Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Review: De Marco Empire by J Lou McCartney

It was the day of the preliminary hearing and the closed court room was for immediate and close friends only. The press was banned from the building and the surrounding vicinity, which spanned three miles in every direction, but they had helicopter coverage, so hopefully if anything significant happened they wouldn't miss it. The whole process was being carefully monitored by the Metropolitan Police force. This was going to be a high profile case, one that the public would be very interested in the eventual outcome. The de Marcos were very well respected and had brought a lot of business and employment to the area over the years. [From the Prologue]

De Marco Empire by J Lou McCartney
Vanguard Press, 2008
Fiction; 345 pgs

I first came across mention of De Marco Empire by J Lou McCartney at Yvonne’s blog, Socrates' Book Reviews. Romance is not my preferred genre, at least not by itself, but I was fascinated by the storyline: young woman falls in love with successful businessman with a sordid past. The mafia has always held a certain appeal for me—at least the mafia in the fictional world.

The novel opens with the beginning of a murder trial. Katie stands accused of killing her husband on their wedding night. She insists she did not do it. Her defense attorney and long time friend, Matt Carmichael believes her and is determined to prove her innocence. Taking us back in time to the night Katie and her husband met, the story unfolds.

For all intents and purposes, Antonio de Marco really does want to put his criminal past behind him. He has moved on to make a name for himself running numerous legitimate businesses. He and his brother left Italy shortly after the murder of their parents and young sister when attempts to seek vengeance against those they believed responsible failed. Gianni and Antonio have always lived on the edge. Gianni is less inclined to follow his brother’s lead in terms of sticking to the legal side of life, and while Antonio is trying, he still hasn’t completely given up his old habits.

When Katie Saunders walks into his life, he knows he must have her. She is a smart and beautiful young woman, innocent but definitely no push over. The only catch? She has a boyfriend and Antonio has a fiancĂ©e, the ever insufferable Sasha Breschnevsky. The two are destined to be together, however, and once the obstacles are dealt with, Antonio is determined to win Katie over. Katie hasn’t a clue what world she is about to enter. It is a world of nightclubs, drugs, sex and murder, where extortion and rival wars are the order of the day.

McCartney’s novel has a seductive quality to it that drew me in and held me captive. I could not wait to see what happened next. The story was compelling, but the writing nearly lost me. One of the many tasks I do in my day job is editing reports, and, while I may not be any good at editing my own writing, I have an eye for catching others’ mistakes. And this novel was full of them. Enough to pull me out of the story at times. Then there was the little issue of the narrative voice. While I enjoy reading books written in third person omniscient, I was not used to the sudden and constant shifting in character viewpoints with no break in the text or warning in the change of perspective. Fortunately, this only was a problem in the first few chapters and the shifts were better defined for the majority of the book. To put it into perspective though, I wasn't too keen on the writing of the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer, and yet I still gobbled up each of her books. There was just something about them that had me craving more even in spite of my reservations about the writing. It was similar with De Marco Empire. Normally such issues would completely ruin a book for me; however, in this case, the story was enough to carry the book for me, and I read late into the night.

I liked Katie Saunders, but I did have trouble relating to her completely. Katie is a bit too perfect. She’s got it all: perfect body, naturally beautiful, thoughtful, intelligent, succeeds at everything she tries, and just about everyone loves and adores her. I think her only flaw is her choice in men, really.

It isn’t too surprising that Katie fell quickly under Antonio’s spell. Many women are drawn to the mysterious bad boy who has plenty of money and good looks, especially when he throws on the charm. Antonio was definitely charming, even if a little domineering and moody. I give him credit for not being so rigid in his more traditional beliefs. It was obvious he loved Katie and would do anything for her, even letting her be her own person.

The best characters in the novel, the ones I most enjoyed reading about, were the not so good ones and the downright evil ones. They had a lot of personality, not to mention were the most interesting. I loved hating them and couldn’t get enough of them.

J Lou McCartney’s novel was certainly suspenseful and kept me entertained even in spite of my reservations. De Marco Empire is the author's first novel, and if it’s anything to go by, the author shows a lot of potential.

You can find other book blogger opinions on the following blogs:
Bermudaonion's Weblog
Cheryl's Book Nook
Deb's Book Reviews
The Girls on Books
Socrates Book Reviews

Challenge Commitment Fulfilled: ARC Challenge & New Authors Challenge

You can learn more about J Lou McCartney and her books on the author's website. Many thanks to the author for graciously offering me a copy of De Marco Empire for review.

© 2009, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved.
If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.


  1. I read and reviewed this book on my blog, Bookvisions, a few months ago and really enjoyed it. I thought the author did a great job with the friendship and relationship development.

  2. I have to give you kudos for doing a great job reviewing this book. I don't think I will be writing it down on my list, but have to remember it if it throws itself in my path!

  3. Thanks for the honest review, Wendy. As a writer who has been involved in a number of critique groups, I am also tuned in to the writing in a novel...and I don't like the head hopping of 3rd person omniscient. I have also been right where you are with a book - distracted by the writing, but appreciating the story/plot.

  4. This book was just okay for me - I wanted more character development and less romance. Thanks for the link to my review.

  5. Not many of us are int meeting or having anything to do with the mob in real life, but it is definitely intriguing to read about them. I'm glad that yyou were able to get as much as you did from reading this book. I think I would need a little bit more going on.

  6. I can certainly understand getting distracted by the writing, particularly with a new author and a genre you don't read often, but it sounds like you've given this a very fair review.

  7. Great review Wendy! I agree with you though, I have a real difficult time looking over errors in writing. It is a bit distracting and I expect more.

  8. I don't like the sound of a too perfect woman... Great review, by the way, Wendy!

  9. I'm intrigued with the mob in fiction too...not sure why!

  10. Must have been a great story if you were able to overlook the missed edits!

  11. I really like the storyline of this book. I'm fascinated by the mafia so anything related to them snag's my interest! But it sounds like this wasn't as good as you hoped. Still, I'm thinking maybe I'll read it for the readathon

  12. Linda - You're in good company. :-) Quite a few people loved this one. I added a link to your review. Hope you don't mind!

    Sandy - Thanks, Sandy. I do think this book had its good points and there were a number of people who really enjoyed it, so I'm obviously in the minority.

    Wendy - Thank you for your kind words. :-)

    Kathy - The romance was definitely the focal point of the novel, and I knew that going in. I wouldn't have minded more character development, especially where Katie was concerned. I thought the author did a great job with Sasha and Tania.

    Nicole - Haha! Yes, you do raise a good point. I'd rather not run into the mob anytime soon. :-)

    Florinda - Thanks, Florinda. The mystery aspect of the story was actually quite strong and that was what held my attention the most in this novel.

  13. Kristie - Thanks, Kristie. Yes, too many errors can be too distracting, unfortunately.

    Alice - I do wish Katie had been more flawed. She was likable though, which definitely helped.

    Kathleen - There's just something about the mob, isn't there?

    Stacy - The story definitely held my attention. I especially enjoyed the scheming and mystery aspects.

    Amy - Yes, the mafia holds a certain appeal when it comes to fiction, doesn't it? Or nonfiction, for that matter. I hope you will enjoy it if you read it, Amy!


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