by Cora Reilly
Book 2 in the Camorra Chronicles
Nino Falcone is genius and monster.
As the right hand man and brother of the Capo of the Camorra, his lack of feelings is a blessing, not a curse – until his brother asks him to marry for the sake of the Camorra.
Kiara Vitiello, cousin of the Capo of the New York Famiglia, is chosen to marry Nino Falcone to prevent war with the Camorra, but what she hears about Las Vegas makes her veins pulse with terror. After her father betrayed his Capo and paid with his life, her family thinks marriage is her only chance to bring honor to her name; but only Kiara knows she’s a faulty prize given in return for peace.
A man incapable of emotions and a woman scarred by the past – an arranged marriage with the potential to unite, or destroy…
Main character is a victim of child molestation, and suffers from PTSD from the trauma. .
Please don't read if it will be triggering for you.
Another main character suffers from the trauma of child abuse. Please be advised.
Twisted Emotions by Cora Reilly is the second book in her Camorra Chronicles, and centers around the second eldest Falcone, Nino, and Kiara Vitiello, Luca's (Born in Blood Mafia Chronicles) cousin. Nino is a genius, and his lack of emotions makes his job as Remo's right hand man in the Camorra easy. When he is presented with the idea of marrying Kiara Vitiello to strengthen a temporary truce between the Familiga, and the Camorra, he makes the logical decision to do it. Kiara is hesitant, though. The stories she has been told of the Camorra are terrifying. But as the daughter of a traitor, her family tells her this is a way to bring honor to their family once again. A marriage to bring two families together, but can be brought down by the terrible secret she carries.
So this is another hit for me (so far, really enjoying Camorra Chronicles). It is definitely darker, and deals with a lot of traumatic material. I do have some issues with Twisted Emotions (aside from the terrible translation issues and editing. I think this far into the books with this author, it's going to be my main complaint of each book.) that I wants to address. My main issue is the level of details that Cora Reilly puts into Kiara's memories of her rape. I'm not naïve. I know it's a terrible fact that minors are preyed upon by sick individuals in their family. I don't have an issue reading a book about a character who suffers from the trauma, and is trying to heal. And I know that victims of rape SHOULD be heard, and if anyone came to me and needed to tell me the details, I would support them. But this is a fictional character. And some of the memories she has of her uncle raping her are ... not as detailed as the healthy sex scenes in the book, but detailed enough that I felt sick. Whether it was a choice on Cora Reilly's part to have us feel more sympathetic towards Kiara or what, I don't know. But the story didn't need it. Readers will feel empathy towards her no matter what. The other thing I noticed, is there is no big conflict in the book outside of their relationship. This book centers around Kiara healing, which is fine. I guess I was just expecting something else outside of that as well, considering this is a series based on the Mafia.
THAT ASIDE, there are things I did enjoy about this book. I loved that the wedding night didn't end in Kiara submitting Nino just because they were married. I loved that the "bloody sheet" tradition for the Vitiello was continued except --------------------> instead of "virgin blood" (which honestly, is silly. I totally am in the camp of virginity being a social construct, and a damaging one at that. But I am off topic now ...) but with the tortured and brutalized remains of the uncle who raped her. <----------------------- And Luca being totally okay with it, and showing it to the men as a message? Fucking chef's kiss. I loved that Nino was totally open to Kiara and him never having sex (as long as she was okay with him seeking pleasure elsewhere, and she was. This is important to me.) because she wasn't comfortable with a physical relationship. And leaving anything sexual in the future up to her. I love that they established a friendship. I love that Kiara was able to discover her desires on her own, with no encouragement. She got to build herself up to be comfortable with feeling desire before acting out on it. I love that when Kiara was ready to try a more physical relationship, she wanted a marriage, and Nino respected that by being faithful. And the patience and caring that was put into their relationship in all aspects until they reached that goal of having sex ... and her enjoying it.
I can't forget to mention how much I loved Kiara's influence in the house. This family consisted of four males. Two of them raised the younger two. And while their bonds to one another are strong, it's obvious that they have a dysfunctional family standard. Kiara coming in, and eventually becoming strong enough to say "Yeah, that's not cool, don't do that, and by the way, eat some vegetables" is kind of adorable. And Nino, while described as emotionless, but able to simulate emotions ... for the most part it's true with strangers and his job in the Camorra, I think it's safe to say he definitely has emotions that are too traumatic to deal with (in regards to his past) and are for those he truly keeps close to his heart - like his brothers and Kiara. It's not stated outright, but I wouldn't be surprised he is on the spectrum.
So while some of the content in this book is truly tough to read, at this point in all of Cora's books, this one is my favorite. The Falcone men seem to break away from tradition when it comes to their women, which I fucking LOVE, and so far in the Camorra series, Nino and Kiara have the healthiest relationship. I was just left happy in the end, and I can't wait to start the book the made me want to read this story in the first place - Twisted Pride.
Remo rolling his eyes when the uncle was explaining that Kiera would be a good submissive wife despite her intelligence
Remo refusing Durant when he wanted to dance with Kiera
Nino and Remo torturing and killing Kiera's uncle who raped her
Nino buying Kiara a piano
Nino helping Kiara learn self-defense
Kiara asking Nino to have a real marriage with her
Nino telling Kiara to keep her head high when among the Famiglia and not let them treat her as less because of her father
Nino and Kiara playing the piano together
Nino: “We will see. It’s the only logical choice.”
Remo: “Your fucking logic is pissing me off,”
Nino: “You aren’t an expert where women are concerned. When was the last time you talked more than two sentences to a woman?”
Remo swung his legs off the table and got up then pointed at the stripper.
Remo: “I want to fuck. Get your ass into the changing room. I’ll be there in two minutes. You better be naked.”
The woman nodded and hurried backstage. Remo raised one dark eyebrow.
Remo: “See? Four sentences.” Savio: “Fuck, perhaps he’s really into guys,”
Savio said, scrunching up his face. Then his eyes widened. Sometimes when we were out on business, he managed to act like a man, but in moments like this it became obvious that he wouldn’t be turning seventeen for another month. At his age, Remo and I had already been hardened by years on the street. I wasn’t sure if we’d ever been teenagers.
Savio: “Will you kill him, then?”
Remo got into Savio’s face.
Remo: “We are brothers. We will stand by each other. I don’t care if Adamo is into fucking goats or ducks or men. He is our brother.”
Savio nodded slowly.
Savio: “He’s annoying as fuck. If fucking a guy makes him more tolerable, I can live with that.” Mrs. Rizzo: “All in black. What a curious choice for the occasion.”
Nino: “It’s the choice color for our profession. Blood is so very difficult to wash out,” Nino: “Try to scare her as little as possible.”
Remo: “I can be pleasant and gentlemanly if I try,”
Fabiano: “Sorry, Remo, but that’s the best joke I heard in a while.”
Remo: “What am I supposed to do to set your little wife at ease?”
he asked, but his eyes followed a young woman who walked past us. I really hoped he wouldn’t try anything with one of the Famiglia’s women. I was the wrong person to ask.
Nino: “I don’t know.”
We glanced at Leona who flushed.
Leona: “Perhaps smile?”
Remo’s mouth pulled into a smile.
Fabiano: “I have seen hyenas with less unsettling smiles,” Durant: “It’s tradition in the Famiglia. Maybe you don’t care about traditions over in Vegas, but here we do.”
Remo’s lips pulled wider, and I realized then that his smiles for me had been genuine; he was being nice. This smile had a sinister feel to it.
Remo: “We honor our traditions as well. In Vegas, it’s tradition that I cut out the tongues of people who annoy the fuck out of me. If you insist on your traditions, I will have to insist on mine. And your tongue will look good in my collection.” Nino: “I will find the man who raped you and slaughter him like a pig on these sheets. Do you think that will be enough blood for your family?” Matteo: “I knew this day would end in a fucking bloody wedding. Of course, I’d hoped it would give me the chance to stick my knife into one of you fuckers.”
Remo: “Ditto,” Nino: “Your nights are safe. You are safe now, Kiara. Even in the dark, there’s nothing you have to fear, no one, because I am there and they will have to go through me. And no one ever has won against me. I am the most dangerous thing in the dark, but you don’t have to fear me.”
I lowered my eyes, not understanding.
Nino: “Why what?”
Kiera: “Why don’t I have to fear you? You are a Falcone.”
Nino: “I am. And my brothers and I protect each other because we are family, and we protect Fabiano because we made him family, and now we will protect you because you are my wife and that makes you family as well. That’s what family is supposed to be, don’t you think?” Nino: “The scars he left, your body can heal them if you let it, and the result will be stronger than what was there before.” Kiara: “Does it bother you if I touch you like this?”
I asked in the barest of whispers.
Nino: “Your touch doesn’t bother me, Kiara.”
I wished he could touch me like that without my body wrenching me back into the past, without my fears taking control.
Kiara: “I wish … I wish I could be touched without fear.”
Nino: “Eventually, you will. You will kill the part of your uncle I couldn’t kill for you.” Nino: "I won’t ever push you past your boundaries, but just because I haven’t claimed your body with my cock yet doesn’t mean I haven’t laid claim on you. You are mine. Mine alone. And for as long as I live, no one will touch you but me.” Remo: “You are being serious?”
Nino: “I am.”
Remo: “Are you trying to become a straight-laced citizen?”
Nino: “I have no ambitions in that regard, no.”
Remo shook his head.
Remo: “First Fabiano, now you. Why’s everyone becoming pussy-whipped?”
Nino: “Since I’m not getting any pussy, your term is misleading.”
Remo: “Oh, fuck you, Nino. Don’t be a fucking smart-ass." Nino: “Hold your head high. Don’t let any of those fuckers put you down because your father was a traitor. Don’t let them put you down for any other shit either. You are a Falcone now." Giulia: “Wow. What did they do to you?”
I glanced toward Nino, and as if he could feel my eyes on him, he turned, meeting my gaze. My lips pulled into a smile.
Kiara: “He taught me my worth.” Adamo: “TMI, Nino,”
Savio: “TLI if you ask me,” Nino: “Before you, there was calm. There was order and logic.”
I remembered the beginning of his song, that perfect composition.
Kiara: “And now?”
I let out a hoarse exhale.
Nino: “Now. Now there’s chaos.”