Dirty Angels by Karina Halle
Series: Dirty Angels #1
Also in this series: Dirty Deeds, Dirty Promises
Published by Headline Eternal on June 15, 2014
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**warning: this book contains situations which might be triggers for some people. Please see the bottom of this description to see if this is the kind of book that you'll love or piss you off**
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***
Javier, Javier, Javier…I needed to read this book twice and it was with the second reading of the book that I understood why I didn’t write my review straight away. There was a lot to take in. Note the warning at the beginning of the book as very few details are spared. Dirty Angels is a spin off from the Artist’s Trilogy and although this book can be read as a stand alone, for me it was the perfect book to read after Bold Tricks (Artists Trilogy #3). So if you want to read that series first, stop reading this review now!
Then there were his eyes, that stark, golden gaze that cut you from the inside out. You couldn’t help but get sucked into them, swirling into whatever darkness lurked below. They were relentless, terrifying, and oddly beautiful, just like the man himself.
Javier was an enigma that haunted me and I knew it was wrong but there was something about him. I didn’t see him as the villain. After reading On Every Street, to me he seemed more misunderstood and possibly misguided but definitely passionate about the women he cares deeply about. This time through the eyes of Luisa Chavez, she provides a fresh look at the complicated and charismatic character known as Javier.
The morning light was streaming in through the window, illuminating her like an angel, but a dirty one.
Luisa is a woman that is barely managing to make ends meet. She is a dutiful daughter, working in a bar, doing what she has to do to make ends meet and help support her parents. It’s a simple life, hard and mostly lackluster for the former beauty queen. That is until she catches the eye of Salvador Reyes, the head of a drug cartel. He makes her an offer to provide for her family in return for her agreeing to be his wife, an offer impossible to refuse. She has no illusions as to whom he is and the kind of life he lives. Sadly, there is so much more to him than she could possibly know. To call him a man is an insult to other men.
“Then do your worst. And you will see that the worst has already been done.”
Meeting Javier and his men was not initially a pleasant experience for Luisa. Far from it. Protected and warned about Javier Bernal she had no delusions that meeting him would be anything to get her hopes up for. Going from one hellish situation to another, she became astute at recognising the varying degrees of hell. Knowing her future was in jeopardy, she plays the only card she has left, indifference. Javier sees an angel, albeit slightly tarnished, and so do his men. They can see her potential threat to crack Javier’s resolve. Will he break her or will it be her to break him…
“You need confidence to be a good torturer, kidnapper, murderer?” “You need confidence in yourself, to never question who you are.” I nodded. “Maybe you all need to question yourselves more often.”
This is far from your sweet damsel in distress romance. This is raw and brutal. What it is though, is a story about how an angel is present in the most unassuming forms. The people that appear hard, can sometimes let slip a streak of kindness. Threaded in amongst the harshness of the story is the odd unexpected warmth of dark humour that catches you off guard and makes you smile. Then there’s the reason that Luisa is in the situation she is in and the little value she puts on her self-worth. It is not until she is pushed to her limits that she finally discovers her place in the world. It all comes down to a person’s worth, what a person is willing to give up for them. When it comes to Luisa her beautiful looks are not her saviour, it is the beauty within that drives her that sets her apart from others.
Alternating POVs work perfectly providing an insight into Javier’s mind that I’d been craving since we really got to know him in On Every Street. He’s everything I hoped he was, strong, determined and passionate. A dark read that’s not for the faint of heart.
Lily’s Rating: 5 Stars
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