#Reviews #Excerpt~~ Light My Fire by Jessica Ruben
Cover by: Okay Creations
STEPH’S 4 BLUSH REVIEW
Jessica Ruben wow’d me with her debut Rising (Vincent & Eve). She followed it up with ReckoningandRedemption. The Vincent & Evetrilogy set the bar high. I was excited for the next idea that would come to life.
Life is a power struggle between light and dark.
Light My Fire is set once again in the Mafia world. But this time the stakes are higher. War-torn Kosovo is where our story begins. Albanian freedom fighters. Conflict. You will feel surrounded by fear, anxiety, and pain. And the result ~The Mafia Shqiptare is born. They are not for the faint of heart.
You will be bathed in the traditions and culture of the Albanians. Honor, loyalty, and family will all be tested. Our heroine, Elira, is fierce and strong. Living through unimaginable things. Uncertainty, turmoil, crime, angst, fear….it’s all there! She overcomes her circumstances and maintains a positive outlook despite all she has had to endure. Her drive for a better life and success is palpable.
Our hero, Nico, is dark and dangerous, but sexy, strong, commanding, and so alpha! Loved by many, feared by all. He is a natural leader. Fueled by strength and determination. No doubt that the chemistry between Nico and Elira is scorching!
The Mafia Shqiptare is dangerous as hell. They make Italian families look like child’s play.
We are also introduced to Jack Gallagher, musician, a college student and potential love interest to Elira. Who doesn’t love a hot, soon-to-be rock star? The passion and emotion that poured out of Jack when he was on stage leaped off of the pages and was something that I could literally feel. Jack’s character was complex and interesting, but I wasn’t sure what his place was in the story.
Without spoiling, I felt that there were almost two stories, and I wondered who would be the “chosen one”, Jack or Nico? With a title like “Light My Fire”, I immediately thought of The Doors and their famous song. But now you know how old I am – or you don’t, because you have no idea who The Doors are….
So the bottom line is this: Jessica Ruben writes such beautiful stories! They will have your heart thumping all over the place and Light My Fire is no exception! It is packed with emotion, anxiety and sexual tension. The burn is slow as the actual romantic storyline and an adult relationship develops. I would have liked to have seen a bit more when it came to the depth of the relationship between Nico and Elira. Things sort of sped up once Elira became an “adult.” I know that in the stories to come Jessica Ruben will deliver more! This is what I love so much about her writing! I look forward to the next book in the series!
“What I want, I take. What I hate, I kill. And what’s mine, I protect.”
Sandy’s 4.25 Blush Review
Jessica Ruben quickly became a favorite go-to author for me beginning with Rising (Vincent & Eve Trilogy). Light My Fire is her 5th book and it does not disappoint.
Elira as a child witnessed war and knew fear in war-torn Kosovo. Her father is the head of the Albanian freedom fighters and is killed right before her eyes. What’s going to happen to her, her mother and brother now? They are vulnerable and probably next to die.
Nico is a dangerous man. A ruthless man. A man to be feared. Now it falls to him to lead these freedom fighters against forces much greater than their own.
Despite the fact that Elvira is a child, he feels protective of her. She idolizes him and there is an almost supernatural bond between them. To protect her – he must let her go even if he never sees her again.
Light My Fire gives us a history of the Kosovo conflict. I enjoyed that aspect because IT IS so ingrained into who these characters have become. Flash forward – the conflict is over. Elira, her mother and brother are safe in the United States. She’s a happy college student starting her last year of school. Working hard at a local diner and has a best friend she adores. Elira meets an up and coming rock star. Jack Gallagher is sweet, sexy and the perfect distraction.
The years may have gone by but the past is about to figuratively come knocking on the door. The Mafia, the Shqiptare, is as ruthless as they come. Elira’s brother, Agron, is about to drag her back into that life. Back to the man her soul remembers.
Agron “sells” her off as his ticket into the Shqiptare. How far will Elvira go to save him? You want heat? You got it. Lord! The slow burn will slay you! You want angst? You got it. You want an alpha that will curl your toes? You’ll get that too with an undercurrent of death and danger so it makes an engrossing read.
How tantalizing to have two men both wanting you. Jack or Nico? Nico or Jack? We get to experience those relationships as they evolve between them. However, the tying up of loose ends – I wanted more of that aspect. I wanted more of that part of the story. That’s all I’ll say so as not to spoil it for y’all. I love Jessica’s writing. I really enjoyed Light My Fire so I cant wait to read what happens next.
From Amazon bestselling author Jessica Ruben comes a hot new Romance…
He saved me from war.
Fed me when I was in too much pain to eat.
Smuggled me and my family into America when it became too dangerous to stay.
But, Nico didn’t flee with us.
While I began elementary school in the United States, he was building the greatest and toughest Mafia of the century.
The Mafia Shqiptare.
Nico is now King of all underground trades.
Sexy. Aggressive. Brilliant.
After years of nothing but silence, he’s back in my life,
Ready to do whatever it takes to bring me into his universe.
He isn’t leaving until he takes me with him.
“It’s your brother,” he says matter-of-factly. “But you probably knew that already.”
My stomach drops. Agron.
“It seems he’s been stealing from some of my associates.” His voice is completely devoid of any feeling. “He was dealing for them and keeping a little bit of product for himself. Sometimes, he used it; other times, he sold it. But after a while, people began to notice. He ran to the Shqipe for help.”
I want to blink, but I cannot move.
“I gave him the money to pay those debts. And now, I’m the one he owes. I figured I could use him to do some small-time work, get my money back that way.” He takes a sip of his wine, completely unfazed. “And then I hear, Agron wants a firm spot in my world. Gave one of my men a whole story that the Mafia Shqiptare is where he’s meant to be.
“As we both know, your brother has always been a loose cannon. Arguably, untrustworthy. I knew him when he was a kid, but I’m a firm believer that people don’t change.” He stops speaking, continuing to dig into his food.
Meanwhile, I’m worried mine is going to come back up. Hearing this about my brother isn’t a surprise, but it’s painful nonetheless.
I take another sip of my wine, hoping it will calm me or at least give the illusion I’m relaxed. Unfortunately, my hand trembles, and the glass shakes, giving me away. Nico notices, of course.
He clears his throat, putting his fork down. “There is something I need from you. And if you give me what I want, I’ll protect your brother from the other gangs by giving him a spot in the Shqipe. You do not have to agree to the arrangement. But if you do, there is no end to it until I decide it’s over.” He settles into a forward-lean position, big arms resting on the glass table and shirtsleeves pulled up to the center of his strong, corded forearms. Everything about him, from his body language to his words, spells dominance.
I open and then shut my mouth.
Nico looks me up and down, his gaze stormy and hot.
Is Nico going to ask me for sex? It wouldn’t be unheard of in these crazy circles. But I have a limit, and whoring myself out for the sake of my brother is a no-go. No. Impossible. Never.
“What I need is simple,” he continues casually, the look in his eyes extinguished. “There is a new family I’m aiming to do business with. They’re the type who like to work with men who are … settled down. I know how loyal you are to your word. We share a language and customs. You will act as my wife when I request it.”
“I have school.” I lick my lips. I can’t let go of my future. Not for Agron and not for anyone. I won’t!
“You can go back for your studies”—he nods—“finish your degree. But when I call, you must come.”
“This arrangement,” I start, pointing between himself and me, “it’s just for public purposes, r-right? Nothing private you’re expecting or illegal?” I can’t help my stutter. I want to stay strong in the face of all of this, but it’s getting difficult.
Nico looks over my shoulder, and I turn my head, finding no one behind me. When I refocus on him, he’s fuming. He knows what I’m insinuating.
He grits his teeth. “You aren’t my whore, Elira. And I’m not going to ask you to do my dirty work either.” His eyes are hard.
Is he offended?
“Take my proposal at face value.” He finishes his drink. His huge hand places the delicate crystal glass on the table. “There is no hidden agenda. You pretend to be my wife, come when I call you, and act as I expect, and in return, I will bring your brother into my fold, making sure that no outsider kills him. If you walk away, he’s on his own.”
“He wants to work for you. He will do a good job for you.” I swallow hard.
He cocks his head to the side, like he’s calling bullshit. “Agron’s best asset is that he is related to you.”
I shift, but the weight of my body feels like it’s doubled. “And if he’s within the Shqipe, the other groups won’t be able to touch him?”
Quiet descends upon our discussion, but my mind shrieks. The skeptical part of me is on questioning overdrive. “What kind of events would be required of me?”
He takes another bite of food. “We’d travel. Dinners. Things like that.”
I wait to hear more, things along the lines of dungeons and sex slave, but thankfully, it doesn’t come. “So, all I have to do is pretend we’re married?”
He nods. “Yes. Exactly.”
“But what about when this business thing you need me for is complete? What will happen to Agron then?”
His lips quirk up. “You’re very loyal, Elira.”
“He’s my brother.” What else can I say? I want and need Agron to stay safe and alive. This is clearly his best shot.
“We’ll cross that bridge when it comes. I would take this offer then if you are so keen on making sure he stays out of trouble.”
“You’ll swear to that?”
“My oath is my bond.”
I know he’s telling the truth. For people like us, honor is everything.
I wait for him to elaborate some more, but he doesn’t. Surprisingly, I feel my nose twitch. I was expecting him to mention something, anything, about before. About what we had. But he doesn’t. And I’m not about to either. I just want to get the hell out of here. I want to go back in time and tell myself not to have that damn cigarette. I wish I’d flagged Jack down when he was circled by those girls and claimed him for myself. Instead, I made one fucking choice, and now, here I am, in front of Nico, my life on crazy ground.
“It’s late.” Nico shifts in his chair. “You’ll stay tonight and think. Tomorrow morning, give me your answer. Regardless of what you choose, I’ll have my car bring you back to school.” He stands up, twisting the fancy gold watch around his wrist. “When you’re finished eating, Maria will bring you back to your room.”
“I want to leave tonight.” Some of my bravado from before is gone. Beneath the strong girl is plain me—a college kid from Tobeho. Here is the last place I want to stay.
“Until I have your answer, you aren’t allowed to take one step out of my sight.” He stands up to his full menacing height, and in this moment, he truly scares me. He doesn’t give a shit about what we had—that much is clear.
I force myself upright, refusing to cower.
Seemingly satisfied, he walks away.
“What an asshole,” I curse under my breath.
He snaps, “What did you call me?” His stubborn jaw gives him a stony expression.
My stomach drops to my knees.
“Something to remember.” He saunters back to where I sit. “I will not be seen with a woman who doesn’t look polished or well-raised. I know who you are and where you come from. Act like the woman you ought to be or forget the deal.” And with those final cutting words, he’s gone.