Dirty Angels by Karina Halle
My rating: 4 of 5 teacups
I’d never been the type of girl to fear the dark – when I was young, I loved for my father to tell me scary and thrilling stories. But now they were no longer stories, they were real.
Warning: Listen to what the author says in the blurb. I read the words “dark” and “violence” and “crazy” but I didn’t absorb the full meaning of them until I was met with some of the vivid depictions of torture and rape in this book. I like the darkness in Halle’s stories but believe me when I say this is undoubtedly the darkest one yet with many possible triggers. You should note that before picking it up.
But I am so glad I did! I can’t contain my excitement anymore so I’m just going to say:
JAVIER IS BACKKKKK!!!!
And badder than ever, I might add. This is definitely what I’ve been missing. I was a little disappointed by the ending of the Sins & Needles trilogy because of the way I thought Javier’s complex character was… dismantled, it seemed, to spin the plot in a certain direction. But let’s not worry, because all that is behind us – new and exciting things are happening now!
I honestly find Javier Bernal to be one of the most interesting characters ever to grace the pages of a romance novel. He is technically a villain, but a complex, well-developed one that has so many layers of humanity lurking beneath the surface that it’s hard not to be fascinated by him (whilst hating him a little bit too). He has such a powerful connection with the reader… we feel intense anger towards him when he’s doing something evil, and intense pity for him when he gets hurt. I love the kind of character that can inspire such emotional turmoil.
And I honestly don’t know how Halle has made me so damn interested in the politics of drug cartels in Mexico. I don’t know if this in any way resembles the reality – probably doesn’t – but I was hanging on every word, totally addicted to this shady world of power struggles and backstabbing. This sounds melodramatic, I know, but there were a couple of moments in this novel when my jaw literally dropped. She makes it so compelling, weaving intricate character development into such a dark setting. Amazing.
Like I said, this has to be Halle’s darkest novel yet, which I personally didn’t mind but feel others should be aware of. The story is about a Mexican girl called Luisa who marries Salvador – a powerful drug lord – to help provide for her ailing parents. Salvador subjects her to cruel abuse and rapes her almost every day, some of these scenes are not skimmed over either and might cause distress to certain readers. Similarly, there is a graphic description of torture that was incredibly unsettling. Despite my high rating, please don’t read if you feel you’ll be upset by this.
Anyway, Luisa is kidnapped and held ransom by Javier Bernal and his men in order to get Salvador to comply with their demands. While she is Javier’s prisoner, something neither Luisa or Javier expected begins to develop between the two of them. Javier was ripped apart inside when Ellie broke his heart at the end of Bold Tricks and he now wants to punish all women for the hurt inside him (being in his mind is not exactly a pleasant place to be). Luisa has only ever known how to be the victim of powerful men who wish to use her for their own benefit… and she’s sick of it. When this strange pair come together, however, it seems like they might have found exactly what they needed in the most unlikely of places.
Dark and disturbing as it was, I enjoyed this book a lot. I’m now even more excited for the companion novel (which is not about this pair, but about Javier’s sister). I can’t wait!