Series: Dirty Angels #1
Published by Metal Blonde Books
Published on June 15th, 2014
Genres: Adult, Dark Romance, Love & Romance, Romantic Suspense
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**Warning: this book contains situations which might be triggers for some people.**
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.
***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***
As much as I’d like to say that my review won’t be a gush-fest over one of my all-time favorite villains, I can’t. The heart wants what the heart wants, and I just can’t, in good conscience, mislead you into thinking that I shan’t spend a good portion of this review talking about the magnificence of Señor Bernal. All aboard the TEAM JAVIER train! We first met him as he unforgivingly stole hearts and hymens in The Artists Trilogy, and is now back with a vengeance, in all his malevolent glory.
So, it goes without saying:
Long live Javier!
(And if you haven’t yet read The Artists Trilogy, fear not– you can jump right into Dirty Angels, for though this is a spin-off, it is also a standalone, and you’ll have plenty of opportunities to meet & greet my beloved Mexican Drug Cartel leader, Javier Bernal in this book!)
True to form, he’s shooting first, and asking questions later. He’s as unapologetic, ruthless, greedy, and ambitious as ever. He’s absolutely everything my dark heart desires, and loves. He’s not a knight in shining armor, but rather a viper with a vicious temper, and he has an appetite for sex & violence– and not always in that order. (Be still my heart.) Say what you will (AKA, haters gonna hate), but you know that deep down inside, your heart and body craves a good ol’ Latin lover with a penchant for violence, and wrongdoing.
We’ll get back to Javier a little later.
Dirty Angels isn’t JUST about Javier Bernal. It is also about Luisa Chavez, ex-beauty queen, devoted daughter, and a strong-willed woman, with a good head on her shoulders. She is determined to do the one and only thing she’s tried to do her whole life: SURVIVE. Whether it was to support her ailing parents, or endure a less than savory work environment to make ends meet, she strives to live each day just to make it to the next. One day, Luisa is approached by a man who makes her an offer that she can’t refuse: a life with riches and luxuries to help her and her family afford the things they need in exchange for accepting his hand in marriage. Though on the surface it seems like an advantageous union, Luisa soon discovers that to accept this man is to deny her freedom. When she obliges to wed Salvatore Reyes, she finds that she has sold her soul to the Devil himself.
Upon exchanging vows, Luisa goes from being a respectable daughter, to the being the wife of “The Jackal”.
“Of course, there was the fact that I never really had a choice. That I could not have said no to Salvador. But as my mother said, we always have choices. And I was starting to think that in the grand scheme of things, perhaps I had made the wrong one.
The lesser of two evils was actually the greatest.”
Soon Luisa learns the meaning of pain, suffering, and degradation. Trapped in the situation she cannot escape, lest it result in her death, or the death of her family, she begins to find strength and a willingness to survive, no matter the cost. Unfortunately for her, a rival Drug Cartel leader has his sights set on using her as a pawn in his deadly game. Javier is ready to capture The Jackal’s wife in hopes of using her as collateral, and he has no qualms about how the ransom is paid. Whether it be by money, or by blood, Javier won’t stop until he gets what he wants. In other words: HEADS WILL ROLL.
As you may have seen in the synopsis, and from the teasers that have been floating about on the interwebz, this is not a fluffy romance novel. This is not about a woman who tames the beast, or the man who seeks to be redeemed by the love of a woman. This is a dark and twisted tale about a man and his demons. A woman and her trials. Hearts and flowers have no place here. Bleeding is the only thing you’ll find that hearts are good for. It’s a sadistic, vicious, and cruel world that these characters live in, where flesh is worshiped, and honor & respect are gained by way of bullets and blades. That being said, the development of the relationship between Javier and Luisa was very intriguing. Seeing just how far Luisa is willing to go to stay alive, is in some ways, inspiring. Inspiring in a weird morbid way… Javi also goes through a period of growth as well. He’s willing to sacrifice so much, just to gain what he wants. There’s a point in which both Luisa and Javier realize that they’re both struggling and fighting to reach the same ultimate goal: SURVIVAL. It is then that Javier and Luisa realize that they could possibly find strength in unity, and by joining forces in more ways than one…
“It wasn’t that Luisa completed me — she couldn’t be the other half of my so-called soul. But she was all I could ever want, all I could ever need. If I was going to be swallowed by my own dirt one day, I’d rather have her with me, smiling and free.”
I loved getting both Luisa and Javier’s POV in this book! It was so refreshing to know what was going on in Javier’s head. He’s always been a mystery to me. At first, I wasn’t quite sure I wanted to actually get into his mind, as I was worried that I’d be traumatized. But, let’s be honest, I think my brain and morals are broken, because what I found in Javier’s head only made me love him more. With this book, you’ll find that love is torture. (LITERALLY!) And I think I like it. Even though I’ve seen that there have been other reviewers who found this book to be extremely dark, violent and also depraved, I in some ways, found it endearing. (Haha!) I think that if we hadn’t had Javier’s POV, I would’ve agreed with those other reviewers and then some. But I was able to find the tenderness in the torture, and the romance in all the rage. This book was a nice little escape from the monotony of cookie-cutter contemporary romance. There was action, suspense, steaminess, and emotion. There was a genuine quality to the way that the characters were written, and I found that I devoured every word. This was a fast-paced thrill ride that I didn’t want to get off of. Another quality story from Karina Halle!