Since the dawn of time, waging war on those who have wronged us has been embedded in the very fiber of mankind’s true nature. The thirst for vengeance and retribution has always prevailed overturning the other cheek to one’s enemies. Creating chaos and bloodshed is preferable to being subjected to vapid dialogues of peaceful negotiation.
None hold this way of life more sacred than made men.
These are the codes of conduct of every mafia family.
However, the same cannot be said when dealing with their enemies.
Throughout recent decades, in the midst of civil evolution, an ancient war was being fought. From both sides of the globe, blood was spilled in the name of honor, while the brutal carnage each family bestowed upon the other was anything but noble. Soldiers, kin, and innocent lives were lost on all sides, and the inevitable extinction of the mafioso way of life was fast approaching.
In the most unlikely scenarios, six families came together in an undisclosed location to negotiate a peace treaty. As the leaders of the most influential crime families in the world, they recognized that a ceasefire was the only way to guarantee their endurance. Should this attempt fail, then their annihilation was all but imminent.
The treaty was effectively simple.
Each family would offer up one of their daughters as a sacrifice to their enemies. Marriage was the only way to ensure that the families wouldn’t retaliate against one another. It would also guarantee that the following successor’s bloodline would be forever changed, creating an alliance that would continue throughout generations to come.
Not all in attendance were happy with the arrangement.
The deep scars gained from years of plight and hatred can’t be so easily healed or erased. However, even the cynical and leery knew that this pact was their best chance of survival. Although the uncertainty of the treaty’s success was felt by every mob boss there, one by one, the families swore an oath that would bind them to it forever.
And as the words spilled from their lips and the scent of blood hung in the air, they made sure innocent lives would yet again be deemed collateral damage to their mafia wars—one last time.
Their daughters would have to pay the price of peace.
Whether they wanted to or not.
I was sold to my enemies.
You would think that being forced into a loveless marriage to ensure an alliance would be unheard of in this day and age. And in most cases, you would be correct in that assumption.
But not for me.
A cartel princess has no vote on who she can or cannot marry—much less love.
Any decision in my life was forfeited just by being born into the most powerful Mexican cartel there is.
Still, it does sting that I’m to be hand-delivered to the Irish mob and marry into the Kelly family, who my own brother has coined to be nothing more than bloodthirsty savages.
They’re animals, Rosa. Filthy, unscrupulous, vicious animals.
Those were his exact words, yet he still followed our father’s orders to walk me down the aisle, making sure I didn’t run from my obligation.
As if that was even an option.
All my choices were stolen away from me the minute I became another pawn to be used and abused at the hands of evil men.
Which leaves me to question…
Can a rose blossom in the dark?
Or will I have to rely on my thorns to protect me against the fate that’s been bestowed upon me?
Only time will tell if I’ll survive this cursed life or become another lost soul in these cruel and merciless Mafia Wars.
Recommended 18+ due to mature language, adult situations, and sensitive content.
In this first book of the Mafia Wars multi-author series, we meet a few of the major characters.
Tiernan Kelly is the oldest son of the Irish Mafia residing in Boston. On this day he watches on as his sister Iris packs to leave for Las Vegas and her arranged marriage into the Volkov Bratva Family. She refuses to have anyone go with her on this journey.
Rosa is the sister of Alejandro of the Mexican Cartel. He is escorting her to her wedding to Tiernan. There is still much animosity between these families, but her brother offers her some hope in that if she produces an heir, he will leave her alone for mistresses.
Alejandro is expecting them to be met at the plane by Tiernan and is a bit insulted when instead it’s Tiernan’s brother, Shay and cousin, Colin.
Rosa is wed the following day and her brother has to leave to attend his own wedding ceremony. She’s left alone in a strange city with a husband who is a stranger at a wedding reception where everyone is ignoring the bride, including her groom.
It’s Shay who approaches her at the head table and that’s where she makes a mistake. One she refuses to feel sorry for.
This is a favorite scene.
I turn around to see what all my men are snickering about, only to find my wife, hand in hand with my brother, as he leads her to the dance floor. The music suddenly stops when their feet touch the vinyl, making everyone that was dancing disperse to the side, leaving the floor empty for my new bride to have her first dance with my brother, no less.
Custom says that I should have the honor, but apparently Shay doesn’t agree.
When Colin sees the unlikely pair and figures out what’s about to happen, his green eyes turn a shade darker. Instantly, he breaks from the rigid stance he’s held all night, with the goal of pulling Shay by his hair, if need be, far away from my bride. Before my cousin has time to fly past me in a disgruntled rage, I shake my head, keeping him from taking another step.
“Leave him be,” I order, taking another sip of my whiskey, hating that the liquid hasn’t made much of a dent in my sobriety tonight.
“I don’t like it,” Colin mutters beside me.
“You don’t like most of Shay’s shenanigans. So why should this be any different?” I take another pull.
“I said leave it,” I repeat more harshly.
This time Colin doesn’t protest, crossing his arms over his chest disapprovingly.
It’s not that I don’t understand why my cousin is pissed at my baby brother’s latest show of insubordination. It’s just that I don’t care. Shay has always danced to the beat of his own drum, and thinking that I can control him in any way, shape, or form is setting me up for failure. I’ve always given Shay free rein to do as he pleases, knowing that ultimately his loyalty starts and ends with me. If I learned anything from the great leaders of the past, it’s that family can either make you stronger, or it can be the chink in the chain that finally destroys you. Many a mafia boss have been overthrown and killed by their own kin—brothers, cousins and uncles who got weary of taking orders and decided that they could do a better job of being in charge of the family business. Shay has never given me any reason to think he wants my seat at the head of the table, but I’m not foolish enough to give him one, either.
If dancing with Rosa is how he’ll get his kicks tonight, I say let him have at it.
I won’t berate him in front of all our family and guests and start the rumor mill going that my new wife has barely been here a day and is already causing a rift between us.
I do, however, wonder what her motives are, though.
She doesn’t look the type to be easily seduced by a pretty face.
And she also doesn’t look dumb enough to try and purposely embarrass me in front of my men.
Which leaves me to think this is her manipulative way of paying me back.
Either because she’s still licking her wounds at my lack of presence before our wedding, or because I was less than welcoming on our drive to the reception hall. Whatever the reason, if she thought that accepting Shay’s offer to dance would somehow upset me or put me in my place, she has another thing coming.
When they are both at the very center of the dancefloor, Shay nods over to the DJ and a Spanish ballad begins to play through the speakers. Rosa’s eyes lift up to my brother in unspoken gratitude, to which he smiles back almost dotingly. He then places a respectful hand carefully on her lower back, while the other clasps her hand. They start to waltz around the dancefloor, seemingly uncaring that every pair of eyes in this room are on them, and like everyone else, I study their interaction down to a T.
Shay is just being Shay, putting on a show, but Rosa looks stiff as a board while my brother leads her in the dance. When her gaze constantly lowers, unwilling to meet anyone’s eyes, it’s blatantly apparent that she’s uncomfortable with the attention they are getting. When she looks at her feet for the third time in as many minutes, my brother takes his hand off her back and tilts her chin up to look at him.
“Just keep your eyes on me,” I watch him mouth to her.
The gesture is supposed to be comforting, Shay’s way of putting my bride at ease, but from the outside looking in, it looks intimate.
Almost as if he cares.
Maybe Colin wasn’t so off-base after all.
Maybe I should put a stop to this.
Although, I can’t blame my brother for wanting to use any excuse in the book to touch my wife.
The fates must have had a hell of a laugh at my expense when my father picked Rosa’s name out of the dreadful fruit bowl ten years ago. The fact that she is a Hernandez was my first cause for concern, but when she stepped into the Holy Cross Cathedral earlier today, I knew in that instant she was going to be more trouble than she was worth.
I’m not a man that is known for getting caught off guard in regards to anything.
I’m always prepared for any and all eventualities.
But I have to admit, even I wasn’t expecting her.
Not that there was any way I could have prepared myself either.
A few months after that horrid day in Bermuda, I succumbed to my curiosity and looked Rosa up online. I just wanted a glimpse of her, nothing more. Just a face to put to the name. However, her father, Miguel, had been careful and ensured that not one picture of his daughter could be found, leaving her existence limited to just a name online. And as the years passed and our deadline to marry approached, my curiosity about my future wife waned.
Somewhere along the way, I had made the decision that’s exactly how Rosa Hernandez would remain.
Just a name.
Now a scribbled signature on a wedding certificate and nothing more.
I had no intention of giving Rosa more importance than that. I’d give her my protection, set her up in some lavish brownstone in Beacon Hill, and forget she existed after that.
But then I lifted that fucking veil.
I wasn’t expecting her to be so fucking breathtaking.
Large brown doe eyes looked up at me, and suddenly every intention I had went out the window. I’m still not sure what I’m going to do with her, but keeping her secluded and away from my sight doesn’t seem as appealing to me as it once did.
That’s the word Colin used to describe her. I should have known that my cousin’s limited vocabulary could never do her justice.
My wife is so much more than that small word.
An exotic flower plucked from her homeland and gifted to me on a silver platter to do whatever I want with. I could pluck out her petals, one by one. I could cut out her thorns and leave her defenseless. I could crush her in the palm of my hand if I so wished. Or I can nurture her and stand back to watch her blossom.
Such a frail thing to be put in my ungodly hands.
But as I watch her cheeks tinge a pretty shade of red, and her cupid-bow lips part for breath while her gaze remains fixed on my brother’s, the sudden need to remind her that I’m the one who is the master of her fate violently springs free from my chest.
When the song finishes, both Shay and Rosa stare into each other’s eyes, as if they are sharing a private little secret that no one should be made privy to. Annoyed with the cozy display, I step onto the dancefloor and walk over to them. Shay instantly lets go of her hand, his usual carefree expression nowhere in sight, while the wedding guests wait on bated breath to see what I’ll do.
“I’ll take it from here, brother,” I state evenly.
“Are you sure? I don’t mind giving her another twirl?” He smirks at me, his innuendo clear as day.
“You’ve warmed her up enough. It’s time to let the adults have their turn.”
Shay runs his tongue over his teeth before directing his attention back to my nervous bride. He lifts her hand and places a tender kiss along her knuckles.
“Now you have something to look back on,” he says playfully.
“Thank you,” she responds with genuine sincerity in her tone, making my usual cocky brother timidly smile back at her.
“Go,” I order, my patience starting to wear thin.
Fox, Ivy . Binding Rose: A Dark Mafia Romance (Mafia Wars) (Kindle Locations 1532-1600). X-Factory. Kindle Edition.
Tiernan has many issues with this marriage, and he’s certainly not very nice, one would say abusive even.
He has his reasons, but Rosa doesn’t deserve the treatment she’s getting, and Shay and Colin try to ease things a bit.
Then Rosa herself does something that was uncharacteristic but also brilliant.
I truly enjoyed this book. Rosa turns out to be quite an amazing woman. Animosity from an unexpected source and Tiernan and the rest of his family well, there’s much to be said here but ultimately family wins out.
I can’t wait to read the next book in this series.
5 Contented Purrs for Ivy!
Lover of books, coffee, and chocolate!
Ivy lives a blessed life, surrounded by her two most important men – her husband and son. She also doesn’t mind living with the fictional characters in her head that can’t seem to shut up. Books and romance are her passion. A strong believer in happy endings and that love will always prevail in the end. Both in life and in fiction.
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