I am a Killer. A Rapist. A Monster.
I know only pain and survival.
That is until the Cappo’s sister walked into my life.
And changed everything.
She’s a light who makes my darkness darker, her smile makes my heart turn to ice, and I can’t escape the fear her seductive looks instill–knowing it’s only a matter of time before I fail–again, and take her for myself.
This is the story of my redemption.
But it’s not pretty…I died, and now I’m alive, but not living, breathing but not surviving. I am Phoenix De Lange, son to a murdered mob boss, estranged brother, horrible friend, monster in the making, newest leader to one of the most powerful families in the Cosa Nostra.
And I will have my vengeance.
Or die trying.
I am Phoenix De Lange.
Death is all I know.
Until she offers me a piece of life–I can’t resist taking.
Ember is book #5 in the Eagle Elite Series, here is a link to the reading order and my reviews. I was lucky enough to be gifted an ARC in exchange for an honest review so here goes…
I think we can all agreed that Phoenix in the first book certainly seems like a soulless monster and I will be the first to hold up my hands and say that I was happy for him to play that role. Elite and Elect are all about Trace and Nixon with a hint of Chase so I think Phoenix falls into his villain role and we as the readers don’t look that closely until he redeems himself and dies (or so we thought)
When he reappears in Elicit I finally sat up and took notice of him. I definitely felt a bit of a soft spot developing for him and then you throw Bee into the mix and you have either a nightmare or pure brilliance waiting to happen.
I had incredibly high hopes for Ember; I thought that Nixon would always be my favourite guy in this series but move over Nixon because Phoenix has stolen your crown.
This may be a bold statement but Ember just became my favourite book of the series so far!!!
Phoenix is not your standard issue hero figure; in fact he’s the polar opposite. He has done awful, evil unforgivable things. But then this series is not exactly rainbows and butterflies, its violent and gritty and dark.
Phoenix is the perfect anti-hero, his life was moulded by a violent abusive father who tortured Phoenix and made him into the sadistic dangerous man he was.
I think what makes Phoenix saveable is that he knows that he is evil and he knows what he did was wrong and unforgivable. There are very few redeemable qualities in Phoenix if you were to write down pros and cons he would drown in sins. Yet for me his good outshines the bad.
And here’s the kicker I want him to be saved, I want him to be happy and move forward with his life. In any other book if Phoenix’s character was described I’d call him the devil. But the genius that is Rachel Van Dyken turns Phoenix on his head and instead of focusing on the bad she shows us a broken man so consumed by guilt and hatred for his actions. Someone who doesn’t believe they deserve even the most basic pleasures in life like food and human contact.
And I want him to be Saved, I want him to be happy and I want him to fall in love.
I need to talk about Bee she is adorable she’s broken too but where Phoenix was tortured with violence and threats. Bee was tortured by neglect and segregation and our unsaveable hero Phoenix well he saves Bee.
Bee is Phoenix’s polar opposite the light to his dark and that’s why they are so perfect.
Ember still has the classic plot twists and turns we see in this series but they were provided by Sergio. I’m so looking forward to his book Elude, Arabella is going to bring him to his knees!!
I love that Nixon, Chase, Tex and Phoenix are finally starting to feel like a family again. Although set in a violent backdrop these books always have an incredibly strong family feeling to them. At times I think I could completely forget about the Mafia thing and pretend that these are just a group of family whose stories all interconnect.
I loved this book, it’s so much subtle than the others in the series but somehow this love story feels much more powerful and poignant.
I loved this book, my favourite of the series so far.
This may be cryptic but Redemption arrr just beautiful!!!! (you will understand when you read it!!)
Ember gets 5 stars from me.
Phoenix & Bee
Im super excited to have Phoenix & Bee join me on Gemma Reads Too Much Book Blog to answer a few questions.
Phoenix, Bee its great to have you here, thanks so much for joining me.
Phoenix your back from the dead what was life like for you whilst you were undercover in the Campisi family?
Absolute Hell. It was like being brought back from the dead only to get sent back into the darkness. The Campisi family doesn’t mess around. When people get a second chance at life, they usually go for the good, trying to be a better person and all that. Instead, I was sent into the very pit of hell all over again—it didn’t help that Bee was my main assignment, or that she wouldn’t leave me alone.
Bee what were your first impressions of Phoenix?
I thought he was sexy and cranky. I even told him to his face, which earned me a grunt and a middle finger.
Bee now that you know who Phoenix is have those initial impressions changed?
He’s still grumpy, but in a loveable way and we’re working on that..;) He’s even sexier and now that I really know him I can say his heart is absolutely huge.
Phoenix how does it feel to be back with you childhood friends Nixon, Tex and Chase?
Surreal. It was my dream to lead with them, and then everything went down and suddenly it wasn’t about being a leader but just surviving. I wish it didn’t have to happen the way it did, but I’m thankful for that second chance with my best friends.
Bee how is your relationship with Tex, is it strange trying to connect with a brother that has been described as cursed your whole life?
Honestly, my father rarely mentioned him. I always had this vision that Tex wasn’t even real because my father refused to discuss him. One night a man mentioned his name and was shot in the head immediately. So, in a way, Tex scared me without even having met him yet.
Phoenix your now head of the Nicolasi Family do you think you are capable of filling Luca’s shoes?
No. Absolutely not. Is anyone? Luca was a force to be reckoned with. I don’t think I’ll ever fill his shoes but I’ll try my damndest to do a good job.
Phoenix how is your relationship with Trace now?
I’d like to think we’ve come really far but I still feel uneasy around her, then again it could be the fact that Nixon’s always watching me, waiting for me to do something wrong. I’d be the same way, if the positions were reversed so I get it.
Phoenix if you had been given the choice would you have joined the ‘family’ business or walked away?
I don’t think walking away is ever an option when you’re born into a dynasty built on darkness, it’s always a part of you and the sick part is that as much as you want to walk away you crave the darkness in a way that’s truly terrifying. I couldn’t walk away not then, not now, not ever.
Bee if you had a choice between walking away and never being in danger or staying with Phoenix and Tex what would you choose.
I would always choose family.
Phoenix the family motto is ‘Blood in No Out’ so why are you not part of the De-Lange family anymore now that Mil is in charge?
I’m still part of it, but right now that’s her responsibility, and mine is a whole new family. In a way it makes sense, that’s how Luca was made boss and it’s kind of like history is repeating itself. He wasn’t blood but he became more than blood to that family and I hope to do the same.
Bee how do you feel about the mafia lifestyle, Trace, Mil and Mo all embrace the violence is this something you could see yourself doing?
I don’t mind it, right now it doesn’t seem so scary because of what my father surrounded me with growing up. I feel safe here. In Italy I didn’t feel safe.
Phoenix are you glad that Luca and Sergio brought you back when you almost died?
Now I am, but it took a while to get over the resentment. I have to live every day of my life with memories of what I’ve done, that’s hard, regardless of how much you’ve grown as a person.
Bee where do you see yourself in ten years?
Married to a grumpy mob boss and raising kids.
Phoenix do your loyalties lie with Nixon, Chase, Mil and Tex or with the Nicolasi family?
My loyalties lie with Bee. Always Bee first. And then the Nicolasi family before my own, because that’s how it has to be. But I would say it’s a tie on who comes next.
Phoenix who in your life do you truly trust?
Bee and the Elect.
Phoenix what are your feelings on Redemption?
Redemption is a lot like Grace…freely given, hard to receive, hard to accept, yet there it is dangling in front of you. I embraced it and Im glad I did.
I wasn’t sure how to act. Wasn’t sure if I should apologize for attacking him or thank him for not laughing in my face. Embarrassed and irritated that he was most likely going to ignore whatever it was between us even if it killed him, I stared hard at the cement floor.
“How are you feeling, little girl?”
“I’m not little.”
“You want me to call you fat?”
“No.” I lifted my head. “Call me gorgeous like you did last night.”
“Well, shit.” Phoenix ran his hands over his face then grabbed my arm and dragged me down the hall into a darkened corner. “You remember?”
“You kissed me.”
“What’s wrong with you?” I pushed against his chest. “You like me! Admit it!”
Phoenix made a face. “You were drunk, launched yourself at me, and I caught you. Did we kiss?” His eyes went completely black. “Yeah, we did, but it meant nothing.”
“Really.” He hissed out a breath through his teeth.
I pushed him against the wall. “Prove it meant nothing. Let me kiss you now, and if it meant nothing it will be like… what? Kissing your sister.”
“I’ve sworn off women.”
“So this should be an easy test then, right?”
“Bee…” Phoenix’s face was pained, as if I was holding a gun to his head rather than offering to kiss him. Was the idea so abhorrent? “Please…” His voice had a pleading tone I’d never heard before. “Don’t do this.”
“One. Little. Test.” I rose up on my tip toes and kissed him full on the mouth.
His lips refused to move against mine.
I wrapped my arms around his neck.
He stiffened even more.
Irritated, I bit his lower lip. He gasped, and I slid my tongue inside his mouth. He pushed me away with a curse then wiped his lips. “Done. Your little test is done. I didn’t respond. Happy now?”
His eyes were furious; the blue flashed like lightning against his skin. His fingertips shook as he made a fist.
“You like me.”
“Bee…” Phoenix pinched the bridge of his nose with his fingertips. “…find someone your own age, someone who’s interested in you in the way you deserve, alright?” His tone was gentle, and maybe that was what hurt the most.
It was like he was letting me down slowly, hoping I didn’t break.
But the joke was on him.
Because I was already broken.
I didn’t want boys my age — I wanted him.
“You’re a good liar.” My eyes narrowed. “And you’re lucky I’m patient.”
“Lucky?” He sputtered out a laugh. “That you like toying with me?”
“No, lucky that even though you constantly push me away…I keep coming back for more. But, Phoenix… everyone’s time eventually runs out.”
“Go to breakfast, Bee.”
“Go to hell, Phoenix.”
SERIES Buy Links:
About Rachel Van Dyken:
Rachel Van Dyken is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author of regency and contemporary romances. When she’s not writing you can find her drinking coffee at Starbucks and plotting her next book while watching The Bachelor.
She keeps her home in Idaho with her Husband and their snoring Boxer, Sir Winston Churchill. She loves to hear from readers! You can follow her writing journey at www.rachelvandykenauthor.com