Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Queen of Spades by Kristi Belcamino: Reading Room Review

Having fallen in love with the Gia Santella series by Kristi Belcamino, I am thrilled that the author has extended the story backwards to Gia's family roots in Sicily with Eva Lucia Santella's, aka The Queen of Spades, story. Readers of the Gia books have already been introduced to Eva, who has come to Gia's aid both in Italy and Gia's home of San Franciso. In A Queen of Spades, the dark past of the Santella family is revealed, their Sicilian Mafia past, where Eva Lucia Santella learned in her teens how to be a powerful and much-feared assassin. When Eva's father dies in prison, she takes over the running of the family and the position of Mafia boss, a decision of her father's that leaves her two stepbrothers unhappy. In the brothers' attempts to descredit and overthrow Eva, Eva kills one of her brothers. As in any men's world organization, other bosses side with the remaining brother and decree a death sentence for Eva. Of course, they have to catch her first.

Twenty years from her Sicily days, Eva has found a place to hide in Los Angles, California and is living a "normal" life with a husband and two children. It's been a wonderful decade since she married and became a member of the PTA and lived the good life of a Malibu Beach resident. But, she hasn't been complacent. Eva has been careful to keep a low profile and make arrangements for herself and her family if the Sicilians catch up with her. Sitting in a PTA meeting, Eva receives a message on her phone that turns a fund-raiser meeting into a scramble for her family's lives. The tables of vengeance soon turn, as Eva discovers too late that the worst has happened, but even the worst brings unexpected evil and betrayal. Now, vengeance is all that Eva lives for. Training her body, her mind, and her emotions to be a killing machine again is her focus. And, yet, the author brilliantly is able to show readers in Eva’s interactions with a young boy that Eva’s compassion and looking out for those unable to do so for themselves is a large part of who this tough survivalist woman is. Her concern for the less fortunate was ingrained into her as a child, and she has not lost touch with that core piece of herself even in the depths of tragedy. However, her quest for revenge must be fulfilled, and after she learns the name of her target, she is relentless in her pursuit.

I have yet to read a Kristi Belcamino book that doesn't grab me up in its excitement. Her ability to engage the reader is masterful. And, who writing novels creates more kickass characters than Kristi--Gabriella Giovanni, Gia Santella, and now Eva Santella. Kristi Belcamino is truly the queen of kickass characters. Perhaps there should be an addendum to that title though, Queen of Kickass Characters with Heart. Each of these three strong women show their strength not only in how tough they can be, how they can fight, but also in how dedicated they are to righting a wrong. Eva, the Queen of Spades, could be a super-hero in any world of right versus evil. She is someone you will be invested in from the beginning of her tale. I'm so pleased that Kristi Belcamino made the move to bring us Eva's story, but then this is an author who instinctively makes all the right moves.

I received an advanced copy of Queen of Spades from the author, and my enthusiasm at sharing its publication is a genuine expression of my delight as a reader and reviewer.  This book is magnifico!

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