Donna Lake is a bright young co-ed when she first meets Matthew Manchino.
Handsome, sophisticated and charming, he sweeps her off her feet into a
whirlwind marriage that seems, at first, perfect, with a
big new house and more than enough money to fund Donna's academic dream of
becoming a lawyer. But there's a baser truth beneath the 24-karat veneer of her new life and new family.
Orphaned as a boy, Matthew was raised by the vast extended Manchino family, and that family expects impossible perfection from Donna as his wife. Draconian aunts swoop down on her weekly for white-glove inspections of her home, and thinly veiled threats are made warning her against causing Matthew any pain, discomfort, or hardship. To her surprise, Matthew seems to expect her to meet his family's expectations. Worse is how much her "perfect" husband changes after they've wed, holding coke-fueled, sex-soaked parties he expects her to host graciously.
The veil of innocence is lifted from Donna's eyes when she accidentally discovers the true nature of Matthew's business and family - an organized crime empire built on arms and drug dealing. Frightened and far from her own family, Donna tries to hide her knowledge, until Matthew confesses that he's working with the FBI against his own family and professes the depth of his love for her. Once more, Donna is a young woman in love, one who believes her marriage is worth saving.
Her idyllic dream-life is shattered once more when an attempt is made on her life, and all signs point to Matthew's culpability. Rescued by the FBI, who craft the scene so that the world will believe Donna Lake is dead, she becomes a piece in the cat-and-mouse game the FBI are playing against the Manchino family. With their training, she will have the opportunity to bring down her husband and his clan -- but the FBI can be as treacherous and deadly as the mob.
Canadian author Barbara Anna Marjanovic's debut novel, Pawn is a story of innocence lost, and that more than once. The line between ally and enemy is blurred again and again, until it seems that none may be trusted. Told in Donna's first-person voice, Pawn is less than flawless - repetitive narrative, typographical errors and word
misuses sometimes clutter the tale. Still, in a story colored in shades of La Femme Nikita, promise and potential
do glimmer from Marjanovic's pen.