Series: Sempre #1
Published by Self-pub Genres: Contemporary Fiction, New Adult, Romance
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This is a story about sacrifice... death... love... freedom. This is a story about forever.
Haven Antonelli and Carmine DeMarco had vastly different childhoods. Haven, a second-generation slave, grew up isolated in the middle of the desert, her days full of hard work and terrifying abuse. Carmine, born into a wealthy Mafia family, lived a life of privilege, never having to answer for anything he did. Both now seventeen, a twist of fate causes their worlds to collide, making them question everything they ever believed. Entangled in a web of secrets and lies, they learn that while different on the surface, they have more in common than anyone would think. In a world full of chaos, where money and power rule, Haven and Carmine yearn to break free, but a string of events that started before either were born threatens to destroy them instead. Murder and betrayal are a way of life, and nothing comes without a price-- especially not freedom. How much will they have to sacrifice? Can they escape their pasts? And, most of all, what does it mean to be free? Not everything is as it seems, and no one can possibly come out unscathed, but maybe, just maybe, it’ll be worth it in the end.
I am having trouble finding the words for how much I loved this story, a story of a young girl who was raised as a slave, and a boy who teaches her what it is like to live.
Haven is a girl who was raised away from the outside world and does not know what freedom is, but what is so amazing about her is that she has so much spirit. She is incredibly strong and learns to overcome more than any young girl should ever have to. Carmine is the ultimate bad boy. Before he met Haven, he was well known for his temper, his cursing, and his womanizing ways. And even though he falls in love and is wholly dedicated to only her (expect some swoony Italian phrases), he never loses his crassness and humor. He can turn something so simple into such a moment of laughter.
“There isn’t a button,” she said. “You choose your setting and then you pull the dial.” He glanced at her as she folded a shirt, annoyed by her nonchalance at doing laundry. “What exactly is my setting? It looks to me like the setting is the goddamn laundry room and the plot is I don’t know how to fucking turn this thing on.”
But this isn’t just a story of Haven and Carmine. There are a number of amazing secondary characters but no one as important as Vincent, Carmine’s father, who also happens to be the consigliere in the mafia. His story is interwoven into the details of Haven and Carmine’s past, present and future and keeps you on the edge of your seat as you discover all the new pieces of information. I had a love/hate relationship with him. There were moments, moreso in the beginning, where I just wanted to slap that man. But just as Haven and Carmine grow and change, so does he. And it is wonderful to see.
The most important thing I will take away from this amazing story, is how it opened my eyes to human trafficking. It is hard to believe that slavery is still going on in the modern world, but it is a very real problem that needs more awareness because it can happen to anyone. I think it is important to note that a portion of the proceeds from Sempre goes towards Love146, an organization dedicated to the prevention and aftercare solutions for those who are survivors.
Sempre is a story that will always stay with me. It is an amazing first novel from the self-published J.M. Darhower and I cannot wait for the sequel!
“And I love you,” he said, his voice a whisper, but Haven felt it powerfully, deep down in her soul. “Ti amo, mia bella ragazza. Per sempre.”
**I would recommend this book for older teens and up due to profanity, violence, and sexual situations.**