Jun 17, 2014

Dirty Angels (Dirty Angels, #1) by Karina Halle

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Book summary:

**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***

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My rating:✮✮✮✮✮

My review:

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.

Yes, Javier is back!!!

To say I was looking forward to reading another book with Javier Bernal as one of the main characters would be an understatement. To say I was a little worried about the direction his character would take after the dreadful events in Bold Tricks would be the truth. Finally, after finishing Dirty Angels, to say I regret dropping everything else to read it would be a lie, because I absolutely loved it! This was the Javier I loved reading about, this was the Javier I found so fascinating. This was the real Javier Bernal.

I found Dirty Angels to be the perfect book for those, such as myself, who thought Bold Tricks did an injustice to this character. Once again this ruthless druglord, operating under his own moral code, and always plotting to get ahead, who always kept his promises, cast his spell on me and made me like him even more. Not sure what that says about me, so I'm not going to dwell on it.

Javier was back, powerful again, and looking to gain even more power by kidnapping the wife of his main competitor, and using her to blackmail him. However, Luisa Reyes turned out to be nothing like he expected. Instead she became a woman who got under his skin, and even though he wouldn't admit it, into his heart -- something he thought impossible after what happened with Ellie. I must say, I loved all the references to Javier's past with Ellie: the tattoo, the clothes, all of it. What I loved most was to get at least a little of Javier's side of that story because in Dirty Angels I got what I longed for: Javier's POV. And seeing Luisa slowly breaking through his walls and getting to the man inside was priceless.
Even with everything that I was, she didn’t want to change me, she didn’t want to save me. Perhaps it was because I was so beyond saving. Either way, she saw who I was and all my filth and she wanted to roll around in it with me.
She had become my equal.

Luisa was a tough woman, and a great female lead. Over and over again I found myself admiring that woman's strength and spirit. Nothing could break her: not poverty, her parents' disabilities, advances of her sleazy boss, not her abusive husband, and not Javier Bernal. She was in all sense a perfect match for Javier. As much as I felt bad for him when Ellie broke his heart -- twice (which to be fair he broke hers, too) -- she was not the right girl for him. She was too weak to be by his side in the life he led, but Luisa -- perfect. Watching them making tiny steps towards realizing that themselves made for a very interesting read.

Of course, when you have Karina Halle and drug cartels, you get a lot of action in your book involving guns, knives, torture, raids, and helicopters, and some nerve-wrecking moments. My heart is still beating fast from that last part. However, after all the warnings in the blurb, I expected something even darker. I believe that it was the fact that Luisa's kidnapper was Javier that I felt more comfortable reading this than I would have had it been someone unknown. Javier may be a bad man, but he's not a monster.

Five stars from me, because, after all, he is Javier Bernal.




  1. Okay this one sounds like it has a really steamy romance and an action filled plot to boot...you've convinced me i'm getting this one...

    1. It sure does. Plus, there's Javier which to me makes this a must read. :)
      Glad to hear you'll give it a try, and you should get it now - the price will go up really soon.
      Happy reading! :)

  2. I can't wait to read this one, I loved to hate Javier. Aw, Ellie wasn't weak, she was tired of the game. I'm definitely curious about his new woman, though.

    1. It's funny how I didn't hate Javier even then. :) I hated what he did to Ellie before she left him, but him -- no. I didn't mean Ellie was weak herself -- she's a tough girl; just not strong enough to be with Javier who leads the life he leads. Luisa, however, is another story. Hope you'll enjoy it! :)

  3. Okay I have totally been living under a rock! I didn't know this series was even coming about! Ahh. Yes love to hate him so far. I've still got Bold Tricks to read. Eek!

    1. This series was a pleasant surprise. More Javier? YES, PLEASE! :) Though, the other books will be about other characters. Good luck with Bold Tricks. Personally, I didn't like how the characters were portrayed in that one, especially Javier. This book made up for that. :)

  4. You are not the first review that I've read that has peaked my interest in this book. I think I'm going to have to pick it up for my upcoming vacation. Great review.

    1. Thank you. :)
      I'm not surprised -- I'm sure there were a lot of people looking forward to Javier's comeback. Hope you like it, too. :)

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