I have read about the Russian mafia and arranged marriages before but not within the same story line. There is something to be said about characters who embrace and live in the dark. The ones who don't try to seek out the light.The fact that Vine was already acclimated to the mafia life, cut a lot of red tape and dropped us right into the meat of the matter.
Where we went from there though balanced the line between cheesy and good. There were good and boring moments but by the end, I was fully invested, especially after that cliffhanger, soap opera-esque ending.
There were a few stagnant areas that were filled with mindless, detailed sex scenes that did nothing for me or the story line and I found that I preferred their conversations and banters to the sex. They aren't your usual couple, pairing or individuals and that made for an interesting story.
The Anton we meet is barely Russian, despite being 100% born and bred Russian. There were times when I had to be reminded that he is a Russian mob boss. He came off as an American hitman, as oppose to Russian royalty, but I didn't mind. He was honest and sure in what he wanted and the Russian came out when he got angry enough or business needed to be conducted.
Vine's personality changes with the different stages of her life but one thing remains the same and that is her knowledge and acceptance of the life. She acts accordingly without being a boss herself or inserting herself into Bratva and Cosa Nostra business. She is the perfect mob wife.
Some would say that this story lacks a good dose of Russian and Italian culture but I think it was dispersed in just the right amount for an introduction. It was focused and didn't stray with mindless explanations to cover space, even when the transitions became messy, as you tried to decipher Anton's from Vine's POV.
Still, I found myself confused and unsure in the middle, as I tried to decipher the big secret and ascertain the main underlying point of the novel. The climax didn't help much in the way of excitement, as it was rather mellow, much like the rest of the novel and didn't appear until the last 20%.
Even in my confusion, I was hanging on to every page of this novel. It was straight forward, clean and balanced in it's delivery. There wasn't an excess of cheesy mafia or romantic moments. There was a lot more history than present and the future looks filled with possibilities but this installment got me grounded in the idea of Vine and Anton and believe me when I say that I am already ready to get my hands on book 2.