I received this book for free from From Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Series: Forever series #0.4
Published by Self-pub on October 27th 2014
Genres: Adult, Contemporary Fiction, New Adult, Romance
Source: From Author
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The world knows the notorious Kevlar Killer, but few have ever seen what lies beneath his armor. The abused child. The neglected teenager. The broken man. He always did whatever he had to do in order to survive.
It's kill or be killed.
Throughout his life, he has been there in the shadows, a witness to everything from beginning to end. Bound by loyalty and honor, there's only one thing he would sacrifice it all for: family.
Never get close. Never get attached. It's a lesson that has been brutally pounded into him since childhood, but they're words the DeMarcos make it difficult for him to follow. Through them he finds love and grieves loss, realizing the world isn't quite as black and white as it's made out to be.
I fell in love with Sempre a few years ago, and its sequel Sempre: Redemption last year. I loved how exciting and dangerous the mafia life was conveyed, I loved the complex characters with all of their ups and downs, and I loved how the writing captivated me. There are so many different threads woven together to create the story of these characters’ lives and pulling on each one in the first two books to unravel the story was something so special for me as I read. Everything fit together like pieces of a puzzle, things you wouldn’t even expect. The past played a huge part in all that we discovered for Carmine and Haven. Made allows us the opportunity to delve into it even further with one of the series most mysterious and fascinating characters, Corrado.
Made is more or less the story of Corrado’s life. It is a prequel to Sempre so it takes place well before those events until we eventually crossover near the end. The book is split into the important stages that help define who Corrado is and the ‘made’ mafia man he later becomes. And it all starts from his childhood. And what a childhood that was. A drunk, abusive mother who he witnesses killing someone very close to him. A mother who seems to want nothing to do with him, perhaps even wanting him dead. A horrible sister I didn’t think I could despise even more than I already did. And a father who seemed to care in his own way but is absent more than present due to his life in the mafia. But how Corrado looked up to him, wanted to be just like him even before he knew what that meant. I found little boy Corrado to be quiet, reserved, and perhaps a little emotionally-detached, much like his adult self. After a few of the events early on it was easy to understand why. This glimpse inside his life allowed me to see just how easily he fit into this lifestyle without a speck of doubt. He pays attention and is great at getting a read on people and situations, which serves him well. He is loyal and dependable, taking every aspect of his life seriously. He is strong, smart, and one to fear. We get to see that murderous side and he can be downright scary but strangely it made him that much more interesting. He has a nonchalant type vibe, and from such a young age, which is why Celia’s presence shook him all up.
I loved the scenes when he first meets Celia as a child. My gosh they were adorable. The little innocent childhood crush that blossoms into something later on… just perfect. Celia was a complete spitfire. I feel like I completely missed that in Sempre! I had no idea how incredibly vivacious she was! If there was anyone to crack that rough exterior of Corrado’s it was her and she was bound and determined to do just that. With Corrado being such a serious man, I often laughed when Celia would break down that barrier and we’d see a softer and loving side of Corrado, if just for a moment. She’s a complete ballbuster and I about died during a scene when she does just that when Corrado earns himself a nickname with the press. And of course there is Vincent, one of my favorites. Again, when he came onto the scene as a small boy in this novel my heart swelled. As he grew up we see a side of him I missed in the later books as well. I never realized exactly how much his son Carmine was like him until this and my god did it bring a smile to my face and tears to my eyes! His love story with Maura is a huge part of the entire series. Reading more about it from the beginning was just… everything.
You know how when you read a book and you look for foreshadowing and clues for what is to come and once you finish you want to go back and look for any of those signs? And if you do re-read a book you get all excited when you see those bits you didn’t realize you should’ve picked up on the first time? That’s what reading this prequel was like for me. I got that high from catching all of those moments, large and small, that fit the bigger picture. Because I had read Sempre and Sempre: Redemption previously, I knew what events were coming and I looked forward to experiencing them more firsthand through Corrado’s eyes. So many little things jumped out at me and seriously made me giddy. I was waiting for them. And J.M. Darhower delivered. I got to experience that excitement of discovering those little pieces, but with something brand new! You can re-read your favorites to your heart’s content but you never get to experience the awe of the first time more than that once. But with Made, I felt like I almost did. Sempre and its sequel were complete but Carmine and Haven’s story started well before they were even born. And Corrado’s life was so intertwined in their past it added a great addition to the series.
I didn’t realize how much I wanted this book until I read it. Corrado was the perfect blend of complex yet simple a man can be. Made furthered an incredible plot I was already enamoured with and allowed me to enjoy it all over again in new ways I didn’t expect. The first thing I did upon finishing the last sentence was to take a deep breath and then grab my copy of Sempre to continue on. I’ve never read anything as amazing as the story-telling in this series. J.M. Darhower truly has a gift. I’m so thankful she shares it with us.
Everyone was good at something. Some people painted. Others played music. Corrado just happened to be good at murder. He accepted that. Embraced it. That was who he was.
The Kevlar Killer.