SEMPRE Forever By J.M. Darhower

teardropsOnly 15% into this book and I found myself sobbing, having to put the book down and walk out of the room.  Emotionally charged doesn’t even begin to describe this story.  

Sempre Forever

SEMPRE forever

By J.M. Darhower

★★★★★

The Definition of Freedom: 1. The state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint: He won his freedom after a retrial. 2. Exemption from external control, interference, regulation, etc. 3. The power to determine action without restraint. 4. Political or national independence. 5. Personal liberty, as opposed to bondage or slavery”
– Dictionary.com

Born into slavery Haven Antonelli has never known anything other than horror and pain.  Living on a desert ranch with her mother, taking care of her “Master” and his family, unsure if she’ll live another day hard work, abuse and fear are part of her everyday life.  At seventeen she has seen a world that most can’t even imagine and the last thing she ever expects to find is hope.

Carmine DeMarco is Mafia royalty.  While overcoming a tragic past that almost tore his family apart Carmine struggles to find someone to understand him and continues to let his pain and anger fuel his actions.  He knows his future will most likely be in following in his father’s footsteps when he turns 18, moving back to Chicago to join “La Famiglia”.

But then she happened. The girl who had never been able to call her life her own taught a boy who had the world at his fingertips exactly what it meant to live. He wasn’t alone anymore.” 

Haven and Carmine may have grew up under vastly different circumstances, both yearning to break free,  but now a twist of fate causes their worlds to collide.  Entangled in a web of secrets and lies, they learn that while different on the surface, they have more in common than anyone would think.  While falling in love with each other may be easy a string of events that began before either of them were born threatens to destroy them.

Murder and betrayal are a way of life, and nothing comes without a price—especially not freedom. But how much will they have to sacrifice? Can they escape their pasts? And, most of all, what does it mean to be free?

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Wow this book rally surprised me, I wasn’t prepared for it to throw me on the emotional rollercoaster I found myself on while reading it.  While a story of love there is so much more here.

Colpo di fulmine. The thunderbolt, as Italians call it. When love strikes someone like lightning, so powerful and intense it can’t be denied. It’s beautiful and messy,
cracking a chest open and spilling their soul out for the world to see. It turns a person inside out, and there’s no going back from it. Once the thunderbolt hits, your life is
irrevocably changed.”

Sempre is a complex story that in my opinion has the right balance of  “Character Emotional Development” plotlines or “Dramatic Action” plotlines. It isn’t a feel good romance or a fluffy mobster story.  This book is dark and at times disturbing.  There were characters in the book that I had a very hard time liking and finding redeeming qualities in, even when the motivation for their actions became clearer.

Carmine and Haven are both heartbreaking characters and I found myself questioning whether or not I would have been able to survive in their world.  Haven has a strength and a way of looking at life that I admired.  Carmine is willing to risk it all for Haven and in the end he does without hesitation.

“Ti amo, mia bella ragazza. Per sempre.”
“Sempre?” she asked.
Cracking a smile, he brushed his pointer finger softly across her lips. “Always and forever.”

 With such a complicated group of characters I felt an authenticity to the story that I appreciated.  While sad and upsetting this is still a must read.  If you love books with a modern take on Romeo and Juliet, if you loved The Godfather or Boardwalk Empire this is a story I am sure you will enjoy. Fair warning though, it is a longer book, over 500 pages so be prepared to spend some time on it.

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To find out more about Author J.M. Darhower:  www.jmdarhower.com  

 

Bully by Penelope Douglas

Bully

By Penelope Douglas

★★★★

My name is Tate. He doesn’t call me that, though. He would never refer to me so informally, if he referred to me at all.

We’re neighbors, and once, we were best friends. But then, one summer, he turned on me and has made it his mission to screw up my life at every opportunity. I’ve been humiliated, shut out, and gossiped about all through high school. His pranks and rumors got more sadistic as time wore on, and I made myself sick trying to hide from him. I worried about what was around every corner and behind every door.

So I left.

I spent a year studying abroad and bathed in the freedom of life without Jared. Now I’m back to finish up high school and get the hell out of here forever. I’m hoping that after a year of breathing room, he’s moved on and forgotten all about me.

But even if he hasn’t changed, I have. I’m not interested in avoiding him or turning the other cheek anymore. We’re going to go head to head, because neither of us wants to back down.

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I am not sure how I feel about this book.  I have to be honest, I truly enjoyed reading it, it evoked so many different emotions from me I couldn’t put it down.  However I feel like I should not have found it as enjoyable as I did simply for the fact that the love story in this book is essentially between a bully and his victim.

This isn’t just a matter of miscommunication and misunderstandings between the two characters.  This isn’t the story of boy who simply teases  a girl and then they fall in love.  This is the story of a guy who comes home from spending the summer with his estranged father a completely different person.  His best friend, the girl next door has no clue why he now hates her.  They no longer spend time together or talk and if they do it’s him being a jerk to her.  Rumors are started at school, boys treat her like trash and most of the girls whisper behind her back.  She is the victim of pranks and public ridicule and has hardly any friends.

What makes it even worse is the fact that not only is he tormenting her but also his best friend Madoc, who doesn’t even know why he does it.  There are many times that Madoc goes above and beyond simple teasing and pranks and skirts into sexual harassment.  The upside of it is when Madoc does cross that line she seems to grow a backbone and makes it clear it’s not acceptable (between a broken nose and a good swift kick to his manhood) she at least is not a complete pushover.

Tate finally standing up for herself makes her feel as if she is turning into a bully herself, I am sorry but I totally disagreed with her.  I was glad she stood up for herself, even when it got a little physical because frankly it needed to be done.  People needed to see she was not some weak, pitiful, lesser individual.  I actually thought there were times when she should have been even tougher and not backed down.

As for finding out the reasons behind the bullying I am not sure that it was enough to justify or excuse it in my book.  I couldn’t really understand where Jared was coming from in that regard but it didn’t necessarily take away from the book.  I still found myself completely immersed in it and I am definitely anxious to read the next one and see it from Jared’s POV.  I think it will give me a better idea of why Jared chose to Bully Tate in the way he did.  After reading the first chapter on the authors Goodreads page I am anxious for the next book.

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To find out more about author Penelope Douglas check out her Facebook page here.

 

To purchase a copy of Bully at: ➸ Amazon