Author: Alessandra Torre
Series: Innocence #3
Published by Harlequin HQN
Release Date March 23, 2014
Genres: Erotic Romance
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He thought I owned him. He thought he loved me, that I was enough. But this animal, this sex god who could drive me crazy and steal my heart in the same breath, he would never fully be mine. It was impossible. No one ever owned a God…
One year. I have one year to find out more about this man I am marrying. More about his family. More about our sex, and all of the dirty, delicious places it will take me.
I thought I’d spend this year making a decision. I never thought the decision would be taken from me, snatched right from my naive little hands.
“I assume you know the business of this family?” It was a dry question, stated without malice or concern, directed at me.
I nodded, meeting his sharp eyes. “Yes.”
“And you find … issue, with this business?” He watched me closely, sitting back in his chair and studying me.
I stared back, my face expressionless. “Issue would be the wrong word. I disagree with your business practices. Issue indicates that I am confrontational in my disapproval.”
A slow smile spread over his face, a transformation that brought a hint of the good looks he must have once possessed. “That’s an interesting choice of words, Ms. Campbell.”
I said nothing, and he glanced briefly at Brad. “What exactly are your intentions with my son?”
“I intend to marry him.”
“Yes, I gathered that from my son. The issue is, Ms. Campbell, that marrying Bradley is not quite as simple as happily ever after. Do you love my son?”
I hesitated at the change in his tone, the question rolling harsh off his lips. “Yes.”
He leaned forward, fixating me with cold eyes. “Imagine your love for my son, if love is what it truly is. Whatever that love is, it won’t possibly compare what you will feel for your own children—what I feel for Bradley, as well as my other sons. Your children, whether they are number one or five, will be more precious to you than your own soul. And you, choosing him to marry, to father your children, are putting those future babies in danger. You will never be able to sleep soundly, knowing the evil that waits for them. You will never be able to vacation, or play with them in the park, without worrying about cars driving by, or men who look at you a moment too long. You are not marrying Brad. You are marrying this family, and endangering yourself and your children with that act. You may be scared of me now, child, but I am one family. There are four others, in this city alone, that have us dead center in their targets. You are not, and will not, be safe in this family. You are marrying into a lifetime of fear, and you need to understand that now, before it is too late.”
I listened to his words, understanding the reasoning behind them, my thoughts wandering down paths I had not even considered. I had been so worried about being against the Magianos that I had not considered what being part of them would entail.
“I am not marrying Brad for safety. I am marrying him because I am in love.”
He leaned back and smiled slightly, a cruel expression on his face. “Let me tell you a story about Bradley. We had a dog, an old mutt that used to sit behind one of our butchers. He would eat the scraps that we threw out each day. And one day we opened the shop to find him inside, his mouth bloody, meat still inside his mouth. I started to kill him, grabbed a meat beater from the counter and went to smash his skull in. But Brad stepped in front of me.”
He laughed, looking over at Brad. “The boy was eleven years old, and he stepped in front of me, his father, to save a dog.” He stood, leaning heavily on the cane, the movement slow and pained. “You don’t know the Italian way, but disobedience is not acceptable. I told Brad to leave or kill the dog himself. He refused, and stood his ground.” He shot Brad a look of disgust. “He defied me over a dog, a mutt, an animal not worth mopping the floor with.”
He looked into my eyes, stepping forward, speaking slowly. “I used the beater on Brad’s skull instead, knocking him unconscious with two blows. He spent four days in the hospital before he woke up. And his first question when he did?” He closed his eyes briefly. “The dog, he wanted to know about the damn dog!” He finished the statement with a snarl, his finger stabbing the air in Brad’s direction to punctuate the sentence.
“We had killed that dog before we even took Bradley to the hospital. Bradley risked himself for a dog—a trash animal he had played with in the alley one day. So yes, he is marrying you, but what does that mean to me?” He straightened and turned, walking carefully, his words tossed over his shoulder to me. “You are worse than a dog, Ms. Campbell. That dog was hungry, eating for his survival. You are eating to get fat, and ruining my son’s life with your greedy acceptance of his sacrificial offer. I am not surprised that he is marrying you. I am only surprised that you are stupid and selfish enough to accept.” He waved dismissively in my direction and closed the space to the window, leaning heavily on the sill and looking out toward the backyard. “Leave, I am tired.”
“The right decision is for me to snatch you up quickly, before you realize that you can do better than me.”
“You know…you may be right, Mr. De Luca.”
“But no one,” he growled, bringing his mouth down to my neck and teasing the curve of it, “will ever love you like I love you.”
At long last we reach our conclusion and what a beautiful ride it has been friends. But if you thought you had experienced everything there was to experience with the couple, well hold on, because this train is just getting started. Spoiler alert: it’s going to derail a bit. From the very beginning, after reading the prologue, you are filled with a sense of dread, knowing what it inevitably going to happen, yet not knowing how it will play out. This only fueled my fire more, for I savored every delectable moment they were together.
And in that moment, with graduation and finals and my family and his, wedding plans stacking up mountains of stress around us…nothing else mattered.
It was all that mattered.
I haven’t written about the sexual aspects in the books in my other two reviews, because for me, they aren’t what drive a book. While they may be what pulls you in, the heart, angst, and character development hooks me. But as this is the last book in the series, I will talk some about it now. Torre writes phenomenally graphic sexual encounters, and what makes them so believable was in the detail she provides. I have a very vivid imagination and she expertly fanned that flame. In those moments, as I squirmed in my seat, I was there with Brad and Julia (and whoever else was in the room). Every lick, every touch, every kiss, every thrust; I felt them all! It left me a bundle of pent up energy for days, with no relief in sight. But that is what a great author does; they put you in the scene, in that moment, to live it alongside the characters. Torre does that impeccably, without fail.
The threesomes, the parties, those were the fairy dust sprinkled on the magic that we were, a way to remind us of the incredibleness of what we share.
There was just so much that was packed into this book, I felt as if I could have read forever, and gladly would have done so. I wasn’t ready to leave their world, but Torre eased us into it. This story may not have what others perceive to be the typical HEA, but personally I loved it more because of that! I loved that it wasn’t perfectly wrapped in a bow and set on a shelf to gaze at. I like that there were many things that she left up to the reader’s imagination and interpretation. Even though this is the final story, I think she left it up to us to write the rest of their lives. Because when you find a couple you love so deeply, they reside in your heart forever. If you already know how they live the rest of their days, what fun is that? Torre gives us the Mad Libs of the heart. This is probably another reason why, now a week after reading these books, I am able to sit here and write my review effortlessly. Because while I’ve read five other books since then, lived in five other worlds, these characters haven’t left me. And they never will.
“I love you. You crazy sexual beauty. I love every fucking inch of you. I love watching you. I love seeing you this way. You are mine, you dirty, kinky woman.”
Brad De Luca is incorrigible. The premier divorce attorney in town, he is a forty-year old walking hunk of sex, bedding half the town, including his own clients. Brad is used to getting whatever, and whomever, he wants, and when the newest intern arrives – Julia Campbell, a pre-law student fresh off a failed engagement – he embraces the challenge. Only, happy in her new independence, the last thing Julia wants, or needs, is an older man who could destroy her job prospects, and possibly her innocence.
Julia is confident in her sexuality, and her effect on men. But she is far out of her league. Before she knows it, Brad is stretching her boundaries and opening up a forbidden world of sensual and sexual exploration.
I stared into his eyes, pools of so many complex things I didn’t understand. I only knew one thing. I wanted him so badly it hurt, ached between my legs. I knew it wasn’t right-I knew I was one of hundreds, but I didn’t care. I wanted him more than I had ever wanted anything in my life.
Well hello there Mr. De Luca, where have you been all my life?! I fully realize that he may come off as cocky, arrogant, and self-serving, but all those qualities are some of what attracted me to him. Cocky was really confident. Arrogant was really assured in what he had and could do. And self-serving was not being afraid to go after what he wanted. He was completely confident in these qualities and you were full aware of what you were getting into from the beginning.
“For a good girl, I assure you, I can be very bad.”
Do you want to know what I really loved about this book? I loved that while there was hesitation to the unknown, the main female character just went for it. She was confident in herself and in a genre where the female usually very insecure, it was very refreshing! I would say that she came into her sexual self in this book, but really she just unleashed what was always there. Brad brought out her best qualities and she did the same for him. Sometimes when you aren’t looking, what you need the most enters your life and knocks you flat on your tail. It was rejuvenating watching all his walls break down. Neither of them entered this book looking for love, but love found them in the most delicious way. And probably not in the way you are thinking…
“What if what we’re looking for is each other?”
I was happy with my life. And who wouldn’t be? Beautiful women, money, a job that I could sleep through and still make bank. But I was bored. And I never could walk away from a challenge.
This challenge turned out to be brunette. Feisty. Just the way I like them. But innocent. Too innocent for me. Too innocent to do anything other than sample and then toss back. Anything more would be too risky, too much work.
I was unprepared for Julia Campbell. I should have done my homework, should have looked before jumping off that cliff. Ditching her proved to be problematic, my sexual needs greater than my common sense.
She was different. She became more than a challenge.
She may just bring my world crashing down.
The man was sinful. It wasn’t just the looks that made him dangerous, it was the cocky confidence that dominated every move, every touch. And the frustrating yet ecstatic fact about the whole package was that he could back it all up…
Julia Campbell never knows what to expect with win-at-all-costs Brad De Luca. And she’s starting to like it that way. She gave up safe, conventional relationships when she let the elite divorce attorney seduce her into his world. Now that he’s determined to strip her naked of every inhibition, she’s in danger of falling too deep and too fast.
But their affair begins to feel even more dangerous when a murder leaves a trail of suspicion that points straight to the mob…and Brad. Trusting a man with a bad reputation and a past full of secrets seems like a mistake. But when she’s forced to make a choice, the consequences will take her further than she could ever have imagined.
“I didn’t know what I hated more, when his eyes were unreadable or when I didn’t like what I read in them.”
Once again, I fall harder in love with this author and this series! Here are two characters that while flawed, are so completely perfect for each other! I loved reading Julia’s sexual awakening and Brad’s realizations of the heart. There was so much raw sexual energy AND action in this book, buy wrap a murder mystery in there and you are left with perfection. I couldn’t’ flip the pages fast enough and a foreboding sense of dread stayed with me throughout.
“My heart couldn’t survive a fall, not from the height that my feelings had climbed.”
While we got to know bits and pieces of Brad throughout the first book, in this book I feel like we saw more to the heart him; discovered what makes De Luca tick. And just when I thought he couldn’t become more engrained in my heart he did. I couldn’t evict him if I tried. But really, it wasn’t just him, it was Brad and Julia together. Either one separately was sexy, but together they were magic. One soul fed off the other, creating a delicious masterpiece.
“I fell for the feisty, smart-ass Julia that calls me on my shit. But I’m owned by the vixen that you become behind closed doors.”