Author: Gabrielle Sands
First Published: 30 August 2022
“Stay with me, and you’ll never have a fight another battle again. I’ll fight them for you. I’ll protect you. I’ll avenge you.”
I will start by saying that I was given an ARC will start by saying that I was given an ARC copy in exchange for an honest review. These opinions are my own. Thank you so much to Gabrielle for sending a copy my way.
He’s the most powerful man in Ibiza, and he’ll do anything to make me his.
I’ve been raised to be the perfect mafia wife, but when my marriage turns into a horrific nightmare, I have no choice but to leave everything behind and start a new life.
I find myself alone in Ibiza—a place that swallows innocent girls like me alive. I’m robbed the day I arrive, left with nothing but a few euros and the clothes on my back.
My desperation leads me right to Damiano De Rossi. He rules over this island with an iron fist and beneath his strikingly handsome face lies a wicked darkness. I ask him for a job. He gives me far more than that—degradation, jealousy, and toe-curling lust.
When my resistance to him is all but gone, a secret is revealed, and we fall apart like a house of cards.
I know what I have to do. Run.
But when I try, I discover…he’s already got me bound.
When She Unravels is the first book in Gabrielle Sands’ new mafia romance series. It is actually the first mafia romance I have read, and it was incredible. I adored everything about this, the setting, the romance, the character development, the mafia elements!
Valentina Conte is the eldest daughter of the Don of the Garzolo family – one of the gangs who run New York’s drug scene. She has grown up in the life. Her parents have groomed her to be the perfect wife. Valentina was married off to one of her father’s best enforcers. Her husband is cruel and, put frankly, a psychopath. She escapes her husband’s grasp while also saving his latest victim, a young girl named Martina. Now on the run, with dwindling funds, Valentine ends up in Ibiza and lands a job as a cleaner at one of the island’s hottest clubs. While there, she catches the eye of the owner, Damiano De Rossi. As a relationship simmers between the two, Valentine realises that she might not have escaped the clutches of the mafia like she first thought.
Valentine was sheltered from the darker elements despite having grown up in and around the mafia until her marriage. Her husband is one sicko. The things he does to try and break her while also making her an accomplice made me queasy. The strength it took her to escape despite her husband’s threats and her parents’ apathy is astounding. This trauma is something she struggles with throughout the novel. The real turning point for Valentina is her escape. Gone is the meek mafia wife who bows down to her husband’s every whim and in her place is someone whose finding her voice and refuses to be a pushover. Honestly, how she finds that courage and strength is inspiring.
Damiano is a top-tier boyfriend. Let me tell you all the reasons why! He is broody, possessive, and dedicated to his family. He has peak touch-her-and-you-die vibes, which I am living for. My heart swooned at all the little moments where he softens for Valentina. Damiano’s whole life revolves around protecting his sister and taking vengeance against the man who killed his father to become the capo of the Casalese family. I loved watching how Valentina shook up his world. Even when she was technically his captive, he was never grotesquely violent and ends up being pretty kinky.
The chemistry between Damiano and Valentina was off the charts. The tension between the two simmers away before the pair finally give in to each other. The spice was excellent, and the kink included was perfection. I was not expecting to see such a soft side to Damiano. The way he was able to be equally caring and dominant is my kryptonite. I loved seeing Valentina learns how a partner should support and encourage you and that they should not just order you around.
I have avoided reading any mafia romances because I have researched a lot about the mafia and was worried that mafia romances would not capture that essence of these crime organisations. But I did not need to worry because Gabrielle Sands managed to capture the vibe of the mafia perfectly. She nailed the hierarchy, the power, the violence and danger that goes hand-in-hand with the wealth and glamour of the mafia. The plot hooked from the get-go. A war is brewing within the Casalese family. I am thrilled that this plot will carry over to the next book. Honestly, I was not sure how this complex story arc would wrap up in only one book.
Gabrielle Sands has fast become one of my auto-buy authors as I have loved all her books. I cannot wait for the sequel, When She Tempts, because I need to see how this power struggle plays out. Also, the sequel is an age-gap, grumpy sunshine romance, which is catnip to me. If you are looking for a dark, mafia romance with a compelling plot, a swoony romance with a ton of spice than this one is for you.