Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Danger's Heir (Masters' Admiralty #9: Mafia #3) by Mari Carr and Lila Dubois ~ Book Review with Excerpt

He expected a mafia princess but she’s so much more.

Danger’s Heir, a sexy romantic suspense novel set in the mafia world from New York Times bestselling author Mari Carr and award-winning author Lila Dubois is out now!

She fell in love, got married…and it was all a lie.

They expected a mafia princess, but when Rodrigo meets the woman his father is forcing him to marry, he realizes Giada is much more than she seems. Smart and dangerous, she’s the kind of woman he could love…too bad everything he’s about to tell her is a lie.
Casson knows Rodrigo is in too deep. Rodrigo’s undercover mission as the heir to a powerful Camorra don should have ended long ago, but now he’s engaged to the daughter of another dangerous man, and it’s Casson’s job to pull him out.

There’s just one problem. Giada.
She’s nothing either man expected, and everything they want. The last thing they expect is for Giada to invite both of them to her bed.
As the wedding day looms closer, and enemies close in, the line between what's real and what's a lie becomes blurred, and Rodrigo and Casson have to decide if love is enough. And if they should tell her the truth.
Unfortunately, there’s someone else waiting in the wings to make sure they never say “I do.”

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Keep reading for a look inside Danger’s Heir!

Chapter One

Rome wouldn’t burn again if he could help it.

Antonio Starabba slid into his desk chair with a sigh. He would have stifled the sigh if there’d been anyone else in the room besides his husband and wife. Karl was working, papers spread out on the low table in the center of the small seating area. Leila was occupied with something less casual. She was disassembling and reassembling a sniper rifle with alarming quickness.

Antonio wasn’t one for guns, but his wife was sexy in a very dangerous way while holding a large gun. No one but himself and Karl ever got to see her with it, since on those occasions that she reactivated her expertise as a sniper, her targets never saw her.

“You don’t have to stay,” Antonio said in Italian. His spouses were now fluent in the language of Antonio’s home territory.

“Do you want us to leave?” Karl didn’t look up.


“Then we’ll stay for quiet moral support.”

“I’m not going to be quiet.” Leila smiled. “I’ll keep practicing. One of them might recognize the sound.”

“Is it a good idea to threaten the fleet admiral?” Now Karl did look up.

“I’m not threatening him.” There was a sinister clack as she popped a piece into place. “This is for those morons in Castile.”

Antonio grunted his agreement with that statement even as he turned on his computer. It would take a few minutes for the secure video chat to come online.

“How’s Milo?” Karl asked.

Asking about Milo Moretti wasn’t the subject jump it might have seemed. Milo’s wife was the flashpoint for their current crisis, through no fault of her own. Several months ago, Dr. Talya Maes had been kidnapped by the mafia. She’d been held prisoner alongside human trafficking victims, but she’d been taken to help the Camorra with a very different sort of crime. They’d wanted Talya to create a bio-weapon. A drug that would turn people into caution-less super soldiers.

The entire Talya situation had been a mess from beginning to end. First because despite the fact that Talya was a member of the Masters’ Admiralty, Europe's oldest still-functioning secret society, no one had noticed she’d gone missing. The society was divided geographically into nine territories, whose borders were based on maps and empires far older than modern Europe. It just so happened that Talya had lived along one of the borders, which cut through modern-day Belgium, and each territory thought she was a member of the other.

Antonio had publicly expressed disapproval with the admirals of France and Germany for failing Talya, but secretly he felt sorry for them. Being the head of a territory wasn’t easy, or fun. Antonio had never wanted to be a territory leader. Never wanted to be admiral of Rome, which encompassed Italy, all the coastline of the Adriatic sea, and the major islands in the Mediterranean. However, that was exactly what he’d become after his father, the previous admiral had been severely wounded in a bombing. Antonio had been named acting admiral while his father recovered, and eventually his father had stepped down. Antonio had expected his father to resume the admiralship, but his father’s long recovery, coupled with his pride at seeing Antonio holding the position of admiral, had pushed him to retire.

The position of admiral of Rome should have gone to his sister, Sophia. Instead she was now living in England, both the territory and the modern-day country, and married to two good men, including England’s admiral. She would have made a brilliant admiral if fate, and the previous fleet admiral, hadn’t intervened. But her leadership and skills hadn’t been wasted. When the current fleet admiral, Eric Ericsson, whom Antonio was about to meet with, had taken an unplanned, unsanctioned vacation, Sophia was the one he’d left in charge. Sophia, who’d been taught to lead, negotiate, and manipulate since she could talk, was also the lead on building a relationship with the Americans, but that was a separate issue.

Talya Maes’ months of imprisonment by the Camorra ended when a Spanish member was also kidnapped, and one of Antonio’s security officers, Milo Moretti, helped orchestrate her rescue. Milo had seen Talya during that op and vowed to return to free her even before anyone knew that she was a member of the Masters’ Admiralty.

And if the rescue had been the end of Talya, Milo, and Henri’s story, Antonio wouldn’t be having this meeting.

His computer dinged, signaling that the meeting was connecting.

“Hold on, let me get back to the part that makes the scary noise,” Leila muttered, quickly disassembling the long rifle.

“You’re terrifying sometimes.” Karl murmured, still engrossed in his work.

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome, geliefde.”

Antonio smiled at his spouses, but quickly blanked his expression as his camera turned on.

Three video windows appeared, including his own. In the first, two men sat side by side in a dim concrete room. From the intel Antonio had on Castile-–the territory that contained modern-day Spain and Portugal–-Antonio assumed they were calling from the bunker-like ops headquarters in the basement of one of the territory-owned buildings.

Admiral Santiago De Leon was older and, while fairly new in his position, he was a powerful admiral. The man beside him, Vicente Coval, was also powerful, but in a dark, deadly way that befit a security minister. Each territory was ruled by three people, with the admiral as the main power. However, an admiral could be overruled by his vice admiral and security minister. The trinity checks and balances system was meant to stop any one admiral from abusing their power, though as Hungary could attest to, that didn’t always work.

The leadership was a trinity, as were the relationships among members. The defining characteristic of the Masters’ Admiralty was arranged marriages between three people. Antonio had grown up in the society and, to him, the idea of a relationship with just two people felt…unbalanced and odd.

The third window held the fourth attendee of this meeting. The fleet admiral was the leader of the society. Not part of any territory, the fleet admiral’s power was checked not by a trinity leadership model, but by the nine territory admirals.

Antonio examined Eric and acknowledged to himself that if the time ever came that they needed to move against the fleet admiral, he’d have Leila shoot him from a distance.

For a moment there was heavy silence, then Eric spoke.

“I was going to sing.”

Antonio sighed to himself, Leila smothered a snort, and Karl looked up, his glasses making him look ridiculously sexy.

“Sing, Fleet Admiral?” Santiago asked with a quick smile.

“Have you seen The Sound of Music? Remember that ‘problem like Maria’ song?” They’d been speaking French, but he switched to English. “I was going to make it ‘problem like Rodrigo’ but I couldn’t get the verses to fit. Hard to rhyme stuff with mafia.”

“The Camorra,” Antonio said. “Not just the mafia.”

Eric leaned back in his chair, seeming to consider. “No, I don’t think that makes the rhyming easier. English is a ridiculous language.”

That they could all agree on, since both Castellano and Italian were clearly superior. Antonio wasn’t sure about Eric’s native Danish, but Leila said it was a beautiful language.

“Rodrigo is not a problem,” Vicente said, cutting through the light moment.

“Yes, he is,” Antonio countered. “He’s clearly defected. Understandable, but not an excuse.”

During the prep to save Talya, it was discovered that Rodrigo was the secret son of a Camorra don. That same don was holding Talya Maes, so Rodrigo had been sent in to the mafia–it could hardly be called undercover since it was his real identity–to rescue her. Talya was safe, finally, but Rodrigo had refused to back out.

Antonio felt sympathy for the man, but it didn’t change the facts. “He’s given up his–”

“He’s given up nothing. He is still one of us. Still loyal,” Vicente insisted.

Antonio understood the other man’s stout defense. As security minister of Castile, Vicente was the leader of that territory’s security officers. While law and order within the society was overseen by the knights, headed by the vice admiral, the quiet, dangerous work was the purview of the security officers. Antonio had been a security officer before being forced into the position of admiral. And Rodrigo, the subject of today’s meeting, was…had been…a security officer for Castile.

“He kidnapped…re-kidnapped…Dr. Maes,” Antonio said. “His job was to rescue her, which he did, and he should have stopped there.”

“She came to no harm,” Vicente countered. “If you’d spoken to Talya, as I have, you would know that Rodrigo didn’t hurt her.”

“I have spoken to Dr. Maes, as she is now a member of my territory, and married to one of my security officers.”

Milo was more than just a security officer. Milo was Antonio’s friend, but he wouldn’t disclose anything so personal in this venue.

“If you object to the burning of your territory, that was your man, not Rodrigo.”

After Rodrigo kidnapped Dr. Maes, Milo and Henri Fortin had chased him across France and Italy. As they pursued, they waged a small war. Billionaire Henri had attacked the Camorra on paper, buying up companies and taking control of ports they used. Milo had been more direct–he’d set fire to every Camorra property he could find. Privately, Antonio had asked Milo what the fuck he’d been thinking, as all that property damage was risky and drew attention. Milo had replied that Antonio should be grateful he’d chosen fire and not C4.

“Did you fiddle?” Eric asked.

Antonio’s eye twitched. That joke was getting old, even if he himself had been thinking something along those lines. “I’m no Nero, and this isn’t about the fires. It’s about Rodrigo. He’s his father’s son.”

“No,” Vicente insisted. “He never hurt Talya. And his plan worked. The Camorra think her drug isn’t viable. The kidnapping is regrettable, but there was no lasting harm from it.”

Leila and Karl both stiffened. It was slight, but Antonio caught it. They’d both been taken by a serial killer. Kidnapped and tortured, they no longer had nightmares, but what had happened would always be a part of them.

“If you believe that, then I pity your wife,” Antonio snarled. Gabriella, the Spanish heiress whose kidnapping had exposed Talya’s captivity, was Vicente’s spouse.

Vicente’s expression, already cold, froze.

“Antonio,” Eric warned.

“If he’s ignoring how his wife suffered–”

“Do not speak about my wife.”

“–then she deserves better.”

“Admiral Starabba,” Eric barked. “Stop.”

Strangely, Vicente seemed to have calmed with Antonio’s final words. “She does deserve better,” he said. “Both of my spouses do.”

“No more talking about anyone’s wives,” Eric declared.

Leila snapped two pieces of the rifle together, the noise loud and sharp.

Vicente’s eyes narrowed. He clearly recognized that sound.

On screen, Eric put his elbows on his desk and his head in his hands. “Hej, Leila.”

“Hej flΓ₯deadmiral,” she called out.

“I thought this meeting was private.” Santiago raised a brow.

“They’re here because Leila is the one who saw the article,” Antonio said.

There was silence before Eric lifted his head from his hands. “Okay, I’ll bite. What article?”

Antonio grabbed his mouse. “I told you that Rodrigo is lost to us. He belongs to the Camorra.”

“No,” Vicente insisted. “There’s a reason he’s still undercover. He is a good operative, and we need to trust him.”

Abruptly tired, Antonio shared his screen, showing everyone else the newspaper article Leila had seen. Antonio half expected that maybe Vicente already knew about it. It would make sense for him to have alerts set up to notify him of any mention of Rodrigo. But then again, he probably had alerts set up to notify him when police reports or crime information with Rodrigo’s name appeared.

He probably didn’t have an alert set up for the society pages.

“What am I looking at?” Eric said.

Antonio opened a second document, which had the small announcement translated into both French and English.

“Oh shit.” Eric sat back. “Rodrigo is getting married?”

“Rodrigo is getting married,” Antonio confirmed. “To a mafia princess.”

This is the first book I have read in the Masters' Admiralty Series or the Mafia Series and this book can truly be read as a standalone, there is enough information within the book that explains the complexities of the Masters' Admiralty Society that you do get a clear picture of what they stand for and how they work.

In this story we have Rodrigo Capello who is currently working for his father the Don as his second in command, but the truth of it all is that Rodrigo is part of the Master's Admiralty and is really looking for information. While he is gaining his father's trust his father agrees to an arranged marriage between Rodrigo and Giada Russo, the niece of the Don of the Russo Family. 

Casson who is also part of the Masters' Admiralty is sent to pull Rodrigo out of his Undercover Mission but once he's there he falls under the spell of Rodrigo and Giada as well and the three of them make some amazing chemistry together.

This story is not your typical organized crime story, there are so many different things going on and yes there are bad guys, because aren't there always, but it's the good guys that overshadow any of the bad. You aren't falling for the antihero in this book you are falling for the Hero....times two.

I would recommend this book to those that enjoy STEAMY Romantic Suspense Reads, Triad Romances, Organized Crime Romances, or Badass Women in their Romances.

Happy Reading!!!

**I have voluntarily reviewed an Advanced Readers Copy of this book for my Blog, Nadine's Obsessed with Books**

Meet Mari Carr

Virginia native Mari Carr is a New York Times and USA TODAY bestseller of contemporary romance novels. With over one million copies of her books sold, Mari was the winner of the Romance Writers of America’s Passionate Plume award for her novella, Erotic Research. She has over a hundred published works, including her popular Wild Irish and Compass books, along with the Trinity Masters series she writes with Lila Dubois.

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Meet Lila Dubois

Lila Dubois is a multi-published, bestselling author of erotic, paranormal and fantasy romance. Her books have been nominated for many awards including RT Book Reviews Erotic Novella for Undone Rebel and the Golden Flogger. Having spent extensive time in France, Egypt, Turkey, Ireland and England Lila speaks five languages, none of them (including English) fluently. Lila lives in California with her own Irish Farm Boy and loves receiving email from readers.

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