They say your first kiss should be earned.
Mine was stolen by a devil in a masquerade mask under the black Chicago sky.
They say the vows you take on your wedding day are sacred.
Mine were broken before we left church.
They say your heart only beats for one man.
Mine split and bled for two rivals who fought for it until the bitter end.
I was promised to Angelo Bandini, the heir to one of the most powerful families in the Chicago Outfit.
Then taken by Senator Wolfe Keaton, who held my father’s sins over his head to force me into marriage.
They say that all great love stories have a happy ending.
I, Francesca Rossi, found myself erasing and rewriting mine until the very last chapter.
And somewhere between these two men, I had to find my forever.
This is the story of Francesca Rossi, a beautiful socialite who’s spent her life planning to marry Angelo Bandini. They’re both royalty in The Outfit and their fate was sealed at birth until Senator Wolfe Keaton enters the picture. The very night Francesca expects to share her first kiss with Angelo, her kiss is stolen by the deceitful Keaton, leaving her aghast. But nothing could prepare her for the reality that her father has agreed that she will marry the Senator. She’s always belonged to Angelo, how can that change? Their world is run by men and Francesca accepted her fate long ago, conscious that women in her world don’t work or earn degrees, they’re decorations and she comforted herself with the notion that sweet Angelo would give her the life she deserves but isn’t allowed to forge for herself. How can her fate simply change without explanation?
Wolfe Keaton will do anything to destroy Francesca’s father so she’s just a means to an end to him. Good thing, since she loathes him with every fiber of her being. The banter between these two is fantastic and her feisty spirit shows him there’s far more to Francesca than he ever imagined. It’s his infatuation with her that redeems him because he’s not very likeable at first. This is a thirty-year-old man securing an arranged marriage with a nineteen-year-old debutante and she’s devastated by this new development, pining for her childhood love.
“I never planned on falling for him. It just happened. But that’s the thing about love, isn’t it? It’s like death. You know it will happen one day. You just don’t know how or why or when.”
Francesca is willing to fight for her self-respect and her dreams so she doesn’t shy away from fighting her future husband. She’s smart, strong and resilient, not willing to give in to the despair that’s taken over since she was given to Wolfe. He may be more shocked to have feelings than anything else because he’s practically a robot but he slowly begins to accept that Francesca affects him on an emotional level. He has some maturing to do and they grow together.
“I’d imagined our kiss countless times before, but I’d never expected it to feel like this. Like home. Like oxygen. Like forever.”
These two have amazing chemistry even when they try to fight it and it’s fascinating to watch them development as a couple. There’s never a dull moment, with changing allegiances and goals continually transforming as the characters discover things about themselves and one another. This is the story of a strong woman owning her life when everything in her world is trying to keep her weak and dependent, and the men who claim to love her. I really enjoyed this story and will read it again.