Wednesday 20 November 2019

Mini Reviews: Collateral & Damage by Natasha Knight (Collateral Damage Duet)

Collateral and Damage together create the Collateral Damage duet and are both full-length 250 + page novels told in alternating, first-person, pov.
They're dark, mafioso, romance and my first books by Natasha Knight.
I must say they did not make me want to read more from the author...


Stefan Sabbioni showed up in my bedroom on my sixteenth birthday. Uninvited, he stood in the shadows smelling of whiskey and death and wrapped a broken, blood-crusted necklace around my neck.
I thought he’d strangle me with it.
That night, he left a message for my father. He said he’d be back to take something precious.
I never delivered that message, though. I wonder if things would be different if I had because now, two years later, he’s back. And he’s not hiding in any shadows.
He’s come to make good on his promise.
He’s back to take that something precious.


Marchese is the manipulator of my family’s tragedy. I won’t just bring him to his knees. I’ll bury him for what he did.
Taking his daughter is only the beginning. I’ll do it knowing I’m starting a war. I’ll do it knowing my enemies will become his allies. They’ll stop at nothing to destroy me and he’ll stop at nothing to get her back.
I’ve never shied away from war, though. I’m not one to play nice and I don’t share my toys. I’ll demolish you if you touch what’s mine.
And she is most definitely mine.

Collateral sets the scene.
You meet Stefan, you meet Gabriella and you learn why Stefan - a 28/29 yo man - wants to marry an 18 yo whose family he is seeking to destroy.

I expected the power struggles and backstabbing between the families but I didn't expect the familial manoeuvring to be, well, so tame (for a mafia romance) and kind of boring. I wanted to be invested and rooting for Stefan and Gabriella but he was borderline unlikable and she alternated between fierce and irritating.

I expected the power struggle between Stefan and Gabriella but what I didn't expect was for the power imbalance to be so vast!
Usually, women in these kinds of stories have their own kind of power but Gabriella was just so young... And painfully naive and in completely over her head!

Then there was the fact that every time I thought too long about the age difference I got a case of the heebies. Yes, I knew going into the book that Gabriella was young but I didn't know what the age gap between her and Stefan actually was and even though 10 years isn't horrendous, at this stage of her life it really was.

The back and forth and complete lack of understanding between them was draining.
For dark romance to work for me, there has to be love. There has to be a kindness, a genuine care, between the parties even if one of them is absolutely beastly at times... But there wasn't.
I got to the end of this book and thought wtf? Because even though Stefan wasn't too bad (all things considered), I didn't for one second believe he loved (or was falling in love) with Gabriella and she didn't seem to love him either.
To him, she was property and, to her, he was what she had to learn to live with.

 It teased so much potential and I kept reading and reading waiting for it but it just never took off!
I would have cut my losses here and not continued with the duet calling it a case of "it's not you, it's me" because the writing - the execution - of the story wasn't bad or else I wouldn't have been glued to it and unable to put it down but it ended on a bloody cliffhanger so on I read, like an idiot.

We’re a match made in hell, Stefan and I.

He took me to exact his revenge. I went from being a pawn to my father to being a pawn to Stefan. The only difference is I have a ring the size of a boulder on my finger and a husband I don’t want.

And the hardest part is I thought he was different. I thought I was falling in love.

I guess my father was right. I’m not a very smart girl.

Stefan is a powerful man. He doesn’t play nice, not if you’re his enemy. But I’ve learned one thing about my husband.

He takes care of what’s his.
And I am his.

His enemies have become my enemies, but he’ll never let anyone hurt me. He’s fiercely protective. It’s the predator inside that scares me.

Book two picked up right where book one ended and started off not too bad.
It got a bit gritty and I almost believed that Stefan was starting to catch a case of the feelings for Gabriella but it didn't take long for me to be disabused of that notion.

He may be protective of Gabriella, when it comes to anyone else, but it doesn't include him apparently unless slamming your wife into walls with a hand at her throat is considered protective nowadays...
Then there was lying. So much lying. And distrust. And insanity.
It went from a little bit twisted to toppling right down the rabbit hole into crazy fucked-up land.

I'd had enough before I even got a third of the way through this book but I'm a horrible person to myself sometimes and rather than DNFing I finished it.
Just because I was curious and, weirdly, because I kept waiting for it to get better!
And it didn't.
So, needless to say, I don't recommend.


  1. Oh man a cliffhanger. I hate when that happens. When are authors going to get over doing that. I makes me not want to read them at all.

    1. It's so annoying! If I like the book, I'll buy the sequel anyway, you know? A cliffhanger just annoys me.

  2. Oh no! I'm with you on the romance in the books I read. I want substance between them, some type of actual feelings. It doesn't sound like that happens here.

  3. Oh no, these don't sound like books I'd appreciate at all. The age gap is really icky considering Gabriella's lack of emotional maturity (and I say that as someone in an age gap relationship myself).
    Thank you for reading this duology so we won't have to!

  4. Replies
    1. No, they kinda sucked. Book two especially. Book one was ok.

  5. kudos to your persistence. i am like that too. great review and i hate when a book with so much potential doesn't quite get there
    sherry @ fundinmental

  6. OMG these seems so bad Nicci! And no slamming your wife with a hand on her throat does not seem protective!

    1. Nope! Book two just lost the plot in all senses!

  7. Sorry to hear these were both a disappointment. I usually DNF these kinds of stories if they're not working out, but like you my curiosity sometimes gets the better of me and I have to know how it all turns out. Lol. Hope your next books are better. :)

    1. I've gotten so much better with DNFing but sometimes I just get sucked in!

  8. I don't usually read this type of books, I like them less steamy although sometimes smoothy books are great to spice up my reading life.
    I don't have problem with big age gaps between characters, as long as everyone involved is adult.

    1. Adult in age and maturity though. Gabriella at times seemed older than her years but then would flip to painfully young. It was just inconsistent. :(

  9. Love that word, heebies. It's true that there are so many character flaws that make us want to turn down a book. Thanks for so many suggestions.

    1. Heebies is a good word, lol. It's a very Scottish one. :)


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