To Rosa Alcantara, the exotic world of Sicily, with its network of Mafia families and its reputation for murder and intrigue, is just that—exotic and wholly unknown. But when her life in Brooklyn begins to fall apart, she must travel there, to her family’s ancestral home, where centuries of family secrets await her.
Once there, Rosa falls head over heels for Alessandro Carnevare, the son of a Sicilian Mafia family, whose handsome looks and savage grace both fascinate and unsettle her. But their families are sworn enemies, and her aunt and sister believe Alessandro is only using Rosa to infiltrate the Alcantara clan. And when Rosa encounters a tiger one night—a tiger with very familiar eyes—she can no longer deny that neither the Carnevares nor the Alcantaras are what they seem.
Hidden caves, dangerous beasts roaming the hills, and a history of familial bloodlust mean that Rosa can’t trust anyone. Torn between loyalty to her family and love for their mortal enemy, Rosa must make the hardest decision of her life: stay in Sicily with her new love…or run as far and as fast as she can.
Finding the words to describe Arcadia Awakens is kind of impossible. It’s a book unlike any other and that is not all about it that is awesome. Arcadia Awakens is a thrill ride that will have you on the edge of your seat and leave you begging for more.
Arcadia Awakens is set in Sicily and while I have never been, now I kind of feel like I have. The decriptions are so lush and vivid that it isn’t hard to imagine being there with Rosa. Sicily is this crazy beautiful place but what makes it so beautiful are all the things that make it so different. Sure there are dead animals on the sides of the roads, trash piles all over the place in certain areas, and unfinished construction sites in odd places but those things only add to the beauty and mystery of the place. It’s a wonderful setting!
I’m the first to admit that I don’t care for stories about were-animals but clearly I was reading the wrong books. The transformations of the characters in the book weren’t awkward. It was more like comfort. Either form, human or animal, was normal for them and the transformations weren’t painful but beautiful. I think another thing that added to the awesomeness of the were-animals was the history. Greek mythology mixed in? Hell yes!
As if the book couldn’t get any better, the characters were strong and very human. Sometimes their paranormal sides come out but only at times of extreme emotion. Their mafia sides also came out at times and let me tell you, those were the real scary sides. What those people were willing to do to protect their secrets was just yikes. Human life was taken pretty lightly by the mafia families. (As a warning to readers: yes there is some gore and death.) Rosa and Alessandro were definitely the best characters but they were all fabulously well-developed and some were love them or hate them characters. I will say this: the book has a great cast of villains! Yikes! Do not get on the bad side of those guys.
The romance is accurately described as a Romeo and Juliet romance. Rosa and Alessandro are from enemy mafia families and their love will never be accepted. However, it’s clear that they are meant to be together, both from how they act around each other, and some interesting discoveries they make about their clans. The romance is a great mix of sweet, sexy, and a little dangerous. It’s a kind of subtle romance but one that keeps you smiling whenever you read about Rosa and Alessandro together.
The plot is not immediately engrossing but it’s worth it to get through the first 40 or 50 pages. That part is mainly just backstory and set up for the rest of the book so it is a little dull but once you get past that there is not another dull moment in the book. The last 200 pages especially will have you biting your nails and hoping for the best. All that build-up leads to a suspenseful ending that answers just enough questions to have you satisfied but leaves enough open to have you dying for the next book.
Overall, Arcadia Awakens is one completely fabulous book that I highly recommend. If I knew how to read German I would totally order the other two books in the series but sadly I will have to wait until they are translated to English.