HomeReviewsInterviewsStoreABlogsOn Writing
Michelle Reviews: Billy London Italian Knights Series

Sensuality Level: Steamy

Multicultural Contemporary: BW/WM

I know it seems like forever since I’ve posted, but this past holiday season was insane. Oddly enough I read quite a bit, but never seemed to have time to do reviews. I promise I’ll do better. I’ve been on a bit of a glom of late. There seems to be an insane number of Mafia books in the multicultural genre, and I’ve been checking them out. Billy London is one of the most popular and I can see why. Her books are at times laugh-out-loud funny. And the title “knight” is appropriate as these guys will literally kill for their lady-love. Let me start with a caveat, these books do contain a good bit of violence, they’re not exactly Goodfellas, or actually they are. They’re Goodfellas, if Goodfellas had been directed by Ben Stiller.

These books take place in London, and that’s somewhat nostalgic for me as I grew up reading categories from Harlequin and they were all based in London too. I haven’t read a contemporary in  a London setting in probably a couple of decades and it was very heartwarming for me. Okay, on to the books.


Pay absolutely no attention to the title of this book. A friend lent it to me and it expired on my Kindle account because I assumed it had something to do with exhibitionism or voyeurism. Why it has this title I have no idea. It is one of my fave tropes, friends into lovers. And Ms. London handles that aspect of the story very well. Nick and Gina have been friends for ten years since meeting in college. They have been secretly in love with one another, but since Nick had a girlfriend when they first met Gina pretty much put him in the “friends” category. Though they’ve shared everything over the years, except of course, their mutual hots for one another and the fact that Nick is a mob boss. All this comes to a head when Gina finds herself indebted to a loan shark who decides to rough her up in order to shake his money loose. Nick takes the situation in hand and we’re off onto a crazy roller coaster of mob intrigue, family intrigue and some really steamy sex. I liked both characters and their relationship was believable and at times charming. The secondary characters were vivid and interesting and I loved the pacing of the story. There is a good bit of violence, but then this is a Mafia story. The only flaw I found is in the resolution of the situation with the villain. There’s a good deal of info-dumping I could’ve lived without. The villain’s scheme was so unbearably convoluted that I had to read it a couple of times to get it fixed in my head. But really that was the only serious flaw. I liked this book a lot, and enjoyed the re-read I did before I wrote this review. I’d say a good solid B.

On Caristo’s Watch

This title makes a good bit more sense. Tony is Nick’s close friend and all-around enforcer/right hand man. He and Lydia meet at the hospital where she is a nurse. He is there frequently bringing friends who’ve been injured. He’s there so frequently she asks if he’s a plainclothes EMT. This is probably the funniest of the four books so far as Tony is definitely the class clown of the group. I laughed out loud when he asked Lydia, “What is in my balls,” because the only time she talks sensibly (at least from his viewpoint) is after they’ve had sex. Lydia has an ex-boyfriend who has turned stalker and is making threats against her brother. She goes to Nick for help and he assigns Tony to her for protection. I would give this book a low A, primarily because it was very funny and I enjoyed the interaction between these two characters very much.

The Claim

For me, this one is the weak link of the four Italian Knights books thus far. Rocco is the attorney and fixer for the daCanaveze family. Anna is his long-lost love. This is another favorite trope of mine, but London doesn’t handle it as well as she did the friends into the lovers. Gina and Rocco were dating. She broke up with him when she discovered he was sleeping with one of her friends. He wasn’t sleeping with her friend, but for a very convoluted reason involving law enforcement and his dad screwing up and winding up in prison he’s not able to tell Anna the truth. So here’s the thing, she breaks up with him, but resumes the friendship with the friend! This made no sense to me, and I found the whole scenario unbearably annoying. The only thing that saved this story for me is Rocco’s grandmother, Nonna. Oh my God she’s a hoot. Rocco uses a lawsuit she wants to file as an excuse to get Anna back into his life and just when his charm offensive is working their relationship is nearly derailed by a vengeful cop. Without the girlfriend issue, this would be an A story, but because of it I have to give it a low B, probably in all fairness it should be a C.

Best Laid Plans

Another in the series whereas the title makes no sense, but whatever. This one is my favorite, probably because the hero Gianluca, who is Tony’s cousin,  is such a sweetie-pie. He’s a murdering enforcer for the daCavaneze family. Francesca is a cop. You’d think this would present insurmountable obstacles to the relationship, but fortunately, by the time they meet Gianluca has already sworn off the life. Gianluca believes he dreamed her while he was in jail and he swore if he could have her he’d never raise his knife in violence again. In fact they’d met previously in a convenience store, but he doesn’t remember because of a head injury. When he meets her again he’s a chef and working diligently to keep his nose clean after a really nasty encounter with his psycho-bitch of an ex-girlfriends which landed him in jail dreaming about Francesca. I love the way Francesca handles herself when psycho ex-girlfriend puts in an appearance. This is an A story for me, primarily based on the strength of the characters.

I borrowed the first book from a friend, the rest I bought.




  • Nice to see you back, Michelle


  • foosrock!
    January 21
    9:24 pm

    Goodness, this author can do no wrong, perhaps except when she writes vampire story. Can’t STAND that shite, even from her. She’s one of the GREATEST I/R authors out there today. Telling romance in such an edgy way. Very British. Love her premises, although I’m not into thugs(gangsters, mafia, what have you) as heroes, but she spins these stories sooooo differently, so expansive, sooooo inclusively, sooo endearingly, I was/am hooked to her view. Awesomeness at it’s best.

    Don’t agree that On Carlista’s Watch was the weakest of the bunch. Thought they all brought substance,(Brit black-NOT meaning race-) humour, depth,substance and an enjoyable connected premise .

    Please review her other books. I adore to the Nth power At Last. Whew. SO. FUCKING. GOOOOOOOOOD!.


  • Michelle
    January 21
    11:52 pm

    I liked Caristo’s Watch. it’s The Claim I thought was the weakest of the four. I tried her zombie book and hatrd it. Didn’t realize she had a vampire book. Will have to check out At Last. I’ve been desperately waiting forthe next IK story, msybe it will tide me over. I think it’s another friends into lovers which I like a lot.


  • Michelle
    January 22
    5:00 pm

    You’re right foosrock. At Last is a sweet, charming story. For some reason it reminds me of Dorianne Cole’s Once in a Blue Moon.


  • Hi Michelle,

    Thank you for reviewing the series! I really appreciate it and I’m always up for good chat about my Italians. Massimo’s story is next and I’m hoping to get it out before I go on holiday at end of February. (I really need it, I’ve been writing like a beast and I need fresh man flesh for inspiration.) I’ve done a blog post to hopefully tide everyone over until it’s ready. Foosrock – honestly, you carry on and I’ll need people to carry my inflated head around!

    Best wishes and stay in touch!



  • foosrock!
    January 24
    10:25 pm

    @Billy London:

    You betcha. You’re all that and a chazillion bag of chips. Just rectifying……


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment