Disclaimer: I read and loved this book when it was a fan fiction called Emancipation Proclamation. It was so very different from canon and the author highlighted the very real social issues of human trafficking, slavery, and organized crime.
Sempre is a very long story. In fact, you could probably call it a family saga. It’s a little bit The Godfather mixed in with a lot of teenage angst. Sempre is the story of two teenagers raised in very different circumstances: A mafia prince named Carmine DeMarco and his love interest Haven Antonelli.
Haven was raised as a slave living with a mafia family on a remote ranch in California. Until she is “rescued” by Dr. Vincent DeMarco, Haven endures all sorts of abuse by her “owners.” She is worked to the bone, malnourished, scarred, and has even witnessed the repeated rape of her mother and the murder of another child.
When Haven is brought to the DeMarco home in North Carolina, she is understandably skittish. It’s kind of odd, how she arrives, as if she is to be their servant. Dr. DeMarco is very cryptic about why Haven has come to live with the family, never telling his boys anything about her. Slowly, Haven adjusts to life with the DeMarcos, cooking and cleaning for the family. She soon attracts the attention of youngest son Carmine, even though she is more skittish around him.
Carmine is an interesting character. Essentially, he is a loose cannon, full of anger and rage. Carmine takes teenage angst and brings it to a whole new level. He’s loud, brash, and impulsive. Carmine believes in punching first, asking questions later. Carmine wallows in self-destruction and his is constantly at odds with his father. In contrast, Carmine’s older adopted brother Dominic is his total opposite. Dominic is calm and easy going.
Dr. DeMarco’s character is very compartmentalized. In North Carolina, Dr. DeMarco is a devoted father, doctor, and respected member of society. When he goes to Chicago on business, Dr. DeMarco becomes a totally different person. He holds a high position in the mafia and must follow the instructions of the Don who wants Carmine to join the organization. We do see the darker side to Dr. DeMarco in the North Carolina home and unfortunately, Haven bears the brunt of that moment.
I liked how the author reworked the original fan fiction. This was not just a replace names with new names, there were some editorial changes which helped move the novel along. I did find that the book was very long and at times the pacing was a little slow, almost a slog to get through until the last third of the book when the bullets started flying everywhere. I think that this book would benefit from another editorial pass before publication.
Sempre would appeal to those who enjoy family sagas and angsty teen romance. I’m looking forward to reading the next book Sempre: Redemption coming out in April 2014.
Thank you to Edelweiss and Simon and Schuster for a review copy of this book.
Review posted on Badass Book Reviews.Check it out!