Check out the blurb and read more for my review. There are some spoilers though so please bear with me. :)
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.
After reading Sempre: Forever, I knew that this has been one of the best YA series that I’ve ever encountered. I fell in love with Haven and Carmine and the whole Chicago mafia angle right from the very beginning. Turning that last page left me bereft wand wanting for more… a lot more
Going into Sempre: Redemption, I had high expectations on what I wanted the book to make me feel. As far as sequels go, it isn’t half-bad… but it’s not something I’d give five stars to (as much as I hoped I would). There are some really, really strong moments in the book where I felt as if I couldn’t breathe. It made me smile, it made me cry… but these moments were few and VERY far between.
Sempre: Redemption is the conclusion of Carmine and Haven’s story. But not only that, it also shows readers how they struggled to live with the choices they have made. In the first book, the instant connection that Carmine and Haven felt for each other right from the very beginning was evident. That they fell so deeply in love with each other didn’t seem like a choice for either of them, just of when. Circumstances from the first book led them to make choices that only added to the odds stacked against them.
When Carmine DeMarco traded his freedom to ask for Sal’s help in rescuing Haven, he knew that he would only bring harm to Haven and after everything that she has been through, he cannot and will not accept ever being the cause of even more hardship for the girl he loves.
He goes off to pay for what he owes La Cosa Nostra: a life in the family. For each “mission” he goes to, I can really feel Carmine’s hatred for his situation. I guess it’s one thing that I’ve come to love about his character. No matter how much of an asshole he claims to be, Carmine is well and truly a good man. He has no love for the things he has to do for La Cosa Nostra. His bound oath is the only thing keeping him in place. Even early on, it is evident that he does not want a life in the mob. But after everything is said and done, it all boils down to the fact that he wouldn't change a thing. He will do all these and more if it meant saving Haven and keeping her alive and free.
Haven is one of hell of a heroine. She has come so far from the timid, submissive little mouse of a girl that we initially met in the earlier pages of Sempre: Forever. In Sempre: Redemption, we see what kind of young woman Haven was meant to be: strong-willed and fearless. JM Darhower treats readers to the pleasure of witnessing Haven’s transformation. We now see her as she takes a real shot at living a free life. Well, as free as someone like her can be. She may no longer be a slave but she is still a mafia principessa no matter how anyone looks at it. She goes to college, she makes new friends… but that kind of life? It’s still not enough. Not without Carmine. This is what Carmine failed to see throughout the book. No matter how much he wants to keep her safe, she would never be able to truly escape his world.
Okay. Here is where I become very disappointed. If you don’t like spoilers, please stop reading RIGHT NOW.
I think the character development was brilliant. We see both Carmine and Haven become real individuals separate from being Carmine and Haven, Haven and Carmine. It’s all well and good but darn, did they have to be apart for around 80% (I know, right?!) of the whole book? I just wished for more Carmine and Haven moments, on seeing how they fit into each other’s lives given that Carmine is now undeniably tied to the life that Haven is trying so desperately to escape. As sad as this makes me, if it weren’t for Corrado, I wouldn’t have read this all the way through.
I guess Sempre: Redemption is not only about Carmine and Haven. JM Darhower paints a vivid picture of the nightmare of a world in which her characters live in. We’ve only gotten a glimpse of it from the first book since much of it was spent with the DeMarco family sequestered in Durante. But here, we see how truly terrifying a life in the mob can be. It puts readers in to perspective as to why Carmine is also so desperate to keep Haven from becoming sucked back in to the horrors of La Cosa Nostra.
This is the story Carmine and Haven’s redemption as they try to navigate the evil in their lives in order to find their salvation in each other, in the redeeming love they have for one another. But more than that, it has also been Vincent DeMarco’s story of salvation (I’ll stop here before I give anything really big away).
So, yeah. This may not be what I expected of the big conclusion to Carmine and Haven’s story but at least the character got what they wanted in the end. If they’re happy, then at least I can be happy as well.
JM Darhower is an amazing writer. She made my heart race so hard as I try to decipher what goes on in the minds of her characters. Each character is unique and complex, which makes these books very worthwhile. No birdbrained airheads here, that’s for sure. She tied everything up nicely and delivered a very satisfying conclusion to the story.
(Even if I’m happy with Carmine and Haven’s story, I still want more of this world! I hope we get to see more of the characters in spin-offs or prequels, maybe?)