cover image Elect


Rachel Van Dyken. Grand Central/Forever, $12 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-1-4555-5421-8

Eagle Elite, a Mafia-owned private college in Chicago, is the unique setting for this overly complicated contemporary new adult romantic thriller. A recently arrived Sicilian family, the Nicolosis, challenges local don Nixon Abandonato, a senior at Eagle Elite, for dominance of his turf. Luca Nicolosi left Sicily to settle a score with the head of an Abandonato ally; his quest for vengeance poses a direct threat to the love of Nixon's life, Tracey Rooks, the granddaughter of a rival don. In order to keep her safe, Nixon assigns his cousin Chase to pose as her boyfriend while actually being her bodyguard. The only problem with that arrangement is that Chase is also crazy about Trace. Whenever Nixon sees any kind of physical contact between the two he's filled with rage, even though he knows it is supposed to be all an act to fool Luca into overlooking the connection between Trace and Nixon. The fairly straightforward retribution story line is pulled down by the weight of multiple additional subplots, but Van Dyken's characterizations and humor pull an otherwise overwrought, overpopulated story out of the dumps. (Dec.)