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Sempre: Forever Series, Book 1 | [J. M. Darhower]

Sempre: Forever Series, Book 1

Haven Antonelli and Carmine DeMarco grew up under vastly different circumstances. Haven, a second-generation slave, was isolated in the middle of the desert, her days full of hard work and terrifying abuse. Carmine, born into a wealthy Mafia family, lived a life of privilege and excess. Now a twist of fate has caused their worlds to collide. Entangled in a web of secrets and lies, they learn that while different on the surface, they have more in common than anyone would think.
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Publisher's Summary

Haven Antonelli and Carmine DeMarco grew up under vastly different circumstances. Haven, a second-generation slave, was isolated in the middle of the desert, her days full of hard work and terrifying abuse. Carmine, born into a wealthy Mafia family, lived a life of privilege and excess.

Now a twist of fate has caused their worlds to collide. Entangled in a web of secrets and lies, they learn that while different on the surface, they have more in common than anyone would think.

In a world full of chaos, where money and power rule, Haven and Carmine yearn to break free, but a string of events that began before either of them were born threatens to destroy them instead. Murder and betrayal are a way of life, and nothing comes without a price - especially not freedom. But how much will they have to sacrifice? Can they escape their pasts? And, most of all, what does it mean to be free?

©2013 Jessica Mae Darhower (P)2013 Tantor

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  •  
    Ezinwanyi Dallas, TX USA 01-08-14
    Ezinwanyi Dallas, TX USA 01-08-14 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "One of the best narrations of a book"

    I listened to this book and the narrator was fantastic. This book read like a movie. It was descriptive, concise, and paced evenly. I was apprehensive about the book when I saw the page count as well as the audiobook hours, but it flowed so well that I didn’t even notice the length. It wasn’t just a story about two damaged kids falling in love, but about choices and responsibilities. It was about freedom and redemption too. This wasn’t just Carmine and Haven’s story, this was Vincent & Mara’s story as well as a cautionary tale about “The Life”.

    This book was much more than a tale about child slavery. It was a story of people trying to grow and move out of the shadows of their parents.
    Haven and her mother grew up as slaves in the house of Michael Antonelli until the day her mother convinced her to run away. Her mother Miranda overheard the lady of the house asking master Michael to get rid of Haven, so Miranda asked Haven to run for help. Her attempt to escape her slavers led her to Dr. Vincent DeMarco.
    Dr. Vincent DeMarco was an angry man. He was a physician who had been forced into serving La Costra Nostra, the Chicago Italian Mafia. His wife was murdered and his youngest son Carmine was acting up from grief. He was now a Consigliere, but now the mafia wants son Carmine. Dr. DeMarco is trying everything he can to protect his son Carmine, but had to follow orders as they were all dispensable. The addition of Haven to their lives complicated everything.

    From the moment Haven moved into the DeMarco’s household, Carmine was mesmerized by her. Haven, on the hand, did all she could to avoid everyone in the household. She was used to living in the stables or basement, and she did not trust that the DeMarco household would be different from her prior home. Hope was a dangerous thing for slaves like her.
    As the story began to unfurl, it became clear that Dr. DeMarco’s taking of Haven was not a coincidence and there was more to Haven’s identity than even she knew. Haven was a pawn in a dangerous mob agenda, but then so was Carmine, the mafia Principe. Now the
    Slowly, the DeMarco family thought Haven how to live, and a year later Haven and Carmine were in love. That’s when the past came to catch up with Haven, and the DeMarcos.

    The author did a great job with laying the foundation, and keeping the story interesting. I really appreciate the fact that there weren’t these huge emotional swings. Yes, there was sad events, but there was happy events and even funny scenes. The author mixed things up by interjecting characters like Dominic and Nicholas, Dia and even Aunt Celia, so there was a continual break in the serious tone of the novel.

    I had a love-hate relationship with Vincent DeMarco, but I came to understand him as the novel went on, and I also came to find compassion for his actions. Carmine’s father was forced into “the life” by love and by his father, but he really loved his wife and sons. I was blown away by how well adjusted Dominic was and it was nice to see him be understanding of Carmine’s plight. Carmine was an impulsive kid that you wanted to smack on the back of his head and give a high-five at the same time. Carmine’s smart mouth was source of many chuckles from me. The narrator did a great job in giving each character very distinct voices, and I loved that about the audiobook.

    If you want a New Adult book that isn’t wrought with cliché drama and dialogue, then this book is for you. I want to read the sequel but it isn’t out on audible. I don’t think I can just read it after enjoying this ride on audio, so it is likely that I will wait until the audiobook is offered at audible. But I really enjoyed this book and look forward to sequel.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DK COLCHESTER, VT, United States 05-20-14
    DK COLCHESTER, VT, United States 05-20-14 Member Since 2012

    HATE spoilers! Enjoy HOT, sexy books. No vampires, paranormal, teens 4 me. Running out this type Audible-so on2 lighter romance/mystery :-(

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Disjointed Topic Mafia Slave Juvenile Plot/Writing"
    What disappointed you about Sempre?

    I am continually amazed at what passes as Contemporary Romance. This is Young Adult at best. However, this is something even my 10 year old self would have rolled my eyes at - and I was a huge fan of Sweet Valley High, Babysitter's Club, etc.

    Haven is a 17 year old sold as a slave to Dr. DeMarco. He takes her into his home, inserts tracking device under her skin - she and Demarco's sons become friends.

    She cooks and cleans for the DeMarco's - the 2 sons seem to have no question, curiosity or clue where or why Haven has appeared in their home.

    Written for a juvenile audience the book is full of junior high sighs, swoons and scenes. For example, the doctor & son take her to football games (the younger son-Carmine- is a star player) where another boy makes a derogatory comment - Carmine beats up boy.

    Carmine - a bad boy who, until meeting Haven, has sex with every gal at school. Carmine has now found respect for women and vows not to touch Haven until she is ready. They sleep (literally) together at the Demarco house and the father doesn't blink.

    The book is splattered with mafia scenes - Carmine's mother was murdered in front of him as a boy. The father leaves town for 'mafia' business, to see his elderly mother (a former mafia don's wife), attends Mass...Carmine is promised to the mafia via godfather - Dr. DeMarco is trying to find a way to keep his sons from the mafia life.

    While the father is gone the boys [w Haven] throw parties Halloween, Christmas, New Years...buy her gifts - Carmine courts her, they declare their love. The father finds out so he puts her on birth control?????

    Carmine teaches her how to read, the doctor encourages the son to teach Haven to drive with his Mercedes. Haven now watches TV during the day, goes to restaurants, hangs out with the boy's friends, etc. Carmine takes her out for a 'proper' Valentines Day date... a gallery, rents a cabin-filled with roses, picnic and she asks him to make love (a slave/human trafficking victim from birth who is "innocent".)

    The father constantly 'helps' Carmine as he tries to find a way to escape to Chicago. 'Allowing' the romance for 'the time being'.

    Carmine teaches Haven to use a gun - Haven NEVER TRIES TO ESCAPE - but why would she? Life with the Demarco's seems pretty nice.


    What was most disappointing about J. M. Darhower’s story?

    Unbelievable!


    Any additional comments?

    Sorry for the review that jumps all over the place - it is much like the "story."

    Regret, regret, regret at this purchase (and my advanced purchase of the second installment.)

    I REALLY don't understand the positive/raving reviews. Strongly recommend you pass on this one.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer 09-18-14
    Jennifer 09-18-14 Member Since 2011
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    "Amazing!"

    By far one of the best books I've listened to. I didn't want to stop listening to it!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alana Lee Rock Austin, TX 09-01-14
    Alana Lee Rock Austin, TX 09-01-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Brilliant Audiobook ~ Dark and Different Romance"

    I'd really give it more like 4½♥'s... It's like a New Adult Romance (but a little more 'vanilla' on the 'hot factor') meets the 'Family' (like Godfather type family) meets slave (like slave trafficking) meets... high school angst? It's VERY hard to describe, but I must admit I was captivated. *Whispers* Don't tell anyone- but I'm not really a big 'fan' of mafia-type stuff, but even I fell for this book.

    I had SO many recommend this to me... and I kept dragging my feet. Over and over, no clue why. Maybe it's because organized crime doesn't usually make it's way into my romance books. For that matter, human trafficking doesn't much, either.

    I most definitely will continue this series- and can I just say, Any Film Producers Out There? Take. A. Look. This would translate SO well to film, in my opinion. (And I do actually have theater and college film experience, so I'm not just whistling Dixie.)

    In full disclosure, I did receive an eBook via NetGalley, but I also purchased the eBook and audio, so it should be MORE than obvious that I am willing to spend money on this book and these are my honest opinions.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laurie Mesquite, TX, United States 05-20-14
    Laurie Mesquite, TX, United States 05-20-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Great start to a wonderful ending"
    Where does Sempre rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    I believe its up there in the top 5


    What other book might you compare Sempre to and why?

    I have never read a book like this, usually I stay away from mob type book, but this was worth it...... wonderful.


    Which character – as performed by Carla Mercer-Meyer – was your favorite?

    Carmine DeMarco.... for sure


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    I can not pick one, but the life of Haven before Carmine


    Any additional comments?

    You have to read or listen to both of theses books...... awesome!!!!! I can't wait to read something else by this author J.M. Darhower is wonderful.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gretchen United States 05-10-14
    Gretchen United States 05-10-14 Member Since 2012

    Use books for escape- typically avoid nonfiction. Enjoy action-romance, espionage/military, sci-fi. Skilled writing is most important.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Action, romance, violence, family, secrets, lies"

    Haven is a child born into captivity by a mother who is a victim of human trafficking and living as a slave to a mafia couple. At seventeen, Haven attempts escape with the encouragement of her mother, who suspects Haven’s parentage puts her in danger of her master’s wife. Haven does not get far before recapture, but a mafia associate buys the girl. Haven is moved in with the associate’s family, where she meets and falls in love with one of the teenage sons. The two learn of deep mafia secrets that threaten their life together.

    Abuse, slavery, and other such topics are usually elements I avoid in my escapism listening, but Darhower handles them tactfully, without unnecessary gore. That’s not to say there isn’t plenty of violence; there is, but the author focuses on plot and characterization. The plot keeps the story moving at a satisfactory pace, but isn’t particularly original. The characters are real and complex, demonstrating the author’s strength. She blends action, romance, violence, and family relationships in a way that makes sense and doesn’t feel forced.

    The best aspect of this audiobook is its reader. I would not have enjoyed this as much if I had read it. The Italian, voices, pace –everything…, is expertly performed. One of the best I have heard.

    Overall, I recommend giving this one a try – I am immediately picking up the next one in the series.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tracey R Ephrata, PA, United States 04-05-14
    Tracey R Ephrata, PA, United States 04-05-14 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Holy cow!"
    Where does Sempre rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    One of the best!


    What about Carla Mercer-Meyer’s performance did you like?

    Everything! She was amazing!


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I really wanted to but it was very long.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    K. Ziegler Pleasantville, PA USA 02-26-14
    K. Ziegler Pleasantville, PA USA 02-26-14 Member Since 2012

    katemike66

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    "You won't be disappointed!!!"

    This book was a fun adventure into the dark side of Mafia and added in human slaves trade. After I type that it sounds crazy, but this a really good book of empowerment and risks people do for love and honor. I was so glad the next was available.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    deborah United States 02-12-14
    deborah United States 02-12-14 Member Since 2010
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    "loved it!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Sempre to be better than the print version?

    yes only cause i am a listener and get a better visual


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Sempre?

    when they first met in the kitchen


    Which character – as performed by Carla Mercer-Meyer – was your favorite?

    loved all of them, but if i had to choose would be Corrado


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    mafia love


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nicole Sioux Falls, SD, United States 01-23-14
    Nicole Sioux Falls, SD, United States 01-23-14 Member Since 2011
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    "Sempre irresistible!"
    Where does Sempre rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Story wise - among the upper third - narrator around the middle. I had the pleasure of reading this book when it was originally written as a fan fiction and Darhower does not disappoint when it comes to Sempre. The narrator did well with the voices and different Chicago accents but she wasn't very fluid. It sometimes felt like she was reading the text for the first time. Part of the reason I love audiobooks is so that I can get lost in the story - if I can hear the narrator almost stumble over a sentence, or over enunciate in an unnatural speech pattern, it takes me out of the scene of the story.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    I love Haven but Demetri is awesome, and can't help but fall a little in love with Nick. Haven is obvious because she is the female lead, beat but not defeated! She won't be broken and I love how she is so literal. As for Demetri, he is so warm and personable he is an easy character to connect with. Nick, i just love his corny jokes!


    What three words best describe Carla Mercer-Meyer’s voice?

    does it count if I hyphenate it? .... clear, over-enunciated, characterized


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I loved this book, when I knew it was getting to a part that was going to be emotional I would hold off because I didn't want to get there yet. I can't wait for the sequel to come out!!


    Any additional comments?

    By no means was this a bad listen, I have just had the pleasure of listening to hundreds of audiobooks with some AMAZING narrators like Carolyn McCormick and Amanda Ronconi. As a result, I have become much pickier. I could get through the book and enjoy it - that is a damn sight better than the narrator for Fifty Shades - i stopped listening to that book 10 minutes in because her voice alienated the characters and storyline.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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