After two years away, Seth Morgan has returned to New York, desperate to honor his father’s dying wish for a unified family. But the heir’s welcome is sadly lacking: his family’s criminal empire is divided, the woman he loves hates him, and his brother Caleb has become a cold stranger.
When a brotherly spat becomes a vicious misunderstanding that ends with Caleb dead, Seth is left reeling, and unsure who to trust.
Emma Morgan grew up while her closest cousin was away. She’s been sheltered her entire life from the realities of their family—something Seth has every intention of changing upon his return.
But not everyone in the syndicate is happy to have Seth home, and there are secrets surrounding Caleb’s murder. The deeper Seth and Emma dig, the clearer it becomes that not everyone shares their dream for the Morgan Syndicate, and not everyone wants the heir to ascend.
Before reading this book, I would recommend that you read the 2 prequel novellas (see below for purchase links), both give glimpses into the lives of the two Princes of the syndicate, Seth and Caleb. In Black Collar Beginnings: Cuba, you learn of Seth’s time when he temporarily leaves the family. In Black Collar Beginnings: New York, you learn how Caleb and their cousin Emma, deal with Seth’s disappearance. The two novellas aren’t required reading for this book, but just help you understand the overall dynamics of the family.
While this book is labeled as Romantic Suspense, I would warn you that this is more fitting for the Organized Crime genre. There is some love in this book, which actually might be more lust than love, when I think about it, but the heart of this story isn’t love, it’s a power threat within the Morgan crime family and how their returning Prince, Seth, shifts the direction of the empire.
After reading the 2 novellas, I was surprised at the heated exchange between Seth and Caleb when they are reunited. It is anything but friendly. Lots of blood is spilled. Seth struggles to understand what caused such a change in his brother. As the reader, Caleb’s intentions are not made clear right away. The story builds as Seth tries to find his place in the empire.
“Your personality is the only thing that can quell the unrest your brother created. You must unite them.”
Seth builds some unlikely allies along the way and slowly uncovers what Caleb was planning. Misconceptions are resolved, only to cause some broken hearts along the way. This is one of those stories when you’re not sure who to trust.
The sexy times in this book are minimal, but the encounters among some of the elite members of various syndicates is still hot.
His features crunch in wild panic and something like pain for just a moment before release comes like an ebbing, starlit tide of the deepest black.
Even with his supposed soul-mate, Nicolette, is back in his life, Seth is still tempted by others. He claims to love her, but I didn’t fully believe it.
Their relationship has always been wild and full of fighting, but above all of their love has always been for each other. Things had been going so well when his dad died. He wishes he could destroy hindsight with an irreparable force.
My biggest struggle with this book is that it is told in the third person, and switches from person to person within one chapter. I often had to read several paragraphs to understand who the author was talking about. It would have been more enjoyable if the story was told from the first person and alternated POVs with chapters.
The characters in this are all morally flawed – drug use being prevalent. Surprisingly, the story isn’t as violent as I would expect from a mob type story, there are no torture scenes to worry about. If you enjoy mob stories with suspense, you’ll enjoy this one. It didn’t feel like a repeat of anything I’ve read or watched before.
*An ARC was received for an honest review.
Seth is on the upper deck, sprawled out on a chaise lounge with a bottle of white wine in one hand, wearing only a pair of shorts. The shades are drawn on all the windows, and outside lights are off.
He’s not sure how long he’s been here, letting the boat rock him by the rhythm of the sea, watching the endless map of stars blinking at him from the beyond. Maybe his dad is there, with his mother who
died when he was so young. Childish thoughts from a heartless thug. The moon is huge, not quite full. The wine is almost gone.
Usually, if there’s a party, Seth can be found directly at its center, but not tonight. He has been quiet, reserved, and battling the jitters that rise at random whenever his thoughts jump back to Miguel’s words; that Havana would want to meet him. Good graces? If the kingpin doesn’t want to kill him, then doesn’t it have to be the opposite. Has he finally ascended the ranks to true ally? That possibility fires just as many panic triggers as death in Seth’s synapses. When Uncle Mikie sent him on this mission – it was like a mission then, anyway – he told Seth it was for a few months, a year at most. The days and weeks of his tenure have rolled on and on, past that and with no explanation, and Seth has had so much time to wonder if it is somehow his failure that keeps him here. Sometimes it feels just like a prison, too. Yes, a prison fit only for royalty of his elite stature, with all the drugs, booze, women, exotic food, and stunning locations any prisoner could possibly handle. He scoffs at the sky and turns up the wine bottle. A prison where behind every tropical flower is Mac11, and the consequence of every action is bound by code.
“There you are, yuma.”
It’s Miguel with his customary “white boy” greeting, carrying a pitcher of margarita in one hand, and a fat spliff in the other. He slides the glass door closed with his toe, then takes the chaise beside Seth
without waiting for an invitation. Back home, anyone but his brother would be afraid to invade his space, especially if he were being quiet. Miguel sets the pitcher on a glass table, and says, “There was a gift just for us,” and holds up the joint.
Seth waves the now-empty wine bottle at his boss, and says, “Man, I quit smoking that shit in high school.”
“Oh bullshit,” Miguel answers and sets a flame to end of the spliff. He puffs a couple times, and adds, “Come on, it’s laced. I know you’re a speeder.”
Seth groans in reply, so Miguel tries another angle. “Don’t make me tell the boss you didn’t accept his gift. You know that would be very rude.”
“You know, you really are a dick,” Seth says, abandoning the empty bottle on the table in favor of the full pitcher. Even though he knows he’s not drinking wine anymore, his brain still revolts when he takes
a gulp of the tequila. The first shot of tequila is always a rough one for him, the only liquor that he can’t drain like water. He chokes it down without spitting it all over himself, but just barely. Of course Miguel
would mix strong.
Miguel laughs, soft like nighttime clouds across the moon’s face. He passes the smoke to Seth without a word. Seth narrows his eyes, but takes the joint. In these moments Seth both loves to hate Miguel
for flaunting his authority, and hates to value their bonds of friendship. More than anything, it’s that Seth still finds himself hard wired to be the one cleverly asserting his status. Seth takes a hit, the
smoke acrid as the coke and weed burn together. Blast off. Seth’s thoughts scatter, and his body buzzes.
On the next pass, Miguel takes a thoughtful sip from the pitcher, a heavy hit, then says, “We are too much the same.”
BLACK COLLAR BEGINNINGS: CUBA GOODREADS LINK
BLACK COLLAR BEGINNINGS: CUBA
Alone in Cuba, Seth Morgan isn’t mafia royalty—he’s a thug with a gun, and everything to prove. When the shadowy kingpin behind the Cuban syndicate finally takes notice, nothing in Seth’s world will ever be the same.
Before the Empire, there was exile. A novella, set just before Black Collar Empire.
BLACK COLLAR BEGINNINGS: NEW YORK GOODREADS LINK
BLACK COLLAR BEGINNINGS: NEW YORK
Caleb Morgan is the black sheep of the family. Two years of his brother’s absence has left him cold and alone—except for Emma, the youngest Morgan. Because with Seth gone, there is no one else to teach—or protect—their innocent cousin.
But teaching isn’t always pretty—not in family who peddles in crime.
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AN Latro loves good wine and the ocean, and prefers to write with both. She has a passion for bad boys in books, and stories that make you feel. She can most often be found along the Florida coast.