Review: Ruthless Princess (Mafia Royals #1) by Rachel Van Dyken - .Red Wine & Books

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Review: Ruthless Princess (Mafia Royals #1) by Rachel Van Dyken


Print Length: 
Publisher: Van Dyken Enterprises LLC (May 19, 2020)

From Goodreads.com:  A mafia romance about best friends turned enemies by Rachel Van Dyken, the number one New York Times bestselling author of the Eagle Elite series.

The enemy of my enemy is my friend…
I never thought my father would ask this of me, to become the second generation at Eagle Elite University, to rule with an iron fist, and to take care of anyone who gets in our way.
But ever since the incident.
Ever since Him.
There’s been a war in our little clique.
After all, a house divided cannot stand.
He’s the problem, not me.
He used to kiss me like I was his oxygen.
Now he looks at me like I’m his poison.
But we both drank it, again and again, never believing there would be a day when our love would start a war.
And our friendship would shatter into a million pieces.
Then again, the worst thing you could do in the mafia is hang on to hope that your life will be normal.
The second worse thing?
Fall in love with your best friend.
Enemy.
And heir to the Nicolasi throne.


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My Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Truthfully, there was quite a bit of this book that was just not my cup of tea. And in fact, I was actually expecting to rate it lower, however, there were a few scenes in this story that saved it from being a total disaster in my opinion. 

Because I like to end on a positive note whenever possible, I am going to start off with all the things I didn't like about this story. To begin with, the ages of the kids, one of whom is an assassin at the tender age of twelve? Now I may not know much about the mafia admittedly, but I can hardly see them using children to kill their enemies. Then there is an entire scene in which their own father's point weapons at them and threaten them with either joining up or immediate death? I know mafia life is much different than regular life, but this still seemed way too extreme (especially again when their children were fifteen and sixteen at the oldest at the time). Along with their rule that the "cousins" (who are not in fact blood related) can't date each other, a rule that just didn't make sense to me. Wouldn't it be better to be with someone already in the life who knows the secrets instead of an outsider? 

And honestly? The scene in which Serena after having just killed someone is now forced to fight one "cousin" and then face Junior as well? The fact that he used a machete to slice her skin open (to the muscle in one scene?) All all because she protected her family, acted on a perceived threat, and killed someone before they got the chance to question them? After being told that Serena's father would only care that they were safe, the whole scene was just overkill in my opinion. 

When it comes to Serena and Junior as a couple, there were moments when their interactions were heartfelt and moments when they were humorous. But mostly, these two gave me whiplash. Over and over again they harass each other, over and over again they tell us that they can't be together, then one of them so much as looks at someone else for a second too long and the other one freaks out and causes a scene (in the middle of the campus quad nonetheless). But of course, they can't stay away from one another because despite the warnings they have been given, despite the hatred they claim to feel for one another, there is also deep love. 

Now I'm all for doing whatever it takes to be with the one you love, but when it has been drilled into your head time and again that if you are caught there is no option but death, I wish these two would have been careful. Instead, they seemed to nearly get caught numerous of times by her bloodthirsty father of all people. In fact, considering the way one incredibly powerful scene played out, I was surprised to learn there weren't actually cameras in the sparring room. 

But with the bad comes the good. So let's move on to that.

The scenes with Asher and Claire? Powerful and heartbreakingly beautiful. The scenes when the kids finally rise up and take their rightful places? Formidable and intimidating. The ending? FREAKING AMAZING. Those parts of the story flawlessly showcased the writer that I know Rachel can be. They were real and they were raw, and most importantly, they made you CARE about these characters more than I had up until that point. There were choices made that not only show off the fact that a new regime is taking over (as they put it don't ask them to repeat their families own shitty history), but it also set up the next book in the series perfectly. In fact, I think I am looking forward to Scandalous Prince more than I was this one because of the secrets that we barely got to scratch the surface of. 

TD;LR - There are parts of this book that I wish the author had omitted and parts that I hated altogether, but there were also a lot of really powerful scenes that I feel will resonate with readers. I would read more from this author. 

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.


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                             Ruthless Princess is available from Amazon.com

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