Exploring Tropes: Mafia Romance

As promised, I’ll write a book recommendation based on tropes. I have a list of my top five romance tropes and you can check it out here. On my first Exploring Tropes, we’ll venture on Mafia Romance. Honestly, books that has this trope is thrilling and addictive. The romance is always explosive and I just love mafia men. You know I’m a sucker for bad boys. The heroines are feisty and call out their lover’s bullshit.

It’s understandable this isn’t for everyone as it has trigger warnings such as violence, profanity, kidnapping, drugs, abuse etc. Everything is not sugarcoated and admittedly some of them are problematic. It’s your discretion to read them. I’ll do my best to rank it according to its darkness level so you’ll have an idea what to expect or if you can handle the story. It’s a lengthy post so please bear with me. Here are the mafia books / series I enjoyed:

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Huge Deal by Lauren Layne

Huge DeaL2Pages: 259

Goodreads Rating: 4.11 / 5 stars

My Rating: 4 / 5 stars

Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance

Publication Date: February 12th 2019

Publisher: Montlake Romance


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Even for a top-gun banker, temptation this hot is quite a gamble, in a sexy Wall Street romp from New York Times bestselling author Lauren Layne.

An alpha among the wolves of Wall Street, Kennedy Dawson rose to the top of the pack by striking the right contracts at the right times. But there’s one deal that’s been giving him a run for his money—a pact to never again let his assistant, Kate, get under his skin. She may be smart, gorgeous, and sharp as a whip, but she’s definitely off-limits.

Kate Henley isn’t a banker, but she knows a thing or two about risk management—specifically, about managing her attraction to her smolderingly sexy boss. She already fell once, and Kennedy showed no sign of paying a return on her investment. So when Kennedy’s brother starts pursuing her, Kate figures she has the best of both worlds. Jack is charming, rich, very attentive, and the spitting image of his older brother.

It’s also making Kennedy think twice. But to win Kate’s heart, he’ll have to broker the deal of a lifetime…and prove he’s worth the risk.

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Hard Sell by Lauren Layne

HSPages: 247

Goodreads Rating: 4.11 / 5 stars

My Rating: 4.5 / 5 stars

Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance

Publication Date: September 4th 2018

Publisher: Montlake Romance


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He’s a Wall Street wolf. She’s been hired to tame him. From New York Times bestselling author Lauren Layne comes a wildly sexy novel of business and pleasure.

Twenty-eight and filthy rich, Matt Cannon is the youngest broker on Wall Street. He may be a “boy wonder,” but he’s every inch a man. Ask any woman—any night. But when Matt’s latest fling makes scandalous headlines, his clients get anxious, and his bosses at Wolfe Investments level an ultimatum: keep his assets zipped, get a “real” girlfriend, and clean up his act. Only one woman can help Matt with something this hard.

For PR genius Sabrina Cross, the best fixer in Manhattan, playing Matt’s steady is going to be a challenge, even if it’s just for show. They already have an explosive history, she can’t stand the cocky party boy, and worse—she can’t stop thinking about him. So who’ll dare to break her “no touching” rule first? Because when that happens, Matt and Sabrina’s game of let’s pretend will get so hot it could set both their reputations on fire.

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My Favorite Cowboy by Donna Grant

mfcPages: 320

Goodreads Rating: 4.23 / 5 stars

My Rating: 4 / 5 stars

Genre: Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Western Romance

Publication: February 26th 2019

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press


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New York Times bestselling author Donna Grant rounds up the hottest cowboys in Texas in her latest novel of no-holds-barred passion.

Audrey Martinez is a veterinarian who has devoted her whole life to the care and protection of horses—even if doing so leaves her little time for meeting a man. Who would have thought that a strange case of criminal horseplay would lead her to falling deeply, wildly in love? If only the man who makes her heart race faster than a wild mustang would let his guard down, that is. . .

Caleb Harper is no ordinary cowboy. Sure, he wears his hat, boots, and jeans like a second skin, and displays an easygoing charm that comes from years of working on the ranch. But with his military background, and Army buddies at his side, he is tried-and-true Texas tough. Audrey knows she can trust a man like Caleb to help her save horses. But can Caleb trust himself to resist his attraction to Audrey—or will the sparks of their desire end up getting them burned?

“A fantastic, first-class Lone Star romance.” 
—RT Book Reviews (Top Pick!) on The Christmas Cowboy Hero

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TV Series Thoughts (SPOILER)| You

You (2018)IMDB Rating: 8.1 / 10

My Rating: 8 / 10

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Casts: Penn Badgley, Elizabeth Lail, Luca Padovan, Zach Cherry, Shay Mitchell

Number of Episodes: 10

Running Time: 41 – 71 min / episode

Developed by: Greg Berlanti & Sera Gamble


A clever bookstore manager relies on his savvy Internet know-how to make the woman of his dreams fall in love with him. (IMDB)

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Release Blitz | Raw: Rebirth by Belle Aurora

RawRebirthPages: 482
Goodreads Rating: 4.09 / 5 stars
My Rating: 4.5 / 5 stars
Genre: Adult, Romantic Suspense, Dark Romance
Publication Date: January 2nd 2019
Publisher: Self-published
It had been six years since my world was turned upside down.
He exposed me to the darker side of life and I could never go back to the person I was.
I had been through more things the average person couldn’t even relate to.If I had the chance to go back and do things differently though?
Not a chance.I’d pick him a thousand times. A million times. For eternity.

I guess not much has changed.

My name is Alexa Ballentine, and I am still in love with my stalker.

Purchase Links


Available at other retailers soon

My Review:

Review also posted on Goodreads

ARC kindly provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Raw: Rebirth is one of my most anticipated series finale and it’s been a LONG wait. Even longer for others who’ve read this book in year 2014 and the previous book, Dirty, made us crave more for this (should I say DYING to get our hands on this book).  Before I proceed with my full review, I tried my best to make it as spoiler-free as possible and  I apologize in advance if I ever did unconsciously. I wrote what pops in my head and rave. I’ve warned you.

Things I tried not to do while reading Raw: Rebirth but FAILED:

  1. Scream
  2. Emotional
  3. Swoon
  4. Mad
  5. Stress out (both good and bad)

My hands shook from excitement as soon as I synchronize my eReader and saw this title and put down ALL my current reads. My oh my, this book drove me into a roller coaster of emotions and I was holding on to dear life. To think it’s tamer compared to the two previous books but Ms. Aurora maintained the intensity. It’s balanced and I love it. It’s also told in multiple point of views introducing us to new characters which added subplots. No worries because they’re still interconnected to each other and it doesn’t overshadowing the main plot.

The female characters dominated this book. Protagonist, antagonist, and side characters — the women shine in this. We have Lexi Ballantine. She has an exceptional character development since Raw. She’s braver, stronger and more resilient. I love how protective and loving she to all her love ones. She’s a fierce lioness. Molly Te Wiata. Her childhood may be awful but it taught her to be tougher. Rough on the edges but definitely a sweet young lady. Honestly, I want her as my sister. Lastly, Ling Nguyen. Why did I include the psychopath Dragon Queen? She’s a great anti-heroine no matter how screwed up she is, she fascinated and terrified me.

This dark romance just made me emotional.  How can I not? Twitch and Lexi had been through a lot  and all I want for them is happiness. They have an imperfect relationship. It made them vulnerable and emotionally scarred. Yet, fate did its job and everything has changed…for good. It’s a beautiful and rough journey worth taking.

Overall, I’m satisfied with the ending. We had a closure and no cliffhanger but I am hoping there’ll be either a spin-off series or a crossover. I see potential characters / couples and I’m curious about their story.

Also Available


Free in Kindle Unlimited



Author Bio

Aurora is thirty-something year old and was born in the land down under.

At an early age she fell in love with reading. Boredom one summer had her
scouring the bookshelves at home. She stumbled across Sandra Brown’s Breath of
Scandal and fell in love with romance.

Having been brought up in a loud and boisterous family of Croatian descent, she
developed a natural love for dramatics and laughter. Only some years ago had
she discovered a new love.

Humorous romance novels.

So many authors had opened a brand new world where she could lose herself yet
feel safe and at home in their stories. Belle has been known to become a
screeching banshee while anxiously awaiting their newest titles.

Belle never thought she would write. It had never interested her until
recently. Friend-Zoned began to form and in February this year Belle typed the
words Chapter One. And she fell in love.

With words.

With writing.

With a creative imagination she never knew she harbored.

Aurora is a USA Today best-selling author.

Author Links


#Smutathon v. 2.0: TBR and Book Recommendations


Yaaassss! Lainey @ gingerreadslainey and Riley @ Riley Marie are hosting Smutathon Round 2 this coming December 10th – 16th 2018. Check out their videos for the mechanics and categories. You have the choice to pick the 7th trope by voting here.  Though I might start on the last 2 days of the readathon and here’s my ambitious TBR:

  • Enemies to Lovers : Nero by Sarah Brianne
  • Friends with Benefits : Sincerely Carter by Whitney G.
  • Fake Relationship : Hitched by Kendall Ryan
  • Forbidden Romance : Twist Me by Anna Zaires
  • Slow burn Romance : Burn For You by J.T. Geissinger
  • Different Worlds : Rhapsodic by Laura Thalassa
  • Workplace Romance : Still by Kennedy Ryan (I’m continuing the series and I’m not ready for this series to end. This counts right because Bristol is Grip’s manager… haha) P.S. I hope this prompt wins.

Book Recommendations

I listed down books I recommend for each category and possible categories they might fit into. I hope this’ll help you and fellow readers for your #Smutathon TBR. I don’t want to elaborate much of these books’ synopsis because some of them are best to read blind.

Enemies to Lovers

  • Paper Princess by Erin Watt – This series reminds me of Meteor Garden / Hana Yori Dango. If you love that manga / tv series, you might love this. It’s loaded with drama. You’re not going to worry about the cliffhangers since it’s completed.
  • Hero by Samantha Young –  Aside from On Dublin Street, this is one of my favorites by Ms. Young. She’s great in writing angsty romances especially enemies to lovers. We have a feisty heroine and an asshole CEO. Lots of family drama and the sex scenes? Fiery and sexy. (It can also fit to workplace romance / friends with benefits — they’re quite frenemies in this book)
  • Bully by Penelope Douglas – A New Adult romance author who’s great in writing enemies to lovers is none other than Ms. Douglas. I devoured this book and I hope you’ll love Jared Trent and Tatum/Tate Brandt’s story. It’s really angsty.
  • Hot Asset by Lauren Layne – This is one of the books I finished in #Smutathon Round 1. Damn the sexual tension in this book is freaking good! I love the banters between the characters as well. It’s about an investment broker who’s been accused of insider tipping and a SEC investigator was assigned to monitor his activities.  (It can also fit on Forbidden Romance)
  • Stuck-Up Suit by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward – For this one, you’re in for drama and angsty-filled story. Soraya and Graham’s sexual tension = LIT.  Ms. Keeland and Ms. Ward can balance the romance and drama.
  • Anything You Can Do by R.S. Grey – It’s both hilarious and a bit annoying but it’s lighthearted. If you need a quick read, this one is great. (It can also fit for Workplace Romance)
  • The Hating Game by Sally Thorne – I don’t need to explain why you should read this right? Lucy and Josh will make you swoon. (It can also fit for Workplace Romance)

Friends with Benefits 

  • Bad Things by R.K. Lilley – This is a spin-off series for Up in the Air series but you can jump into this without reading that series. I find this hotter and sexier than James and Bianca’s story. Remind me to continue this series. 😉
  • Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover – I had a good ugly cry in this book. Colleen Hoover’s books are always emotional and a box of tissue must be ready.
  • Before Jamaica Lane by Samantha Young – Here’s another Samantha Young entry. This one is my favorite book in the On Dublin Street series. I ship Nate and Liv so hard. It’s by far the best friends-with-benefits book I’ve read ever read.

Fake Relationship

  • The Billionaire Bachelor by Jessica Lemmon – My first Jessica Lemmon book didn’t disappoint. The succeeding books in the series gets better. (It can also fit for workplace romance.)
  • One Week Girlfriend by Monica Murphy – This is one of the quick reads I enjoyed years ago. It’s very lighthearted and cute.
  • The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang – Another book I don’t have to explain why you should read it. I guarantee you, Stella and Michael’s story will make you swoon. Definitely one of my favorites of 2018.
  • The Matchmaker’s Playbook by Rachel Van Dyken – I read this during Smutathon round 1. It’s not my favorite but the story is a guilty pleasure read. It’s rare I encountered books with a guy running a dating service. He’s a love guru who helps women to boost their confidence so their match will fall for them.

Forbidden Romance

  • Rush by Maya Banks – Brother’s best friend and Best friend’s younger sister? YES PLEASE. Maya Banks writes sexy erotica novels and this one has BDSM in it.
  • Priest by Sierra Simone – Sinfully seductive and kinky af. I do recommend this in audiobook because ZACHARY WEBBER’S VOICE IS EVERYTHING. You may want to bathe in holy water because Father Bell… 😉 bwahaha
  • Gabriel’s Inferno by Sylvain Reynard – One of my all time favorite romance novels. SR’s writing is enticing and this book gave me butterflies. I swooned! I can’t recommend this book enough. You’ll appreciate it more if you’re familiar with The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri. 😉 This is a student – teacher romance. (It can also fit for Slow Burn romance)
  • Beautiful Mistake by Vi Keeland – Here’s another student-teacher romance. This one isn’t as angsty as others and it’s really heartwarming. I recommend it.
  • Unteachable by Leah Raeder / Elliot Wake – This student-teacher romance is very underrated and I think people should read this one more. Love the angst and romance.

Slow Burn Romance 

  • Grip by Kennedy Ryan – I recently finished this book when Ari and Britt recommend this to me. Such a wonderfully written and eye-opening interracial romance. I was speechless. It’s a must read. Enough said. You must read the prequel first before you proceed to this.
  • Professor Feelgood by Leisa Rayven – An editor searching for a potential best selling author and she stumbles into a guy’s Instagram account a.k.a Professor Feelgood with poetic captions. All I’m gonna say is that the story is greatly executed and the poems in this book are beautiful and passionate. My feels! (It can also fit for enemies to lovers)
  • Kulti by Mariana Zapata – This is a pretty chunky book and is indeed a SLOW BURN romance. The characters didn’t get together until 70-80% of the book as far as I can remember. It’s about a female football player and her football legend idol becomes her coach. (It can also fit for forbidden romance or enemies to lovers)
  • Behind the Bars by Brittainy C. Cherry – Another interracial romance I loved. The story is emotional. Aside from romance, it’s also about forgiveness, grief, family and acceptance.
  • Archer’s Voice by Mia Sheridan – It’s one of those story you’ll slowly devour. The male protagonist is mute and he’s quite aloof with everyone. The romance was beautifully done and with the heroine’s patience, everything worked out. So good! I highly recommend.

Different Worlds 

  • Pestilence by Laura Thalassa – If it wasn’t for Marla Mei and Maria, I wouldn’t have discovered this book. I rarely read New Adult books outside contemporary romances and this post-apocalyptic book is surprisingly good.
  • Killing Sarai by J.A. Redmerski –  This underrated series was a roller coaster ride of plot twist. One of the best series of all time and I’m waiting for the 8th book. Trigger warning: Violence, gore, drugs
  • Tears of Tess by Pepper Winters – When it comes to dark romance, Ms. Pepper Winters is my go-to. Sometimes her books can be overwhelming but damn they’re all intense. Q & Tess are your unconventional couple. Trigger warning: Kidnapping, abuse, violence, BDSM.
  • Captive in the Dark by C.J. Roberts – This is one of the books I’ve read when I was new to dark romance. It really pushes me out of my comfort zone. It’s a gradual start but the series gets better. Trigger warning: Kidnapping, abuse, violence

Road Trip, Workplace Romance, One Night Stand

  • The Edge of Never by J.A. Redmerski – This is the only road trip book that pops out of my mind. Gaaaah! One of my favorite New Adult books of all time. You can never go wrong with Ms. Redmerski whether it’s contemporary or romantic/crime suspense.
  • Beautiful Bastard by Christina Lauren – Originally, it’s a Twilight fan fiction (I remember reading that version). This one is SO ANGSTY and full of sexual tension. LOL. (It can also fit on enemies to lovers)
  • Egomaniac by Vi Keeland – This one is funny and sweet at the same time. It’s about a divorce lawyer and a marriage counselor who shared an office space. Then polar opposites attract.
  • Bared to You by Sylvia Day – This should’ve been adapted into a movie than Fifty Shades of Grey. It’s twice better in terms of the plot, writing, romance and characters. Gideva forever! ❤
  • Lick by Kylie Scott – The mc married a rock star after her 21st birthday celebration. At first I wasn’t a fan of the heroine but her character development is good. This rock star romance was a great start for the series. I need to continue the series too.
  • Beautiful Stranger by Christina Lauren –  The second book in the Beautiful Bastard series. I find this better than the first book and Max Stella and Sara Dillon’s chemistry is great! (They’re also kinky. haha!)
  • Fight with Me by Kristen Proby  – This is the second book in With Me in Seattle series but you can read this as a standalone. Ms. Proby’s books are quick to read. You can finish this in one sitting.

My TBR changes depending on my mood. Are you guys participating #Smutathon? Let me know on the comments / link your post on your TBR! Have a wonderful week ahead everyone!