Author: K.A. Merikan
Pages/Word Count: 323 Pages
Rating: 2 Stars
Blurb: — Love is sour like a Sicilian lemon. —
The Family is always right.
The Family doesn’t forget.
The Family pays for blood in blood.
Domenico Acerbi grew up in the shade of Sicilian lemon trees ready to give his life for the Family. Ready to follow orders and exceed expectations. A proud man of honor.
When Seth, the younger son of the Don is kidnapped, it’s Domenico who is sent to get him back. The man he finds though, is not the boy he knew all those years ago. Lazy, annoying, spoiled, and as hot as a Sicilian summer.
Seth Villani wants nothing to do with the mafia. Unfortunately, he doesn’t get a say when the Family pulls him right back into its fold after his mother’s death. Thrown into a den of serpents otherwise known as the Villani Family, Seth has to find a way to navigate in the maze of lies. But when Domenico Acerbi, the most vicious snake of them all, sinks his fangs into Seth, the venom changes into an aphrodisiac that courses through Seth’s veins.
Domenico knows his life is about to change when he gets the order to train Seth up to the role of future Don. Seth isn’t made for it. He isn’t evenmade. But a man Domenico knows he would never have to fear might just be someone he’s always needed.
If Seth is doomed to follow in his father’s footsteps, he might as well enjoy himself—with the most intoxicating man he’s ever met. Maybe he can even fool himself into believing that Domenico isn’t a handsome sociopath who kills for a living.
Review: When I first received Guns n’ Boys from the writing duo of K.A. Merikan, it was in short story form which was meant to be Part One of a serial. I have to say it was a difficult read—not a lot of substance to it, nor was there that all important cliffhanger hook to leave me clamoring for the next episode. In truth, my initial reaction was that Domenico Acerbi was trying awfully hard to be Aleksandr Voinov’s brilliant Silvio Spadaro (of Dark Soul fame), though sadly was lacking in Silvio’s charisma, sensuality and predatory magnetism.
Having got a second copy of the book, this time in full length novel form, I was more than a little interested to see how, or if, the storyline and delivery had improved with its expansion. Come on, sexy Italians in designer suits, packing heat? What’s not to love? Sadly, however, eighteen chapters and an epilogue later, I still feel the same about the novel as I did the short story—I believe it fell short in both plot and the craftsmanship it takes to construct a sophisticated and hard-hitting Mafia story. And, perhaps not at all surprisingly, guess who showed up in a cameo later in the book?
Guns n’ Boys tells the story of Seth Villani, the youngest son of a Mafia Don. At his mother’s insistence, Seth has removed himself from the dangers of being Family connected, moving to the US to escape the violence inherent to his lineage. Unfortunately for Seth, however, a leak in the organization puts him directly in the crosshairs of that danger and violence when he’s kidnapped by the Chinese Mafia. Domenico Acerbi—who’s connected in more than one way to la famiglia Villani—comes to Seth’s rescue, albeit it reluctantly, as the reader is soon made all too aware. Dom loathes Seth for his weakness. Seth hates Dom for his arrogance. But, that doesn’t mean they don’t each want to nail the other six ways from Sunday, almost from the moment they lay eyes on each other.
Seth was the proverbial mama’s boy, which is one of his better qualities, and it’s upon his mother’s death that he’s brought back into the Family fold, forcing him to leave his boyfriend (a character whose role is one-dimensional, serves a single purpose and is more a device than a true necessity to the storyline), for his own good. Once back in Italy, Don Villani announces a decision that will alter Seth’s future and conveniently place him in Domenico’s hands, as Dom is ordered to protect and mentor Seth, grooming him to take over as head of the Family. Of course, this introduces a rather predictable conflict, as no one, not even Seth, believes he’s cut out to be Don. What would a good Mafia story be, though, without a little jealousy and the possibility of some fratricidal drama?
In spite of the wealth of potential within the pages of this ambitious novel, the greatest obstacle in my way to liking Guns n’ Boys is with the writing, or perhaps I should tie it all in to the editing. I felt the dialogue was, by turns, either colorless or porny. There’s a lot of redundancy with respect to the characterizations, repetitious details and information that didn’t serve to layer the characters or plot but only belabored certain points, certainly in regards to Seth’s insistence that he was too much of a man to be a bottom, all while reveling in the receiving end of much Jell-O kneed, mind blowing sex. Seth is whiny and pouty much of the time, leaving him a somewhat emasculated character, all while insisting his machismo was in constant threat from Dom’s anal pursuits—methinks Seth did protest way too much.
Regarding Dom’s obsession with Seth’s arse, his insistence that it’ll only hurt for a minute, baby, but I promise I’ll make you feel so good manipulation came off, in my opinion, more sleezy than sexy, and I also feel there was an extreme overuse of similes and metaphors throughout the book to describe appearance and behavior, which wore terribly thin after multiple comparisons drawn to various species of the animal kingdom. These were all detractors for me, and weighed heavily in my less than warm feelings toward the book.
It takes more to be a Mafioso than looking good in an Italian suit and knowing what to do with the business end of a gun. I couldn’t help but feel as I was reading Guns n’ Boys that the characterizations and the overall tone of the book were off base for a novel set in and around the Mafia. What should have been raw and gritty and steeped in subtext and overt sensuality was at times awkward, overly deliberate, and lacking in finesse.
It’s possible I’ve simply been spoiled for all other M/M Mafia stories by the Dark Soul Series. It’s likely there will never be room for another Silvio Spadaro and Stefano Marino in my lexicon of favorite characters, and as much as I wanted to be drawn into and consumed by Guns n’ Boys—what’s not to love about the premise and that gorgeous cover, after all?—this story didn’t wow me in the way I’d hoped and expected it would, certainly not in the same way this duo’s fantastic and original Stung did.
You can buy Guns n’ Boys here: