Today, I’m reviewing Between Bloody Lips, book two in The Valentino Family series by Sai Fox, a m/m contemporary, mafia romance. Be sure to check out the excerpt, and don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway.
Book Title: Between Bloody Lips
Series: The Valentino Family, Book 2
Author: Sai Fox
Release Date: May 11th, 2019
Genre/s: Mystery/Thriller/Erotic M/M Romance
Trope/s: BDSM, best friends to lovers, forbidden romance,
Heat Rating: 5 flames
Length: 64,000 words/ 370 pages
Blurb: Who is Nicolai Valentino?
Some think him a devoted son, a ruthless killer, a vicious monster. The heir of the infamous Valentino family, Nico is a man with blood-stained hands and a heart of ice.
To Gabriel Delatto, Nico is more than that: a childhood friend, a passionate lover, a misunderstood soul, a man whose cold, calculated outward exterior protects the broken man inside. Nico is his best friend, his lover, his other half—his better half.
But how much of that is true? And how much is just lies whispered between bloody lips?
New York to Tokyo—Gabriel is willing to follow his lover to the ends of the earth to find out what Nico is running from.
Or, maybe, what is Nico running to?
Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited
Nico was beautiful in his fear.
Nico’s hair was mussed, sweat dripping down from his hairline to the collar of his shirt, his pendant standing stark against his throat. There was blood splattered across his cheeks like macabre freckles, a dribble just below his nose making its way down his bottom lip.
Gabriel didn’t know if it was his or someone else’s, but it looked exquisite against his skin.
What would Nico’s blood have tasted like? What would Nico’s fear have tasted like?
It didn’t matter. Gabriel would have kissed it away if he could.
If he could, Gabriel would have done many things differently.
If he could.
If he could…
This was all wrong.
The air in the house was like an oven, nary a breeze to give either of them comfort. Despite the distance between them, a chasm that only seemed to grow wider, Gabriel could all but feel the heat from Nico’s mouth against his.
Nico was fire and Gabriel…
Gabriel was just the kindling.
They were so close—all Gabriel had to do was reach out. All it would take was a hand around Nico’s collar and he could crush his lips against Nico’s. They could fall into each other’s arms as they always had, always would.
That would have been right.
That would have been good.
But there was something pink and gelatinous smeared across the front of Nico’s shirt, something that Gabriel knew intrinsically belonged in someone’s head, not spread across Nico’s white button-up.
Nico’s hands shook like leaves on trees just before the hurricane ripped them off and scattered them across the sea.
When their eyes met, Gabriel turned away his head as though someone struck him.
Nico’s unbridled fear staring back at him through piercing dark blue eyes made his stomach churn.
That wasn’t how Nico was supposed to stare at him. That wasn’t what they had, that wasn’t who they were supposed to be.
Why was Nico so scared?
Why was Nico scared of him?
Gabriel could hear the words, feel the cold metal in his hand. He knew that there was something wrong with this scene, knew that this wasn’t how any of this was supposed to go. He could feel the heaviness of the gun, the cloying smell of blood and shit, the sweat on his brow, the panic clawing through his stomach—
“Gabriel—please. Please, listen to me. You don’t have to do this. I know you, Gabriel. I know you. This isn’t you. This isn’t you.”
“Get out of the way, Nico.”
It was his voice.
He could feel the hum of the words leaving his throat, how his lungs exhaled with every syllable. He could feel the way his lips touched, how they formed words, how his tongue clinked against his teeth.
He could feel it, feel allof it, just as he could feel the metal, hard and cold, gripped in his hand.
“You can’t do this. you have to stop—” Nico reached out for his arm, but it met nothing but air.
Gabriel tried to lower his hand, tried to loosen his grip on the gun, but he couldn’t.
“Don’t make me hurt you.”
“Gabriel—you’re better than this. You’re more than this!”
“My hands are bloodier than yours.”
Gabriel wanted his hand to shake, but it was steady.
It was toosteady.
“Baby. Please. If you do this… you can’t come back from this.”
He wanted to let go, wanted to scream, wanted to say something—anything.
Why couldn’t he stop himself? Why couldn’t he let go? Why did it feel as though he were a marionette, a puppet with someone else pulling his strings?
I don’t want this. I don’t want to do this. Please. Please. Nico—please—
“Gabriel… I love you.”
It was a whisper between bloody lips.
“I love you. Please don’t do thi—”
Gabriel pulled the trigger.
Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang.
As in the previous novel, Between Bloody Lips continues the saga of Nicolai “Nico” Valentino and Gabriel Delatto. Now in Japan, having followed Nico there in the previous book, Gabriel is determined to save his lover, but he doesn’t count on unearthing many truths.
I must say Ms. Fox kept me reading because “what happened in Jersey” had me curious. Just like the previous novel, Between Bloody Lips starts off slow and goes into heavy detail. But she keeps the plot moving at all times. Each scene ending, each chapter ending, she ends on a bang or a cliff hanger that forces the reader to turn the page to find out what will happen next.
Since this is told straight from Gabriel’s POV, his journey at times is dreamlike, depending on what happens to him, or full of internal musings, misgivings, and doubt. Some readers might find the book dark, even sinister, but I didn’t. I loved the deep exploration of the criminal world the author brought me to.
New characters pop up, and I ADORED Rin. She’s a real show stealer. I hope she pops up in the next book. This character Ms. Fox created is a ruthless, cold woman capable of mind-screwing or putting the fear into anyone. She was all three dimensional. No cookie cutter antagonist, if you wish to call Rin an antagonist, or perhaps she’s something else. There is much mystery surrounding her.
Gabriel is the star in this novel. Nico makes his appearances, but this is Gabriel’s story.
The last one-fourth of the novel was executed brilliantly. I loved the twists and turns. As for the epilogue, again, Ms. Fox leaves the reader wanting more, because she leaves a wonderful and intriguing trail of bread crumbs.
The setting left me feeling as if I was in Japan. Ms. Fox did a great job taking me through this country.
I highly recommend her Valentino Family series. Just remember there’s a lot of internal musings, and the beginning always starts off slow, even some chapters are slow, but it’s a great read. Go buy yourself a copy.
Ms. Fox is brilliant in the genre of m/m romance. I do hope she keeps writing books about gorgeous men who are in love with each other.
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.
Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for a chance to win a signed set of The Valentino Family Series (2 books)