An exciting, wildly sexy romance with an edge.
All sass, steam, suspense and second chances make
Frankie and Benny’s story entirely awesome and heartwarming.
- Related Posts: Review of At Peace (#2, The ‘Burg) | Kristen Ashley Reading Orders | 2014 Favorite Singles
Since his brother’s death, Benny Bianchi has been nursing his grudge against the woman he thinks led to his brother’s downfall. He does this to bury the feelings he has for Francesca Concetti, his brother’s girl. But when Frankie takes a bullet while on the run with Benny’s cousin’s woman, Benny has to face those feelings.
The problem is Frankie has decided she’s paid her penance. Penance she didn’t deserve to pay. She’s done with Benny and the Bianchi family. She’s starting a new life away from Chicago and her heartbreaking history.
Benny has decided differently.
But Frankie has more demons she’s battling. Demons Benny wants to help her face. But life has landed so many hard knocks on Frankie she’s terrified of believing in the promise of Benny Bianchi and the good life he’s offering.
Frankie’s new life leads her to The ‘Burg, where Benny has ties, and she finds she not only hasn’t succeeded in getting away, she’s doesn’t want to.
“The promise of Benny. Every day. Everywhere. It was always with me.”
Kristen Ashley turned up the feels, heat, moxie and humor for Frankie and Benny’s story. A story about knowing when to let go and when to dig deep. About the families you’re born with and the families life gives you. About second chances and knowing when to bridge the gaps that could change your life forever. There are so many elements I loved in the story, starting off with our protagonists who brandish big personalities. It was easy to visualize them, know them, love them. And together, their big personas fit so perfectly. The banter and wit, the chemistry, even the way they synced emotionally… it was fated perfection. Their coming together was not easy. It was messy and complicated and weighted down by guilt, betrayal and insecurities. But it was also fueled by the quiet promise that good could result from bad, the promise that someone could fill an entire lifetime with laughs, family and happiness. Someone who cared enough, loved enough. And for Frankie Concetti, that promise was Benny Bianchi.
“God doesn’t care who you let in there, just as long as the feelin’s are honest when you let him in.”
Frankie wasn’t ready to let Benny Bianchi in. Not him or his family. Not after she’s been shot to save one of their own. Not after a 7-year gap where they abandoned her. Chastised her. Blamed her for the death of Vinnie Bianchi, her fiancé. So Frankie did what she does best. Went all in and ignored them tenaciously. She was moving to Indianapolis anyway, leaving her past behind once and for all. Problem was, Bennie disagreed wholeheartedly.
“You’re crazy-brave, babe… you proved that a week and a half ago. You’re crazy-beautiful and I ‘spect you been that way all your life. You’re crazy-funny. You’re crazy-sweet. But you’re just plain crazy if you think you can do what you did for this family, be the way you are with me that night before they took Cal and Vi, and think I’m lettin’ you move to fuckin’ Indianapolis without us havin’ a conversation.”
I loved the way Benny Bianchi, one of my favorite Italian alphas, refused to be derailed by Frankie. He knew he messed up for so long. Knew there was a breach to bridge. Knew he had to be as stubborn as Francesca Concetti if he was gonna make things right. Frankie and Benny were close, real close, in the past. They were friends and kindred spirits. Even when Frankie was with Vinnie, Benny gave her comfort in a way no one else could. And with Frankie’s close call with death, Benny realized he can’t–won’t–lose her again.
“You see the woman you want bleeding’ from a gunshot wound on a forest floor, she survives that shit and gives you a week and a half, Frankie, that’s plenty of time to pull your head outta your ass. I did it on my own. Now you’re gonna do it, and if you don’t, I’m right here and I’m gonna do it for you.”
Frankie’s head and heart were filled with deep, complicated, rooted issues. First, despite the flutter and fullness she felt inside every time she looked at Benny, she couldn’t forget he’s her fiancé’s brother. Couldn’t forget she was left alone for so long, abandoned by the people she loved the most. Frankie didn’t have a whole lot to lean on. Her family was crazy. Messed up. From them she learned to bail, not to stick around. To break relationships, not to mend them. To disappoint and hurt, not to love. So Frankie has all this sticky stuff inside, overwhelming her, paralyzing her… keeping her from living anything beyond a half life.
“I never had nothing but good coming my way. If I got good, I lost it. That was my life. I’d learned to live with it. I didn’t like it, but I had no choice.”
Suddenly, however, Benny took away her choices and she finds herself recovering in his house with all the goodness of Benny everyday. Slowly cracking that hardened exterior. Digging deep. Breaching gaps.
“He was tall. He was beautiful. He was a good son. A good brother. A good guy. He’d be a good husband and an amazing father. I wanted a shot at that. I couldn’t have it.”
There are so many things I loved about Benny. Loved that he refused to give up on Frankie. That he was willing to do the work he needed to do to help her. Nobody had cared enough, done enough, remembered enough when it came to Frankie and he was dead set on giving her everything she deserved without her even asking. I loved that he didn’t love easy, he took Frankie in all her boldness, stubbornness and vivacity. With her skin-tight clothes, big hair and even bigger attitude, he took it all and loved it. He pushed Frankie in all the right ways, not too quickly, not too hard… just enough to win her over, moment by moment, minute by minute.
“I don’t want easy, Frankie. I had my shot at that. I wanna work at gettin’ the sweet, enjoyin’ my time with the spicy along the way, ’cause the sweet’s a fuckuva lot sweeter when you gotta earn it.”
Their story is a wild, emotional push and pull. It’s about understanding each other on a level no one else had. It’s about family and friends that were anything but typical, but somehow were the perfect safe and loving place to land. It’s about getting to the source of things and then uprooting everything to start all over with the promise that things would be better.
“Every day is a new promise, Ben… Every night I go to sleep knowin’ it’s a promise, ever day I wake up knowin’ in some way it’s gonna be fulfilled. And repeat. For… hopefully… ever.”
Of course, this wouldn’t be a Kristen Ashley book if we didn’t throw in big-time drama. Murder, mafia, secrets and the one thing that never ceases to put a big, fat smile on my face… Lee Nightingale. And you know when Lee’s involved, something bad is going down.
“Babe, you cannot plan for life. You can pull out all the stops to plan for everything and life will find a way to fuck with those plans, sock you in the gut, send you scrambling. Through that, you either have the balls not to back down and the strength to know what’s important and hold the fuck on with everything you got, or you don’t have that and you give up ’cause you’re weak. Know two things for certain: I’m not fucking weak and you aren’t either.”
I say it every time I write a review for Kristen Ashley. I am in awe of her brilliance. Her rhythmic, one-of-a-kind writing that draws me in and makes me feel every moment, making these characters so real to me. I get transported into their story, even reading with a different voice inside my head. I’m there, I’m all in and I love it hard. I love that her alphas are rough around the edges, but with hearts of gold that love their woman, their families and their babies. And of course, we get the best epilogue. NO ONE does epilogues like Kristen Ashley. The kind that leave your heart full to bursting and smiling widely. Fans of her books will once again adore the fact that we see other characters we love in this story and we definitely get a lot of Joe, Vi and their girls (it should be noted I will never get enough of Joe Callahan). I can’t wait until all of you fall in love with Benny and Frankie! I promise you that you will not be disappointed! Romance, wit, suspense, drama, big-time sizzle… their story has it all!
“Never loved another woman. Not in my life… waited until I got it right… I got it right.”
Reading Order and Links
Click on the image to order from Amazon U.S.
Visit this page for the complete Kristen Ashley series reading orders.
Connect with Kristen