Publication Date: March 4, 2019
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
There were always whispers about my roommate at Hillcrest Academy.
The wealthiest of the wealthy sent their kids to our boarding school, and Brooke Bennett had been at the top, though I never quite knew why. She was fun and outgoing, but she kept quiet about her family. The only things she showed me were photographs of her brothers.
I became fascinated with her second-oldest brother. Kai Bennett.
He was the most of them all. Smoldering. Hypnotic. Alluring.
Kai had eyes that pulled me in and a face that haunted my dreams.
Then I met him.
He came to our school with their father, and that’s when I learned what kind of family Brooke came from. They were mafia, and Brooke’s oldest brother was dead. Her father said accident, but Brooke said murder.
Three months later, her father died, and Kai became the head of the Bennett Family. Brooke left Hillcrest for good, and that was the last time I saw her.
Fourteen years later, I’m staring at her face on the television. Brooke is missing.
Two days later, Kai Bennett kidnaps me.
I cannot get Bennett Mafia out of my head! Every time I read a book by Tijan, I’m stuck thinking about it for days. Her words and worlds are so addicting and emotionally impactful. It doesn’t matter if I like or dislike one of her books, I’m always left with something to work out in my mind. It happened again with this book. I can’t say that I fell head over heals in love with it, but I did really enjoy it. There were just a couple of things that I had a hard time digesting.
I was impressed with the tale Tijan told in Bennett Mafia. This book was more than just a dark romance. It had all the angst and emotional turmoil of one, but it also had some twists that reminded me of a thriller. Bennett Mafia took me on a ride. I loved that. So many things happened that I didn’t expect. It was great!
Kai and Riley were interesting characters. Riley was a tortured soul who tried to do good. She didn’t let many people in, and I found myself having a hard time getting close to her in the beginning. Once I got into her head and felt the frustration and indecision she was going through, it was easier to connect with her — which was important since she was our only narrator. Kai wasn’t really the book boyfriend type, but he was the perfect mafia king. He was demanding and intense. I would have loved to have had his point of view to know what he was thinking. Both Kai and Riley were methodical. Everything they did had a purpose. They were both very good at hiding emotions and doing what needed to be done. I think that’s why it took me a while to love both of them. I had to get past the walls they had erected just like the people in the book did.
Kai and Riley’s relationship wasn’t one made in heaven. It would be more accurate to say it was made in hell with the mafia thing and all. Their relationship made me uncomfortable at times. Not for the reasons I would have originally expected. I had a hard time buying into it. They had an immediate and intense physical attraction to each other. Their sexual tension and chemistry was strong. That’s where things kind of stopped for me, though. I didn’t feel the emotional connection between them for much of the book. I felt like the building blocks of that love or the moments they could have forged that bond weren’t really there or strong enough for me until the end. That made some of the choices they made not feel as true to me. I don’t want it to sound like I didn’t like Kai and Riley together. I did. I just wanted more from them, I guess. I wanted to feel for their relationship what I did for Samantha and Mason or Ryan and Mackenzie or Jesse and Alex.
Another thing that was uncomfortable for me was some of the brutality to the story — which I expected from a book about the mafia. I cringed through those parts as they propelled the plot forward. That kind of stuff isn’t my favorite to read, but I can handle it when I appreciate a story line. Those heinous acts were important to and perfect for Bennett Mafia.
Despite these things, I found myself addicted to the story. I always wanted to know what was going to happen next. I loved how things unraveled and became known. I also really loved the side characters. The Bennett family was so interesting and surprisingly lovable. Bennett Mafia may not have been my favorite Tijan romance, but it was my favorite Tijan suspense story.