Reviewed by Sheena
*Takes shot* Pardon me, I usually do not Drink-and-Review but trust me after reading Karina Halle’s Dirty Angels I definitely need it! Wheeeeerre do I begin with this book. Right off the bat I was intrigued. The blurb was interesting enough but what really snagged me was the prologue. The author managed to engage me, then frighten me, repel me and then intrigue me all over again before the first chapter.
Luisa is a heroine that I actually really liked and respected. She was virtuous and loved her parents and lived her life for them and their honor.
She is a beautiful young woman trapped in a world where being young and beautiful can get you everything you could dream of or get you nowhere fast. Poor Luisa’s beauty and youth only profited her pain with a healthy dose of terror and agony. Not at all the charmed life that a former beauty queen would lead.
Luisa enters into a marriage of convenience with cartel boss Salvator Reyes. As his proposal is laced with inherent threat, Luisa could do little more than accept. He was a MONSTER. I had real trouble getting through his scenes with Luisa and the demonic way he treated his new bride. The warning the author presents to readers, that Dirty Angels is most certainly not for the faint of heart should very well be heeded. There is insinuated rape, torture, violence galore and truly depraved characters that make this easily one of the grittiest books I’ve read in a long while.
In a stolen moment of desperation Luisa runs away from Salvator’s brutality and with her daring escape we meet Javier. He was another first for me. I did NOT like him, until his life was threatened, then my lungs collapsed and my heart leaped into my throat and I felt like I wanted nothing more in the next moment than for him to survive. Then I seriously had to take a break because I felt majorly fu*k!d up about my change of heart because he is a bad, bad man who hurt Luisa in his own way as well.
I actually spent the first half of the book being rather cross at the author for presenting me with a heroine who absolutely just embodied the friggin word heroine- but gave me a hero who I did not like at all (until I realized I did!!???!!).
There were things that I knew when I read this book, and then there are things that I learned as I became engrossed in the story. I knew Javier and Luisa would have a HEA. I knew Javier was the cartel boss who had his own haunting shadows that made him into the man he was. I knew that I had a big problem with Luisa’s abuse and I knew I would be writing a rant review. Then I learned a few things. I learned that Javier while bad down to the marrow in his bones was no monster. He was a crime boss and had committed all manners of torture and terror, but I learned that he had his own moral code going on and he burned for the love that was possible with Luisa. Most of all I learned that this was a cool ass book, because while I hated the things that went on, the imagery and plot quality was so damn good it was almost as if I were a silent, observing character in the story. I felt the desert winds and dust and hot and desperate and paranoid and all sorts of things. This is not a book you lounge around and read. I read this book on the freaking edge man…
“I’ll keep going until you are coming.”
“How will I know?”
“Well,” he said slowly…and I knew he was grinning.
“It will feel like this.”
His tongue started flickering my clit harder just as his finger began to thrust and curl inside of me, pressing against my wall repeatedly. The pressure in my core began to build rapidly…I felt like my whole body was on pause, that moment before falling when you’re in mid-air, when all time stands still, when breath and heartbeat and bloodflow all stops. It was the most exquisite torture. Then everything broke loose…my body became a wave of fire…”
*Ahem* Yes. That happened.
I liked that Javier and Luisa did not end up in bed right away. While sexy as hell, this was a real story with a real plot, not just a smattering of dialogue in between sex scenes. I also kept feeling like I should be rooting for Javier & Luisa as a couple…but I didn’t want to and I didn’t have the background knowledge that came with reading the preceding suggested books by Halle. It is very much a stand alone, but I can definitely say that I struggled some with feeling like I should want Javier redeemed and happy. I had such a problem with my conflicted feelings that I paused my reading and checked out some other reviews of Kristin Halle’s work and come to find out there is this whole #TeamJavier out there and they were chomping at the damn bit to see him have his story and HEA. Which actually made me ‘lol’ because for the life of me, I just wasn’t there yet. Ha!
This book had me majorly interested and pissed at my interest…especially when things got dirty and boy did they get nasty:
“I squeezed my eyes shut and braced myself…as I had done with Salvador or whatever man he’d made me have sex with, I removed a part of myself…
Javier could do his worst. I was ready for him. Ready to feel nothing. But the pain never came…
I heard a small moan escape from his lips and finally realized what he was doing. He was pleasuring himself.
He let out a deep groan that reverberated into my bones….Hot fluid spurted onto my back. He began to rub the sticky fluid into my back….”
No cartel king is complete without his band of merry men. The muscle closest to Javier included the likable brute Esteban Mendoza, psychopath Franco and scary professional torturer extraordinaire, The Doctor. Each man, might I add would sooner see Luisa bleeding, bound and headless- before they saw her Queen to Javier’s King.
I mentioned that they did not hop into bed right away but when they both finally gave into their off the charts chemistry , the passion was palatable:
“…before I could say anything, he reached between my legs with the blade and made a quick slash down the center of my shorts. The edge of the metal didn’t even come close to grazing my skin.
“I told you it was a hard-earned skill,” he said slyly, stabbing the letter opener into the desk so it was sticking straight up. My god, even during foreplay there had to be knives around.
He brought his cock into his hands, hard, long and judging by the look in Javier’s eyes, somewhat dangerous…
“I’m going to fuck you and fuck you hard. I’ll make sure you come, but I’ve been wanting to do this for a fucking long time and it’s going to be rough. Do you understand?”
Oh I understand Javier. Loud and clear. :-)
I think the best way to sum it up is that Javier was the devil she thought she recognized, who captured Luisa only to set her free. I’d recommend Dirty Angels to anyone who can stand the darkness of the tale. It stands alone, but I would advise reading Halle’s earlier work in the Sins and Needles trilogy featuring Javier if you really want to have the complete Javier experience.