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Sempre - J.M. Darhower This was such a beautiful story! From beginning to end, I was captivated.


Bound. Enslaved. Forced. Shackled.

As a second-generation slave, Haven has grown-up in a life of servitude and abuse. Everything begins to change once she meets Dr. Vincent DeMarco and he takes her away from the isolated wastelands of the desert.
Born into a Mafia family, Carmine has lived a life of wealth and privilege. He gets what he wants, answers to no one, and always has someone to bail him out of trouble.
Haven and Carmine meet and suddenly, their worlds are filled with love and understanding, but with that comes secrets and lies.

I can’t express how much I loved this book. It was 530 pages but there wasn’t a single word I missed. I felt everything they went through, was there for everything they fought for, and understood where they came from.

Reading about Haven’s life was difficult. She didn’t know anything aside from abuse. It was all master and slave, the served and the servers. Gentle touches were few and far between and love was a mystery to her.

“The worlds a scary place,” her mama said. “There are people who will hurt you. They’ll do things to you, sick things…”

With the whole Mafia family, I was a little torn on what to feel. There were some people who were scary: manipulating and cold-hearted, doing what they had to do to get what they wanted. And then there were the ones that were good people that had to do some bad things. This quote sums is up perfectly:

“He’s a man with good intentions, but he’s a man that sometimes has to do bad things because of it.”

“…it would take a strong woman to be able to look at someone as a man and not as a master, to see him for who he is and not what he is.”

Once Carmine and Haven started opening up to each other, you got to see how much they had in common. It was the same life, but coated differently. They were both trapped in a life that neither one of them had a say in, both stuck in other’s expectations.
And despite how different in character they both were, they began to fall for each other.

“When I first retrieved you, I was worried. Carmine can be abrasive, and you were so timid I was afraid he’d frighten you, but you seem at ease with him. I wonder why that is.”
“Uh, I’m not sure. Maybe it’s because he’s so straight-forward so it doesn’t take a lot of guessing to know how he’ll react.”

Both were damaged in some way, but there love slowly began to heal each other.

“All I did was love her.”
“Ever think that maybe that’s what she needed? Sometimes we don’t have to really do anything. We have to just be.”

They were all that mattered– two people, desperately in love and wanting to show each other.

When things started to go wrong there wasn’t a gentle, easing into the chaos. It was a ‘everything’s all fine and dandy’ then boom. Mayhem. Everything started to crumble and it was problems stacked onto more problems, sprinkled with some commotion. Everybody was in so deep, I thought they’d never get out.

One thing I loved and hated about Sempre was how realistic it was. I loved that it felt so real, but at the same time, this meant that there wasn’t going to be an sugarcoating or fairytale endings. All this mayhem wasn’t going to happen, and then once it finished everybody come out unscathed. Innocents got caught up in the mess, some people made it through, others didn’t. It was hard to swallow but as a reader, I enjoyed how believable it turned out.

This is a powerful story. It was about love, pain, sacrifice, hope, and absolution.

Unrestrained. Liberated. Independent. Self-governing. Free.