REVIEW: Knight in the Shadows by Ali Lyda & Alexa May
Knight in the Shadows – Ali Lyda & Alexa May
Serve the Family at all costs. That’s my purpose in life.
No one asked me if I wanted it.
Now there’s no way out.
And there’s definitely no place for Jake, a do-gooder military vet who sticks his nose in where it doesn’t belong.
He thinks he saw darkness in the Army? He hasn’t looked at the depths inside me.
He’d run screaming if he knew.
But he’s made something in our crumbling neighborhood I thought couldn’t exist.
Something I want to be a part of.
Just like I want him. But I have to walk away.
No one betrays the Family and lives.
Knight in the Shadows is a full length m/m mafia romance featuring a wounded army vet trying to make the best of his neighborhood and the mafia enforcer with a dark past who never expected to fall in love!
Knight in the Shadows is a book I picked up just because it says mafia on the cover. Ali Lyda & Alexa May are both new to me authors, so I came to this almost blind.
The plot revolves around a community-minded military vet, Jake, whose personal mission is to protect his neighborhood by keeping their community center, his gym, The Elm, from being taken over by the mob. Jake lost his military brothers and one of his legs in an explosion, and he’s currently coping with PTSD. The Elm is his life, and the employees and members are his family.
Max Russo is a reluctant mobster tasked by his stepdad, mob boss Ricky Russo, to find out what happened to a lost shipment of drugs. He crossed paths with Jake, and after the initial antagonism, they agreed to work together to save the gym and earn Max his freedom.
The story isn’t breaking any new ground or doing anything too flashy. It kind of went on longer than expected. I also found the mafia aspect lacking in authenticity, very mafia-lite. Same with Jake’s background. I’m not even sure if his rank was mentioned, just that he led a bunch of soldiers. Still, it had several things going that drove me on.
First, the romance between Jake and Max was super swoony! Max had the protective mafioso with a golden heart down pat. Jake had the Captain America good looks and do-gooding attitude.
They have the couple dynamics I like best. They’re both equally strong-willed, capable alphas, and physically they’re also the same build. There’s no cringey power play or dirty talk, yet they’re intense AF. Plus, they switch! And they have the sizzling chemistry that makes me squee. Loved that first kiss scene!
Second, this book is about community, and it succeeded spectacularly in this theme. There is a strong sense of belonging in The Elm, and the impact of its impending loss is palpable.
Single dad Sam, the personal trainer, and his two “budding pro-wrestler” kids, the small but badass gym employee Terry, the fab and sassy accountant Oliver, the tech-savvy and uber-efficient Maggie, Max’s PA and friend, and the deadly giant Cole, Max’s best friend, and enforcer, created the cozy found family feels with their distinct personalities and staunch support of Jake and their second home. I usually only mention the supporting cast if they’re memorable enough to stand out, and a lot of them did.
Third, narrator Max Peterman elevated an okay story into a very enjoyable one with his spot-on performance. It was the kind of delivery that had me glued from the moment I pressed play. The characters are already lovable, and I loved how he made them come alive. This one’s great as an audiobook.
Knight in the Shadows snuck up on me. I had little expectations, and it turned out to be one sitter. While I had my niggles, overall, the squee-tastic romance, the wonderful sense of community, and the masterful narration created a highly entertaining experience and one of my most favorite couples!
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
Artist: Sleep Token
Cole and Sam’s book is next! These two had a history together so it’s all about second chances.
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In some neighborhoods, if you want to walk down the streets, you’ve got two choices – look down, or look hard.Anthony Vachss