Monday, September 10, 2012

Review: Sempre (Forever)

Sempre (Forever), by J.M. Darhower. The GoodReads summary:
Haven Antonelli and Carmine DeMarco had vastly different childhoods. Haven, a second-generation slave, grew up isolated in the middle of the desert, her days full of hard work and terrifying abuse. Carmine, born into a wealthy Mafia family, lived a life of privilege, never having to answer for anything he did. Both now seventeen, a twist of fate causes their worlds to collide, making them question everything they ever believed.

Entangled in a web of secrets and lies, they learn that while different on the surface, they have more in common than anyone would think. In a world full of chaos, where money and power rule, Haven and Carmine yearn to break free, but a string of events that started before either were born threatens to destroy them instead. Murder and betrayal are a way of life, and nothing comes without a price — especially not freedom.

How much will they have to sacrifice? Can they escape their pasts? And, most of all, what does it mean to be free? Not everything is as it seems, and no one can possibly come out unscathed, but maybe, just maybe, it’ll be worth it in the end.
This was a long sucker. 530 pages. And if you know me, you know I’m not exactly a fan of long books. And by “not exactly a fan,” I mean try to avoid them as much as possible. But “Sempre” had such a high GoodReads rating that I decided to read it anyway.

I wouldn’t say it gripped me. I mean I read, like, three other books during the time I was trying to read this one. But neither was I bored. Probably because the story’s such a unique concept: Mafia heir falls in love with a modern-day slave. It presented all kinds of crazy dynamics and problems and issues.

And here’s the thing—for some reason, I didn’t care that I never fully loved either main character. I mean, Haven is fairly awesome—she comes so far and grows so much over the course of the book—but at the same time, I always felt kept at a distance because of something about the way she was written. So I never completely connected to her. Carmine I literally wanted to slap every other time he opened his mouth. He’s impulsive and has absolutely no filter on what he says or does, and it drove me crazy that he was such a jerk most of the time. And yet, I could see what attracted Haven to him. He’s surprisingly compassionate to her, and he’s always encouraging her to break free of the emotional scars her slavery has left.

And the secondary characters are amazing. Especially Vincent, Carmine’s father. He’s an incredibly layered character. At first, I wasn’t sure what to think about him, then I hated him, then I started to respect him . . . let’s just say my emotions were all over the place with Vincent, and I loved it.

This book does essentially have insta-love going on, but for once I was okay with that. Partly because the book acknowledges that that’s what it is, rather than trying to play it off as normal, and partly because despite the fact that Haven and Carmine get together pretty early in the book, their relationship has a lot of developing to do. I thought this book did a fantastic job at showing how much work relationships take, and how much compromise and growing each person needs to do. Both Carmine and Haven (but mostly Carmine) screw up and make mistakes and have to apologize, and I liked that this book showed that just because you’re in love, it doesn’t mean the relationship is going to be easy.

Sorry for this forever long review, but it was a forever long book, so it was hard to avoid. And honestly, I there’s a lot more I could say about it, because it was a pretty complex book. So overall, I recommend this book. It was a unique idea and the characters were impressively layered. Although, I do feel obliged to warn you that Carmine uses the F word, like, at least twice per sentence, so if excessive swearing bugs you, this might not be the book for you.

Rating: 3.5 / 5


  1. I've noticed this title on GoodReads but never read the summary. It sounds interesting; I think it's reading about a mafioso's kid that appeals to me. I tend to feel the same way about long books (it's just...imagine how many shorter books you could read in the same time!) but I will read one occasionally.

  2. I've never seen this before, but it looks like something I would love to read. Thanks for the great review. :)

  3. I LOVE this book! You are right about Carmine and his excessive use of the 'F' word. LOL It actually reminded me a lot of a few friends in high school. Really great review! :)

    ~Sara @ Forever 17 Books


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