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Dark Heart Volume 1

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I thought he was the white knight. Looking back, it makes sense. I was young and needed saving. Luca was my strength. He could take on anything—the world, for me. They say first love cuts the deepest. Ours became a blade that bled me out. It turns out I didn’t know a villain when he held my heart in his hands. Now it’s darker—more like his. Elise was my whole world—until m I thought he was the white knight. Looking back, it makes sense. I was young and needed saving. Luca was my strength. He could take on anything—the world, for me. They say first love cuts the deepest. Ours became a blade that bled me out. It turns out I didn’t know a villain when he held my heart in his hands. Now it’s darker—more like his. Elise was my whole world—until my world burned, and I destroyed her with me. Some betrayals, you can’t undo, no matter how much you wish you could. I can’t help who I am now, and why would I want to? I run this city. No one’s going to take me down—not even the Manhattan District Attorney’s office. I heard they’ve got a file eight inches thick on Don Galante. But dodging bullets is my business. They play dirty, but there’s no one dirtier than me. The DA learns the hard way who’s in charge; he’s out. It should be time for celebration. There’s just one problem: his heir. Or should I say heiress? Elise O’Hara wears a crown of lies, a gown of red, and a fat diamond on her left hand. Now it’s me and her. Or her and me. Only one of us will be left standing when the story’s over. This is how you write a tragedy.


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I thought he was the white knight. Looking back, it makes sense. I was young and needed saving. Luca was my strength. He could take on anything—the world, for me. They say first love cuts the deepest. Ours became a blade that bled me out. It turns out I didn’t know a villain when he held my heart in his hands. Now it’s darker—more like his. Elise was my whole world—until m I thought he was the white knight. Looking back, it makes sense. I was young and needed saving. Luca was my strength. He could take on anything—the world, for me. They say first love cuts the deepest. Ours became a blade that bled me out. It turns out I didn’t know a villain when he held my heart in his hands. Now it’s darker—more like his. Elise was my whole world—until my world burned, and I destroyed her with me. Some betrayals, you can’t undo, no matter how much you wish you could. I can’t help who I am now, and why would I want to? I run this city. No one’s going to take me down—not even the Manhattan District Attorney’s office. I heard they’ve got a file eight inches thick on Don Galante. But dodging bullets is my business. They play dirty, but there’s no one dirtier than me. The DA learns the hard way who’s in charge; he’s out. It should be time for celebration. There’s just one problem: his heir. Or should I say heiress? Elise O’Hara wears a crown of lies, a gown of red, and a fat diamond on her left hand. Now it’s me and her. Or her and me. Only one of us will be left standing when the story’s over. This is how you write a tragedy.

30 review for Dark Heart Volume 1

  1. 5 out of 5

    Zain: The Avid Reader

    I don't know how I feel about this book. Usually, when I read a book, I am able to form my opinion about it while reading it, but with this book, I am a bit confused. I feel that I will only be able to have a definite viewpoint and be able to find where I stand on this after reading the whole trilogy, and since the second and third books are yet to come out, I'll have to wait. I didn't dislike it in any way but I'm hesitant to give it 4 stars. I liked the characters, the plot, and the narration, I don't know how I feel about this book. Usually, when I read a book, I am able to form my opinion about it while reading it, but with this book, I am a bit confused. I feel that I will only be able to have a definite viewpoint and be able to find where I stand on this after reading the whole trilogy, and since the second and third books are yet to come out, I'll have to wait. I didn't dislike it in any way but I'm hesitant to give it 4 stars. I liked the characters, the plot, and the narration, this book seems to be foreshadowing what will come in the next books and laying the groundwork for them. So, I think it will only be fair if I give my final thoughts after reading the complete trilogy. As for right now, I can only say that I enjoyed reading this book and actually want to read the whole series (since I lose interest in series very easily which seems to be an indication that I liked this book enough).

  2. 4 out of 5

    Keri Loves Books

    A dark mafia romance with pulse pounding drama and edge of your seat suspense that will take you to your limit. I loved every heart stopping moment! Their love was innocent. His choices were made out of necessity. Her heart would never understand anything but her love for him. A pure heart turns dark when harsh reality collides with forbidden love. Luca was used to saving everyone. He was a protector to his very core. He loved hard. He’d sacrifice it all to protect the one’s he loves. Sometimes b A dark mafia romance with pulse pounding drama and edge of your seat suspense that will take you to your limit. I loved every heart stopping moment! Their love was innocent. His choices were made out of necessity. Her heart would never understand anything but her love for him. A pure heart turns dark when harsh reality collides with forbidden love. Luca was used to saving everyone. He was a protector to his very core. He loved hard. He’d sacrifice it all to protect the one’s he loves. Sometimes being forced to make difficult choices, but he did what needed to be done. Elise comes from privilege but her life isn’t easy. Elise is goodness and optimism. She sees the best in people and loves with all her heart. However, family issues are weighing her down. Luca becomes the light in her dark. Together they find their own haven. Their safe place to land, when the world becomes too much for them to face. They have a plan for the future, a fresh start. They just have to graduate and get to college, then leave all the past behind. So many obstacles are in their path. Life will come crashing down. The story is told with such authenticity and raw emotion that I was completely immersed in their world. I felt the highs and suffered the heartache right alongside them. You will be feeling all the emotions. A beautifully written tale of forbidden love with some many complex layers. You’ll experience angst, loss and revenge. A choice will be made in an instant that changes everything. This is only their beginning. I cannot wait to witness the rest of the journey.

  3. 4 out of 5

    *My Little Book Nook*

    I’m in love with Luca Galante. I’m completely in love with this pure, sweet, sexy, surprising boy. And I’m also terrified for him. My heart 😭

  4. 4 out of 5

    PP's Bookshelf

    Ella James has a dark heart for sure. Otherwise she couldn't have tortured me emotionally like this. Dark Heart Volume 1 is the tragically beautiful beginning of an epic love story. And my heart is aching. It was sweet, it was dreamy, it was angsty, it was heartbreaking and it was everything brilliant I can think of. Luca Galante and Elise O' Hara meet in the secret opulent hallways of a grand mansion during a party for the first time. And later they find out that they are students of the same sc Ella James has a dark heart for sure. Otherwise she couldn't have tortured me emotionally like this. Dark Heart Volume 1 is the tragically beautiful beginning of an epic love story. And my heart is aching. It was sweet, it was dreamy, it was angsty, it was heartbreaking and it was everything brilliant I can think of. Luca Galante and Elise O' Hara meet in the secret opulent hallways of a grand mansion during a party for the first time. And later they find out that they are students of the same school Manhattan Magnets. Only their life couldn't be any more different! Elise belongs to royal part of Manhattan's society and Luca's life is clouded by poverty, family responsibilities, pain and fear. His life is controlled by mafia and violence.They have this connection that's beyond everything mundane. But is it enough? Ella James' storytelling is something absolutely phenomenal and it's unlike any author I have read. This was the case in Dark Heart Volume 1. She built up the characters and their backgrounds with utmost care and impossibly fine details. So that I felt I was completely submerged in the story. It's like creating an ambience through words. Luca is an intense and raw character. He evolved through the story with mesmerising effect. He is a nice guy with so much love and goodness. He is also this twisted guy who endures violence, who suffers from guilt and regret, who wants to escape his dark tainted existence and who will have no chance to beat the monsters chasing him. Elise is through and through beautiful. She has this deep seater innocence and kindness that soothes you. But she also has this silent and fierce determination to protect the one she loves. She has a blazing fire of loving Luca passionately and unconditionally. She has so much pain inside but she is not weak. The author built up their chemistry moment by moment, touch by touch and kiss by kiss. There was an instant electrifying connection but then the love grew so slowly. And I loved reading about it. It was so intoxicatingly happy for me. It's the kind of love that makes me dizzy and swoon. But the author subtly kept it edgy and angsty so that I could never be sure of this happiness. The storyline is a fascinating mix of drama, tension, secrets, accidents and twists. They are a world apart even if their hearts are one. And the obstacles are larger than life. And then the author pulled the rug. And I am broken. An emotional chaos. How do I deal with this gaping hole in my heart and wait for the next book? I seriously don't know! I just know I need a cure for this heartbreak! Dark Heart Volume 1 by Ella James was captivating and addictive from first page. It was a mindblowing collage of angst, sweetness and suspense. Be ready to get your heart shattered but trust me, it will be a breathtaking experience. I reviewed an early copy voluntarily

  5. 4 out of 5

    Tabassum Karim

    Luca Galante is my forever. I can feel it in my bones. I don't know why Ella James did this to me. Was a second part really necessary???? Because I am gonna die if I don't get the second book. AHHHHHHH!!!!! Dark Heart is the first book of the Dark Heart series. This is a mafia romance. I have read it and now I am sitting here like an idiot, bawling my eyes out, wondering when October will come and I am gonna suffer some more by James' writing. God this was a roller coaster ride. I had no idea Luca Galante is my forever. I can feel it in my bones. I don't know why Ella James did this to me. Was a second part really necessary???? Because I am gonna die if I don't get the second book. AHHHHHHH!!!!! Dark Heart is the first book of the Dark Heart series. This is a mafia romance. I have read it and now I am sitting here like an idiot, bawling my eyes out, wondering when October will come and I am gonna suffer some more by James' writing. God this was a roller coaster ride. I had no idea where the hell this story was going. The raw emotions man especially the last few chapters. Luca just stomped on my heart and threw it off the cliff. This was heartbreaking, intoxicating and a tragedy. Characters: Luca⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ He was sweet, caring, beautiful, sexy and so so so so perfect. This guy just broke my heart. His life wasn't easy, he had an alcoholic father who was his downfall and a mother who nevered cared what was happening in her family. He had to carry his whole family's burdens. He was just amazing. God help me I am so scared what will happen to him. 😭 My sweet Luca. Elise⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Elise came from a privileged family but still her life wasn't easy. She had so much family issues. I am not sure about her parents. I don't trust them at all.😤 She was a beautiful, sensitive and caring person. La mia dolce rosa. Their story was the perfect combination of sweet, angsty, beautiful and heartbreaking. I think I have never felt so much emotions in a book. The intimacy, tenderness and the way they would just come alive in each others presence. They were like two broken pieces of a puzzle and when they were together everything was right in their world. When they were with each other they were in their own protective bubble but when the blow came they were both left heartbroken. His eyes shut. A breath moves through him. Then he leans down, kissing me so deep and hard it hurts. We kiss until my heart races, and then he hugs me to him like he's hoping we'll merge into one. "I love you," he says, quite and low. "I love you more than lemon cake," I whisper. That's the first time we say it. I HATE CLIFFHANGERS!!!!😭😭😭😭

  6. 4 out of 5

    Caroline F

    Fantastic read! "He makes me feel like...like some part of me is falling open, and I can't even help it. It's a heavy secret feeling - an unfurling." The first time Luca Galante and Elise O'Hara talk, it's in the most unexpected way and pretty much incognito. However, they'd noticed each other way before then and only connect the dots after Luca comes to Elise's rescue at school. They're from opposite ends of the social spectrum but there's a real connection between them, and their lives are far m Fantastic read! "He makes me feel like...like some part of me is falling open, and I can't even help it. It's a heavy secret feeling - an unfurling." The first time Luca Galante and Elise O'Hara talk, it's in the most unexpected way and pretty much incognito. However, they'd noticed each other way before then and only connect the dots after Luca comes to Elise's rescue at school. They're from opposite ends of the social spectrum but there's a real connection between them, and their lives are far more entwined than either realise. I thoroughly enjoyed the beginning of Luca and Elise's story. They were sweet, passionate and pretty innocent together, but the burdens they bore, especially Luca, were pure adult. I enjoyed all the background mystery that needs to be unravelled in the concluding part, and I'm so excited for the rest of their story! I adored their devotion to each other and their tumble into a fierce love, and my heart broke at the avalanche of tragedy that struck them both and left the reader on a cliffhanger. Seriously can't wait for the second book, presumably they will be all grown up if the blurb is anything to go by, so I'm really looking forward to some fireworks! Amazon review: https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-re...

  7. 4 out of 5

    Tees_BookCave

    Dark Heart Volume One by Ella James, is Book one in the Dark Heart Duet! “Every story is a story about death. But perhaps if we are lucky, our story about death is also a story about love”. - Helen Humphreys, The Lost Garden. When I first signed up for this book, I knew that this one was going to be a doozy. Being a lover of Mafia, I am going to admit I had high expectations, usually mafia books are dark, violent, and like in your face. This author gave us a lighter and sweeter side into the mafi Dark Heart Volume One by Ella James, is Book one in the Dark Heart Duet! “Every story is a story about death. But perhaps if we are lucky, our story about death is also a story about love”. - Helen Humphreys, The Lost Garden. When I first signed up for this book, I knew that this one was going to be a doozy. Being a lover of Mafia, I am going to admit I had high expectations, usually mafia books are dark, violent, and like in your face. This author gave us a lighter and sweeter side into the mafia world. Thinking about it later on, this book is something I sort of haven’t read in this way and I quite enjoyed it! This book has potential to be a masterpiece of brilliance and I feel as though the author is building us up to something a bit more darker. I guarantee you, once you start. You won’t be able to put this book down. This book will be read within hours, it’s so easy to get absorbed into this story. The first half of the book, I absolutely loved, getting to get a feel of the characters, watch their relationship journey but in the background you were hearing and seeing some of the mafia stuff but it wasn’t until you actually hit over half way when things took a dramatic turn and that’s when shit went down. Both these characters are polar opposites, very different but they just fit. When they are together they are like two souls connecting, it’s actually quite beautiful and makes my heart sing. Together they have a lot to face and need to rely on each other to get through those hardships but sometimes that isn’t always the way. Luca is used to saving everyone and putting everyone else before himself. When he loves, he loves hard and you can see that from the moment that he laid eyes on Elise, that he was done for. His heart was owned. She has it captured in her hands. Luca story is raw, real and in a way, it can relate to a lot of peoples home life. He is such a sweet, amazing and sexy man who will do anything to protect those he loves and I mean anything. Elise life isn’t easy, she’s got family issues on family issues, she’s very fortunate in life and comes from a privileged family. Elise is a good girl who try’s to see good in everybody. When she’s with him, she feels alive. Insert a major plot twists , you’re left reeling from the information you’ve been told. Decisions are made and in the end, could it be the end before they have really even started? I can’t wait to see where this author leads us with this duet! This author has created a beautiful, forbidden love story that centres around loss and pain. This is just the beginning to their love story and I can’t wait to witness what’s next.

  8. 4 out of 5

    NV

    I am in the minority. First off...I think this was probably the prequel and not Part/Volume 1. Its not even remotely dark. Its a sugary-candy-sweet tale. It is Vague and overall a fluff romance story of High school kids. The Mafia connection again is too vague. Neither Luca nor Elise are directly from mafia families but have some ties. The first 75-85% is all about their romance. The last part is the stale twist. (view spoiler)[ cue Party-she sees him making out with someone else- though he's not- wh I am in the minority. First off...I think this was probably the prequel and not Part/Volume 1. Its not even remotely dark. Its a sugary-candy-sweet tale. It is Vague and overall a fluff romance story of High school kids. The Mafia connection again is too vague. Neither Luca nor Elise are directly from mafia families but have some ties. The first 75-85% is all about their romance. The last part is the stale twist. (view spoiler)[ cue Party-she sees him making out with someone else- though he's not- when confronted he thinks of the dangerous steps he's gonna take & to protect her doesn't clear her accusation (hide spoiler)] I don't know if I am gonna read the second part.

  9. 4 out of 5

    K. Ramjohn

    Dark Heart is the first book in a two part love story that will hold your interest from start to finish. Both from different walks of life, Luca and Elise forbidden love story was well written and layered. It was angsty, and takes us on an emotional ride with this captivating couple as we experience the love, the loss, the heartache and so much more. This novel is only the beginning of their story and the author did an awesome job giving us the tenderness and intimacy developing between these tw Dark Heart is the first book in a two part love story that will hold your interest from start to finish. Both from different walks of life, Luca and Elise forbidden love story was well written and layered. It was angsty, and takes us on an emotional ride with this captivating couple as we experience the love, the loss, the heartache and so much more. This novel is only the beginning of their story and the author did an awesome job giving us the tenderness and intimacy developing between these two. Additionally the mafia element playing out in the background adds suspense to the story and it will all have you completely immersed in this world. The story ends in a cliff hanger that will leave you stunned and I can't wait for the next book to see how it all ends.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Amy J

    My heart is racing...I can not believe how much this book got my heart pumping in every way possible. I think my emotions are shot for the day! I loved every about this... except that I have to wait for more! Luca is a written flawlessly, and Elise is perfection. I had no idea what to expect out of these characters and storyline, but as their story unfolded, my expectations were exceeded a hundred times over. It is just amazing writing. I will definitely be back for more. C'mon October!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Laura G/ _page.turner

    Oh my gosh. Wow. WOW. See, the thing about Ella James is that everything is just MORE with her. It isn’t just reading a book. It’s MORE than that. It’s an experience. A living, breathing thing. She breathes such life into the characters she creates and it’s like you’re living through their story with them. And that’s exactly how I felt about Luca and Elise. Their innocent, layered, complex, emotional love is so tangible, you can practically touch it. It’s beautiful. It’s tragic. You fall in love Oh my gosh. Wow. WOW. See, the thing about Ella James is that everything is just MORE with her. It isn’t just reading a book. It’s MORE than that. It’s an experience. A living, breathing thing. She breathes such life into the characters she creates and it’s like you’re living through their story with them. And that’s exactly how I felt about Luca and Elise. Their innocent, layered, complex, emotional love is so tangible, you can practically touch it. It’s beautiful. It’s tragic. You fall in love with them just as much and as hard as they do with each other. This is such a heartbreakingly beautiful beginning of Luca and Elise’s story. My heart is dying for volume two.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Karin

    Luca and Elise’s story was sweet and tragic all rolled into a story that grips you and doesn’t let go and I already am dying for part two of the duet. These two were written perfectly and they were so certain that it will work out for them until events get in the way. Loved it so far

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lozzie

    What in the world did I just freaking read?! Aaahhh! I think I have just finished a book that has given me so many mixed signals. I was not expecting that, at all! Like WHAAT!!!!! Dark Heart was not what I was expecting. At first, it was sweet, then it was romantic, then it got angsty, then it got hella angsty, and then it just dropped an anchor onto my lungs and heart. I mean it ripped them from my body. I can't believe what I just read. If I don't see part two soon, imma be causing trouble. I What in the world did I just freaking read?! Aaahhh! I think I have just finished a book that has given me so many mixed signals. I was not expecting that, at all! Like WHAAT!!!!! Dark Heart was not what I was expecting. At first, it was sweet, then it was romantic, then it got angsty, then it got hella angsty, and then it just dropped an anchor onto my lungs and heart. I mean it ripped them from my body. I can't believe what I just read. If I don't see part two soon, imma be causing trouble. I mean, my heads spinning. Why, Ella James? WHY!!!!! Elise, such a naive, beautiful and kind-hearted girl. All I wanted to do was hug her and be her friend. She was sooooo sweet. As for Luca, GAH! He swooned me off my feet. His little endearments in Italian, his declarations of love in Italian made me a goner and melted me. Like Elisa, all I wanted to do was smoosh him in hugs and kisses and give him a better world to live in. I mean, damn, he had it rough. This story swallowed me whole. It consumed me. I got caught up in the fairytale and then... Bam! All the bad stuff comes pouring out. I think I spent ten minutes muttering 'what' after I finished it! How dare it finish like that! I want more! I NEED more! There are too many questions that need answering! TOO MANY! Read this book! Read it, read it, read it. READ IT! Rant over. I rate it all the stelle in the sky! Fantastico!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kandace Denys (bookish_kayy)

    Dark Heart is right. My goodness, this is a mafia thriller, through and through. One choice, two hearts: the saga. Luca and Elise are baby. Can it be October already? I’m dying for part two.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Katherine Caron

    A Knockout! Beautiful, raw and unforgettable One of the most heartbreakingly magical romances I have ever read. The story itself is ambitious and sweeping, yet achingly intimate. It’s dark and sexy yet romantic and tragic. It is as though Ella James poured a little of her soul into Luca, and somehow he passed it me, and now I’m just wrecked, a part of his broken is in me. This wickedly suspenseful coming of age story is written by a writer at the top of her game. Simply put, it’s haunting and beau A Knockout! Beautiful, raw and unforgettable One of the most heartbreakingly magical romances I have ever read. The story itself is ambitious and sweeping, yet achingly intimate. It’s dark and sexy yet romantic and tragic. It is as though Ella James poured a little of her soul into Luca, and somehow he passed it me, and now I’m just wrecked, a part of his broken is in me. This wickedly suspenseful coming of age story is written by a writer at the top of her game. Simply put, it’s haunting and beautifully written. Dark Heart CHANGES EVERYTHING. To label this a genre read, like some simple new adult or mafia or dark romance would be a disservice. It's a genre bending tour de force. Luca and Elise's courtship is a widely appealing narrative of personal transformation and tragedy. I am blown away by the writing and the characters, the allusions to other great tragedies that thrum below the surface of every beat. This book will stay with you long after you're finished reading. It's an ode to young love, cast with a simmering eerie sense of injustice and righteous destiny. The brilliant writing, and I do mean brilliant—you won't find meaningless mixed metaphors or twisted pop lyrics that some writers try to squeeze into the mouths of high schoolers—and James’ spare prose devastate and she elevates these two beautiful souls. I am just lost in their journey, their REAL lives, their ambition and personal losses. The true success of Dark Heart is not in just James' ability to draw us into the compelling star-crossed reality, it's in its HEART. Whether she's writing about falling in love, or family ties, or the faintest glimmers of hope vs fate, James shares a sincerity and emotional weight to her words that is unmatched in romance today. I can't say enough, but I know I'll look back on the first time I read Dark Heart and feel like I was part of something truly special. There is wide heart-throbbing appeal to Luca and Elise's story. It's raw and emotional and so damn sweet at moments, then it rips your lungs out and finally it comes for your pounding heart. They are spellbinding when they’re together. The visceral crescendo to a climax had my mouth dry, goose bumps rising across my neck and an ache so deep under my ribs I had to stand up to release the pressure. INCREDIBLE! My Book of the Year

  16. 4 out of 5

    KC Caron (Aprhodites Reading Alphas)

    A Knockout! Beautiful, raw and unforgettable One of the most heartbreakingly magical romances I have ever read. The story itself is ambitious and sweeping, yet achingly intimate. It’s dark and sexy yet romantic and tragic. It is as though Ella James poured a little of her soul into Luca, and somehow he passed it me, and now I’m just wrecked, a part of his broken is in me. This wickedly suspenseful coming of age story is written by a writer at the top of her game. Simply put, it’s haunting and bea A Knockout! Beautiful, raw and unforgettable One of the most heartbreakingly magical romances I have ever read. The story itself is ambitious and sweeping, yet achingly intimate. It’s dark and sexy yet romantic and tragic. It is as though Ella James poured a little of her soul into Luca, and somehow he passed it me, and now I’m just wrecked, a part of his broken is in me. This wickedly suspenseful coming of age story is written by a writer at the top of her game. Simply put, it’s haunting and beautifully written. Dark Heart CHANGES EVERYTHING. To label this a genre read, like some simple new adult or mafia or dark romance would be a disservice. It's a genre bending tour de force. Luca and Elise's courtship is a widely appealing narrative of personal transformation and tragedy. I am blown away by the writing and the characters, the allusions to other great tragedies that thrum below the surface of every beat. This book will stay with you long after you're finished reading. It's an ode to young love, cast with a simmering eerie sense of injustice and righteous destiny. The brilliant writing, and I do mean brilliant—you won't find meaningless mixed metaphors or twisted pop lyrics that some writers try to squeeze into the mouths of high schoolers—and James’ spare prose devastate and she elevates these two beautiful souls. I am just lost in their journey, their REAL lives, their ambition and personal losses. The true success of Dark Heart is not in just James' ability to draw us into the compelling star-crossed reality, it's in its HEART. Whether she's writing about falling in love, or family ties, or the faintest glimmers of hope vs fate, James shares a sincerity and emotional weight to her words that is unmatched in romance today. I can't say enough, but I know I'll look back on the first time I read Dark Heart and feel like I was part of something truly special. There is wide heart-throbbing appeal to Luca and Elise's story. It's raw and emotional and so damn sweet at moments, then it rips your lungs out and finally it comes for your pounding heart. They are spellbinding when they’re together. The visceral crescendo to a climax had my mouth dry, goose bumps rising across my neck and an ache so deep under my ribs I had to stand up to release the pressure. INCREDIBLE! My Book of the Year

  17. 4 out of 5

    Tricia

    Luca and Elise are wonderful characters, true star crossed lovers who meet one night purely by chance, or so it would seem. Despite the fact that they come from very different backgrounds, Luca is drawn to Elise and she to him. From that first moment, his protective nature sees him looking out for her, defending and taking care of her in whatever way he can. He is such a sweetheart but his home life is rather challenging and he carries a lot of responsibility on his shoulders. His need to protec Luca and Elise are wonderful characters, true star crossed lovers who meet one night purely by chance, or so it would seem. Despite the fact that they come from very different backgrounds, Luca is drawn to Elise and she to him. From that first moment, his protective nature sees him looking out for her, defending and taking care of her in whatever way he can. He is such a sweetheart but his home life is rather challenging and he carries a lot of responsibility on his shoulders. His need to protect his family too sees him getting involved in some shady dealings and although he doesn’t seem to think it’s a big deal, I couldn’t help but wonder what the future held for this sweet young man. Elise has everything money can buy, except happiness. She’s a good person but family trauma sees her usual upbeat demeanour swapped for sadness and a heavy heart. Luca’s strength, his attention and kindness, give her that affection, the love, she so desperately needs. He lifts her up. I absolutely loved this couple, especially when it was just the two of them, laughing and enjoying their blossoming romance, talking about their hopes and dreams. I did worry about them too. There was something I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Nothing was certain and there was a definite sense of foreboding, a bad feeling like there was a black cloud hanging over their heads. The mafia element in Dark Heart, and Luca’s involvement in it, mostly plays out in the background at first, gradually unveiling itself little by little. As the story progresses there’s a definite sense of “something wicked this way comes” which adds to the building tension. Luca’s role is very cleverly written. He’s a good person who almost by default finds himself sinking further and further into the dark, caught up in something which is beyond his control. I feel like we’re building up to something explosive in book two. We’re given a snippet of the future in the blurb for Dark Heart, which to me actually seems to mostly relate to book two. I’m hugely intrigued to find out what has happened to Luca to take him from the caring young man of the present we see here to the seemingly hardened mafia man of the future as alluded to in that blurb. My heart truly broke for this pair and I can’t wait to see where the next part of their journey takes them and if their young love has stood the test of time.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Maggie

    4.5 stars I love dark mafia romances and the book blurb caught my attention. Dark Hearts Volume I was beautifully written with a cast of lovable characters and a gripping plot. I was completely immersed into their world and I felt all the heartaches and sufferings together with all the bliss and happiness with the main characters.However, I felt a little unsatisfied and unfulfilled after finishing the book because of the misleading blurb. The blurb described the plot of the whole series which I w 4.5 stars I love dark mafia romances and the book blurb caught my attention. Dark Hearts Volume I was beautifully written with a cast of lovable characters and a gripping plot. I was completely immersed into their world and I felt all the heartaches and sufferings together with all the bliss and happiness with the main characters.However, I felt a little unsatisfied and unfulfilled after finishing the book because of the misleading blurb. The blurb described the plot of the whole series which I was expecting when I started the book, but in this installment we only touch on the background of Luca and Elise’s forbidden star-crossed romance. I just wished that there would be a different blurb for each installment.Luca and Elise met in their senior year in high school. Even though they lived in totally opposite worlds, they formed a special bond which was innocent and pure just like what first love should be. I hated that the protective Luca always put his family and friends first and was forced to participate in a lot of violence that no teenagers should had have to endure. They made plans for after graduation and a bright future was just within arm’s reach when reality came crashing down. I was so frustrated with Luca’s decision and I hate him a little for that. Just one decision could alter everything.Overall, I truly enjoyed this dark mafia forbidden romance. I liked the characters and this installment had build an excellent foundation for the upcoming book. The angst, heartache, and loss were authentic and raw and gave me all the feels. This is only the beginning for Luca and Elise story and I cannot wait to continue on their journey with them in the next installment.Follow Me: Maggie’s Escape Book Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

  19. 5 out of 5

    C Dorsey

    There's something special to be said when you know one of your favorite authors is coming out with a new series.. And you stalk her like you wouldn't believe. For every tease, every taste of the upcoming book .. when she reveals the release date, it's like Christmas in September. I've been waiting for what feels like an ETERNITY (or, you know - 2020) for the release of the Dark Heart Duet. My tummy was sore, my heart was pounding, and I had to say a little prayer when it finally arrived. I've nev There's something special to be said when you know one of your favorite authors is coming out with a new series.. And you stalk her like you wouldn't believe. For every tease, every taste of the upcoming book .. when she reveals the release date, it's like Christmas in September. I've been waiting for what feels like an ETERNITY (or, you know - 2020) for the release of the Dark Heart Duet. My tummy was sore, my heart was pounding, and I had to say a little prayer when it finally arrived. I've never been more excited, anxious, happy and scared for a book! Ella James is a remarkable author. Her words and her story telling is outstanding. I KNEW it would be a great book because I am a fan of hers. And dark mafia? I. AM. HERE. FOR. IT. Two souls drawn together like magnets. Luca.. My beautiful, sweet, loyal and delicious Luca. I cried for him. I laughed for him. My heart exploded for him. You can't help but become so enraptured by him. A good guy dealt the wrong cards, trying to survive. Wrapped up in a violent world with no escape. Elise is just what you want for him. To save him. The girl that is so innocent and kind - her determination and her love are a shining beacon you hope will give our guy the "happy ever" after we all crave. Luca and Elise find themselves on a journey that is utterly addicting to read. I had to take my time reading this book because I didn't want it to end. At the same time, I couldn't read it fast enough because I NEEDED more. I wont lie, I kinda screamed a little when it was all over. Why? Because we have to wait for the next one. Because while I am whole heartedly IN IT with this couple, and with this series - Im so scared to have the ending. An ending I hope never comes. If there was ever an Ella James or series book to read - it's this one. I'm blown away and I can't wait for Volume 2.

  20. 4 out of 5

    R Rais

    Seriously jaw drop ending. Sitting on the edge of my sit all through out reading this book. Cause hot dang it, Ella James! Let's take a deep breath and let me tell you about Luca Galante and Elise O'Hara. In prelude, the first time their eyes meet, it was magic. Simply magic the way Ella James write it. I have goosebumps in that innocent scene. And their chemistry... How do I describe such connection Ella James describe in so much beutiful poetic detail?? It was unicorn connection! Luca is... Th Seriously jaw drop ending. Sitting on the edge of my sit all through out reading this book. Cause hot dang it, Ella James! Let's take a deep breath and let me tell you about Luca Galante and Elise O'Hara. In prelude, the first time their eyes meet, it was magic. Simply magic the way Ella James write it. I have goosebumps in that innocent scene. And their chemistry... How do I describe such connection Ella James describe in so much beutiful poetic detail?? It was unicorn connection! Luca is... This boy who's all man in the way he stand. In the way he handle him self. In the way he face the world. He is simply beautiful. Oh yes he got the look. He got the body. He got the move between the sheet. But I'm talking about his soul and mind. This beautiful man loves to read, that's first. The way he treat Elise, his loyalty to his family even to his no good father, to his friends, even the way he treat Elise's baby sister! Oh lawdy, Luca make me cry with how much trash he have to deal that could tarnish his beautiful soul. And Elise. I love this girl. She's that beuty Luca need. She's that good he need to be the best man he can. I love her feminine yet strong without being a brat or sassy. She maybe the princess to the boy from the wrong part of the town, but I promise you, Elise is no delicate flower. Her heart is strong to love Luca. The plot Ella James build from ground up in this book seriously giving me all the tension. I find my self have to stop reading in several part for fear the other shoes will drop and when it drop it will hurt like dagger Twist in your heart. And it did! Oh lawd how it did! Bravo for Ella James beautiful writing like poetry in this heart breaking tragedy romance. My heart bleed at the end, I need book two right now! 😭

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Bittersweet, angsty, tragic, and heartbreaking. Dark Heart takes us on an intense, twisty, and emotional ride. It is about the purity of young love and how innocent, sweet, passionate, and all-consuming that love can be. Love can make you feel invincible and anything is possible. The problem is that there are other forces at work here and you can only live in that love bubble so long, before someone and/or something comes along to burst it. Luca Galante and Elise O'Hara are from different sides Bittersweet, angsty, tragic, and heartbreaking. Dark Heart takes us on an intense, twisty, and emotional ride. It is about the purity of young love and how innocent, sweet, passionate, and all-consuming that love can be. Love can make you feel invincible and anything is possible. The problem is that there are other forces at work here and you can only live in that love bubble so long, before someone and/or something comes along to burst it. Luca Galante and Elise O'Hara are from different sides of the track but that doesn't stop the attraction nor the once in a lifetime love that blooms despite their circumstances. This was an all-consuming new-adult romance. Ella James does a wonderful job of writing a plot that sets the backdrop to the main chacters' stories so that we understand where they are coming from. It is raw, real, and relatable. It gripped me and didn't let go, even in the end. I was totally immersed and felt all of the feels. This is not just a love story. It is a story that is inspirational yet dark; sweet yet bitter at times; beautiful yet heartbreaking; and hopeful yet sometimes seems hopeless. It's about the hand we are dealt in life and no matter how you wish that things are different, it isn't always possible. There were wonderful and diverse characters. I was pulling so hard for Luca and Elise. They had such a pure love but their love is forbidden and there are secrets that could tear them apart. The element of sneaking around always has that delicious tabooness (probably not a word) to it that I love. In the end, we are left with a heart-pounding, heartbreaking cliffhanger that had me screaming, "NO!" Can someone speed up the clock? I am not so patiently waiting for the next book! ***ARC for an unbiased review.***

  22. 4 out of 5

    Nikki Hernandez

    Dark Hearts Volume 1 by Ella James The book is told in dual perspective from Luca and Elise, the settings in high school. Luca and Elise home life could not be any different, he is the boy from the wrong side of the tracks and she is the rich girl. Luca and Elise both have one thing in common besides the love for each other is the love for their family. They would do anything for the ones they loved and that proved to be the constant throughout the entire book. Luca Galante was a mystery I kept Dark Hearts Volume 1 by Ella James The book is told in dual perspective from Luca and Elise, the settings in high school. Luca and Elise home life could not be any different, he is the boy from the wrong side of the tracks and she is the rich girl. Luca and Elise both have one thing in common besides the love for each other is the love for their family. They would do anything for the ones they loved and that proved to be the constant throughout the entire book. Luca Galante was a mystery I kept trying to figure out if he was bad or good. Elise and Luca love was forbidden her dad did not want her near him and did not give any reason why. Luca was part of the clean up crew for the mob after his dad made a bad deal with the mob to save his shoe store. I liked the love story the author built in the volume 1 it is an insta-lust high school sweethearts kind of love. Luca was in love with Elise from the beginning, he was a good boyfriend to her but his secrets is what was always the problem he had to deal with. The last few chapters were jam packed with suspense and heartbreak! In the second part let see if he finally tell Elise the truth about everything. "But I thinks it's really sixty-five bad guy/thirty-five good guy " Luca Galante Dark Heart is part 1 in the duet, so be prepared for the cliffhanger. Can not wait for the next part I need to know how Luca and Elise love story ends! "I voluntarily received an ARC provided by author in exchange for honest review"

  23. 5 out of 5

    kgagnon

    Wow, this intriguing story of young love and loss, loyalty and betrayal, passion and heartache was so thrilling. It is a dark mafia romance that begins with how young, Star-crossed lovers, Luca Galante and Elise O' Hara found each other and fell in love in a time when they needed each other most. Luca comes from a hard working family that has fallen on hard times. Luca is a caregiver, always looking out for those he cares about, never backing down from a challenge. That bravery just might get hi Wow, this intriguing story of young love and loss, loyalty and betrayal, passion and heartache was so thrilling. It is a dark mafia romance that begins with how young, Star-crossed lovers, Luca Galante and Elise O' Hara found each other and fell in love in a time when they needed each other most. Luca comes from a hard working family that has fallen on hard times. Luca is a caregiver, always looking out for those he cares about, never backing down from a challenge. That bravery just might get him noticed and not in a good way. Elise is from a wealthy family who is part of the lower Manhattan Royalty. She is sweet, and only sees the good in people, including Luca. He brings her joy and passion in a time when her family is burdened with something painful and that also weighs heavily on her. As they make plans for a future together, tragic events happen that tears them apart, breaking both their hearts. This peek into a world where innocence doesn't last long in an atmosphere of secrets, immoral actions, false loyalty, and revenge captured my imagination right from the start. Ms. James made me care for Elise and Luca so deeply that my heart broke for them both. This story held me captive and I loved every minute of this poignant, and heart pounding story. The ending left me stunned and I can't wait to read where their lives take them in Part 2!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Deborah Kurniawan

    4 ✪✪✪✪ My heart's condition during reading this book in the beginning: Near the end... This book is truly, definitely brings you on a roller coaster ride. Luca Galante is the sweetest guy; he is very protective over those he loves and he will sacrifice everything to ensure their happiness. The only thing is he is born on the other side of the city where the mafia family rules. On the other hand, Elise O'Hara comes from a privileged family. Even though she comes with everything, her life is not 4 ✪✪✪✪ My heart's condition during reading this book in the beginning: Near the end... This book is truly, definitely brings you on a roller coaster ride. Luca Galante is the sweetest guy; he is very protective over those he loves and he will sacrifice everything to ensure their happiness. The only thing is he is born on the other side of the city where the mafia family rules. On the other hand, Elise O'Hara comes from a privileged family. Even though she comes with everything, her life is not easy. She is everything that Luca wants but can't have. Their love builds instantly but there are many obstacles in their way. One night shatters everything: loss, betrayal, hurt, and heartbreak happens overnight. This book is written beautifully in detail that every raw emotion pours out of the story. I can feel EVERYTHING that Luca and Elise feel. This is only the first part of the story and I can't wait for the second part!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Gin

    This blew me away! I was surprised I liked it so much because it’s not really my demographic but a beautiful love story is always a treat. This one is full of young, first love with a stunning build to a relationship that’s pure romance. Star-crossed lovers, Luca and Elise, are fabulous characters with tons of depth and the author really brought them to life in a mafia setting. Brutal and sometimes bloody these kids are on the cusp of adulthood when a chance encounter and the senior high experie This blew me away! I was surprised I liked it so much because it’s not really my demographic but a beautiful love story is always a treat. This one is full of young, first love with a stunning build to a relationship that’s pure romance. Star-crossed lovers, Luca and Elise, are fabulous characters with tons of depth and the author really brought them to life in a mafia setting. Brutal and sometimes bloody these kids are on the cusp of adulthood when a chance encounter and the senior high experience has them falling in love and planning a future. Life has a way of interfering and tragedy strikes. There were just a few things that didn’t add up for me. The kids weren’t tied to electronics like a current setting but there were others elements that were up to date. A little weirdness but didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story. Also, the drama at the end with Luca was a little out there with high angst but I loved the relationship he had with his besties, Alesso and Leo. Overall it is fantastic with so much emotion, a heart throbbing romance and ultimate heartbreak. The ending was thrilling and gut wrenching and so sad. Talk about a cliffhanger! I can’t wait for the next story to see what happens to these young lovers. A must read! I voluntarily reviewed an ARC. 4.5 stars

  26. 5 out of 5

    Leslie Del Valle

    (3.2 Stars) First Ella James book! Okay, so I wanna talk about this book and tell you how I felt about it and what I felt needed improvement. Though I would like to thank the author and show her some love for taking her time writing this story. Luca and Elise are both dealing with family matters when they meet and fall in love. So, to get in this book it is labeled as a Mafia Dark Romance. And I didn't see it. In my opinion we didn't get any Mafia background until about 70% in in the book. That being (3.2 Stars) First Ella James book! Okay, so I wanna talk about this book and tell you how I felt about it and what I felt needed improvement. Though I would like to thank the author and show her some love for taking her time writing this story. Luca and Elise are both dealing with family matters when they meet and fall in love. So, to get in this book it is labeled as a Mafia Dark Romance. And I didn't see it. In my opinion we didn't get any Mafia background until about 70% in in the book. That being said I felt it wasn't explained good. I was confused as to what was happening because the book is mostly just Luca and Elise falling in love. Which was beautiful to see though even if it felt rush between them I didn't see a storyline. It is hinted about Mafia ties but never fully talked about. So, I got confused and honestly got bored a few times. Even with all that I would like to say I enjoyed the authors writing and how she wrote both Luca and Elise. At the end I felt their heartache and their love for one another. I would be sure to check out more things from the author as I did love how she build up the relationship between these characters. And I will also be sure to check out these too final book when the time comes. *ARC PROVIDED FOR AN HONEST REVIEW*

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ri

    4.5 stars One of my favorite things about this author is that she has the ability to create a world in a story that leaves me enraptured and forgetting about outside responsibilities. As I am amidst packing and getting ready to move, that was a needed distraction and also not how I was planning on spending the majority of my Saturday. I can say it was worth it though, in this case, because this book was just an example of why I not only read romance but why Mafia is my favorite. Luca and Elise ar 4.5 stars One of my favorite things about this author is that she has the ability to create a world in a story that leaves me enraptured and forgetting about outside responsibilities. As I am amidst packing and getting ready to move, that was a needed distraction and also not how I was planning on spending the majority of my Saturday. I can say it was worth it though, in this case, because this book was just an example of why I not only read romance but why Mafia is my favorite. Luca and Elise are SUPERB characters. Especially Luca. Good Lord, this man. This book was not as hardcore in regard to the grittier side of the mafia, instead, focusing on the players that were involved. That did not discourage me from reading because I fell in love with the characters as I discovered what their motivations were. This story was packed with some twists and turns and one, in particular, has the ability to make or break them. This book was a reminder that love has many layers and it isn't always sunshine and rainbows, no matter how much we might want it to be. I look forward to seeing where this story goes in the next book. I won't lie, my heart hurts with this story and I am feeling a little broken because this was, and is, going to be a pretty bumpy ride.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Heather Miller

    Wow!!!! Love this dark Mafia romance!! I love all of Ella James' books, and this was no exception. The story is about Luca and Elise who come from different sides of the tracks but fall in love anyways. This dark mafia romance gave me all the feels. Luca attends Manhatten Magnet on a scholarship, even though he's from Red Hook. He likes Elise and follows her to school every day. He saves her one day from being bullied and a friendship / relationship blossoms. Luca's father is abusive and is in fi Wow!!!! Love this dark Mafia romance!! I love all of Ella James' books, and this was no exception. The story is about Luca and Elise who come from different sides of the tracks but fall in love anyways. This dark mafia romance gave me all the feels. Luca attends Manhatten Magnet on a scholarship, even though he's from Red Hook. He likes Elise and follows her to school every day. He saves her one day from being bullied and a friendship / relationship blossoms. Luca's father is abusive and is in financial trouble with some bad guys. This all comes to a head at the end when they discover that his father is also a FBI snitch. I don't want to ruin the story, but I love Luca and Elise's romance... I can't wait to read what happens in the next book considering it left on a cliffhanger. The only thing I couldn't figure out was the year that this happened. We're given clues that I believe puts the time line in mid to late 2000's: no camera phones or a lot of cell phones in general, American Idol, picture of Elise as a baby and her 80's-tastic mom. My assumption is that the next book may have a time jump. I definitely recommend this!! I recieved an ARC for my honest review.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sonia

    Gah!! I need book 2 NOW It has been a few years since I read Ella James. Not because I don’t love her; I just lost my reading mojo for many years because... well, life happens...but I digress. Luca and Elise. Wow. What a beautiful, sweet, passionate love story... we know that there’s no HEA... duh, there’s a book 2 for a reason. Luca and Elise met at a party. Except, they didn’t know who they were and weren’t exactly supposed to meet. She was looking for something, searching through stuff away fro Gah!! I need book 2 NOW It has been a few years since I read Ella James. Not because I don’t love her; I just lost my reading mojo for many years because... well, life happens...but I digress. Luca and Elise. Wow. What a beautiful, sweet, passionate love story... we know that there’s no HEA... duh, there’s a book 2 for a reason. Luca and Elise met at a party. Except, they didn’t know who they were and weren’t exactly supposed to meet. She was looking for something, searching through stuff away from the party and he follows her. He enters the room she is in, and then, they almost get caught. But what amazed me (I shouldn’t say amazed since this is Ella James we are talking about) was how real, how visceral their connection was from that very first moment they made eye contact (swoon with Luca’s icy blue eyes). Time passes and we see both at them at school. Here, Luca is once again following Elise. One day he happens to go into the restroom when he hears her voice, kind of saving her and then decides to pretend to be her boyfriend. What follows is one of the most sincerest, sweetest connections I’ve read in a long time. Luca is sweet. Man, I kept waiting for the other shoe to fall. He’s thoughtful, SMART, selfless, loyal and just simply swoon-worthy to the max. We all need a young Luca in our lives. Elise connects with him, like there’s nothing that either of them could’ve done to prevent it from happening. However, when her father finds out that she was with him at a party, he grounds her, making it harder for them to see each other because of who he is and what Luca does. But, never fear, Luca finds a way to see her and further strengthens their bond. Luca’s life is filled with a lot of obstacles, a sad home life and some shady transactions. Elise’s sister is very sick, to the point that her parents almost ignore the reality of it all. But, these two try their best to be there for each other through it all. When I tell you I cried... ugh, man, I had to step away from the book for a little while. The books ends on a cliffhanger and book 2 starts off 15 years after book 1 apparently. Honestly, I can’t wait to see what happens to them and how they connect once again. What an amazing book. I highly recommend it.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Gin

    This blew me away! I was surprised I liked it so much because it’s not really my demographic but a beautiful love story is always a treat. This one is full of young, first love with a stunning build to a relationship that’s pure romance. Star-crossed lovers, Luca and Elise, are fabulous characters with tons of depth and the author really brought them to life in a mafia setting. Brutal and sometimes bloody these kids are on the cusp of adulthood when a chance encounter and the senior high experie This blew me away! I was surprised I liked it so much because it’s not really my demographic but a beautiful love story is always a treat. This one is full of young, first love with a stunning build to a relationship that’s pure romance. Star-crossed lovers, Luca and Elise, are fabulous characters with tons of depth and the author really brought them to life in a mafia setting. Brutal and sometimes bloody these kids are on the cusp of adulthood when a chance encounter and the senior high experience has them falling in love and planning a future. Life has a way of interfering and tragedy strikes. There were just a few things that didn’t add up for me. The kids weren’t tied to electronics like a current setting but there were others elements that were up to date. A little weirdness but didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story. Also, the drama at the end with Luca was a little out there with high angst but I loved the relationship he had with his besties, Alesso and Leo. Overall it is fantastic with so much emotion, a heart throbbing romance and ultimate heartbreak. The ending was thrilling and gut wrenching and so sad. Talk about a cliffhanger! I can’t wait for the next story to see what happens to these young lovers. A must read! I voluntarily reviewed an ARC. 4.5 stars

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