Bound by Vengeance
by Cora Reilly
Book 5 in the Born in Blood Mafia Chronicles
He’d never had something to himself, never even dared to dream about owning something so precious.
He was the unwanted bastard son who’d always had to content himself with the leftovers of others. And now they’d given him what only a few weeks ago had been out of his reach, someone he wasn’t even allowed to admire from afar, one of their most prized possessions. Thrown at his feet because he was who he was, because they were certain he would break her. He was her punishment, a fate worse than death, a way to deliver the ultimate punishment to her father who had displeased them so greatly.
She had always been the good girl. It didn’t protect her.
She didn’t know his real name. People called him Growl to his face, and the Bastard behind his back. Both were names he couldn’t possibly have chosen for himself. His eyes were empty, a mirror to throw back her own fear at her. He was a brutal hand of the Las Vegas Camorra.
And now she was at his mercy.
Bound by Vengeance by Cora Reilly is the 5th book in her Born in Blood Mafia Chronicles, and centers around Cara, an eighteen year old daughter of a Captain in the ruthless Camorra outfit, and Growl, the bastard son and enforcer to the Capo of the Camorra. Cara has always done as she was told. A good daughter. A good future wife for a high ranking member of the outfit. But when her father is caught stealing from the Capo, and he comes for blood, it doesn't matter anymore. Her family name is ruined. To punish her father before he is murdered with the knowledge, she is given to the brutal enforcer, Growl and separated from her mother and sister. Terrified, Growl brings her to his home in the slums. The house is shabby, the neighborhood is terrible, and the man residing in it dangerous. But Growl, who hasn't had anything beautiful in his life, except for his rescue dogs, can't bring himself to break her. And as they slowly learn more about one another, and become closer, attraction grows to love. But as a disgraced daughter of the outfit, who seeks revenge, and the enforcer of the psychotic Capo who has buried his resentment deep, can Cara find a way to open Growl up to the possibility of more, and help her in her mission to save her mother and sister?
I don't know how to feel about this one. On the one hand, towards the end, I liked them both together. They complimented each other well. Growl brings out Cara's humbleness, and helps her see that the opinions of others are not important. Cara brings out emotions Growl has long since buried. But I can't get over the cringy Stockholm Syndrome shit. I know the author brings it up herself. She knows while writing it that the reader is going to put off by it. Having Cara's inner monologue state that it isn't Stockholm syndrome isn't enough though. A victim isn't capable of determining that while in the midst of it. And just because she was attracted to him before she is given to him, doesn't make it better. I'm sure a lot of women have been attracted to someone before being brutally murdered by them. Does it make it right? And their first time sleeping with one another was cringy. Wanting it, and not wanting it. Just the little bit of hesitance made me feel like I was reading a rape scene. Learning her hesitance was due to shame from having sex before marriage helped me continue. I was interested in how it was going to go. The vengeance. And how the story plays out, I ended up enjoying it.
I am honestly hesitant to recommend this series to anyone. While I do enjoy elements of the story, the incredibly obvious translation issues, and editing is just terrible, and dark romance isn't for everyone. I enjoy the odd dark romance, but there are specific tropes in the genre I'm just not into. This book, while ending well (and since I have read on and read a short story in the anthology centered on them, continues going in a good direction), definitely teeters over the edge on the ick factor, and almost made it a DNF for me. To be honest, this whole series should have been a DNF, but I got sucked in, and needed to know. Damn it.
Cara growing closer to the dogs
Growls support during the engagement party
The first time he and Cara sleep in the same bed
Growl asking Cara to take care of his dogs in case anything happens to him
Growl killing his father
Cara finding out Growl is alive
Growl: “They won’t hurt you. They are good dogs,”
Growl said, waiting for me down the narrow corridor. I wasn’t sure but I thought I heard a hint of amusement in his voice.
Cara: “They don’t look like good dogs,”
I said hesitantly as I crept closer to them.
Growl: “Don’t judge things by their looks. It’s deceiving.”
My back against the wall, I walked past the dogs. They followed me slowly, their keen eyes never straying from me. My gaze wandered over Growl. His tattoos and scars.
Cara: “Sometimes the outside and the inside match,” Growl: “Never show those people weakness,”
Growl said in a low voice, leaning down until we were very close.
Growl: “You are stronger than you think. No woman has ever given me such a hard time like you do every day. If you can act strong around me, you can be strong around those weaklings. They are nothing.” Matteo: “Oh, a cheeky one.”
Luca: “You have a cheeky wife already. Don’t grate on my nerves by bickering with our cousin too.” Growl: “I don’t deserve you. But I will.” Growl: “No one’s ever looked at me like you do,”
Cara: “Because they never really saw you,”