To New Yorker Rosa Alcantara, the exotic world of Sicily, with its network of Mafia families and its reputation for murder and intrigue, is just that—exotic, and wholly unknown. But when tragedy strikes, she must travel there, to her family’s ancestral home, where her sister and aunt have built their lives and where centuries of family secrets await her. Once there, Rosa wastes no time falling head over heels for Alessandro Carnevare, the son of a Sicilian Mafia family, whose handsome looks and savage grace both intrigue and unsettle her. But their families are sworn enemies, and her aunt and sister believe Alessandro is only using Rosa to infiltrate the Alcantara clan. And when Rosa encounters a tiger one night—a tiger with very familiar eyes—she can no longer deny that neither the Carnevares nor the Alcantaras are what they seem. Ancient myths brought to life in the Sicilian countryside, dangerous beasts roaming the hills, and a long history of familial bloodlust prove to Rosa that she can’t trust anyone—not even her own family. Torn between loyalty to her aunt and love for her family’s mortal enemy, Rosa must make the hardest decision of her life: stay in Sicily with her new love . . . or run as far and as fast as she can.
I wasn’t sure about this book at first. It all started rolling so fast that I couldn’t quite get all of the pieces to fit as I was reading. Then it all started falling into place. Meyer has woven an intriguing tale about 2 Italian families who’s lives are intertwined whether they accept that or not. It seems at first the animosity between them will keep Rosa and Alessandro apart, but the two of them work together well. They also reveal more to each other than they have anyone else.
When Rosa sees his true form, it is magnificent. Her true form, which she is unaware of until under duress, is beautiful and deadly. Each of their families as the ability to shift into a different physical form. (I won’t spoil it here, but suffice it to say, they are unique.)
The history of the Italian countryside and the families is fascinating and fun to read about. Each has its own unique characteristics that make it a powerhouse among the Italian mob families. Rosa walks into this blind when she comes to Italy to get away from issues in the U.S. and has a lot to learn about herself and her family. Some of this information concerns realizing who and WHAT she truly is.
The character development is great. I really grew to appreciate Rosa and her strength, and Alessandro and his unwavering loyalty to his mother. I struggled to like her aunt, and her sister made me crazy. There were times in the writing, I felt bogged down in description, but in the end, I was glad for it. The vivid imagery the author paints allows you to be in the moment with the characters. Again, a slow start, but once I got into it I enjoyed it.