Hollywood’s Golden Age is not all glitz and glamour. Mob boss Frankie Monetti controls the unions and the studios, which makes him and the syndicate very rich. But after five years, Frankie runs afoul of the law and those who put him in power.
Primo hit man, and Frankie's lifelong friend, Arvin “Gent” Vitali, goes west with orders to clean up the mess and then bring Frankie back to New York to answer for his double cross. But as the noose closes tighter around Frankie's neck, Gent questions where his loyalty truly lies. Is business just business or is freedom worth the risk?
Brita Addams has created a brash and dangerously atmospheric story transporting us back to a time where becoming a made-man involved blood and living a life of lies in support of who has the most power. For poor boyhood friends Frankie and Gent, it was a dangerous journey of petty crimes to bigger schemes and from friends to lovers that led them to where they are today. Forced apart by a jealous boss who constantly fears those younger and hungrier for power, and amidst a plot where friends becomes foes, Gent has been sent to prove Frankie's a thief and make him pay. The love that still burns between them though forces a change in plans in a cleverly crafted scheme that results in a HFN conclusion that is immensely satisfying but leaves room for more in the future.
Frankie always wanted to be a success and had the smarts and ability to handle people to bring that about. He can be refined and can easily schmooze amongst the glitterati which saw him rise quickly through the ranks. His love for Gent is the only time he feels whole, but after being discovered they were forced apart to stay alive. He's never forgotten him though and it's an emotionally crushing blow to know that Gent has been sent as his executioner based on lies. Frankie is tired after all the years on loneliness and yearns to have a regular life with Gent, or die trying. He's a man slowly unraveling, but luckily Gent is there to offer hope with his rock solid support. One last romantic encounter has them embracing what could've been, and what still can be, in a dangerous plan that had me holding my breath as the pieces to the puzzle were put in place.
Gent has always thought of himself as less capable compared to Frankie. He's more the muscle and brawn than the brains of the organization. He's very rough around the edges but when he's with Frankie there's a softer side with that expected bit of danger always lurking around him. He was crushed by their separation and anger adds to the job he's been given to do by the man he owes much to. Gent's always been a good listener, learning all sorts of useful information to use later on, so as the truth slowly comes out he knows he'll do whatever necessary to keep Frankie safe. I was drawn to Gent from the very start. He's a compelling character with a rough exterior not afraid to use violence when needed. He's not overt in expressing his feelings for Frankie but his deeds and actions speak volumes as he undertakes the lead in a pulse-pounding plan where brains are needed more than muscle.
Ms. Addams unflinchingly and perfectly depicted the exoticness and unruliness of this time. With these larger than life characters the author managed to capture the essence of a forbidden love betrayed by outside forces battling for happiness. The protagonists haven't always lived a clean life but in their effort to better themselves they lived the life they were dealt in a thrilling and at times heartbreaking journey. Ms. Addams has accomplished more in these 90 pages than others have done in far more and I look forward to revisiting this world soon.
My rating for this is an A.
*I received this book from the author for review in exchange for my honest opinion.