But Not For Me
Title : But Not For Me
Author : J.S. Cook
Publisher : Dreamspinner Press (BUY HERE)
Genre : M/M, Historical
Length : 310 pages (e-book)
Published : March 18, 2013
Gangster Nino Moretti’s world is a series of contrasts between extreme wealth and abject poverty, an unstable existence punctuated by booze and bullets. For Nino, the gangster lifestyle is even more dangerous because he is a finnochio—a gay man—in a position of absolute power at the head of his own criminal organization.
When Nino rescues beautiful mob accountant Stanley Zadwadzki from a violent assault at the hands of sadistic rival gangster Big Frank O’Hara, both Nino and Stanley become hunted men. Stanley places himself under Nino’s protection as Nino’s accountant and unofficial companion. As a warning, Frank murders Nino’s office boy. In a quest for revenge, Nino tracks Frank to Little Italy, where the resulting confrontation forces him to shoot a bystander to protect Stanley. With a gang war looming, Nino must set aside his feelings and concentrate on asserting his superiority over Big Frank—or lose everything he holds most dear.
This story was set in the early 1930s and revolves around gangsters in New York. Nino is the head of a crime organization. He’s fought his way to get there and he’s good at being the boss. He’s smart and has no problem getting his hands dirty. While attending a party one night he sees a young man to whom he feels an instant attraction. Problem is he’s with Big Frank, a nasty fellow crime boss. He punches the beautiful young man in front of everyone and Nino feels the need to protect him. He basically takes the kid away from Nino under the threat of death but he just can’t leave him in the hands of that maniac.
Stanley is terrified of what will happen when he goes with Nino because surely Big Frank is going to make him pay. He’s also terrified of Nino. He knows the man has a reputation and thinks he’s being taken as a screw you to Big Frank. When Nino explains that he just “don’t like to see nobody treated that way” Stanley wants to believe him but he’s been terrorized and trapped for five years and trust isn’t something that comes easy to him. He thinks maybe Nino will expect the same sexual favors he’s been forced to give to Big Frank but Nino is adamant about just wanting to help him out.
Stanley starts to believe in miracles when Nino gives him a new wardrobe, a place to stay, job with his own office and secretary. Nino knows right away he wants Stanley but neither knows the other likes men. Plus, he learns of the things Big Frank did to Stanley and seduction seems so wrong. The two slowly start falling for each other but being a mob boss and Big Frank wanting his “property” back, creates lots of problems for a budding romance. Makes the fact that they are gay in a time when it is considered taboo seem like a small thing to work around. Not that there isn’t prejudice because there is.
I liked this book. The jargon was fun and really gave you a feel for the setting of the story. I liked tough Nino and sweet delicate Nino. I found his character to be complex. He just wanted Stanley. Something about his innocence and beauty just spoke to Nino and the big bad mobster turned to a big teddy bear for him. I’m sure his family history had something to do with his need to protect. He was a pretty decent guy for a mobster.
I ached for Stanley for the first half of the book. The things he went through were truly terrible and once he was in with Big Frank, there was no getting out. His progression with Nino was realistic and lovely. The last third of the book I was angry with Stanley. He all of sudden having problems after Nino rescued him, admitted his love and started a war with Big Frank over not handing him over seemed really betraying to me. I don’t feel like there was anything from Stanley’s POV that made me think anything he was doing was okay. I never understood why. It didn’t fit with what I knew of his character. I guess it upset me so I was invested, right?
The last third of the book was kind of slow and bordered on dramatic for me but I enjoyed the book for the most part. There was a bit too much crying for me. I love bad guy books and this was that but with a good dose of the sweet. There was blood and death but mostly it was just about realizing what you want and making that happen in the mafia.
Rated 4 stars by Whit