Cosa Nostra by Emma NicholsCosa Nostra by Emma Nichols is a beautiful romance with a difference. As the action and relationships unfold in the story, you realize that Nichols has written it with an almost timeless quality to it.

At the start of the story, Maria Lombardo realizes that she will have to put the life of her dreams away from the Mafia on hold. She is forced to take over the family business. Make no mistake; this is about the Mafia we have all come to understand. Yes, there is violence, and yes, it is about strength. But the family is about loyalty and courage and standing up for your ideals. Things get complicated when you don’t know how to take things forward because you are new in the role of Donna, as Maria is, and the family is waiting for you to make decisions and choices that show you worthy of their loyalty.

Maria meets Simone Di Salvo, who is working in a restaurant that is the meeting place for a rival Mafia family and there is romantic and physical attraction between them. The meeting causes complications in both women’s lives, which leaves you as the reader, wondering, and makes the story a real page-turner.

The Characters

Nichols is an expert at drawing pictures of her characters in words, and Maria Lombardo, at the start, is beautifully engaging. We are sucked into her world as we learn she has plans to present to her parents, which will take her away from the family (with their agreement). Her relationship with her mother is charming and is a constant in her life. Maria’s plans all fall apart as we start the story, and we then witness how Maria’s character changes and grows as she tries to work out how to have the things she wants in her life.

Simone has a much softer role that is about caring, support, and love. Simone is under the protection of the Amato family because her father, mother, and older brother were murdered eight years previously. The Amato family politics mean that Simone is finding life increasingly hard. Her attraction to Maria Lombardo causes her emotional problems and physical danger.

Patrina Amato is the acting Donna of the Amato family while her husband Don Stefano, is in prison. She has had a close relationship with Maria, which has helped her keep her family running smoothly. But Don Stefano looking to the future, wants their nephew Antonio to have more power, and Patrina has to work out how to keep her place in the family. As the story progresses, you realise that there is a hardness to her brought about by the life she has lived, and it is good to see moments when she still retains some of her softness.

The Writing Style

Nichols has a very easy writing style that will draw you in. Make no mistake; this is a real page-turner. The story moves you along as the happenings between the Lombardo’s and Amato’s keep you entranced. The action sequences often leave you trying to draw breath as you rattle along at someone’s speed. The descriptions are spot on and will have you there whether it is on the beach near Maria’s home or in central Palermo.

The Pros

I loved the romance in the story. It is so timeless. The story could have been written recently or fifty years ago, and there would be little difference in the feelings and reactions to events. Nichol’s ability to set a scene and create events within it is masterful, and this book shows that skill off to its best. The end is not as you might be expecting, and for me was one of the exceptional points of the book.

The Cons

You may expect a book with a Mafia storyline to have violence, and there is. But it is mostly off script and not discussed in detail.

valdens favourite booksThe Conclusion

Maria Lombardo loves opera, orchids, and life underwater. She has been brought up by her father to take over after him but has managed to convince him to hand over perhaps to his brother. Then he dies, and we are left wondering how this young woman will cope. It is a glorious story, with romance around the action and so many layers and complexities with the Mafia lifestyle. It is a book that you will return to on those sunny afternoons when all you need is a good story. Enjoy!

Excerpt from Cosa Nostra by Emma Nichols

Maria straightened her back, cleared her throat, and looked at Patrina with unwavering commitment. “I can’t do this anymore.”

Patrina laughed. She shifted up the bed and leaned casually against the headboard.

Maria had come to despise that wry smile, the way Patrina arrogantly cocked her head in an obvious look of utter contempt. Power. History. Control. That was in the past now. Strange, that the woman she had once cared for, maybe loved more than any other, could derive pleasure from inflicting pain. She clenched her teeth and swallowed the fire that would propel her to fight back. Patrina had a knack of conveying emotional blackmail effortlessly through her natural demeanour. How long had it been this way? “I’m serious, Patrina. This.” She pointed between them. “Us. It’s over.”

Patrina tilted her head and considered Maria, as if looking down her nose at something of disgust that she needed to wipe from her shoe.

“You think it is this easy, ma bedda?”

Maria looked away, rolled her tongue over her teeth, and swallowed past the constriction in her throat. She turned towards the door and started to walk. As she turned the handle and opened the door, she took one last inhalation of Patrina’s unique combination of scents. She looked over her shoulder and saw the tightness behind Patrina’s smile and her eyes that looked at Maria without truly seeing. She met Patrina’s gaze and matched her in combative intensity. “That was the last time, Patrina.”

Patrina stiffened her jaw, and her lips all but disappeared. She released a dismissive huff, threw her head back on the pillow, and placed her hand between her legs.

Maria was unable to stop herself from watching as Patrina drew her fingers in circles around her clit.

“What is the saying, Maria? About keeping your enemies close? You don’t want to make too many enemies so early in your leadership. Men are so…” She moaned and bit down on her lip.

Maria rolled her neck and looked away. It was so like Patrina, using seduction to leverage control. But she was done with that tactic.

“They all think they can be the boss. They get impatient, you know.” Patrina moaned in pleasure, started to shudder under her own touch, and then her fingers stilled.

Maria clamped her jaw tightly and shook her head almost imperceptibly. She stepped into the hallway and closed the door softly. She leaned against the chamfered wood and sighed. The bright yellow walls and aroma of freshly laid carpet intensified the nausea clawing at her throat, and she swallowed back the urge to scream

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