By Virtue I Fall
by Cora Reilly
Book 3 in the Sins of the Fathers series
Love is an inconvenience Anna Cavallaro doesn’t have time for.
She only has one goal: to become a fashion designer. Chicago’s elite already copies her style religiously, not least because she’s the daughter of the city’s notorious mafia boss.
When she’s accepted at a world-famous fashion institute in Paris, her father’s condition is to take her bodyguard along.
Anna definitely wouldn’t mind a few weeks of no-strings-attached fun with her brooding protector.
Santino Bianchi became the Outfit’s enforcer because he liked the thrill of the hunt and kill.
Babysitting his capo’s daughter is an honorable assignment he can’t refuse. His thoughts about Anna? Not so honorable.
Santino’s ignored Anna’s persistent flirting for years. Now, far away from home boundaries begin to blur. But Santino doesn’t have any intention to be the reason for a failed engagement and the ensuing scandal.
A summer fling in Paris.
Only two things stand in Anna’s way.
Santino’s iron will.
By Virtue I Fall is the third book in the Sins of the Fathers series by Cora Reilly ... and I have a love/hate thing going on with this book.
I didn't love Anna's manipulations and attempts of seduction. Not only because of her age, but because I hate when relationships begin with one person manipulating or blackmailing the other. Now, is Santino an angel? No, which is why it was so easy for Anna to get dirt on him. I just hate that Anna's age and entitlement leads her to making really dumb choices, and forces the hand of someone she cares for.
That being said, I can confidently say that so far, this is my favorite book of Sins of the Fathers series. Despite Anna's antics in the first part of the book, I actually really liked her. I loved her independence. How she wanted to follow her dreams, and fought for it. And I liked that Santino didn't treat her like a pampered princess. He didn't take her shit. He let her live her life without interference for the most part. What I liked the most - their relationship. What starts out very much as a fulfilling each others mutual desire for one another, they end up having a very real relationship. A secret one, sure. But hidden away in Paris, without anyone in their circle around, they lived a normal life as a couple. It just felt more realistic, and more grounded than some of other Cora's books, and I gobbled it up.
Something I am really loving about this series, is despite its name, the Sins of the Fathers highlights how some of our favorite couples from past books deviated from their circles long held beliefs, and raised their children with freedom (within limits), choice, and love. While all the fathers in this series are truly bad men, they leave it at the door, and truly love their families. It's nice to know that this new generation of Cora's characters have a stable family behind them, unlike most of their parents in the past books.
Cora has written some of my favorite mafia romance, and this book is no different. I truly enjoy these books, and I can't wait to read more of her work.
Anna: “So you’ll protect me with your life?”
she asked with a curious tilt of her head, her blue eyes trying to put me on the spot and test my sincerity. And for the first time today, I didn’t have to lie.
Santino: “I’ll protect you until I take my last breath.”
Or until your father shows me mercy and puts me out of my misery. Anna: “Hey!”
I shouted as I jumped up and tried to rip the remains of my work from his hands. It was futile. Santino simply blocked me with his side and calmly crumpled the paper pieces into a tiny ball.
Santino: “Don’t draw me, Anna. If I have to answer to your father because he finds drawings of me in your room, I’ll be pissed.”
Anna: “And how’s that different from your usual mood? “You’re practically Grumpy Cat in mobster form.” Santino: “If I catch either of you smoking, I’ll spank both your asses with my fucking belt.”
Anna said, and for a second, I wasn’t sure I’d heard her right. Had she really said that? Santino: “This isn’t a fucking game, Anna. I won’t get killed because you’re playing games.”
Anna: “No, you won’t. You’ll get killed because you’re unable to resist my games. That’s your problem, not mine.” Love wasn’t written in my stars. But I wanted lust and excitement, danger and joy. I wanted to collect a myriad of memories before my future caught up with me. Women usually left me cold. They never got my blood boiling from anger or any other reason, because I didn’t care about them. But Anna? Fuck. She was my goddamn gasoline. Leonas: “You really wanna play who’s more in trouble with Dad?”
Anna: “As of now, I’m not in trouble. I’ve been good as far as Dad knows.”
I held out my hand.
Anna: “Give me a cigarette.”
He fumbled for one in the pack balancing on his thigh then gave it to me with that annoying knowing smile.
Leonas: “Yeah, you’re better at hiding your trouble-seeking ways.”
I shoved it into my mouth.
Anna: “To be fair, you aren’t even trying to play the good kid most days.”
Leonas: “Dad’s stricter with me anyway.”
Anna: “Comes with being a boy,”
I said around the cigarette in my mouth.
Leonas: “Santino hates when you smoke.”
Anna: “I know, but he’s not here now, is he. Now shut up and give me fire.”
He lit up my cigarette.
I smiled sweetly, took a deep drag then coughed. Anna: “As my brother, you should tell me to stay away from men. You’re not doing a good job being the overprotective Made Man.”
Leonas: “I’ll protect you from real dangers, don’t worry, but I sure as fuck won’t protect your hymen, sis.”
Anna:: “Do me a favor and never say that word again.”
Santino: “Sometimes I really don’t know what’s going on in your head.”
Anna: “It’s called creative chaos.” She’d be my downfall. One day, I’d die because of Anna Cavallaro. Santino narrowed his eyes.
Santino: “Don’t tell me you’re using this useless platform. There are only half-naked teenage girls dancing to shitty rap music on there.”
He shrugged with a smirk.
Santino: “I suppose that’s your crowd.”
Anna: “You know, Sonny, TikTok is algorithm-based. It says more about you than TikTok if the only videos that are suggested to you are half-naked girls.” Anna: “I don’t want you to get killed for me.”
Santino: “Oh, Anna, I have a feeling that’s not up to you to decide. You’ll be my death one way or another.”
Anna: “You’re being melodramatic.”
Santino: “I learned from the best.” Santino: “Why couldn’t you marry him?”
Anna gave me a pleading look.
Anna: “You know why.”
I had absolutely no intention of making this easy on her. Not after what she’d put me through.
Santino: “Enlighten me.”
Anna: “Because of you, Sonny. Because I love you even if you annoy me more than any other person ever does.” Valentina regarded me in silence for a moment before she gave a satisfied nod. Then a small smile spread on her face.
Valentina:“If my husband doesn’t kill you, I’m sure I can eventually make peace with you.”
Santino: “Thanks?” Anna: “What’s going on?”
Enzo: “Santino decided to release himself from the hospital against the explicit orders of the doctors.”
Santino finally managed to shove one arm into a sleeve and gave his father an annoyed look.
Santino: “Santino is a grownup and prefers to heal at home.”
I headed over to him and gave him a peck. Kissing him in front of others still felt strange but at the same time so wonderfully freeing.
Anna: “Isn’t it too risky?”
Santino waved me off.
Santino: “I can handle it.”
I helped him into his hoodie, knowing full well it was useless to argue with him if he’d made up his mind. He was stubborn as a mule.
Santino: “Not to mention that Dante requires my help to contain the scandal Anna and her mother caused,”
he said with a wink at me.
Anna: “Excuse me? You were involved in the scandal too.”
Santino: “But I would have chosen a better moment to stop the wedding.”
Enzo and Anna: “I doubt it,” Santino: “You aren’t jealous, right?”
I made a face.
Anna: “Please. You can either play in the Champions League, or in the village cup.” Leonas made a buzzer noise.
Leonas: “I have to remind you that my duty as chaperone for the evening will be to limit your public displays of affection, so don’t use them all up now.”