Virtuous (Giovanni, #3), Laura Lascarso
Rating: 5 Stars
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: Gay Romance
Tags: Grief, BDSM, Rope Play, Sado-Masochism, Emotional. **TW: See below blurb
Length: 202 pages
Purchase At: amazon
The heart is not commanded.
Giovanni is not sleeping, and he refuses to eat, as if trying to follow his beloved Master to the grave. Silvio is similarly lost as to how to care for his broken-hearted boy, and always there is the haunting sense that his brother is watching, reminding him in subtle ways that he is not adequately providing for his precious schiavo.
But Silvio is determined to be strong. To be the Dominant Giovanni needs and the man he desires in this season of grieving. Together they will forge a new path with virtues unique to their budding dynamic. But even with the discipline, rules, and structure Silvio provides, there is something more Giovanni craves…
When Giovanni goes to dangerous lengths to reach his Master, all of Silvio’s hard work threatens to unravel. Silvio must figure out a way to soothe his boy, or else Giovanni will succeed in his risky endeavor and be lost to him forever.
VIRTUOUS, the third installment of the GIOVANNI trilogy, is an introspective MM romance about grief and healing. **Trigger warnings for addiction, self-harm, and mentions of past sexual trauma. This book is meant for entertainment purposes only, not as a guide to safe, sane, and consensual BDSM practices.
**THIS IS BOOK #3 SO PERHAPS DON’T READ THIS REVIEW IF YOU HAVEN’T READ BOOKS 1 AND 2**
I’m just going on record as saying that I love Valentin Fortuna. Love. Him. This was tough for me because I knew going in this time that Valentin would not be an MC, that would fall to Giovanni and Valentin’s younger brother, Silvio, or Sir. I was so damned nervous picking up this book. However, this final piece was the natural progression in a trilogy that was never going to be. A trilogy that actually started at book #2, Master’s Schiavo, but grew into three – how very apt. At the end of Master’s Schiavo, both MCs were left in the wake of Valentin’s death. Giovani, the slave, or schiavo, to Valentin’s Master. Silvio, a fairly newly minted Dom, the half brother of Valentin who also saw his considerably older brother as a father figure. Valentin has always been one commanding man and they now need to navigate life and love without him. Necessity is the mother of invention, and so it is when we are reintroduced to Gio and Silvio in Virtuous.
I was unsure about Virtuous. I knew that a fitting resolution for the uncertain relationship between Giovanni and Silvio was something that more than a few readers were hoping for. Gio was in a TPE relationship with Valentin, his devotion to and utter faith in Valentin resolute, so this was always going to be a tough emotional journey. The wonderful The Reluctant Dom, by Tymber Dalton, while a little different, is a book that has a similar theme and I loved that book also. Gio needs a firm hand. He is a masochist and Silvio isn’t a sadist like Valentin. How would Giovanni move forward? Would his demons get the better of him? Does Silvio have the confidence and strength of character for Gio’s ongoing sense of emotional and physical safety? Because Gio’s physical and psychological boundary issues are immense.
Silvio first came into our and Giovanni’s life in Master’s Schiavo soon after Giovanni killed a mob family member while protecting his Master and Ricco, Giovanni’s injured bodyguard. Valentin took him to Italy, specifically to his villa in Ischia, to keep him safe. He didn’t tell Silvio what had happened in NYC. Valentin also became aware he had a terminal illness, ALS, and hoped Silvio would be smitten enough with a taste of his ‘golden boy,’ the someone he loved more than life itself, because they shared. He made sure that Silvio had enough to be invested physically with a certain degree of emotion to take care of Giovanni when he eventually passed away. However, Valentin found his soulmate, his true love later in life and it was hard for him to let Silvio in fully, which is problematic now Valentin has passed. Giovanni also wasn’t ready for Silvio in a full-time capacity then either, but they had feelings for one another. Silvio more than Giovanni.
I had so many feelings while reading Virtuous, hope was certainly there, but overwhelming sadness was one of the more prominent ones. My heart space hurt. I missed Valentin and grieved with Giovanni who had known Valentin since he was seven: Nothing is untoward here for readers who worry. He later fell in love with his grandfather’s right hand man who saved him while Valentin Fortuna was the keeper of the Aponte Family throne. And save him Valentin abso-fucking-lutely did. No ifs, buts or maybes about that. At the beginning of Master’s Schiavo, Valentin was wondering how he could put someone back together again, someone who didn’t care if he lived or died because he was so emotionally scarred. As a made man, a kingpin mafioso, he was used to taking other men apart. So it is in Virtuous that we have entered a loop. Silvio is left with a similar conundrum, how to keep a young man who has lived a 24/7 sado-masochistic Master/Slave dynamic relationship, won’t eat, won’t take part in life whatsoever, from wanting to join his Master in death. And while Silvio is a Dom, good with silks and rope, he’s not a sadist. And Gio is overcoming significant fear – for reasons – of being bound.
Silvio appealed to a lot of readers. He isn’t as intense as Valentin, nor is there as significant an age gap – Giovanni was twenty two when Master died and Valentin was around 60-ish – give or take a few years. Silvio is in his mid to later? thirties… I think. An age gap that is more palatable for some. Age was never made an issue by Lascarso, thankfully, so you had to intuit. Silvio is also more fun-loving and tends toward his heart on his sleeve, and the rope work is nothing like a tawse, strop, whips, or sounding. But Valentin always, always made sure he had Giovanni’s permission and more than that, he knew it was what Gio needed. He never wanted him in a gilded cage and attempted to get him back into life. Gio, for all his moments of introspection, deeply philosophical conversations and moments of Narcissus and Echo style communication, always had a mind of his own. Despite his youth. Giovanni is an old, stubborn soul who has been raised in wealth and the entitlement that brings. Still, he is chronologically young and has a lot of life to live. Silvio is more than aware of this. But knowing and doing are not necessarily the same thing.
Sir’s virtues are different to Master’s. What worked for Gio prior needs to be reborn now, bit by bit. Silvio wants his boy to be adventurous, to challenge him, to be open with him. Silvio is not formal like Valentin was, so how does he have a commanding presence? Gio can be a haughty submissive. He also has a past that makes Gio fragile so it’s a fine line and Silvio needs to make it his. It’s time for Silvio to set newer virtues that Silvio likes and Gio will embrace. Leaning on his own like-group in Napoli helps Silvio, as does utilising Leandro, a sadist.
My sadness at leaving this world Laura Lascarso has lovingly created is real. These gorgeous, addicting characters. The Giovanni trilogy has been an emotive, luxurious, gritty, sexy, intelligent, all-consuming, belly-brain exploding trip. I was abundantly happy with the relationships that Lascarso developed. The comfort and awareness and depth given the characters. I couldn’t have asked for anything better. Valentin is honoured, how I needed that, and Silvio doesn’t deviate from who we met in Master’s Schiavo – except he opened to and understood the depth of his own feelings and his strengths so much more by books end. What also helped these books be so intimate and addictive is that each book has a POV from one of the MCs, Master’s Schiavo is from Giovanni’s POV, Giovanni is from Valentin’s, and Virtuous is Silvio’s, except the epilogue.
I was here for Gio socially developing that little bit more, inch by inch – after all, patience is a virtue. Learning to be safe, to trust, and be cherished by two caring, remarkable brothers. One a loving defender, a soulmate, one life’s hope, a heart’s desire. What are the wonderfully, beautifully romantic odds of that? I love that Lascarso pays respectful homage to the different loves we can experience. Sometimes we have more than one powerful love in our life. It’s true. No two loves are the same. I love reading really good romance, something that reaches into my very marrow to fill me with plenty of emotion. The Giovanni trilogy definitely immersed me. I’ve not only read books 1, Giovanni, and 2, Master’s Schiavo, but I’ve listened to them in audiobook as well. I can’t wait for Virtuous in audio format. I forever remain an utter devotee of these men and their ‘golden boy’. 5 Stars!
That last pic/quote – *Sobs…Valentin.