Monday, March 2, 2015

Vendetta by Catherine Doyle

Vendetta by Catherine Doyle
Release Date - February 24, 2015
Publisher Website - Scholastic
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 352 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received for an honest review from publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Blood Will Spill, Hearts Will Break: With a fierce rivalry raging between two warring families, falling in love is the deadliest thing Sophie could do. An epic debut set outside modern-day Chicago.

For Sophie, it feels like another slow, hot summer in Cedar Hill, waitressing at her family’s diner and hanging out with her best friend Millie. But then someone moves into the long-abandoned mansion up the block--a family of five Italian brothers, each one hotter than the last. Unable to resist caramel-eyed Nicoli, Sophie finds herself falling for him -- and willfully ignoring the warning signs. Why are Nic's knuckles cut and bruised? Why does he carry an engraved switchblade? And why does his arrogant and infuriating older brother, Luca, refuse to let her see him? As the boys' dark secrets begin to come to light, Sophie is confronted with stinging truths about her own family, too. Suddenly, she's torn between two warring dynasties: the one she’s related to and the one she's now in love with. She'll have to choose between loyalty and passione. When she does, blood will spill, hearts will break. Because in this twisted underworld, dishonor can be the difference between life and death. 
Take Romeo and Juliet, mix with family secrets and lies, add in some sinister honey and you get Catherine Doyle's Vendetta. A gritty, tension filled read that is heavy on the romance and plot but lighter on the character development.

Part of what I enjoyed the most were the stakes and risks. The situations the characters find themselves in feel dangerous. The world these characters inhabit is fraught with the potential for any of the characters to die. A cast of characters this big has me hoping that the sequels will live up to the brutal promise of the first installment. The Mafia influence almost demands there be tension and risk and so far it's been pulled off wonderfully. The crime family element is the strongest in the novel and a lot of that has to do with the way the author has crafted the story.

Honey is sweet. Eat too much though and it can turn from simply sweet to sickeningly so. Honey is known for it's seductive qualities, as much for the dangerous potential of the bees that make it. Catherine Doyle pays tribute by keeping this dangerously seductive nature in her story. The way it's used and the entire back story to it is both chilling and interesting.

The characters are all dark and gritty like the world Catherine's created. Surprisingly, morality comes into play more often than you'd think. This novel is filled with moral codes, and questionable ethics. In a novel that is focused on the Mafia, it's surprising that this element would even be a factor. It is woven in through the characters, particularly Nic.  Nic is the (mostly) sweet brother. The one who is actually kind and nice to Sophie. He has a hair trigger temper and his emotions are easily read. He wears them for everyone to see. Luca, however, may be the more fascinating brother (with Valentino being a close second) because everything is happening under the surface with these two characters. It's Luca and Valentino that you want to unravel.

Character development for Sophie is not a huge element in this novel. The novel is more plot driven than character driven, but there are wisps change as this chapter of her story comes to a close. It's the aftermath of the big events in this novel that will allow her to grow and change. A lot of this novel is spent getting Sophie to the point where she knows the secrets her family has been hiding. While it seems there are still plenty to unravel, I hope more character development is present in upcoming books.

The romance may be a little polarizing for some people. Sophie ignores a lot of pretty big warning signs when it comes to Nicoli. As the story progresses you can see why she might be tempted to overlook them, and there are plenty of hints that perhaps Sophie's life has always been leading up to this. Her family is more involved than it appears and I think more secrets are left to be unraveled. The connection between Nic and Sophie is based primarily on lust at first, and this fact is embraced in the story. It felt like it developed fast, but only in the way teenage relationships tend to. They are filled with heightened emotions and felt authentic here. The drama and excitement of the situation only increased these emotions. Seeing the aftermath in the sequels will be the most interesting part, I feel, because of the potential. There are hints of a possible love triangle as well which I am curious to see if that is the direction the story will go in.

YA fans looking for something a little different than the usual dystopian, paranormal, contemporary fare will delight in this blend of romance, danger, and family ties. An engrossing story that will change the way you view honey, and definitely leave you curious enough to check out the coming sequels.

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