Shattered Throne Extended Excerpt – Rules

Shattered Thorne (Mice and Men Book 3)

Blurb:

With her family’s safety in jeopardy and her heart on the line, Willow finds herself trapped in a hopeless situation—marry the man who betrayed her and trust in his plan? Or can she navigate the deadly political landscape alone and save the ones she loves? 

The question may be easier said than done when an unearthed secret from the past flips her entire perspective on its head. Is Donatello the monster she’s been led to believe? 

Or is he as much a victim of past events as she is… 

With a war looming and their relationship brewing, both find their loyalties tested to their breaking point—and a new threat on the horizon leaves them little time to waste. 

As the past and present finally collide, will they rise above the fray… 

Or will old grudges finally tear them apart?

Mice and Men is a new standalone series in the War of Roses Universe.

Extended Excerpt – Rules

Disclaimer: The following is copyrighted material is unedited and subject to change.

Willow

The truth is, Donatello Vanici never loved me.

I was only a tool—and now? I’m his weapon.

“I’m going to bend you to my will, little bird,” he swore just days ago. “I’ll erase any identity you’ve had before me. As long as you’re here. You’re mine…”

Though, when all is said and done, I’m the one who agreed to marry him—and if he believes he holds the upper hand, he’s wrong.

He may have taught me my first lesson in betrayal, but Mischa instilled his own teachings in me—how to turn vengeance into an art form. The only way to defeat someone like Donatello Vanici is to play by his rules. To view the world as a game with a checkmate being the only goal.

Last night the rules changed. He may have set this war into motion, but I won that battle, using the one virtue that he sees as my weakness against him.

My body. My innocence. His lust…

Lying beneath him, I held the power for once—he admitted it himself, his voice raspy against my ear. “You like to exert control over me?”

Control is a strange way to describe it. What it felt like to have him watch me explore myself in a way I never have—and never before someone else. It should have felt wrong, the exact opposite of control.

Instead…

Flesh transformed beneath his scrutiny, becoming electrified against my touch. Raw. Alive. My throat constricts at the memory, and I have to fight to steady my breathing.

But you enjoyed it, some sinister voice in my head whispers. You enjoyed every minute of it…

I shrug aside any shame that threatens to descend. Maybe I had every right to enjoy it. After all, I utilized the same war tactic he himself praised all those years ago—What your enemy perceives as a weakness becomes your weapon.

Or, in this case, a double-edged sword. Because, for a second, I glimpsed something more elusive than his hate, and it haunts me. It’s easy to despise the caricature of him I’ve created in my skull. But the real man?

He’s a walking contradiction. Laughing menacingly one moment, moaning in agony amid the throes of a nightmare the next. I’m never prepared for the vulnerability he shields behind that mask.

He claims Safiya Mangenello meant nothing to him, but her name is carved into his chest—and yet he won’t even tell me why he sold her.

Sold me.

The answer shouldn’t matter. Damn him.

After a decade spent claiming a throne for himself in the seething violence of the criminal underbelly, all Donatello Vanici craves now is peace.

Only a union forged between his heir and the most powerful mafiya family in existence could ever be strong enough to end the bloodshed for good, but the Stepanov head resists his overtures at every turn… 

Until tragedy strikes, and forces Donatello’s hand.

Haunted by a past that dogs her every thought, Willow Stepanov will do anything for the man who adopted her—until a chance encounter with the enemy lands her right in the middle of a dangerous power struggle and a war that grows more violent and vicious each day.

But it’s not just her future her captor holds hostage.

He is a man with nothing left to lose—while she may just lose everything. 

Her life, her family, and her heart…

With her family’s safety in jeopardy and her heart on the line, Willow finds herself trapped in a hopeless situation—marry the man who betrayed her and trust in his plan? Or can she navigate the deadly political landscape alone and save the ones she loves?

The question may be easier said than done when an unearthed secret from the past flips her entire perspective on its head. Is Donatello the monster she’s been led to believe?

Or is he as much a victim of past events as she is…

With a war looming and their relationship brewing, both find their loyalties tested to their breaking point—and a new threat on the horizon leaves them little time to waste.

As the past and present finally collide, will they rise above the fray…

Or will old grudges finally tear them apart?

With all hope of the peace shattered beyond redemption, Donatello Vanici is waging his most violent, bloody war yet. 

And caught in the heart of the carnage is Willow Stepanova, the adopted daughter of his dangerous enemy and the girl who once adored him to the depths of her soul. 

Torn between her loyalty to her family and her volatile connection to Donatello, Willow quickly realizes that it’s not just her life at stake in this vicious battle…

But what will be left of her in the end?

A broken engagement should signal the end of the feud blazing between the Stepanovs and Vanicis—barring one small hitch no one foresaw: a surprise pregnancy that could turn this petty misunderstanding into outright war.

For Donatello, this new baby is a shred of hope after nearly a decade of misery—one he won’t forfeit without a fight.

For Willow, this ordeal is a glaring reminder of her own conflicted loyalty, leading to a choice she will have to live with for the rest of her life…

Salvaging this union will be the hardest, bloodiest war Donatello has fought yet. But, as the danger looming above the city reaches a breaking point, will they outlast the violence with their lives—and hearts—intact?

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