Series: The Chicago War #1-4
Release Date: August 8, 2016
Genre: Erotic Romance, Mafia/Mob/Cartel, Romantic Suspense
More Info: Goodreads
Purchase: Amazon US
Purchase: Amazon UK
Purchase: Amazon CA
Purchase: Amazon AU
Purchase: Amazon Print
The war began with the death of one person and would end with the killing of many more. Four families paint Chicago red as greed, hatred, secrets, and loyalties divide them to opposite ends of the city.
But in the midst of the fighting and bloodshed, there are those who struggle between love and famiglia.
They are the most dangerous of all.
They have everything to lose.
And no one will see them coming.
Chicago War: The Complete Series features the full-length novels, Deathless & Divided, Reckless & Ruined, Scarless & Sacred, and Breathless & Bloodstained.
Lies and love. This is how a war starts.
A life for a life. That’s the mafia way. Damian Rossi owes his life to a man who is ready to collect. That payment comes in the form of an arranged marriage to the daughter of another leading family in the Chicago Outfit. He’s ready to follow through, even if that means making sure Lily knows she’s his.
Lily DeLuca isn’t being given a choice. Forced home to marry a man she doesn’t know and back into a life she’d rather forget, her world is full of half-truths, buried pain, and uncertainty. But Damian is nothing like she expects. His motives aren’t clear. Her beliefs are being tested.
When it comes to this world, no man can be trusted. Someone is ready to flip the Chicago Outfit on its side all for the promise of something better. But no one runs a clean game and these men play for keeps. When blood begins to paint Chicago red, four families will be divided by loyalty, hatred, and revenge. There is no hiding. There is no safety.
No one is deathless.
“Why would you do this to me?” Lily asked.
Betrayal stung the back of her tongue as bile spilled into her throat.
Dino tricked her. He said nothing about marriage or anything of the sort when he told her it was time to go home.
Of course, he didn’t, her mind taunted. You would have run.
She still could.
Dino seemed to pick up on her inner dilemma. “Your accounts have been frozen. You will not receive another penny of your shares or inheritance until you are married to Damian Rossi.”
“He’s a good man,” Dino said. “And if I didn’t pick you a husband, Lily, Ben was going to. I’m on a one-way train to prison for the unforeseeable future very soon. Theo will have little to no control at his age, especially where you are concerned. That would mean your welfare and choices are left to Ben. Is that what you want? Because if you think for one minute he would consider anything that you wanted, you are sorely fucking mistaken. Ben wouldn’t care—he’d use you for his gain and nothing more. Even if that meant marrying you off to an abusive prick or a man twice your age.”
“I’m a human being. I am a free woman, Dino,” Lily snapped back. “I can make my own decisions about my life without anyone’s input. I will marry who I want, not who you deem appropriate for me.”
“You know that’s not true. You might have liked pretending for the better part of your life like you’re not involved in la famiglia, Lily, but we both know better. Please understand why I did this.”
“Go to hell.”
Dino barked out a bitter laugh. “I’ve already got one foot in the door, Lily. I’m just biding my fucking time while I wait.”
Lily spun fast on her heel and pushed past Dino, needing to get away from him. She only took two steps before coming to an abrupt stop against the form of a familiar but still strange man.
Lily’s hands splayed across the man’s chest as she squeaked in surprise, not even realizing he had intruded on her moment with her brother. She felt her cheeks heat up because not only had he heard a very private conversation, but she was touching him, too.
He didn’t seem to mind.
The same steel-blue gaze that had regarded her earlier at the church looked Lily over once again. She swallowed hard, feeling the bands of his muscles roping across his pectorals under her fingertips jump. His lips pulled into a smirk that looked entirely too wicked for Lily’s liking.
Getting a close up look at this man was bad for Lily’s insides. He was fit with a body built like a boxer’s. The black suit he wore hugged his over six-foot frame perfectly and it only seemed to add to the confident, cool air he sported. A strange disinterest colored his features, but in his eyes, it seemed like he was looking straight through her.
She glanced down between their bodies, noting he stood relaxed and seemingly unbothered by the situation they were in. Even his hands were tossed into his pockets as if he were waiting for something and not like Lily was touching him.
His nonchalant attitude only added to his dark, mysterious demeanor.
Lily still didn’t know how he managed to slip down the hallway without her or Dino noticing or why he was as quiet and still as he was now. What game was he playing?
Who in the hell was this man?
Lily’s heart beat a little harder in her chest, remembering the name Dino uttered earlier.
His voice was a dark tenor dripping with richness. The one word slipped from his mouth without his lips even needing to move. She had the pleasure of hearing many accents in her travels, but his was something else entirely.
“Damian,” Dino said, bringing Lily out of her stupor. “Good to see you finally arrived.”
“Ran over a nail in the church parking lot and came out to a flat tire.”
“Ah, I see.”
Lily stepped back from Damian. His gaze didn’t move from her for a second, not even when he talked to her older brother like they were old friends.
“Hello,” Damian said again. “Lily.”
Lily snapped out of whatever daze she was in. “Hello.”
“It’s Damian,” he murmured.
“I know who you are.”
Damian lifted a single, dark brow high. “Oh?”
“You don’t seem pleased,” he said quietly.
“That I’m forced to marry a man I don’t know and don’t want to know?” Lily asked bitterly. “I’m sorry to disappoint you, Damian.”
Damian’s smirk grew into a grin. “You know me.”
“You do,” he interrupted before she could argue the point further. “Just not that well.”
Lily blew out her frustration in a breath of air, gritting her teeth. Resolve steeled her spine straighter and she reminded herself of what her brother asked her to do. Turning, Lily faced a stone-faced, unbothered Dino.
“I will make nice and play good at this dinner,” she said.
“Thank you,” Dino replied.
“But I’m not marrying that man.”
Dino’s expression didn’t waver. “It’s not your choice.”
“I am not marrying him, Dino!”
“Yes, you are,” Damian said.
The words rolled over Lily’s skin like liquid gold. She could feel the pulse of his breath on the back of her neck.
This would be a great deal easier if she didn’t find him attractive.
And why the hell was he agreeing to this, anyway?
“In two months, whether you agree or not, you will be my wife, Lily DeLuca.”
Lily couldn’t help it; she shivered.
There’s always a bit of apprehension that comes with reading a new author or a new to you author. Will their words flow in a manner that’s appeasing to me? Will I fall in love with the characters and actually care what happens to them? Will the story line progress in a fluid speed? These were all things that crossed my mind as I turned the first page, and these were all things that, in the end, I needn’t have ever worried about. I cannot remember the last time I was this comfortable reading an author that, up until a few weeks prior, I had never even heard of. I was drawn in by the gorgeous cover and the appealing subject matter. I don’t read mafia type books that often. Not on purpose, you just don’t see all that many out there. But to be the first in a new series, and with the introduction of so many characters, I surprisingly didn’t have a hard time remembering who was who. I see a lot of authors stumble in the first book of a new series because it does take time to establish a connection with not only your main couple, but all the side characters that not only have pivotal roles in this book but will eventually star in their own books. A lot of times in the introduction book, it can become more about meeting everyone and less about the two the book is supposed to be about. But again, the author blew me away.
I won’t go into details about setting the premise or what happened throughout because to get into the flow of this story, you need to read it just as I did. I loved the misguided sense of family that rang throughout though. Just when you thought you had everything figured out, there came another twist. There were many times I wanted to scream at a few characters, and a few times I wanted to put out hits of my own. But ultimately, when it came down to it, I fell in love with them all. The friendships, the familial ties, and eventually the love. I love that Damian & Lily’s love was something that grew, not just assumed. You had two characters that were thrust, unwillingly, into an arranged marriage and there were so many ways it could have gone bad. But there was also a long ago forged foundation that helped this along and kept the whole situation from feeling like insta-love. I really appreciated that they grew together.
The possibilities are endless as to where she could take us next in this series and this book set everything up for a huge fall. I, for one, cannot wait to see how it all plays out. I have some theories about things that happened at the end and I can’t wait to see if I’m correct. Because even with death, destruction, loyalties broken, and despair, it all comes back to love. And in the end, love always wins.
Play dirty. It’s the only way to win in a war.
Alessa Trentini follows the rules, or so it seems on the outside. A certain Conti has always been able to sway her inner rebel and keep her out of trouble, but even Adriano won’t be able to get her out of her brother’s mess. In a war, no woman is safe if her hand in marriage can advance her family in the world of the mafia. But mistakes of the past have a way of slipping into the present and Alessa will soon learn that even the most shameful of secrets can get her everything she wants.
Adriano Conti’s loyalties are torn as he’s forced to stand at his father’s side while Riley uses his wife’s murder as a way to get higher. Blood comes first and then the Outfit. The one thing he doesn’t question in the war between the families is Alessa Trentini and even that doesn’t seem possible when he’s forced to watch Alessa be used as another man’s pawn. Adriano has his own role to play to get what he wants.
The families in the Outfit have never been more divided than they are now. Blood continues to spill as revenge takes center stage and more lives are lost. But every man in the family is fighting for something different and no one’s intentions can be trusted. Playing a dirty game might be the only way to stay alive.
Even if that means ruining it all.
“Did anybody see you come around?” Alessa asked.
“No,” he responded. “I parked a few blocks away and jogged down the backroad before coming in on the property. We’re good.”
Alessa sighed. “Thanks. I’m sorry I didn’t answer you back the last few days.”
“Yes,” Alessa said. “But I’ve been … stuck in my own head, trying to figure out what I was going to do. I thought I should let you know so you can stop worrying about me and move on to your own thing, Adriano.”
“You are my thing,” Adriano replied. “Don’t you know that?”
Alessa dipped her head down, keeping her face out of his view. “I can’t be your thing.”
“Stop it with that shit. None of this matters to me. It never has.”
“I can’t be your thing,” Alessa repeated firmly. “Not anymore. Not now.”
“Hey.” Adriano took a step forward, and Alessa answered it by taking a step back. “What is up with you?”
Alessa shrugged. “It’s been settled. I’m going to have to marry Dean Artino. The engagement and wedding date isn’t official, but I’m sure Joel will be an asshole and send an invitation to your father. I wanted you to find out from me and not someone else through the grape vine.”
Air cut through Adriano’s lungs with a searing burn. A ball of rage and possessiveness swirled in his midsection hard and fast, threatening to take him under with the current. Alessa was, and always had been, his.
Like fuck was he going to hand her off to some useless bastard like Dean Artino.
Over his dead body.
It wouldn’t happen.
“No,” Adriano said in a growl, stepping closer to her.
Alessa blinked up at him. “W-what?”
“No. You’re not marrying Dean.”
“I don’t think you understand, Adriano.”
“Oh, I understand perfectly fucking well.” Adriano couldn’t help but notice how Alessa didn’t back off the closer he came. Once they were toe-to-toe under the willow tree, she had to look up at him to hold his gaze. “I get it, but it’s not happening.”
Alessa’s tongue peeked out to wet her lips. “Right now, it’s just the promise of an engagement between Dean and me soon, but Joel assured me the wedding would happen within the next few months. I don’t get a choice and it’s not fair to you, so let me do what I have to. Okay?”
“No,” he repeated darkly.
Whew… the deeper I get into this series the more I fall in love with it and the characters. I was a little confused at times in the first book keeping all the family names and the individuals who belonged to them straight, but not long into this book I finally had them all figured out. Not only that, but I found myself invested in each and every one of them. The fantastic thing about this series, among other things, is that the characters are so intertwined with each other, be it friends, foe, or family, that they will all play heavy parts in each of the books, even if they aren’t the stars. I’m only halfway through at this point, and I have no idea where Kris is going to lead us. It’s exhilarating and I can’t turn the pages fast enough!
The main couple in this story was Adriano Conti and Alessa Trentini. We pick up the story a little bit before the last book ended with Mia’s funeral. It was so incredibly easy to fall in love with them. They were unbelievably cute and sexy wrapped in a fearless package. For them being so young, I was surprised at the depth and veracity of their steamy scenes. They read like they had the experience of people twice their age, but I guess that comes from knowing your partner inside and out. There was nothing these two didn’t know about each other and they were so perfect together. Their connection bled from the pages harder than the characters that died within them.
It’s difficult to say much more about the story without giving away any major plot points, but just know that the Chicago War you knew in the first book is not the Chicago War of this book. It’s a rebuilding book of sorts for our characters and I can’t wait to see what happens next!
Secrets and wars leave the deepest scars.
Evelina Conti has always worn a mask. She is an Outfit principessa, respected and adored. She wasn’t allowed to be anything else. Her father went from a grieving husband to the Outfit boss, and now that Riley heads the family, Eve is more suffocated than ever. No matter how much she hates it, the Conti princess still has a role to play. A little attention from Theo DeLuca seems innocent enough, but nothing is when it comes to him. And certainly not when everyone believes that Theo is out to kill her.
Theo DeLuca has a target on his back. His biggest problem is figuring out who put it there when everyone is aiming at him. He doesn’t need a woman causing him issues, but the Conti princess keeps showing up at the worst times, and he’s the one left saving her. Between the men surrounding him that Theo can’t trust, and the past he can’t outrun, Evelina might be the one thing he doesn’t have to question. But when Riley decides to use Eve as his next move, even Theo might not be able to save her.
The war in Chicago is not even close to being over. This game is deadly. Each hand played cuts another mark into someone else. The Outfit boss is struggling while the men around him are rallying. As the body count continues to rise, the families keep losing.
Sacrifices are a part of war. No one will walk away from this without scars.
“Eve,” Theo greeted as he saddled up beside her at the bar.
“She’s very good,” Evelina said, nodding at the dancer.
Theo shrugged. “I suppose. I’m not the one who vets the dancers before they get the job.”
Evelina glanced at him. She was only shorter than him by a couple of inches in her heels, but it was enough to make her need to look up through those thick lashes of hers. “You don’t watch them while they work?”
“Because I’m here to work, Eve, not get my rocks off on lap dances and strip teases.”
Evelina smiled a tiny smile. “Huh, imagine that.”
“I think all those rumors about you and women are a load of crap, especially if you spend a lot of your work time in a strip club and can’t even be bothered to taste the spread. I’m sure they would be willing.”
Theo laughed deeply. “Probably.”
He’d had a few offers.
Not that he took any of them.
“Since when do you frequent strip clubs?” Theo asked, curious.
Evelina winked. “Since someone told me to have a little fun a few years ago.”
“Strip clubs was where you found that? This isn’t necessarily the kind of place where an Outfit daughter should be hanging out, Evelina.”
“Not necessarily, but I learned that everybody has a job to do, Theo. This is just one of them and it’s a paycheck like anybody else’s nine-to-five.”
“Are you going to send me away now?” Evelina asked.
Theo watched her from the side, taking in the curves of her body underneath her black dress and the way her legs looked to be a mile long standing in those heels. The demure look she wore only added to the fact he found himself reacting to her just by being close. The scent of whatever perfume she wore was a mixture of heady and sweet, and it soaked into his lungs instantly.
Yes, he was going to send her away.
Because she looked like sin and she was standing in a place meant for it.
Theo did terribly well with sinning.
“Yes,” Theo murmured.
“That’s a shame.”
Evelina flashed her white teeth in a sinful smirk. “Because you never gave me the chance to thank you, Theo.”
His confusion climbed higher.
“Keeping me from getting shot.”
“Eve, there’s no need to thank me for that.”
“I know,” she said, “but it seems like everyone wants to blame you for it and I wanted you to know that I don’t. I wanted to tell you directly, so you could know, Theo. People think I’m deaf or something, or maybe they just think I won’t repeat what I hear. It doesn’t matter really, because when you showed up at the dinner, I figured out enough from that, anyway.”
Theo blinked, surprised. “How did you find out I was here tonight?”
Evelina lifted a single shoulder in response and tilted her glass up to her lips to take a sip.
“Eve,” Theo pressed.
“Maybe I got Alessa to get some information out of Adriano. But who knows?”
Theo chuckled. “Yeah, who knows?”
“You shouldn’t be here, Eve,” Theo warned quietly.
“I know. I left my car a couple of blocks into the Conti side of the territory line and grabbed a cab. So even if someone comes looking, they won’t find me. Thanks for that advice on the GPS, by the way. It came in handy after all.”
Theo swallowed hard, wondering what kind of game this woman was trying to play with him. “Did you think that this might get me into a hell of a lot of trouble, too?”
“Maybe, but I just needed to do something different tonight.”
“And you came to me.”
Evelina shifted on her heels, still watching the stage and the dancer. “Why not?”
“I have a dozen reasons why not, Eve.”
She tilted her head just enough to catch his gaze again. Evelina held it, her stare never wavering. There was something in the hard expression she wore that told him something was wrong.
Theo wouldn’t ask.
He couldn’t care.
Not right now.
“They’re going to turn me into someone I don’t want to be,” Evelina said quietly.
He didn’t even have to ask what she meant. Theo knew. The Outfit. It was always about the Outfit where they were concerned. Someone did that to Theo once, too.
“I learned to like the changes,” Theo murmured.
Evelina sighed. It came out breathy and tired, but it still made Theo ache. No, he couldn’t deny his attraction to Evelina Conti. But what he could do was control himself in her presence.
Never think with your cock or heart.
DeLuca rule number one.
Evelina wet her bottom lip as she looked him over. “I think I figured something out way too late.”
“Yeah. I don’t want to be a princess.”
I thoroughly enjoyed how this relationship just came out of nowhere. The mafia princess who did whatever she was told and the forgotten mafia prince. This was a slow burn relationship, but there was so much else going on in the background that there was never a dull moment. I love how flawlessly woven together these books are. Each book continues where the last one left off, practically, yet we have new main characters. I’m almost mad that more people aren’t raving about this brilliantly deviant author! Her stories are complex, heartbreaking, and full of love that you didn’t think was possible in a world often so violent. I simply can’t get enough of these characters and their families.
No war is won without a few bloodstains.
Tommas Rossi wants what belongs to him—he wants it bad. At thirty-years-old, he’s on course to become the youngest boss in the Chicago Outfit’s history. He just has to make it to the end alive. But being the boss of the Outfit means nothing to Tommas if a certain blue-eyed girl isn’t standing with him when the city finally crumbles. The crown is so close he can taste it. Blood paves his way. Every king needs a queen, but he doesn’t know how to get his anymore.
Abriella Trentini has always been the rebel. She’s quicker than most men, dangerous when she wants something, and more careful than anyone knows. Her relationship with Tommas Rossi has been a dangerous game she loved to play, but someone always has to lose. With choices to make, the kind that determines who will live and who will die, Abriella doesn’t know what to do. This should have been easy, but nothing ever is, and her time to choose is running out.
So much blood has spilled for this. The Outfit is in shambles, grieving and angry. The families just want peace. No one knows who will take the Chicago throne because too many men have a stake in this game. In wars like these, no one will let it go easily.
They’ll be bloodstained until the very bitter end.
And left breathless in the devastation of it all.
Has it been worth it?
There were very few things in life that made a man worthy. Those things became lessened when a man was in the mafia. Instead of his value being counted in his actions and words, it was tallied by his deeds and possessions. It was determined by the number of men on his streets and the most red he could cover on a map to say he owned.
Tommas Rossi had always found it amusing how made men were called Men of Honor. There was nothing honorable about this life. The Outfit had forgotten honor a long time ago. Long before the war.
They breathed. They bled.
Life and death.
That’s all this life had ever been.
The one thing in his life that had kept Tommas honorable throughout the years was just a few steps ahead of him, but still out of reach.
Tommas tugged his jacket tighter around his neck, determined to keep the cold February air out. Even with it being the last days of the coldest month of the season, he knew the weather wouldn’t let up for another two. Probably. The bite of the wind was the only thing he seemed to feel lately. Maybe that was why he preferred to be outside rather than inside.
“No way,” a familiar voice said down the way.
Leaning around the lamp post, Tommas watched the two women walk arm in arm down the street. His eye caught the taller of the two and the dark waves of her hair that flew wildly in the wind. For a moment, he felt something else.
His heart splintered.
It was an agonizing crack.
He hated it.
But he loved her.
“Not at all?” Abriella asked.
“No, I want to make sure it’s all pale yellows and greens,” Alessa replied. “No pink. I hate pink. No dark blues, either. I don’t want to know the gender or make people think we do know what it is.”
Abriella’s laughter floated down to Tommas’ spot, traveling in the wind. It was a sweet sound, and one so familiar to him that it soothed the deep ache inside his chest. But not for long. It never lasted very long.
He hadn’t expected to see Abriella strolling out of the hospital with her sister in tow when he arrived to visit Theo. His plans to see the Capo had been forgotten while he followed the sisters down the street.
“I’m excited for you,” Abriella said.
Alessa tugged her sister closer. “Me, too.”
Tommas wondered if Abriella was smiling. The fact that he was the cause of her unhappiness lately, or the majority of it, sucked away what little soul he had left. People shouldn’t hurt those they loved.
God knew he had grown up in a home where that’s all he ever saw. His mother hating his father, and his father despising his mother. Violence. Drinking. Abuse.
Tommas wanted to be better than that, but then he’d went ahead and got himself mixed up with a girl eight years younger than his thirty years. Someone that the Outfit determined he couldn’t have because of her status and last name. And because he wasn’t good enough for her with his status or last name.
He knew better.
All those years ago?
Tommas wasn’t stupid, but it had been fun. Just simple, honest fun with a girl who tasted like trouble all over and gave him a whole new thrill that had nothing to do with the streets, being a Capo, or the mafia. Somewhere along the lines, fun with Abriella turned into a private apartment with her clothes in his closest, scarfs hanging off the bedpost, and her lotions in the bathroom.
It changed to comfort.
She seeped into his blood.
She infected him.
I’m so sad to say it has all come to an end, but even through my tears I can honestly say the best was saved for last! We’ve been hearing about their clandestine love affair since the very beginning of the series and it was a relief to finally be able to get inside Tommy and Ella’s heads to witness what they were truly thinking. The love between these two was simply indescribable. A love that transcends time and space and a love that was only understandable to the two of them. By far the most angst ridden book of the series, I found my heart breaking at every single turn. I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to throttle certain characters.
I’ve been in love with these two since we first met Ella at Lily’s coming home/engagement party. There was something so intriguing about these two characters, and I couldn’t wait to get their story in my greedy wanting hands. They were well worth it I might add. Old beyond her years, Ella had always been in the background, fighting silently for her freedom. Between an overprotective grandfather and a tyrant of a brother, she had no choice BUT to sneak around when she finally got a chance to chase love. I loved how hopeless the mood was throughout the story. My soul feeds off of angst and this book had the perfect amount.
I am sad to tell these characters goodbye, but they are definitely some I will never forget. Now I’m off to read the next series from this phenomenal author!