Aestas Book Blog's Reviews > Sempre

Sempre by J.M. Darhower
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Jan 16, 14

it was amazing
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Read in January, 2012



5 stars!!

"Could someone do bad things, but not be a bad person? "

I loved this book!! It was a beautiful, yet quietly powerful read.

It did a fantastic job of blurring the lines between good and bad. So many times when reading it I felt conflicted. Everything about some of the situations was so wrong but at the same time, I was liking, maybe even loving, the characters who were doing evil actions. Good guys put in bad situations, forced to make hard decisions that made them do wrong things for the right reasons but in the end the wrong thing to do actually ended up being the right thing... Yeah, if that confuses you, it sure as hell confused me too lol. And I loved it!!!

The story was quite the emotional roller coaster... I cried a little, I laughed a little, it made me care a lot for the characters.

The main character, Haven, is a second generation slave who grew up in a horribly abusive household and is bought into a Mafia family where she ends up falling in love with Carmine, the handsome, hot-headed yet inwardly tormented son of the man who bought her.

[Carmine] never went looking for it, but trouble seemed to find him every time he turned a corner. And Carmine turned a lot of motherfucking corners.

The book is long. 530 pages. But I didn't want to stop reading. At times it is a little slow, in the sense that its not always a burning page turner, but don't let that put you off. The story takes its time in the right places, it takes its time as Haven and Carmine fall in love, as she starts to recover from her abuse, and as she begins to come out of her shell. Sometimes I like books that don’t just rush through the story – it helps me immerse myself even more in the world and in the character’s lives.

“Colpo di fulmine. The thunderbolt, as Italians call it. When love strikes someone like lightning, so powerful and intense it can’t be denied. It’s beautiful and messy,cracking a chest open and spilling their soul out for the world to see. It turns a person inside out, and there’s no going back from it. Once the thunderbolt hits, your life is irrevocably changed.”

I love how this story explores boundaries and extremes. Master/slave, good/evil, right/wrong, excusable/justifiable actions... I'd say the over all theme though of the story is sacrifice.. Does the ends justify the means? To what ends are you willing to go for the ones you love?

Right there in the moment, it was just her and him, no one and nothing else. They were all that mattered - two people, desperately in love and wanting to show each other. No master and slave, no class divides.

And I fell in love with all the Italian endearments that Carmine calls Haven - they just melted my heart!!... I love Haven's quiet strength, and Carmine's fierce protectiveness of her. I loved that he was a character who could be an ass on minute but then have no problems apologizing and admitting it and trying to do better. It felt very honest. He made mistakes and tried again.

There was an ache in his chest, originating in the center of his heart. It was the pain of all-consuming, overflowing love, so powerful it took his breath away.
"Do you feel this? We belong together." He kissed her. " Sempre."


“They're titles other people give us. They don't make us who we are. If you're just a slave, then I'm nothing more than a Principe. Is that all I am, Haven? A Mafia Prince?
"No, of course not."
That's what I thought," he said. "Just because some people see us that way doesn't mean it's what we are. We'll overcome our labels together. They don't matter, they don't make us who we are. We make us who are are. Fuck those motherfuckers."
She laughed. "When did you get so smart?"
"Baby, I've always been smart," he said playfully. "I'm just lazy as hell and rarely show it.”


I fell in love with the whole DeMarco family. Dominic, Carmine's brother, was delightful! Light hearted, caring and protective. And Vincent, the father... I'll admit he made me a little swoon-y at times. It was really great that the author took the time to tell his story and to get inside his head because it gave such insight to the 'why' behind so many questionable actions throughout the story. I'd love to read a book about him. The bits of the book about him and his wife made me teary.

This tension in this book comes from all unanswered questions. Who is Haven? How can she, a slave, and Carmine, the son of a high ranking Mafia member be together? Who is the good guy? Who is the bad guy? To what lengths will people go to save the one's they love?

The first 70% of the book is very character driven. And then all the pieces come together and everything kind of blows up and I almost felt like I was watching a movie, instead of reading a book for the last 30%... lots of action, lots of Mafia warring... quite delicious!

I loved watching Haven's inner and outer strength develop over the course of the book. I loved how fiercely she and Carmine loved each other, how he wouldn't let anyone look down on her...

This book had a happy ending but definitely left the story open for more development.

“How about we just be Haven and Carmine?” she suggested. “We don’t know the ending, but we can always hope for the best.”
“I like that,” he said. “Besides, there’s a reason we don’t know how the story ends.”
“Why?”
“Because it doesn’t.”


The author is writing a sequel now and I know I'll be buying it the day it comes out!!

I'd definitely recommend this book. I have nothing else to compare it to... but its definitely worth a read! *heading off to Amazon to buy a hard copy for my bookshelf*

** EDIT ** OMG!! SEMPRE GOT A MOVIE DEAL!!!!! I'm so excited I can barely type this! *SQUEEEE*

Here's how I see Carmine and Haven:



For more of my reviews, come visit my book blog at: http://aestasbookblog.com/
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Quotes Aestas Book Blog Liked

J.M. Darhower
“I'm not that bad,” he said. “I'm rich, popular. I have a sense of humor. I'm good looking, and not to mention I have a really big—”
J.M. Darhower, Sempre

J.M. Darhower
“Colpo di fulmine. The thunderbolt, as Italians call it. When love strikes someone like lightning, so powerful and intense it can’t be denied. It’s beautiful and messy,
cracking a chest open and spilling their soul out for the world to see. It turns a person inside out, and there’s no going back from it. Once the thunderbolt hits, your life is
irrevocably changed.”
J.M. Darhower, Sempre

J.M. Darhower
“Go for it, while you can. I know you have it in you. And I can't promise you'll get everything you want, but I can promise nothing will change if you don't try.”
J.M. Darhower, Sempre

J.M. Darhower
“How about we just be Haven and Carmine?” she suggested. “We don’t know the ending, but we can always hope for the best.”
“I like that,” he said. “Besides, there’s a reason we don’t know how the story ends.”
“Why?”
“Because it doesn’t.”
J.M. Darhower, Sempre

J.M. Darhower
“They're titles other people give us. They don't make us who we are. If you're just a slave, then I'm nothing more than a Principe. Is that all I am, Haven? A Mafia Prince?
"No, of course not."
That's what I thought," he said. "Just because some people see us that way doesn't mean it's what we are. We'll overcome our labels together. They don't matter, they don't make us who we are. We make us who are are. Fuck those motherfuckers."
She laughed. "When did you get so smart?"
"Baby, I've always been smart," he said playfully. "I'm just lazy as hell and rarely show it.”
J.M. Darhower, Sempre


Reading Progress

04/14/2012
1.0% "Oh god!! :("
04/14/2012
3.0% "Awwwwwww I like Carmine already :)" 4 comments
04/14/2012
3.0% ""He never went looking for it, but trouble seemed to find him every time he turned a corner. And Carmine turned a lot of motherfucking corners.""
04/14/2012
7.0% "Hmmmm Im having suspicions that things are not as them seem to be..."
04/14/2012
12.0% "Colpo di fulmine. The thunderbolt, as Italians call it. When love strikes someone like lightening, so powerful and intense it can't be denied. It's beautiful and messy, cracking a chest open and spilling their soul out for the world to see. It turns a person inside out, and there's not going back from it. Once the thunderbolt hits, your life is irrevocably changed."
04/14/2012
21.0% "Aaa I'm so conflicted. Everything about the situation is so wrong but I love the story. I'm liking characters I probably really should hate but what happens when a bad guy is actually kinda good but does something evil even though he doesn't mean it but kinda has to do it but then regrets doing it and is nice again ...? Up is totally down with this book. And I can't stop reading lol"
04/14/2012
25.0% ""He was confused about the entire thing. All he knew was she'd stolen his heart and there was no way he could ask for it back. In such a short amount of time, she'd taken him over, as much a part of him now as the air he breathed. Fucking thunderbolt.""
04/14/2012
31.0% "Okay. Bad guy vs good guy lines official ALL blurred lol"
04/14/2012
34.0% "Awwwww heart bursting here <3"
04/14/2012
37.0% "I can't save the world, Haven, but I'll save you... Even if its the last thing I do." 4 comments
04/15/2012
45.0% "Love this book!!!"
04/15/2012
46.0% "What is the big freaking secret????? I wanna know!!!"
04/15/2012
50.0% "Gah! I've been reading this book for about 10.5 straight hours and I'm only 50% through. I can't stop reading and I don't want to put it down..."
04/15/2012
52.0% "Oh *swoon* sempre... <3
I have to stop now. It's 4:30am and I've been reading since 5:30pm last night. I'm stopping at a very happy place because inevitably the $hit will hit the fan soon and I need to sleep lol. Back at it tomorrow :)"
04/15/2012
52.0% "this is terrible. I haven't had one single second to read today and its almost bedtime :(((" 4 comments
04/16/2012
52.0% "ookay so its 1:00am but I'm gonna start reading cuz I haven't had a chance to since Sunday night and its killing me not knowing what happens!!" 1 comment
04/17/2012
54.0% "Carmine's protectiveness of Haven is so swoon worthy!!"
04/17/2012
57.0% "Vincent!!! <3 *misty eyes*"
04/17/2012
61.0% "Such evil acts for such a noble cause. Gives waaaaay new meaning to "doles the end justify the means" ... And I'm not sure what the right answer is :/"
04/17/2012
70.0% "Oooooh boy. The $hit is definitely about to hit the fan... Mafia style" 3 comments
04/18/2012
73.0% "Alrighty... back to reading. I'm not getting up until I"m finished the book!"

Comments (showing 1-50 of 85) (85 new)


Aestas Book Blog Woah this book is long! I've heard lots of good things... Can't wait to start :)


message 2: by AJ (new) - rated it 5 stars

AJ Hmmm, haven't heard about this one before. I'll keep my eyes on the reviews.


message 3: by Aestas Book Blog (last edited Apr 14, 2012 06:40PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Aestas Book Blog It's really good so far. Very different than anything I've read so far. Second generation slave heroine from abusive first home bought by seemingly nice mafia man who has 2 young adult sons, one of whom is her love interest. takes place I'm California. No comparison point to any other story ive read. Really good so far though. I'm 12% in...


Leyoh Oh no! Another fantastic book to fit in amongst everything else. I am feeling the pressure of all of the great books I'm yet to read!!! How far up the MUST READ NOW pile should this go?


message 5: by Aestas Book Blog (last edited Apr 15, 2012 06:24AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Aestas Book Blog hahaha I sure know that feeling. I'm only 50% in though - its loong. If it continues being as good or better than its been so far, its going on the fav pile with 5 solid stars and being ordered in hard copy for my bookshelf... but of course, that depends on the rest. So far, so very good, but I'll keep you posted on the final half :)


Leyoh This book is sitting in my iPad library just screaming READ ME NOW. I might save it to savour on my honeymoon when I'll have a whole week to read - amongst other things. Happy happy joy joy!


message 7: by Tom (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tom I just woke up and all I can say is that first paragraph is an eye full. I'm going to have to read it again when I'm awake..haha


Taryn at My Secret Romance Great review! I go back and forth with this book...maybe I will take a leap and read it.


Aestas Book Blog thanks Taryn! :)

I really loved it. Its totally different both in context and in pacing than most of my other books i've read. I really enjoyed it!


Taryn at My Secret Romance I think I may like it...we'll see!


message 11: by Tom (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tom Take the leap!! I don't even look at the person's Genre favs when I recommend this book. It has something for most people. I recommended to at least 10 people with all loving it and 1 not so much.


message 12: by Karen (last edited Sep 25, 2012 07:08PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Karen Thanks for reminding me!!!! *fanning self* Oh and I LOVE your review!!!! You have a gift at summing up these wonderful stories!


Aestas Book Blog Thanks Karen! I really loved this book... I have the beautiful paperback sitting on my shelf... begging for a reread :D


Karen Its very tempting... I know I will reread it too, but perhaps I'll wait until the sequel is almost out! It is fun to re-live it though.


Aestas Book Blog mmm yeah, good point. I would definitely want to reread it before then. So much happened in the final 30%! I might need a refresher before starting book 2


Kristin (KC) Great review! I totally agree with you on Vincent being swoon-y, I felt the same. I couldn't help but wish for his own spin-off...I think it would make one highly emotional, sexy read ;)


Aestas Book Blog Maybe one day hopefully the author will get to it :) Although I hope its a story about him in the future cuz his past was pretty tragic :(


Kristin (KC) Aestas Book Blog wrote: "Maybe one day hopefully the author will get to it :) Although I hope its a story about him in the future cuz his past was pretty tragic :("

A setting in the future, definitely...with descriptions of the past being limited to vague flashbacks only lol.


Nyrae Dawn I loved this book!


Monika Wow... I have to put this on a my to-read book.. Thanks Aestas, reading your review only almost makes me love this book. Great Review!


Aestas Book Blog Thanks Monica! Its a really wonderful book... I'd describe it as quietly powerful. (hmmm... maybe I should edit that into my review :P )


message 22: by Ashley (new) - added it

Ashley Stoyanoff This is going on my TBR pile. I love your review.


Aestas Book Blog Thanks Ashley :)


Jamie Dang! You always come up with the best pictures!!! This one is really realllllly niceee


Aestas Book Blog lol thanks :D You should read this book. Its awesome!


Jamie I've got it on my To Read list... I've noticed it a few times and kept thinking I might like it, then I saw your review and you sold me as usual....


Connie Leski Fantastic news!!! Thanks


Elizabeth (Liz) Oh, I love this book!! That is awesome news about the movie deal! I hope there's still a follow-up book in the works:)


Megan • Reading Books Like a Boss OMG!!!!!!!!!! So Excited!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Aestas Book Blog Yes!! SEQUEL + MOVIE .... I'm am so freaking EXCITED!!!!!!! :D


Megan • Reading Books Like a Boss Aestas Book Blog wrote: "Yes!! SEQUEL + MOVIE .... I'm am so freaking EXCITED!!!!!!! :D"

*happy dance*


Renee I just heard!!!!!!! I can barely contain myself!!! OMGGGGG I'm so freaking excited!!!!!!!!


Aestas Book Blog I was about to start a new book but now I'm just too excited to concentrate on anything lol. I can't wait!!


Renee I know how you feel. I can't wipe the smile off my face. It's going to be freaking awesome.. OMG.. who do you think they will cast?? Am I getting to ahead of myself?


Renee I noticed on facebook she said she pictured Vincent as Peter Facinelli (Dr. Carlisle Cullen from Twilight)!


Aestas Book Blog I have no idea but I'm just crossing my fingers that they get it right. I'm sure they will... lol, well, I hope they will.... Gosh, can you just IMAGINE this on the big screen???? I remember when I was first reading it, one of my first thoughts was 'wow this would be an amazing movie' .... can't freaking wait!!!!!!!


Aestas Book Blog It makes sense that she pictured Vincent. This was originally Twilight fanfiction.

Seriously, SO many AMAZING books have come out of Twilight Fanfic


Renee I loved that book so much that a week ago I actually sent the author a message on facebook and told her I thought Sempre would make a better movie/series than The Godfather. LMAO !!


Aestas Book Blog hahaha I swear I'll be living at my local theater when this come out just watching it over and over again :P


Renee Believe me so will I ... Hopefully the making of it wont drag on for too long though. I don't think I can contain my excitement for too long. So much to look forward to though.. Sempre, Fifty Shades, Beautiful Disaster movie.. All thats missing is On Dublin Street and I will be on a high forever!


Aestas Book Blog haha and don't forget Slammed too!! :)


Renee Of course Slammed ... lol. The list could go on forever I guess :)


message 43: by Robin (new) - added it

Robin Great review, definitely adding this TBR shelf!


Aestas Book Blog Robin wrote: "Great review, definitely adding this TBR shelf!"

thank you!! Its a wonderful book :)


message 45: by Alyssa (new)

Alyssa May I ask where you dig up all of these steamy pictures from?!?! Mmmmmmm.....


Aestas Book Blog Haha honestly they are just from all over the Internet. No particular place. If there was such a place, I'd totally tell you guys but I get one from here, another from there...


Karen Aestas... you are the casting master!!!!


Aestas Book Blog Karen wrote: "Aestas... you are the casting master!!!!"

LOL!! Awww *glows* I'm glad you like the pics :)


B-M I adored this story but reading your review makes me want to re read it....you are freakin amazing with your summary and reflections.......we bow to the maestro!!!
FYI in my top 5 reads for the year hands down


Aestas Book Blog Bridget wrote: "I adored this story but reading your review makes me want to re read it....you are freakin amazing with your summary and reflections.......we bow to the maestro!!!
FYI in my top 5 reads for the yea..."


<3 <3 wow y'all are just laying on the praise tonight. Thank you so much. It's so kind of you to say that :)

But I know how you feel about this book. Definitely on the top favs list. Such a wonderful story!!


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