Cabrini Law: Murder Aforethought – Parker St. John
A ticking clock. A deadly enemy. Can they keep their heads in the game when their hearts are already on the line?
Valentine Rivetti made a horrible mistake when he became a Marine Sniper at the age of twenty. Returning home with PTSD and a guilty conscience, he’s blackmailed into working for the mafia to save his family.
Maksim Kovalenko has everything he ever dreamed of growing up in a Ukrainian slum. As a notorious corporate attorney, he has the world at his feet. But wealth and power can’t protect him from the emptiness he feels every time he shuts his eyes.
When Val is arrested for a murder he didn’t commit, his redemption is a silver fox in a three-piece suit. But Val’s lucky day becomes Maksim’s nightmare when the mafia begins to cut loose ends… starting with them.
The passion between them is overwhelming, but can two solitary men learn to trust each other before it’s too late?
It’s only the second book, but I’m declaring Murder Aforethought as the best book of the Cabrini Law series.
This is of course a completely biased judgement because I love Maks!
I first met Maksim Kovalenko in the first book, Risk Assessment. He got on everybody’s nerves and dazzled people with his perfect veneers.
Maks is a fascinating character. As the best corporate lawyer in town, he is a consummate workaholic. The type who dreads going on vacation. He was frequently described as an asshole and is only too happy to confirm the fact. The only person he cares about is his young friend, Emma, a teenage girl with neglectful parents. The rest of the world he holds at arms length.
Despite the cold, distant facade, Maksim dedicates a major chunk of his time applying his lawyerly genius doing pro bono work for Cabrini Law‘s underpriviledged clients. One of his cases involved a young ex-military held in question for suspected murder.
Valentine Rivetti was a troubled young man who has PTSD. He works as a hitman for the mob. He used to be a sniper in the military until he realized the job was not for him. His father was a petty criminal. His mother died of suicide.
Val believed the only thing he knows how to do is shoot. But he insisted he did not kill the man his father used to work for, both of whom were related to the mob. Still, somebody tried to kill him the minute he got out of the police station.
Bias or not, this was definitely a much better book than its predecessor. For one, this was a fast-paced running-from-the-mob story. We see a lot of action and flying bullets. The excitement and suspense was palpable as we hightailed it across the city alongside Maks, Val and Emma, who just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.
I totally loved how Maks and Val’s romance blossomed over the course of the week of them on the run. It didn’t feel rushed. The progression was paced to perfection and developed organically with the rest of the plot.
Val was just the right combination of strong and vulnerable that appealed to Maks at some core level. He recognized the young man’s intelligence and potential to do great things. Val saw through Maks’ walls, right to the golden heart that lay beneath. Maks felt it in his guts, he had to give the ex-soldier a home where he could find peace. Then he realized, he had one more person he cared about.
All the other characters stood out too. I enjoyed how each character played off with the others.
Emma was spunky and brave. I liked that the author didn’t go overboard with that. Emma acted like a real teenager. She cried. She got scared. But she was quick to help Val when he was hit by a bullet.
There were welcome appearances from Miguel, another lawyer from Cabrini. He’s an easy going guy who claims to be Maks’ friend whether Maks admits to it or not. There was also Val’s friend and former captain, Reese. This man sure has a lot of baggage. His book is next.
Murder Aforethought was a book I couldn’t put down. The writing flowed smoothly. The characterization was on point. The plot wasn’t new and I wished we had more of Maks and Val but overall the execution was done well. I was swept away by the adrenaline, the sweet hurt/comfort story and the delicious slow-burn-but- not-really romance.
Let yourself be swept away too and be charmed by heroic men ready to jump in front of bullets and silver-haired lawyers quoting The Princess Bride.
Witness Maks being an asshole and meet Elliot Smith a.k.a. Beyonce in Book 1, Risk Assessment, review here.
4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away