Blackmailed Bride, Inexperienced Wife by Annie West
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Dario and Alissa have both suffered in their lives. Dario lost all the family he ever had, and vowed to get back his family's property, which was swindled away from his family. His complete focus was on becoming a powerful, rich man who no one crossed, living up to the Parisi name. Alissa strived to be dependent to no man, and to see that her younger sister was happy and well. These personal vows lead them to be absolutely driven in their lives.
Their paths intersect through Alissa's grandfather, who wrote in his will that the only way that Dario could get back his property was by marrying
Alissa. After years under the cruel yoke of her strict, abusive Sicilian grandfather, the last thing Alissa wanted was to marry another controlling Sicilian. Dario sees Alissa as poison, a drug-abusing, party girl who has squandered her inheritance, and is standing in the way of his lifetime goal of getting his family's castle back. So, he has no problem being ruthless to get her right where he wants her. He fouls up her chances of having a platonic marriage with her friend to meet the qualifications of her grandfather's will: six months living as a man's wife, and she inherits the castle, which she can sell to get money to pay for treatment for her younger sister's life-threatening illness.
When she goes to the courthouse to meet her friend, she finds he has stood her up, and Dario is there to take his place. At this point, she has no further options but to agree to the marriage, even though they clearly hate and have no respect for each other. The six months of living together promises to be miserable. But, there is a powerful attraction between the enemies turned spouses. Dario believes the absolute worst about Alissa, yet he still wants her badly. Alissa counts herself as a fool to be attracted to the ruthless, powerful man she married. However, passion doesn't listen to logic.
This was a very good story. It was intense and angsty, perhaps a little too angsty when I read it. I wanted to see more tender moments between Dario and Alissa. It seemed like that didn't start until the book was halfway over. We slowly see the walls come down between this couple, and they both fight it fiercely.
I enjoyed this story, and I did feel the chemistry between Dario and Alissa. I would have liked it more if there was a quicker development of their love relationship, and a little less antagonism. But, if a reader wants a story where the couple really is enemies for most of the book, this would be a good book to read. As always, Miss West has delivered an enthralling story full of passion. So enthralling, that I ended up sleep-depriving myself the night before last to keep reading it. I was happy to see these two lonely, sad, heartsore people find their happy end together.
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