Mafia Romance is often considered a subgenre of Dark Romance but I have this theory that Mafia Romance is really just an evolution of romantic suspense. Both subgenres are heavy on action, feature criminal anti-heroes and mustache-twirling villains.
Brutal Prince certainly gave me all those vibes and nothing else.
I already know that my taste doesn’t align with what is popular on Booktok but I really wanted to see what the hype was with this book.
The titular Brutal Prince is Callum Griffin, the eldest son of the Griffin Irish crime family. Callum is all but guaranteed to win the alderman election but his plans are thrown off course when a scuffle with the rough-and-tumble Gallo family forces him into an arranged marriage with Aida Gallo–whose reckless nature makes her a far cry from a politician’s wife. There is also an obsessive ex-boyfriend and a Yugoslavian gangster.
At the end of the day this just didn’t feel like a ‘love story’ to me. It didn’t feel like the characters grew in their relationship. It felt more like they snarked/annoyed at each other until they started doing nice things for one another–which is not my jam at all. I did enjoy reading about the tension and drama between Callum and Aida’s brothers. I wish more of that would have been brought into the romance.
Aida is a ballsy tomboy who is NOt liKE oTheR GirLS. I probably could have forgiven this if we had more about Aida as a character. We know she is young and in college but we never learn what she is studying or about her friends and ambitions.
I also felt like Aida was infantilized. We don’t get an age on Aida (Google says she’s 20 and he’s 30) but she says things like she’s ‘barely an adult’ and when she and Callum’s adult sister get dropped off at college the driver says “I dropped the girls off at school’ which just didn’t sit well with me.
I don’t know if it’s problematic but this book makes jokes and throws around stereotypes about Irish, Italian and Polish people. At one point I was like “Are we allowed to say that ?” I’m not in those groups so I don’t know.