Title – Rip
Author – Rachel Van Dyken
Publication Date – October 20, 2015
Pretty things aren’t meant to be broken.
But I broke her, and now we both have to pay the price.
I’m her nightmare.
I’m her savior.
And now that I have her signature on an ironclad contract, I own her body and soul.
She doesn’t remember me.
Because as much as I know I need to stay away, for fear of unlocking the memories I helped her father bury–I can’t.
She was the apple in the Garden, dangled in front of me, her core so tempting and sweet. A voice whispered. Just. One. Bite.
Welcome to the world of the Russian mafia, where death, is your only future.
Rachel Van Dyken has added to her arsenal of swoon-worthy mafia men with Rip. Nikolai’s story was exciting and action-packed, everything I’ve come to expect from Rachel’s mafia books. Rip can be read as a standalone, but I definitely enjoyed it so much more because of the cameos by familiar characters from the Eagle Elite series. While this story very much followed the “hot, wealthy mafia man falls for off-limits, beautifully broken mafia girl” storyline, Nikolai and Maya’s journey had an interesting medical twist and an added mystery component surrounding Nikolai’s family history and his past connection to Maya. True to form, Rachel Van Dyken stirs up some unexpected emotions and keeps readers guessing with surprise twists and turns in this well-written, entertaining novel.
“And sometimes, those are the worst kinds of pain, don’t you think? The scars you can’t prove are usually the ones that hurt the most.”
From the beginning, both Maya and Nikolai were intriguing characters that I wanted to get to know. Each a piece of the larger puzzle, their secret pasts and strange circumstances had me itching to discover where they’d fall in the grand scheme of things. Maya’s curiosity and intelligence made her a woman after my own heart. I adored her dislike for complacency and her refusal to mindlessly follow orders. Her character growth was gradual, with each piece of her past falling into place, Maya’s true self became more and more clear, resulting in a character transformation that was undeniably satisfying. Nikolai drove me crazy with his secrecy and his apparent disregard for Maya’s comfort or feelings, but as they spent more time together and his relationship with Andi and the Italians really came to light, I grew to love him. Rachel Van Dyken revealed Nikolai’s character layer by layer as the story progressed until we were left with another fantastic mafia book boyfriend.
“I don’t think either of us will ever be free of our pasts, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a future, right?”
Rip was well paced and carefully plotted, making it an effortless read. The various aspects of the storyline flowed together well, incorporating the necessary backstory and the appearance of our favorite Italians in a way that was seamless. I will admit that my connection to the story was interrupted by the medical inaccuracies. Had there not been multiple instances and had the main character not been a renowned physician, it probably could have passed under my radar, but his medical proficiency was too large a part of the storyline to allow the inaccuracies to fade entirely into the background. My favorite part of the book was probably the Italian mafia tie-in, which was definitely well executed. I loved the small role they played in Rip and the lighthearted teasing and easy familiarity they brought to the story. While the majority of this book was serious, suspenseful, and steamy, the Italians brought a sense of humor I’ve grown to love. Rip was another hot mafia romance from Rachel Van Dyken and an intriguing spin-off of the Eagle Elite series!
I pretty much think that Rachel Van Dyken is superwoman! The way she consistently pumps out her novels is so insane. Rip is definitely a little darker than her previous stories, but it very much has the signature Van Dyken trademark. There was something about the storyline that kept me intrigued and yearning to get to the bottom of all the suspense and darkness. Furthermore, the characters were familiar yet refreshing which made for an engaging read for this die-hard Rachel Van Dyken fan.
“Maya Petrov had been my game changer, but I still wasn’t sure if I was going to make her pay, atone for my sins, or destroy us both.”
In most novels that I read, I am drawn to the heroine for obvious reasons. However, I was somehow so intrigued by the hero, Nikolai, that he stole so much of my attention. Van Dyken writes him in a way that he’s like the black widow that spins his web to trap you in the center. Whether you want to like him or not, you find yourself being attracted to him and what he does. You need more information about his motivations and his past, which keeps readers turning the pages. Maya was definitely a case of light in a sea of dark. Throughout the entire novel, she felt like a puzzle that needed to be put back together. What added to the difficulty of her journey though, was that it never felt like she had all the pieces. She was searching for a fragment she didn’t even know was missing. There was something so creative and almost beautiful in the way Van Dyken did this.
“I wasn’t safe. Not in his arms. But I was where I belonged. I was complete.”
The juxtaposition of these characters and how well they complemented each other was so profound. Where one was dark, the other was light; where one was stoic and accepted what came, the other was inquisitive and wanted more; where one was fighting to forget, the other was fighting to remember. It’s hard to describe their relationship and their personalities without giving away too much of the story, but I did appreciate and enjoy the way that both their individual storylines, and their relationship together, unfolded. However, there were some things in the plotline that threw me for a loop and made me step back a little. For example, some of the medicines used – I had to stop and look up what the heck they were. For me, as a reader, it removes me from the story and proper mindset and makes me appreciate it a little less. Furthermore, some of the metaphors used made me kind of roll my eyes. I love imagery in books, but I think that sometimes it can be a bit excessive.
“But I was in too deep, the dark waters washing over me, washing over us…the only way out was to inhale – together.”
While this is a complete and utter standalone, I felt myself appreciating it more because of the fact that I had read the Eagle Elite series. There were cameo appearances from characters I’ve previously fallen in love with, which just made me more pumped for the story altogether. The crossover allows readers to feel a sense of comfort and familiarity in a novel that is filled with an unexpected darker overtone. The twist was one I anticipated, but didn’t fully see coming – though I did love the anticipation of it. Rachel Van Dyken has one heck of a mind and I’ll be anxiously awaiting what she comes up with next!
“You,” I said simply. “It all leads to you. Everything. And I think, for now…” I leaned up, brushing my lips across his. “That’s all that matters.”
“And if I’m the key to both your survival and your destruction, what then?”
“You mean what if your water is poison?” I asked.
He didn’t answer.
“Then I want to drink.”
There were two seconds.
Two brief moments in time.
When I felt my heart race and wondered if it matched his as Nikolai took a steadying breath… then swallowed hard.
One beat against my chest, and his lips were touching mine.
Two beats as my heart picked up speed, and I could feel the heat of his mouth as he slid his tongue across my lower lip.
I moaned in response, reaching around his neck, grasping fistfuls of his hair and tugging as his body moved against mine. Without breaking the kiss, Nikolai found the hem of my cotton T-shirt, lifted it and pulled it over my head, our mouths parting for seconds before, with a sizzle of heat, they met again, and again. Each time our lips grazed it felt new, and yet familiar, like we’d shared hundreds of kisses, thousands of embraces.
He leaned back and helped me to a sitting position, his muscles flexing from holding his own weight. Moonlight shone across the planes of his firm chest. Something about Nikolai’s masculine beauty was lethal, so dangerous that my heart raced even harder. He frowned, pressing his palm to my chest as if trying to calm me down.
I wasn’t safe.
Not in his arms.
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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!
Want to be kept up to date on new releases? Text MAFIA to 66866!