Saturday, December 21, 2013

Blog Tour Review and Interview: Sempre Redemption by J.M. Darhower

Book Synopsis:

In this thrilling and sexy follow-up to Sempre, two young lovers struggle to keep their relationship intact after they become deeply enmeshed in the dangerous mafia-run crime ring they once tried to overthrow.

Haven Antonelli and Carmine DeMarco have been through a lot. Haven was taken in by Carmine’s father, and with his family’s help, she escaped a gruesome fate. However, saving Haven from the dark intentions of a mafia family cost Carmine a steep price: he was forced to swear loyalty to them.

Now, still passionately in love, Carmine and Haven must face the fall-out of Carmine’s forced service, as Haven discovers terrifying secrets about the family that enslaved both her and her mother—and why she matters so much in this intricate web of lies.

4 Star Review by Lisa Kane

Sempre: Redemption picks up right where Sempre ended. Readers learn that Corrado has survived and will once again command those around him with his iron fists. Carmine and Haven are living day to day, knowing at some point the debt Carmine made with Sal to save Haven will have to be paid at some point. Haven feels guilty and worries that at some point Carmine will regret his decision and the high price he paid to save her.

Carmine worries that he can never be a man worthy of Haven. What kind of life can he offer her? She has never truly been free to choose her own future and he wants that for her, so he decides what her future will be. He sets his plan in motion and the trajectory path their lives take will have life altering repercussions for both of them.

Carmine is forced to do what Corrado and Sal direct him to do. This is the price he must pay, to never call his life his own again. He struggles with that and his life spirals out of control. His methods of self- medicating are destructive and damaging. Haven, for the first time in her life has to make her own decisions and to choose which direction she wants to follow. The ache in her heart can not be healed.

Sempre-Redemption is full of plot twists and discoveries and deceptions. There are so many players in the La Cosa Nostra that at times I felt I needed to draw a Venn diagram, or a family tree at the very least. Carmine's relationships with his father, uncle, godfather and brother are all challenged and tested, and most fall short of the mark. I felt so much empathy for this boy forced to become a man. He is the true hero in this book, he is the one who paid the ultimate price for Haven’s freedom. Not once does he question why he made his pact with the devil; always it was worth it. His implosion is difficult to read. These two are a flawed duo who are never quite whole unless they are together.
I adored the epilogue. This glimpse into their future was sweet; it stayed very much in character and like a rich dessert, satisfied my appetite.

Three Chicks interview Carmine and Haven

Three Chicks:  Carmine, what was that year like without Haven? Do you think your self-destructive behavior was more because of the jobs you had to do or because Haven wasn’t in your life?

Carmine: My first year in Chicago was Hell. I didn't think I was doing that bad… I just did what I had to do, you know? Did whatever I had to do to survive. I get it, though. I wasn't thinking straight, and that pissed off a bunch of people. I learned my lesson the hard way. As for why? I don't know. I guess it was a bit of both… a bit of everything. I saw some shit I'll never forget, caused some things I can never take back… and what did I have to come home to? What did I have to go on for? Felt like nothing. I felt like nothing.

Three Chicks:  Haven, the time you spent apart, did you ever wonder if you would see Carmine again, or were you using the time to find out about yourself, as this was the first time you were really living on your own?

Haven:  Well, it was nice finally living my own life and doing all of those things I always wanted to do, like go to school, but I never forgot him. I always wondered what he was doing and if he thought about me. I wanted to see him… I missed him… but I really liked getting to know me. And I still don't like what he did, but I think I'm a stronger person now because of it.

Three Chicks:  Carmine have you been able to come to terms with your feelings about your father?

Carmine: I don't know, man. I don't know if I'll ever come to terms with my feelings about him. I understand him better now… I know why he did the shit he did, and being who I am, I know I would've done the same things, so I don't hold any resentment. But it still hurts. I'm a lot like him, I guess, and maybe that's why I don't know that I'll ever fully accept everything. It could've been me. Someday could be me. I'm one fucked up tragedy away from becoming Vincent DeMarco, and that's scary as hell to think about.

Three Chicks:  Haven, how do you think you were able to get through to Carmine after that year apart?

Haven:  That's a good question… did I ever really get through to him? *laughs* He's so stubborn. I think he was just too broken to push me away anymore. He was hurting, and one more loss would be too much for him to handle. We understand each other, and I think he realized he was only hurting us both by denying what we both knew.

Carmine: When you realized the part that Carlo and Sal played in everything, why didn’t you feel that your agreement to be in the family business should have ended? You made that deal with Sal (who obviously was involved in some way) to get Haven back… 

Carmine: What I felt means nothing compared to what they felt. You can't just walk away from that shit… once you're in, you're in for life. You give them your word, and you're expected to keep it for as long as they want you to keep it, and that's pretty much until you take your last breath. They don't forgive debts because the debt isn't to just one person… it's to the organization. There are consequences. So hell yeah, I thought it should've been null and void long ago, but had I tried to walk away? That's turning your back on the organization, and the punishment for abandonment? Let's just say, I kinda liked being alive…

Three Chicks:  Haven, are you still in touch with Kelsey? Have you remained friends since she is someone you don’t have to hide the truth from?

Haven:  I hear from her occasionally. She sends me messages, but she's busy with guys and other friends. We're just so different, always have been different, and our lives just went in different directions.

Three Chicks:  Carmine, why do you think there weren’t any repercussions against Corrado for what he did to Sal?

Carmine: *scoffs* short answer? Because everyone's scared as fuck of that man. Long answer? Because he planned it… went through the proper channels or whatever and got the blessing of other heavy-hitters before he made his move. Everyone thinks the captain of the ship has all the power, but nah… if you get enough support behind you and have a good enough reason, you can overthrow him and take his fucking ship, no problem. And Corrado? Well, he's probably the only one with enough influence to pull off a mutiny, because the men respect him.

Three Chicks:  Haven, are you drawing these days?

Haven:  More painting than drawing, but yes, I'm still doing art. I'm running out of wall space for it all! Carmine says we should start selling them, but I think he's crazy. I'd rather give them away, I guess. I don’t do it for money.

Three Chicks:  Carmine, why do you think that your brother Dominic wasn’t more sympathetic or involved with you in the time you were apart from Haven? He knew the sacrifice you made and must have realized why you were struggling but he never really tried to help you in anyway.

Carmine: He didn't agree with shit I did, and I guess he didn't want to stand around and watch me piss my life away. Can't say I blame him. But I pushed everyone away then, so had he even tried more, I probably would've shut his ass out anyway. He had his own life to live, and I would've just felt like he pitied me, when I didn't want anybody's pity.

Three Chicks:  Haven, did you ever see Gavin again?

Haven: No. Well, I saw him once in passing, but he didn't see me. It's probably better that way.

Three Chicks:  Has it ever crossed your minds that you both met when you were so young, that maybe you rushed things a little? Or do you consider yourselves to be soul mates?

Haven: Huh, well…

Carmine: Nope.

Haven: Really?

Carmine: Yes, really. I mean, yeah, we were young, but I've never been more sure of someone in my life. It wasn't perfect, and shit got complicated as it went on, but there was never a moment where I thought, "man, we need to slow the hell down." Some days I thought maybe we wasted too much time by denying the truth. Colpo di fulmine. I loved her the moment I met her.

Haven: I guess when you know, you know…

Carmine: And I fucking knew.

Haven: *smiles* I love you, too.

Three Chicks:  Did you ever think that a carton of spilt orange juice would change your lives so much?

Carmine: Absolutely not. At most I thought it might've given me acid reflux or something *laughs* Never knew that morning in the kitchen would've been the beginning of something so big.

Haven: I did. I knew it the moment I stepped in the doorway and saw you.

Carmine: Yeah?

Haven: Yep. I wasn't entirely sure if it would change for the good or not, but I knew it would change because of you.


Carmine sat in his usual chair in the library, casually strumming his guitar. A sliver of light filtered in from the large window, illuminating his somber expression in the darkness. She called his name but he remained still, continuing to pluck at the strings almost as if he hadn’t heard her. She took a step toward him and was about to say his name again when he let out a long, deep sigh. “I had a dream.”
“Another nightmare?” she asked, walking over to him. He glanced up at her as his fingers stilled, the music stopping, but Haven barely noticed. She couldn’t focus on anything but the green eyes boring into her. Once so alive with passion, she saw nothing but deep sadness marring the bright color.
Carmine set the guitar aside and moved his legs to make room, motioning for her to join him. She climbed into his lap and he wrapped his arms around her.
“Not a nightmare this time,” he said. “It was a good dream.”
“What was it about?”
“You,” he said quietly. “You made a painting—some abstract shit, I don’t know—but it was so good they hung it in a museum and raved about how talented you were. It was like you were the next fucking Picasso, tesoro.”
She laughed. “I don’t even know how to paint, Carmine.”
“You could learn,” he said. “Would you want to?”
“Maybe, but I don’t know how good I’d be.”
“Oh, you’d be good,” he said confidently. “You shouldn’t doubt yourself. You can do anything you set your mind to.”
“Except for play the piano,” she said playfully. “Or the guitar.”
He chuckled. “Yeah, for the sake of everyone’s ears, we ought to leave music to me, but the rest is all you. You can probably do all of that, you know. Draw, paint, sculpt shit into weird shapes and tell people it’s something it doesn’t look anything like. That takes talent.”
She smiled. “And you think I have that kind of talent?”
“Of course,” he said. “There’s gonna be no stopping you once you get started.”
“Thank you,” she whispered, a swell of emotion surging through her at his words. “It means a lot that you believe in me.”
“I’d be an idiot not to,” he said, kissing the top of her head.

About the Author:

JM Darhower is the author of countless stories and poems, most of which only she has ever read. She lives in a tiny town in rural North Carolina, where she churns out more words than will ever see the light of day. She has a deep passion for politics and speaking out against human trafficking, and when she isn't writing (or fangirling about books) she's usually ranting about those things.

Chronic crimper with a vulgar mouth, she admits to having a Twitter addiction. You can usually always find her there.

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