ARC Review: Sempre by J.M. Darhower

Format: E-booksempre
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Forever Series, #1
Publisher: Pocket Books
Hero: Carmine Marcello DeMarco
Heroine: Haven Isadora
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: January 29, 2012
Started On: February 22, 2014
Finished On: February 26, 2014

Sempre is book 1 in the Forever Series by J. M. Darhower. The story begins when Haven Isadora is just seven years old, present at a “child auction” of sorts where no act of violence seems to be taboo for the people who hold several young girls captive. The opening act of this book is horrific in the sense that it opens up the world of modern day child slavery and the unspeakable acts these children are forced to perform in order to survive.

Story continues 10 years down the line, when Haven is “rescued” from the clutches that holds her a captive by a Dr. Vincent DeMarco who whisks her away to his home which marks the beginning of the sort of life that Haven has never dared to dream of for someone like herself. And when she comes across Vincent’s youngest son Carmine, the connection that forges between these two is instant and electrifying.

Carmine is the epitome of bad boy hero, angry and sullen at the world with a ton of attitude. Carmine exists by doing everything else but what is expected of him, partying and sleeping around just for the heck of it. Though Haven stirs his interest, Carmine finds it hard to tone down his abrasiveness which has been a part of him for so long. But as time goes on and a bond is forged between these two unlikely souls, there is no stopping the love that unfurls in their hearts.

Both Haven and Carmine have no idea what life has in store for them. With Carmine more or less destined to follow in his father’s footsteps by being “obliged” to belong to the Mafia family, it is a tough future that awaits both of them. Vincent was the hero in my eyes, the man who tries so hard to keep his children away from a life that is filled with treachery and one in which the soul is never ever free from the darkness that taints it once you become one of the Family.

Having never watched or read much on stories involving the Mafia though I had picked up bits and pieces on the lives they lead along the way, I don’t think I actually had any clue as to just how much power the head of the Family holds on the rest of the members. There is a “code of ethics” that the Family lives by, once crossed one has to face the dire consequences or die trying to flee from whats coming. Vincent was the truly enigmatic character in this novel that actually stirred my interest, the mix of Jekyll and Hyde in him making him one of the most contrasting characters I have come across of late. Vincent tries to do right by his children, though its far from easy. While one side of Vincent finds it as easy as breathing to give free reign to the ruthless killer in him, there is the other side that heals and saves lives, the one part of his life that gives him solace and peace to the soul, be it even for a little while. The fact that Vincent could look beyond the anger, hurt and pain of his past to take Haven under his care was something that deeply moved me.

While Haven’s character impressed me with her ability and strength to overcome the countless horrors she had been subjected to while growing up, Haven herself doesn’t know her true power in the hierarchy of the Family, a secret if found would be worth shedding the blood of the many the Family wouldn’t hesitate to take out. I liked Carmine’s character well enough, but I found his emotions to be all over the place, sometimes rightfully so. But in the maturity aspect, Haven wins hands down, not surprising given spoilt life Carmine had led till then. However, Carmine does turn himself around for the woman he loves more than his own life, a love that turns out to be the pivotal reason behind the basis of the next book in the series.

Though I am not wowed enough to pick up the second book, nevertheless, Sempre did provide me with an entertaining read, albeit a trifle bit of a long one, some pages of which I skipped as I reached towards the end of the book. Perhaps I am right in avoiding young adult romances, the few I have read haven’t really impressed me all that much. But if you are a lover of new adult romances with the interesting facet of being part of the Mafia thrown in, then I would recommend that you pick this up. It just might be what you’re looking for.

Final Verdict: An intriguing mix of romance & the politics that govern the lives of those indebted to the Mafia.

Favorite Quotes

Yanking her to him, he eagerly kissed her without another thought.
It was passionate and messy, seventeen years worth of kisses rolled into one stolen embrace. Haven kissed him back, her lips parting as they moved with his. Running her hand along the back of his head, she laced her fingers in the hair by his neck as she trembled, but whether from nerves or excitement, Carmine wasn’t sure.

Love was the fluttering in her tummy whenever Carmine was near, the twinkle in his eyes when he laughed, the heat in her body from his words. Love was happy. Love was safe. Love was green.
Love was him—the beautifully flawed boy who made her glow. He stared at her, those words hanging in the air between them.

“I didn’t hear you come out of your room.”
“You aren’t the only one who knows how to be quiet, Ninja.”
She replaced the book on the shelf. “Hmm, well, maybe we should get you a bell.”
“Hey, at least I don’t almost give you heart attacks. You used to startle the hell out of me. I thought for sure you’d need to give me CPR a few times.”
She raised her eyebrows. “Don’t be so sure. You make my heart race every time you come near me.”
He strolled over to where she stood and leaned down to kiss her. He nipped at her bottom lip as he pulled back, pressing his palm against her chest. “How’s the heart?”
“Feels like it’s going to explode.”

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