Review: Ciao Bella (The Rise of the De Langes Book 1) by Rachel Van Dyken


Print Length: 272 pages
Publisher: Van Dyken Enterprises INC (June 25, 2024)

From How thin is the line between love and hate?

The Five Families thought the war was over.
They have no idea, I'm the very beginning.

I kidnapped her to prove a point—at knife point, it seemed sharper that way.
See what I did there?

I used the perfect virginal daughter from one of the most powerful Families in the Cosa Nostra to fix the broken pieces, knowing that in the process—I’d spread hers for the world to see.
I would embarrass her, shame her, use her, but I would never touch her… my one and only vow to her father in exchange for his allegiance.

The flowers at our wedding would be extravagant—people would watch it like a celebration, she’d live it as her funeral.
Call me twisted, but I thrive off her hate, I wouldn’t know what to do if I had her heart—I’m not good with pretty things I’m capable of breaking.

I’ll use every single person I can to restore order… to bring about the peace that my Family deserves.
But something sinister lurks in the darkness.
In the end, it may not be just my Family I save but theirs as well.

They say the past comes back to haunt you—that history repeats itself.
Bet they never saw this coming.

After all, when one Family falls—another will rise.

Ciao Bella.
The Rise of the De Langes

My Rating: 3 stars out of 5

This review is so hard for me to write because the original Eagle Elite series contained some of my favorite characters and stories. And while this story does offer new beginnings while being very reminiscent of the original series there was one fundamental problem with it (for me at least).  

Although it is billed as book number one in a new series, there is simply too much from the prior novels happening for someone who brand new to the series to be able to understand everything that is going on. And I don't just mean the overwhelming amount of characters (as one would expect from a series as long and with as many spin-offs as this one), but the sheer amount of history that is also referenced. Try as the author might, there is no way a brand new reader will be able to fully grasp the importance of the white horse. Or how badly things were with the De Lange family in the past. 

However, if you are a long-time fan of the prior novels, you will not be surprised by anything that happens in this book. As Ivan himself said in the blub, history has a way of repeating itself. So that aspect was disappointing for me, and therefore, I didn't have the gut-wrenching, gasping in surprise response the author likely intended. 

Aside from that, I have my usual complaints (coming from an EMS background) of how implausible some of the violence is (I'm sorry, one does not simply get shot in the shoulder and then carry on like nothing happened, and anyone having a stab wound of at least two inches deep requires stitches not a bath and a kiss), but I know that puts me in the minority and others will easily be able to overlook those things. 

Other than those complaints, I have nothing but good things to say about this novel. It seamlessly blends into the Eagle Elite world, the writing keeps the reader engaged, and it perfectly sets the stage for what I am sure will not only be the next chapter of the Cosa Nostra families, but also that of many more generations to come.

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher. 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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