Zakharov Bratva by Naomi West

The  Zakharov Bratva Duet is doing remarkable well on the Amazon charts. I made the choice to pick it up my chance hoping that it would expand my must read Mafia Romance authors. Here is my break down of this duet.

Book. 1
Rating: 3/5
Tropes: Mafia, Instant Connection, accidental pregnancy, dirty talker, he falls first, pining hero, love triangle

This mafia romance is on the lighter side but it does contains occasional on-page violence, although all encounters between the characters involve consent.

Taylor’s life takes an unexpected turn after a chance encounter with a mysterious stranger leaves her pregnant. Little does she know that the stranger is now engaged to her sister, pulling Taylor into the perilous world of the Russian Bratva.

This book had some great characters. The stark contrast between Taylor and her sister is so well down by the author. You understand the draw the hero has to each character but why he ultimately falls for one. If only he had known the truth before proposing to the wrong sister, the situation wouldn’t be such a mess. However, his heart’s desires cannot be ignored, and neither Taylor nor Ilarion can resist the pull they feel toward each other.

The story captivates with Taylor’s selflessness, as she continuously prioritizes others’ happiness above her own. Yet, doubts arise about her sister’s true nature, as she displays hints of manipulation and appears as a mere shadow of Taylor. It becomes evident that Cecile harbors subconscious jealousy toward her sister, and her sweet facade is far from genuine.

This was a book that sucks you in desperate to see what is going to happen next. There are moments where the book is angsty and at times I wish the author had move the story forward better. But overall, it provided an enjoyable reading experience.

Book 2
DIAMOND Angel by Naomi West
Rating: 2/5
Tropes: Mafia, Instant Connection, accidental pregnancy, dirty talker, he falls first, pining hero, love triangle

I found the second book in this series to be frustrating and disappointing. The five-year separation between the characters was a major turn-off for me, as I dislike long separations in romance novels. As the story progressed, it felt like we were going in circles, and my sympathy for Taylor began to wane. Her martyrdom reached an extreme level that became tiresome the longer it continued. I couldn’t help but want to give her a reality check.

Ilarion, on the other hand, desperately needs to be honest with Celine. It’s been five years, and some transparency would be greatly appreciated. Celine is treated as fragile and delicate, with everyone walking on eggshells around her as if she’s a delicate snowflake. It’s frustrating to see her lack self-respect and beg for scraps from someone who clearly doesn’t want her.

Throughout the second book, I struggled to like any of the characters as it seemed they all had hidden agendas. The whole premise of the two books felt like a strange love triangle, with one party completely unaware of the situation.

Also there were a lot of people going without sex for 5 long years.. like no way.

Watching it all unfold was painful, and I found myself rolling my eyes internally at Taylor’s behavior. She took martyrdom to a whole new level, and Celine’s obliviousness made her appear foolish. The illogical and dangerous actions they took towards the end, involving Celine’s son, left me speechless. Additionally, it’s hard to believe that Ilarion wouldn’t have mentioned anything to Celine about the situation over the course of five years.

While the first book in the series was better, this second installment lacked character growth, which I usually expect to see. I’m considering this a mismatch and questioning if this author is right for me. The writing itself was fine, but the frustrating story direction and unlikable characters were the main issues. Taylor’s actions only made the experience more difficult than necessary.