Rating 4.5 Stars
What’s the book about?
The first time Cassio meets his fiancée, she calls him “sir.”
After losing his wife, Cassio is left to take care of two small children while trying to establish his rule over Philadelphia. Now he needs a mother for his children and someone who can warm his bed at night.
But in a world as traditional as his, choosing your wife is duty not pleasure.
Rules have to be followed, traditions heeded.
That’s how he ends up with a woman—a girl—barely of age. She may not be what he and his children need, but she’s lovely and a sweet temptation he can’t resist.
Giulia has always known she’ll marry the man her father chose for her, but she never expects to be given to someone so much older. Suddenly she’s supposed to be a mother to two small children when she hasn’t even held a baby before.
Giulia quickly realizes that Cassio isn’t interested in a relationship on equal footing. Her mother has warned her that men of power, like Cassio, don’t tolerate insolence. Tired of being treated as a nanny and clueless child-bride, Giulia decides to fight for her version of a happy family.
Sweet Temptation was a perfect addition to Reilly’s mafia romance repertoire. It focuses on Cassio, the Underboss of Philadelphia and someone you may remember from brief cameos in the Born in Blood series. However, Sweet Temptation is a standalone so you don’t need to have read either the Born in Blood or Camorra Chronicles series’ beforehand – though if you haven’t read them, you’ll definitely want to after this one! It was so good!
Cassio is recently widowed with two young children under the age of 3. As a busy Underboss, he needs to find a wife who can raise his children during the day and warm his bed at night. Enter Guilia – 18 years old, recent high school graduate with no experience caring for children. What she does have is a strong determination to make the marriage she’s been thrown into work and bring together her new, instant family.
One of the things I genuinely loved about this story is the way Reilly tackled the topic of age gaps. There is an approximately 13 year age gap between Cassio and Giulia, and at the beginning of the story, the age difference is quite obvious as these two characters are suddenly thrown together in their arranged marriage. Cassio is in his early 30’s, a leader in Philadelphia and heavily focused on work and maintaining power and control in his region. He cares for his two young children deeply but his role requires he puts his job first. Since Giulia is a teenager, she knew she’d eventually become a wife but she never expected to suddenly become a mother too. At the beginning of the book, she just wants to paint and discover who she is as a person. As their marriage and life together progresses, Cassio and Giulia’s age gap becomes less obvious. Giulia matures quickly in her new caretaker role and uses this opportunity to discover herself. At the same time, Giulia’s presence in Cassio’s life is also slowly ridding him of his cynicism as he learns to love life again and all of Giulia’s quirks (including her sunflowers!). They were such a perfect couple together!
I adored seeing Giulia’s role as stepmother to two young children. As previously mentioned, Giulia has no experience around young children but she’s expected to suddenly know everything about them. That doesn’t stop this smart, strong, young woman from making the best of her situation by researching all she can on caring for children. As most people know though, theory and practice are two completely different things and you see Giulia’s inner strength continue to grow further as she gets thrown learning curve after learning curve. Despite it all, she refuses to give up and becomes exactly what each member in the family needs to overcome their own shadowy past. She was their bright sunflower standing tall in the face of adversity!
I don’t want to give too much away about the rest of the storyline but will say it was so incredibly well written. I was hooked from the first word through to the last and didn’t want it to end. Cassio was a fantastic character to read more about and I’m so glad Reilly decided to write his story. I can’t wait to see what else Reilly releases in future – but in the meantime, I’m going to be re-reading Sweet Temptation and the rest of the Born in Blood and Camorra Chronicles books.
Disclaimer: Thank you to Cora Reilly, Next Step PR and Netgalley for the free copy in exchange for an honest review.
Read on for further links including the first chapter and a release day giveaway!