*Thank you to Bloomsbury via NetGalley for providing me with a digital ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review*
I’m torn over this book — I’m sitting here, even still, scratching my head and trying to decide whether or not I enjoyed this book. On the whole, I feel like I should just shrug and say, “Eh, it’s a book.”
I think the ultimate problem is this: this books is pitched very much like a thriller involving a mafia based in the organ black market with high intrigue and stakes. But it’s not — nowhere even close! This is a romance novel…that just so happens to have a protagonist whom is the daughter of a mob boss.
This wouldn’t be as disappointing if the protagonist were tolerable. Penelope is the weakest link of the entire story, and we’re forced to traverse this literary realm through her and her voice. I don’t object to her suffering from a rare autoimmune disease — one so deadly that even a small touch will cause her to bruise horribly or start bleeding — especially since her father is in the organ market. It’s an interesting aspect! She has every right to be frustrated with being treated like she’s some fragile glass ball, but I’m not so sure the Family kept her out of the business because of that: I think they did it because she’s a nitwit. A spoiled, whining nitwit.
You can sum up Penelope in her sea of temper tantrums and childish attitude. I don’t care how sick she is: nothing excuses her behaviour. In the one moment she does get to attend a meeting and be involved in the Family business…she completely spaces out! By the time she’s actually paying attention, the meeting is over! I’m sorry, isn’t the hook of this book that she’s the daughter of a major crimeboss? Wouldn’t it be important to actually share some of the details of this world with us?
I started wondering if Ms. Schmidt wrote Penelope in this way just so that she could avoid in-depth worldbuilding.
So, yes, this isn’t a thriller of a mob story so much as a romance. So, how was it? Well, it was there. Her love interest was just there to be a love interest — not too much depth, though certainly more than Penelope. It’s insta-love without question and, honestly, I almost put the book down at that point.
The strongest character is Garrett, the second-in-command to Penelope’s father. I vote that the sequel focus on him and his story. Let’s get some depth — let’s get some crime! I want the mafia and the Family and its business! If you’re going to pitch me a great crime novel, actually give me some crime in the novel!