Today, I’m reviewing Sai Fox’s first book in the Valentino Family series, On Hands and Knees, a m/m contemporary mafia romance.
Title: On Hands and Knees
Series: The Valentino Family
Author: Sai Fox
Cover Artist: Samantha Garrett
Release Date: June 1, 2018
Genres: Mystery, Thriller, BDSM
Heat Rating: 5 flames
Length: 40 000 words/ 226 pages
Valentino blood runs black.
Blurb: Nicolai Valentino is the almost perfect heir to the Valentino Family—impeccably dressed, devilishly handsome, impossibly cold, and absolutely dedicated to a family that scorns his very existence. Born to the infamous Boss and a Japanese woman of no consequence, Nico must fight for respect in a blood-thirsty world that would be much happier to see him with a hole in his head.
Blood runs thick in the Valentino Family. To them, Nico’s little better than water.
Gabriel Delatto is Nico’s right-hand man, his childhood friend, and under the darkness of their ruby red sheets, his lover. But more than that, Gabriel holds the secret to unlocking who Nico really is—the true Nico, not the mask beginning to crack around the edges.
But there is a pleasure in that pain, he knows. There is only ever pleasure when it comes to Nico, even if it comes from the crack of a whip or on the edge of a blade.
But there’s someone lurking in the darkness, something that neither Nico nor Gabriel truly understand. But there is one thing they do know—
It isn’t afraid to bite.
It is the first book of a series, with additional books due to be released in the summer.
Nico was beautiful in his anger.
“I’ve tried to play nice with you. Out of respect for your father and everything he did for this Family, I did my best. I’ve given you almost half a year for you and your buddy to pay me back for that flop of a restaurant in SoHo. But I’m done playing around, now. You get three days— that’s it. My respect only goes so far, and you’ve reached the limit.”
There was a darkness in him, one that reminded Gabriel of an avenging angel, one that was so beautiful and yet impossibly terrifying.
There was something that was almost inhuman in the way Nico’s jaw clenched and his deep blue eyes burned with a fire that left nothing but ash in its wake. There was such a depth to him, such a passion, that it made Gabriel’s heart flutter in his chest.
He was absolutely exquisite. He was born to be a leader, born to take the mantle from his father. He was born in fire and would die in fire, too.
Nicolai Valentino would be an amazing Boss one day.
“Nico—you know he’s good for it. You know I’m good for it.”
“Huh,” Nico scoffed as he adjusted his cufflinks, the diamonds glittering from the overhead light. “Do I? If he were good for it then he wouldn’t be needing to send you over here, crawling on your damn knees, to try and get more.”
“Nico, listen to me. We wanna give you your money, but we hit a tough spot. You can understand that. You know how it goes. If you could give us a little more—”
Nico looked down his nose as he raised his hand.
Jerry Colombo went silent.
On Hands and Knees is a look into a forbidden relationship between the heir-apparent, Nico, of the Valentino crime family, and his right-hand man and childhood friend Gabriel Delatto. Told entirely through Gabriel’s POV, the duo know their relationship is sitting on borrowed time, because Nico will have to eventually marry and produce an heir, as is the Family tradition. Gabriel reluctantly accepts this. He even mentions to himself that he’ll also marry. Although they won’t be together in the way they wish, they’ll still “see” one another after they marry others.
But there’s something lurking in the past that’s bothering Gabriel. He talks about “Jersey” a lot, and how it’s changed Nico.
The plot moves slowly at first, for about the first three-fourths of the novel. It focusses on Nico and Gabriel’s relationship, with musings from Gabriel, and how he “calms” Nico through the sex Nico craves. I waited for this “darkness” but it never happened. So I’m assuming it’ll happen in the next novel. There is a glimpse of what Nico needs, but because the two are never truly alone, the sexual scenes happen when they only have maybe ten minutes to spare.
The writing is strong, except for when the author shifts into the “other man,” “the blonde,” and other author intrusion narration that takes us out of Gabriel’s POV, but she did a great job keeping me reading up until the end. Well done.
Will I read and review the next novel? Yes, because I enjoyed this book and the characters. For those craving something darker, it doesn’t happen. But if you are looking for forbidden love, it’s offered up nicely, with a great cliff-hanger ending. There is suspense, violence, love, angst–all that great stuff I enjoy.
Do yourself a favour and pick up a copy. It’s a great read.
Sai Fox was born and raised in New York City, so it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that there’s an ever-present coffee cup on her desk as she writes well into the night. A chronic insomniac, some of her best ideas come to her right before heading off to bed.
Currently residing in Tokyo, Sai finds most of her time spent writing, reading, and wandering the strange and intoxicating streets that tell thousands of stories… with a cup of coffee. There is always a cup of coffee.
Sai has been writing fiction for well over a decade, enjoying the ability to push boundaries of society and sexuality through her work.