Friday, August 1, 2014

[Review] Dirty Angels by Karina Halle


For Luisa Chavez, a twenty-three year old former beauty queen, a better life has always been just out of her reach. Sure, she’s had men at her feet since she was a young teenager but she’s never had the one thing she’s craved – security. Having grown up in near poverty, her waitressing job in Cabo San Lucas can barely let her take care of herself, let alone her ailing parents. Every day is another unwanted advance, every day is a struggle to survive.

When Salvador Reyes, the depraved leader of a major Mexican cartel, takes an interest in her, Luisa is presented with an opportunity she can’t afford to pass up. She’ll become Salvador’s wife and exchange her freedom and body for a life of riches – riches she can bestow upon her deserving parents. But Luisa quickly finds out that even the finest wines and jewels can’t undo the ugliness in her marriage, nor the never-ending violence that threatens her every move.

Soon, Luisa is looking for an escape, a way out of the carefully controlled life she’s leading. She finally gets her wish in the worst way possible.

As it is, being the wife of Salvador makes her an ideal target for rival cartels and there’s one particular man who needs Luisa as part of his cartel’s expansion. One particular man whose quest for power has destroyed lives, slit throats and gotten him out of an American prison. One particular man who will stop at nothing until he gets what he wants.

That man is Javier Bernal. And he wants Luisa. He wants to take her, keep her, ruin her.

Unless she ruins him first.

***WARNING*** This book deals with drug cartels and as such it contains a lot of sex and violence and some violent sex. It can get pretty ugly, pretty dark and pretty crazy. There is drug use, abuse, a bit of torture and dubious consent. The hero is not a hero and the villains...well, they're even worse. If this sort of thing bothers you, PLEASE DO NOT READ IT. This ain't no cupcake farting unicorn kind of book. If you are even a bit squeamish about violence, brutality and rape, this is your warning to stay away from a book that you certainly will not like (and why read books that you know you won't like?)***

***While this is a spin-off of The Artists Trilogy, prior knowledge of the books is not needed. DIRTY ANGELS is the first in a trilogy, however each book can standalone and follows or introduces different characters***

Karina Halle didn't put a warning at the begin of this book for nothing. So again, if you don't want to read brutal scenes of violence, implied rape, and all around terrible things happening to people then this might not be the book for you. And that's okay. I'll admit that I was a little worried going into this one. I've loved Javier since I read The Artists Trilogy, but this Javier was a little more of a psycho. He's graduated onto a whole new level of brutality and darkness.

“Because life is a game and we're all just trading cards. We play the right hand to get ahead.”

Javier hasn't had much luck in love. He has this dark spot in his soul that terrifies most every woman. He was burned by the one person he thought he might have had a chance with and that drew the darkness out of him even more. Javier is now a ruthless drug cartel leader, but that's not enough for him. He loves power and he wants more and more and more. He decides the best thing to do to gain top dog status is to kidnap the wife of the biggest, most feared cartel leader Salvador. This guy is no joke. He makes what Javier has done look like child's play.

“They would not break my soul. They would not see my pain.”

Luisa is a girl who cares more about her family, her parents, than herself. And she proves this time and time again by sacrificing herself for her parents. Luisa is offered a deal with the devil, Salvador. Her parents life will be easier, and she will be free from the sleazy bar where she works. She knows saying no to him is not really an option so she reluctantly agrees, deciding that her parents will be happy and that's all that matters[see, absolutely selfless]. Luisa definitely got herself into more than she bargained for. Shortly after her wedding day she is kidnapped by Javier, but Luisa has gone through so much in such a short time that she begins to change. I liked Luisa at the beginning, but I loved her at the end. The worse things got for her, the stronger she became. I love a character that comes out a terrible situation and is stronger than ever.

“I felt like my feelings were sediment at the bottom of the sea, and he was shaking me loose, stirring me free, until it was swirling around both of us, clouding everything.”

The chemistry between Luisa and Javier isn't instantaneous. There's this growing back and forth build up that had me wondering what the hell what going to happen with them. Javier struggles with his need for power and ultimate control, and is confused by this woman that he can't seem to break. More confusing is his apprehension in breaking Luisa. Javier stays true to himself, and anyone who thinks differently doesn't understand him at all.

“I understand now the vengeance that rocked through him, because the need for it was starting to rock through me.”

This isn't a book about changing someone for the better, or miraculously turning the bad guy into the good guy. It's better than that. It's about two people that realize who they are, what they want, and what they're willing to risk to get it. Whether they end up together or apart, dead or alive.

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