Russian vor Sergei Petrovyh’s knows he should keep his hands off someone as beloved by the locals as Evie, but there’s something about that calls to him. Evie has certainly noticed the powerful Russian mafia boss – he’s as hot as his reputation is dangerous, but right now she needs money to get her son out of trouble and her other needs will have to wait. She can’t help falling deeper in love with each passing day, but when a rival brings violence to her doorstep, Evie must come to grips with loving a man who will do anything to defend her. The first ‘NOLA Knight’ story is as suspenseful as it is romantic, engaging and entices readers to hold their kindle or book close, so that they don’t miss one word. The characters are strong and believable with a hero that is bad to the bone tough but has a heart that is always in the right place while the heroine is a determined and courageous single mom. The chemistry between the two has sparks flying and singes the pages while the romance is quite sweet with quite a bit of emotional turmoil as the couple has to make decisions regarding what’s right for each of them when it comes to Sergei’s status. The plot is steady to fast paced and full of suspense and excitement that keeps readers glued to the pages as the couple face “real” life decisions and choices, betrayals and “no way” twists. Readers can’t help but become caught up in this story as it is the hero is a perfect balance between bad boy and a white knight while the heroine is brave enough to step into his world and accept his life.
I love the way this author writes heroes! The icing on her already delicious cake is a heroine that is just as wonderful. Sergei and Evette were awesome individually and together. Add a seven year old boy, and a Cinderella type feel to the story and this book was a winner! Evette dealt with life’s harsher realities by losing herself in wild actions which resulted in an unplanned pregnancy. Since then, she’s buckled down and even if she’s not living her dreams, she’s determined to give her son stability in every area of his life. That determination is what motivates her to approach Sergei Petrovyh, the boss of the local bratva and a man that catches her eye each time he’s in her vicinity. Sergei is expecting her to request a loan so when she asks if he can direct her to a job, he’s thrown off course. For just a moment. Because within the next heartbeat he’s crossing every line he mentally drew when it comes to the neighborhood’s darling. ”Much as he’d honor and savor the touch of someone so light and good, the darkness in him was too thick. Weighted with too many bodies and tainted with too much blood to be worthy of such a gift.” He’s been watching her for a while and has battled his own desires but when she takes a deliberate step into his life he’s going to run with it. He intends to keep his distance, but when her sun shines even brighter in his darkness, he’s staking his claim. Evette was a wonderful heroine with her fierce independence, her loyalty, her parenting habits and her ability to evolve when it came to Sergei’s darkness. She lands in a bit of drama that pertains to Sergei’s business but instead of trying to keep it a secret, she does the adult thing and communicates with him. There was never a too stupid moment although it could have easily gone that way. I loved that that wasn’t her way of dealing with things. She was always up front and honest, especially with herself. As for Sergei, he won me from his very first appearance in the book. The fact that his every thought and action was affected by Evette and Emerson’s presence in his life made me love him all the more. His tender regard, insight into what each was feeling, and total “mine” attitude when it came to both of them skyrocketed him to perfect book boyfriend status. I loved each time we had his point of view because it cemented what his actions and comments highlighted…Evette and her son were his everything. And he shows it non-stop. Swoon. He was freaking amazing! ”If we continue on as we were, people might misinterpret your place. Today, we are making it clear to everyone and anyone who might be interested exactly what that place is.” “Well, would you mind telling me? Because things are a little hazy from where I’m standing.” His demeanor shifted in a second, the amusement and patience he’d shown swept away in the space of one gasp as he cupped the back of her head and tugged her flush against him. “Mine.” This has a great pace to it, slow on action despite the bratva life, heavy on possible danger, sizzling in the chemistry department, and perfection when it came to the epilogue. The secondary characters were just as wonderful as the hero and heroine and they added so much richness to the story without ever stealing the show. I cannot wait to get more in this series! Highly recommending this one to anyone who enjoys bratva/mafia tropes without the dark, heavy feel that can sometimes overshadow the romance contained within.
His to Defend by Rhenna Morgan NOLA Knights #1 Smiling as I write this. Why? Because this book brought a bit of sunshine into my day just as Evette brought more than a little of it into Sergei’s. Sure...Sergei Petrovyh is creating his own “family” Russian Mafia style in New Orleans so he is not all sugar and spice...definitely more spice than sugar BUT he is a man I could definitely understand. His backstory made him who he was and his desire for something “else” brought him to New Orleans to create it. Meeting Evette and having her ask him for help might have been the first step in their dance but the two had definitely been eyeing one another for some time before she asked him to help her find a job. Evette is loved by those in her community. She is a single mother raising seven year old Emerson and doing the best she can. Her parents died much too soon and it was not easy for her. The one true friend she has is Dorothy, her mother’s best friend. She works hard, is frugal and hopes to one day pursue the dreams she had before the loss of her parents and arrival of her son. Taking the step she did to reach out to someone known to be dangerous wasn’t easy but it seemed right at the time and over time...following her gut was definitely the best decision she ever made. Sergei had a tough childhood but managed to accidentally fall into the right hands...hands that helped him move from a bad situation to one where he found family in the Russian mob. As one of the favors from his Pakhan he was given the opportunity to set up his own family and he chose to do so in New Orleans. He knows he is dark and that bringing someone so bright, cheerful and filled with light into his life might not be wise but then...when is it always the best thing to be wise? This story sizzled. It made me care and want to find out how the two would end up finding their HEA. There were no bumps in the road or big kerfuffles but there were some issues to be addressed before the two finally did settle in together. Some may not like the dominant alpha male that Sergei is but I am one reader who enjoys MC and Mafia romances so this was a good fit for me. I also have read all of the Haven series and was eager to read Sergei’s story...and...now want to find out about the men in his “family” and who they will end up with. Did I like this book? Yes Would I like to read more by this author? Definitely Thank you to NetGalley, Carina Press and the author for the ARC – This is my honest review. 5 Stars