraced mafia princess with serious daddy issues.
“I always thought falling for the wrong man would be my downfall—like it was for my mom.
Maybe it’s worse if the wrong man falls for you.”
Dario is a stock trading whiz, the one responsible for making the family buckets of money. He likes playing the stock market game and he likes playing games with his girlfriend Posy almost as much. Chess, cribbage, Risk, monopoly, he’s fascinated by how her brain works. But when one someone else in the family leaks a sex tape of Posy with another man, he throws her out. Posy’s smart – she knows her best chance of survival is getting far, far away from Dario and the capo, who surely wants to cut off any loose strings. Being a mafia princess is all she’s known, at least until her uncle was caught skimming from the family and her family was exiled. She thought she’d finally found the man who’d take care of her and bring her back to the family’s good graces, but obviously she was wrong. But when she finds out that Dario is looking for her… well, she can’t help but play games with him one more time.
I am complete morality chain trash and this pushes that button so well. Dario is a self-proclaimed psychopath and yeah, his point of view was at times very unsettling to read. He doesn’t understand why Posy is so intriguing to him, why she’s his only person that he seems to care about. Every action he takes is to show Posy that she’s his, whether she likes it or not, and he’ll do anything to keep her safe. It was fascinating watching someone who doesn’t feel any emotions (besides anger) try to puzzle out how to make Posy happy.
“I like this game. I like playing with him. There’s something wrong with me, but my mess fits perfectly against the jagged piece that’s missing from him. I’m needy, he’s heartless, and by some magical alchemy, this—this creature we become together—solves us both.”
And Posy, oof, she’s a mess. She’s had a rough time of it, and there were several moments where all I could think was “girl, you need some SERIOUS therapy.” She’s had a rough life and frankly going from being a waitress to Dario’s kept mafia princess was a dream come true for her. But now that she sees how Dario truly is, she sees how empty that fantasy really was. Watching her come to grips with some hard truths about herself was heartbreaking and her lack of self-worth was frustrating to read, but watching her figure out the real (psychopath) Dario was so enjoyable. By the end of the book, I think she’d realized her own strength, and while I still think she needs a ton of therapy (still dating a psychopath!) I really felt like she’d come into her own.
Overall, four highly confused stars. I have absolutely no idea how Cate C. Wells takes tropes and situations I usually hate and makes them compulsive reading, but I am here for it.