Author: Rachel Van Dyken
Series: Eagle Elite #7
Release Date: May 31, 2016
I have lost everything.
Death knocks on my door, I want to answer, but every time I reach for the handle — the promise I made her brings me back.
So I breathe.
And I allow the anger to boil beneath the surface of a perfectly indifferent facade. I am broken, I don’t want to be fixed.
But the Empire is crumbling and it’s my job to fix it.
My job to mend the pieces that were scattered over thirty years ago.
A trip to New York, only one chance to redeem a lost part of our mafia family.
The only issue is, the only way to fix it, is to do something I swore I’d never do again.
An arranged marriage.
Only this time,
I won’t fall.
Or so help me God, I will kill her myself.
My name is Sergio Abandonoto, you think you know my pain, my suffering, my anger, my hate?
You have no idea.
I am the mafia.
I am the darkness.
Blood in. No out.
If there is one thing Rachel Van Dyken consistently knocks out of the park, it is her maddeningly macho and devilishly delicious mafia men. Empire is the next chapter in Sergio’s story and it was more heart wrenching than I ever could have imagined. It didn’t seem possible to feel more deeply for this broken man than I had in Elude, but Rachel Van Dyken put my heart through the wringer and once again left me reeling from the emotional rollercoaster of this story. Rachel Van Dyken writes with a powerful sense of purpose, her storybuilding strong and character development sure. Her words are slicing and witty, expertly capturing the complex and dangerous world of the Eagle Elite series and the myriad of emotions that come along with it. Empire exemplifies everything I’ve grown to love about this series and then some, proving once again, that Rachel Van Dyken is her own mafia queen.
“But, time? Time can be an enemy too. Its face is never intimidating, but the sound of the clock? Probably the most gut-wrenching sound in existence.”
Oh, Sergio. What can I say about this tormented man? If I thought he’d shattered my heart in Elude, I was sorely mistaken. Sergio absolutely decimated me in Empire. Rachel Van Dyken expertly captured Sergio’s emotional turmoil over the loss of Andi and delivered it in an incredibly palpable way. I felt his heartache down to my soul and on more than one occasion, found myself in tears. There were times when I wanted to yell at him, shake him, force him to see all of the life still left around him, and yet he was always just out of reach. Val’s sweet disposition, unimaginable patience, and surprising skill with a paintball gun, chipped away at his icy exterior, forcing him to feel not only his overwhelming pain, but also the stirrings of life that still passed through him. I adored the moments when Sergio’s alpha personality took control, his unavoidable attraction to Val and the powerful sexual tension between them winning out and resulting in moments of both unrestrained desire and surprising intimacy.
“Sometimes we yell, not so others will listen, but because we hurt so deeply within —screaming is the only option.”
Honestly, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to love Val. After falling in love with Andi and Sergio, I was certain that no one else could ever fit with Sergio in my mind. However, Rachel Van Dyken proved me wrong, writing a character so vastly different and yet beautiful just the same, and endearing her to me in an instant. Val’s sheltered existence and obvious innocence proved to be just the thing to help Sergio heal and as the story progressed, she evolved into his perfect match. I loved the fire that he ignited within her and as she grew bolder and more sure of herself, she stole a piece of my heart with her strength, bravery, and intelligence. While I’m sure some won’t like Sergio’s treatment of Val, I adored the way Rachel Van Dyken utilized his pain to push Val, encouraging her to become fierce and independent. By the time this novel came to a close, Val was every bit the mafia wife, seamlessly falling into place within the Eagle Elite family.
“Even those who have accepted the state of being lost… dream of being found.”
In my opinion, there were a few things that were mentioned in this book and not sufficiently clarified. While I’m sure they’ll make more sense with the information obtained in the next book, I felt a few of the points had been left too open, making them feel out of place and completely disconnected from the story. These issues didn’t override the plot in any way. They simply gave me pause while I wondered what their purpose was. Empire was well paced, allowing readers the time to get to know new characters in one moment and pulling them deep into the action the next. As always, the Chicago crew colored this novel with their hilarious antics, ridiculous banter, awkward introductions, and trigger-happy tendencies. I laughed out loud and fell in love with this crazy, badass family all over again in Empire. Perhaps my favorite part of the novel was the way in which Sergio and Val’s romance was perfectly orchestrated from behind the scenes. It kept Andi alive in this book in a way that was necessary and altogether comforting. Rachel Van Dyken restores a sense of peace for Sergio with Empire, proving this new novel to be yet another mafia masterpiece.
I always get so excited when I learn that a new book in the Eagle Elite series is releasing. Rachel Van Dyken has created such a unique world with unforgettable characters to the point that a part of me always feels like I’m coming home. Empire was heartbreaking in so many ways, but healing in plenty of others. It’s definitely an impressionable story that will have you both laughing and tearing up, while still getting a dose of the crazy antics from the crew that readers have come to know and love.
“Sometimes we yell, not so others will listen, but because we hurt so deeply within – screaming is the only option.”
Whenever I think about Sergio’s story, I always feel a bit of pity. Of all the mafia men we have met, he seems to get the short end of the stick time and time again, forced to bend to the will of his destiny. He has strong family ties and an enormous sense of loyalty which leads to these situations he may not want to be in. However, after turning that last page of Empire, I can understand it all. Van Dyken put him on one heck of a journey and as a reader, I see the why, which I think speaks volumes to this author’s writing. He prides himself on being one of the toughest, strongest men with so many kills. He’s a hard-faced, no-nonsense mafia man, but that means he had the most to learn in terms of an emotional transformation. I was a little nervous at first, but I will be the first to say that I’m not sure why. I’m so pleased with the incredibly moving journey he went on.
“Life is full of two-twirl moments – don’t allow her to settle for only one.”
Of all that occurs in Empire, the presence of both heroines who would end up shaping Sergio and delivering the hardest hits he’d receive was probably my favorite piece. I don’t want to say much because those scenes are some of the most powerful and really should be experienced firsthand. However, I will say that the tact and method with which Van Dyken did this was pure brilliance. Two ladies, who couldn’t be more different from one another, would end up being the exact recipe needed to morph a beast into a prince. It was just so heartwarming and perfect to not just read about, but to experience.
“I didn’t want to be saved. No saving was needed. Because the truth of the matter was, I wasn’t really lost. I was just…empty.”
I’ve read every single book that has released in the Eagle Elite series. However, I would say that this one is the most removed from that traditional mafia world this author has created. Empire isn’t focused mainly on the family and dealing with the threats that may present themselves. It wasn’t Sergio’s search for redemption like the other heroes have faced, but I’d say it was his path to peace. In order to get the full experience and understanding, I highly suggest reading Elude first, but you’ll definitely want to have Empire on hand for right afterwards. This is another solid hit for Rachel Van Dyken, and solidified even further that this has got to be my favorite series that she writes!
Sergio looked ready to strangle me. “No. I don’t believe I asked for an annoying little sister, but if that’s what you’re offering, please don’t let me stop you. Just know, I won’t hesitate to put you over my knee if you get out of hand.”
The minute the words left his mouth. I froze.
The taxi driver stared little laser like holes into the rearview mirror.
And Sergio leaned toward me.
I swallowed as tension swirled around us.
He gripped me by the chin and turned my head to the side, his lips brushing my ear. “It’s like you have a death wish.”
“You wouldn’t do it.”
He pulled back as both of his eyebrows shot up, and then he looked down, like he had spotted something.
I followed the direction of his gaze and let out a little gasp as a gun dug into my stomach.
“It’s been directed at you for the last four minutes,” Sergio said through a practiced smile. “I meant what I said. Listen well. I keep my word. Kiss me, and blood will be spilled.”
“Y-you’re a crazy person!” I hissed, shoving at his chest. “And I wasn’t going to kiss you!”
“Sure you weren’t.” He put the gun away. “Good talk though, right? Oh look, the movie theater.”
To say that I scrambled out of the car like a kid running away from her kidnapper would be a gross understatement, but the minute my feet hit the pavement, I paused.
My body told me to run.
The guy had pulled a gun.
I didn’t even watch violent movies.
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Don’t miss the beginning of Sergio’s story:
Elude (Eagle Elite #6)
Check out the rest of the Eagle Elite series:
Enchant (Eagle Elite #0.5)
Elite (Eagle Elite #1)
Enforce (Eagle Elite #1.5)
Elect (Eagle Elite #2)
Entice (Eagle Elite #3)
Elicit (Eagle Elite #4)
Ember (Eagle Elite #5)
Bang Bang (Eagle Elite Spin-Off)
Enrage (Eagle Elite #8) – Releasing July 31st!
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!