Canary by Tijan Book Review

Mafia romances can be so captivating sometimes. The violence, tension, suspense, spice, all make for a great read that will keep drawing you in. It’s one of my most specific romance scenarios that I love to read. It feels a little taboo, like a shouldn’t like reading about mafia bosses and hitmen finding love and having copious amounts of sex, but it winds up being a great disraction to the everyday. Canary is one the most recent reads I picked up that didn’t involve some kind of fantasy. It’s a standalone story that is packed with suspense, thrilling action, mafia wars, violence, sex, but also a surprising amount of tenderness. I found myself sucked in and couldn’t put it down. 

We were on the front lines in that world, the mafia world. There was nothing soft or glamorous about it. Who you were before no longer mattered. Names didn’t exist. I joined anyway. I had no other choice because they took my sister. Join. Find her. Try and make it out alive. Then he won me in a poker game. I hated him instantly, thinking he was like my other bosses before him. He wasn’t. He was worse. He wasn’t just cold. He was dead inside. It didn’t matter that he was gorgeous. He was the most lethal thing I’d ever met. He was also the only person who could keep me alive, if he didn’t kill me himself.

Tijan has a really interesting writing style. All of her chapters are first-person POV from either the perspective of Ash or Raize. A lot of the time, she writes in an almost stream of consciousness style, and I started to really like it. It gave both characters, but especially Ash their own unique voice. I got a sense of Ash’s unique personality through the way Tijan wrote. Her snark, humor, and way of seeing the world really comes out in Tijan’s writing and made me really come to love her character. She’s somewhat of an outsider looking in on the mafia world even though she’s spent time with 7 other bosses, but she still holds on to a sense of humanity and morality through all the violence she’s seen. 

Raize is your typical cold and violent, morally-gray anti-hero. Your tall, dark, and handsome who has no problem putting a bullet in your head. His one weakness though: Ash. He’s the “burn the world for the people he cares about” kind of person. I loved seeing his mask and walls come down over the course of the book, see him coming to care for and eventually fall in love with Ash. Even though he’s a ruthless hitman and mafia boss, he still holds onto a sense of morality and humanity. We see that when he’s faced with Ash’s confession that she was raped by another boss, his willingness to help her get revenge, and the understanding and comfort he provides her as she navigates her trauma and past. He’s strong, protective, and fiercely loyal enough to make you swoon. 

Trauma and sexual violence are a key part of this story. Ash gets into the mafia world to save her sister who was sex trafficked to another boss, pimped out by someone she thought loved her. She is given over to work with one boss, who winds up raping her, changing bosses 7 times until Raize finally wins her in a poker game. Her goal throughout the whole book is to save her sister and help women who are being trafficked. Over time, we come to learn more and more of her past before the mafia, her mother with a serious personality disorder, her druggy father, the neglect, and the suicide that drove her sister crazy. It was tough to read, but I liked how Tijan dealt with it. Ash found comfort in Raize, in their team, and the eventual random dog they picked up. She tried to make things right, tried to face her trauma head on, while still trying to maintain a semblance of humanity within the violence. I liked how slow Tijan laid out her past as well. Feeding us bits and pieces until the end, letting us feel like there was something strange with Ash’s story. It made for a great layer of mystery. 

This is definitely a violent book, lots of killing, shooting, all out wars between bosses breaking out. Most of the time it feels justified though, and we see throughout the book how Ash influences Raize to control his violence, how sometimes he surprises her with his thoughtfulness. I really enjoyed their dynamic and the dynamic of the other characters as well. Overall, it definitely felt like a great, self-contained story and romance by the end. 

If you’ve had a chance to read this or any of the other books by Tijan, let me know in the comments what you thought and any recommendations you have for me!

~~Thanks for Reading!~~

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