Cosa Nostra 2 by Emma NicholsCosa Nostra 2 by Emma Nichols is the second in the Cosa Nostra series and gives us another great installment of action and suspense with a large dose of romance. You can read it stand-alone, but it will be worth the small investment to get book one to give you a full background and the depth of character that adds icing to this mafia cake.

Maria Lombardo visits the ballet in Paris and meets up with Simone Di Salvo. The meeting is unusual in that Simone did not know Maria was still alive; she thought she ‘died’ in a shoot out in Palermo. This reunion was the happy ending of part one and the start of this volume, which is a direct continuation.

The women re-find their love and commit to each other, but there is much that is unsaid. Maria has always been a reluctant head of the family, and getting ‘killed’ allowed her to put her runaway plan into place. She is now Maria Sanchez and has left all responsibility for the Lombardo family to her trusted second Giovanni. He is one of only three people that know she is alive. If the mafia finds Maria alive, she and the rest of her family will become targets of other mafia families, particularly the Amato’s, in an attempt to take over their business. Maria is fearful of being discovered and fearful that Simone will end up paying with her life.

Simone only went to Paris on a short break and ends up in the Pyrenees with Maria for six weeks. She has never had closure of her life in Sicily and increasingly worries about her brother, one of the Lombardo lieutenants. She struggles with her fear of losing Maria and being away from both her brother and her roots.

Maria does not want Simone to leave, it will put everyone in danger, but Simone needs to do it – to sort her affairs before returning. Maria and Simone argue bitterly, and three days later, Simone returns to Palermo. She misses Maria but is pleased to have asserted her independence, increasingly realizing her future is with Maria. But the Lombardo business starts to have problems, and the story begins.

The Characters

Maria is trying to deal with the aftereffects of being shot, both mentally and physically. Also, she is moving forwards into the life she had always planned, living in the Pyrenees and owning an orchid farm. Maria believes she is being watched and looks at everyone as a potential threat to her and Simone’s safety. Her character arc takes her from being out of control to the point of resolution, and it is deftly done.

Simone is the softness to Maria’s firm edges and, as we find, a lover of chickens! She spent three months without the love of her life, thinking Maria dead and it has affected her. Having overcome her initial fear that Maria would disappear again, Simone increasingly worries about winding up her affairs in Palermo. Her brother is reticent on the phone and having brought him up, Simone needs to see him and ensure that all is well.

Many other characters return from the first volume, including Giovanni, Roberto, and Patrina. But elderly Madame Verdeaux is the person I loved in this story. She is a neighbor in the village in the Pyrenees, smokes, and drinks brandy at any time of the day. The memory that has stayed with me is Madame after a couple of large drinks climbing into her Land Rover, which has no suspension, bobbing along the village streets pulling a trailer overflowing with furniture and disappearing into the distance.

The Writing Style

Nichols always writes very readable stories, having the gift of telling a good tale. Her writing is smooth, and her plots move along at a pace. Cosa Nostra 2 is no different. The mafia action and the fear that the mafia instills in people is a big part of the story. Few characters do not show this fear at some point if only to accept that they have the fear; it is an acceptable part of being in a family like the Lombardo’s or Amato’s. The action scenes continue to be exceptionally good.

My Favourite Parts

There are several things that I have especially loved about the series. Cosa Nostra is the story of the romance between Maria and Simone. Their love has a mafia family backdrop, with violence and fear, and Maria manages to escape that life. In this second volume, the mafia family violence and fear continues; in fact it will have you back on the edge of your seat. Maria realizes that she is never going to be able to leave the family while Stephano heads up the Amato family. I loved how this realization comes to her.

Maria and Simone find that their love is challenged by their fears for each other and their family links, creating a certain frisson in their relationship.

And, of course, I loved Madame Verdeaux   

Heads Up

Patrina Amato has an affair with a man. The sex is not described.

The Conclusion

valdens favourite booksNichols has given us another glorious ride through the Lombardo family annals. We get to see the workings of the mafia and the problems of the police and political machinery in Sicily, which provide this story’s setting.

And the romance. The emotions and the angst. It is evident that romance doesn’t always run smoothly, but we see how Maria and Simone come together again despite the obstacles in their way. I loved it.

Excerpt from Cosa Nostra 2 by Emma Nichols

Yes, she could dream of a future with Simone, but was she naïve to think that the future started here and now. Roberto would expect her back after the ballet. She couldn’t just disappear from his life. She could stay a while, but even then, Roberto and Simone were very close and eventually he would ask questions and want to see her. The intimacy she had experienced between them in the tower shattered, and she stopped walking.

Her own pain reflected in Simone’s eyes, she swallowed hard and pursed her lips. “I love you”, she said.

A tear slipped onto Simone’s cheek. “I need to go back,” she said.

Her voice, barely above a whisper, could easily have got lost in the cacophony surrounding them but Maria didn’t need to hear the words. She bit the inside of her mouth as she nodded, inhaled deeply, looked away and then back at Simone. “Will you come with me to St Lizier for a while first?”

Simone threw herself into Maria’s arms and held her tightly. “I love you so much.”

“I know there’s a lot we need to talk about. I just need a few days with you. I want you to see the farmhouse. I’m buying the restaurant in the village. I thought we could make a home there together.” Maria, eased from the hug, looked down at her feet.

Simone lifted her chin, leaned closer, and kissed her fervently. Her eyes shone with the moisture clinging to their surface.

The gentle pressure from the kiss and the hint of sugary sweetness from the macaroons earlier lingered on Maria’s lips. She had the urge to kiss Simone again.

“I would love to see it,” Simone said.

Maria brushed her thumb across Simone’s lips to stem the quivering. “I love you, Simone. I know we can make this work.”

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Cosa Nostra Series

Cosa Nostra

Cosa Nostra 2

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