Review Tour: Ruthless Princess: Rachel Van Dyken

by - Thursday, May 21, 2020

Ruthless Princess
Rachel Van Dyken
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Release Date May 19, 2020

A mafia romance about best friends turned enemies by Rachel Van Dyken, the number one New York Times bestselling author of the Eagle Elite series.

The enemy of my enemy is my friend…
I never thought my father would ask this of me, to become the second generation at Eagle Elite University, to rule with an iron fist, and to take care of anyone who gets in our way.
But ever since the incident.
Ever since Him.
There’s been a war in our little clique.
After all, a house divided cannot stand.
He’s the problem, not me.
He used to kiss me like I was his oxygen.
Now he looks at me like I’m his poison.
But we both drank it, again and again, never believing there would be a day when our love would start a war.
And our friendship would shatter into a million pieces.
Then again, the worst thing you could do in the mafia is hang on to hope that your life will be normal.
The second worse thing?
Fall in love with your best friend.
And heir to the Nicolasi throne.

I have read all of Rachel Van Dyken's mafia books, and I gotta say...this new generation is something else!  I think they are more violent and agitated than their parents and that is saying a lot. 

It's the next generation of mafia and these kids do not have it easy. They are the legacy and they have been trained in the ways of the family and the older ones are beginning to earn their place. Serena is Nixon's daughter and heir to the Abandonato throne. She is tough, sarcastic, and just as vicious as the men of the families. But her Achilles heel is her feelings for Junior. 

Junior is the son of Phoenix Nicolasi. He is marked by the sins of his father and their now almost extinct former family of De Lange. He is angry, bitter, ruthless, and is also plagued by his feelings for Serena. They know the relationships between the family's offspring. It is supposed to keep everyone focused and cut down on drama. But their underlying secret love affair turned feud is all-consuming. 

This one might be the most raw and angriest friends-to-lovers-to-enemies-to-friends-to-lovers book I have ever read! It is forbidden love, hate, and lust. It's sick, twisted, and many times painful both emotionally and physically. They use sparring and violence as foreplay and taunt each other terribly. They are jealous and spiteful. But under all the bravado and steel, they both have been hurt and felt rejected by the other. And both are afraid to disobey their parents and attempt to be together. It literally could mean war with their parents and various families involved. But it is becoming obvious that these two and this whole group of offspring are not going to follow along blindly or quietly.

Their relationship is so adversarial and there is so much violence, at times I was not even sure what I was feeling for the first half of the book. It seemed to bother me more than in the other books and I was not sure why--if it was because it was younger people or maybe male/female or if it was just more graphic. It is an intense, dark, emotional rollercoaster and nothing is held back. But as it went on some twists and surprises caused new perspectives and more vulnerability. As the kids started taking more ownership, I got more and more invested in them and their fight to break free of their parents' sins and rules. I enjoyed seeing the softer cores and deep ties of these intense and unfiltered characters.

They are the new Elect and it is their turn to run Elite and to start making some decisions for the families. And even though there is not supposed to be romantic entanglements between the members, we are obviously going to be seeing more of that. I am almost afraid of what else is coming as the series progresses. This one definitely started it off with a bang...well at least a lot of knives, guns, fists, and even syringes. Blood In. No Out!
The second generation of Rachel Van Dyken’s mafia families are a force to be reckoned with. They have been raised to be fierce, brutal, and loyal to the Families. Now they are in college and the plans they each had individually are on hold as the families rally together. They find themselves students at Eagle Elite, run by the families, facing a threat they can’t see.

Serena has grown up knowing she is the heir to the Abandonato family. She has developed a sarcastic wit, fierce temper, and the ability to seduce any man, even if no one will let her flirt with anyone seriously. She fell in love with the wrong boy, and now keeps herself aloof so her feelings can’t be used against her, or even worse, break apart the families.

Junior is Phoenix’s son, living in the shadows of his father’s actions. He may not carry the De Lange name his father was born with, but he knows it runs in his veins. He is quick to brutality, and fiercely protective of those around him. He may want Serena, but he knows it is better to hate her than to break all the rules. But if he can’t have her, he’s also not sure he can watch anyone else have her either.

The rule is no dating within the families. But because Junior and Serena can’t be together, their friendship turns bitter and what was once sweet turns to acid.

This was a vicious friends to enemies to lovers situation. Nothing about life as an Elite is easy, and the hard edges everyone develops makes everyone prickly and quick to anger. The emotion between Junior and Serena is so fierce that at times I wondered how they were going to go from such strong hatred to believable love.

I struggled with the same aspect of the story as I did when I read Elite all those years ago. The combination of their ages and the college setting sometimes makes the violence feel out of place. But as they step into the roles they’ve been tasked with, I fell into their world and found myself pulled into the story. This second generation promises to be even more intense than their parents as they grow into their own and take the future of the families into their own hands.

He licked his lips and repeated what he always did when we had to perform, when we had to do our jobs. “I won’t be gentle with you.”

Our foreheads touched, my chest heaved with exertion like it was hard to breathe when he was so near, but really it was the promise that killed me, a promise that he wouldn’t enjoy touching me ever again, that I was more curse than cure, and yet, I knew it was all we would ever get, these fleeting moments where we did our job too well. “Then make it hurt, baby.” My voice cracked. “Make it hurt.”
His lips parted in a groan as he spun me into his arms and crushed his mouth to mine. It was part pain, part pleasure as he pulled my hair then slid a hand up my shirt like nobody was watching when everyone was.
We broke apart, mouths swollen, my lower lip was bleeding.
A reminder for both of us—this was no cease-fire, this wasn’t real, it was all a carefully constructed show.
“Mmmmm…” I smirked. “Looks like Junior’s not playing around tonight, ladies.”
Screams went up as Junior grabbed my ass and squeezed so hard, I knew I would bruise later. He roughly pulled me against his chest and nipped at my neck.
I told my body it didn’t feel good.
I told my heart we were safe.
And I forced myself to believe the lie every single time we touched.
Because to do otherwise—would destroy me.

Royal Bully
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The prequel to the much anticipated Mafia Royals Romances…

Something dark this way comes.
He's gorgeous, mean, and mine.
He catches me dreaming about him, and then just like my dream, he decides to make me his.
I should have said no when he asked me to swear fealty to him.
The knife clued me in first.
The blood second.
And third, it was the blessing of the most famous mafia bosses in the known world as they sat around the dinner table and told me that I had no choice but to join.
Because they knew my secrets.
And running meant I was nothing more than target practice.
I said yes, because of my bully.
And he told me he'd keep me safe.
But who keeps me safe from him?

Rachel Van Dyken is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author of regency and contemporary romances. When she's not writing you can find her drinking coffee at Starbucks and plotting her next book while watching The Bachelor.
She keeps her home in Idaho with her Husband, adorable son, and two snoring boxers! She loves to hear from readers!

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