Book Review ( Before & After ): Dirty Angels ( #1 ) – Karina Halle

synopsis single

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?)

 

Copied from the `Dirty Angels`( Dirty Angels #1) book description on Goodreads

 


 

before and after

 

It´s been close to 5 years when I first laid my hands on this gem. Back in 2014 I was all hot and bothered to read this promising and much talked about dark romance.

Word had it ( back then ) that `Dirty Angels`was the latest shocker. Dirty, filthy, brutal and just one of those reads where you get riled up, all while falling helplessly in love with the romantic clusterfuck. dirty angels

Love / hate. Despise / adore. Exciting / shocking. `Dirty Angels` was that all that and so much more.

I´ve always been a sucker for gritty romances. The more triggers dark romances had the more intrigued I was. Did I get my money´s worth? Did my fellow book bloggers promise too much when they said this book should be approached with caution? Yes. YES. Y. E. S!

32 year old me loved this read. I remember the overnighter I pulled because I couldn´t put the book down. I remember suffering a week long book hangover after I finished the book. I remember calling my husband at work, telling him I needed to find more books like `Dirty Angels`.

I even found my 2014 review on my old blog! You´re welcome.

 

review old
Please excuse the review. It´s old and orange. Don´t know what was wrong with me back then. 

 

See? Literally the slow motion train wreck you couldn´t pull your eyes away from.

Back in 2014 I gave `Dirty Angels`( Dirty Angels #1 ) by author Karina Halle 5 out of 5 stars champagne glasses.

 

5 years later…. 

 

37 year old me decided it was time to do some `Dirty Angel`rereading. It´s been a while and I wanted to know if I still felt the same.

In a way- I do. My general feelings for the story haven´t changed. I still believe the story is just as great as it was back in 2014. For me, this book is a timeless dark romance because it still tugs at all the “right” emotional strings. Even 5 years later I still feel very strong for the characters and what they´ve been put through.

 

Do I think this book is worth the warning label? The answer to that is complicated.

2014 was the year for dark romances. Authors were testing new waters and began publishing the “mind fuck” stories. Didn´t bother me one bit. But in 2014 there weren´t many offended readers. The triggered groups were smaller. Also, in 2014 reviews looked a little different. You either enjoyed the brutal romance or you didn´t. You either accepted the warning and felt warned or you didn´t.

These days, a book can´t have enough warning labels because there are far too many reviewers who are easily offended by the slightest event.

 

I can say, without a shred of doubt, that `Dirty Angels` by Karina Halle is still a fucking awesome twisted dark romance. One readers should treat as a work of fiction.

 


Would I recommend this read? 32 year old me would have. 37 year old me still would. I still think it would be wise to trust the warning label, though. Not everyone treats certain topics as casually as I do.

Would I reread this book? Already have.


 

The Cover – 3 Stars:     I can´t remember what I thought of the cover back in the day but now… I don´t really think it´s mind blowing. Fitting for the story, sure.

The Story – 5 Stars:     This is what I enjoy. This is how I expect my dark romances to be like. Shocking, graphic and full of “Oh hell no!”

The Characters – 5 Stars:   Nothing has changed. Javier is still a bastard I appreciate and Luisa is, by far, one of the strongest characters ever created. Bad ass all the way!

My emotional state after finishing this read- 2014: Impressed. 2019: Entertained.

 

5 stars

 


 

`Dirty Angels`can be purchased on  Amazon.com

dirty angels

 

Before & After Book Review: The Dark Duet, #1, #2, #3 – C.J. Roberts

This is a Before & After review post where I share the thoughts I had in the past and have in the present regarding certain books.

 

`Captured In The Dark` (book #1), `Seduced In The Dark` (book #2), and the ever surprising `Epilogue: The Dark Duet (#3)… All written by the extraordinary CJ Roberts.

 

 

I think it would also be wise, especially in the sensible and fragile time we live in, to give you all a fair warning about these books. The Dark Duet is not for the faint of heart ( and that´s coming from someone who can stomach EVERYTHING with ease and is never offended or triggered ). You´re welcome to continue reading this review to find out why.

 


 

before and after


synopsis book 1

Captive In The Dark ( Dark Duet #1 )

captive

Caleb is a man with a singular interest in revenge. Kidnapped as a young boy and sold into slavery by a power-hungry mobster, he has thought of nothing but vengeance. For twelve years he has immersed himself in the world of pleasure slaves searching for the one man he holds ultimately responsible. Finally, the architect of his suffering has emerged with a new identity, but not a new nature. If Caleb is to get close enough to strike, he must become the very thing he abhors and kidnap a beautiful girl to train her to be all that he once was.

Eighteen-year-old Olivia Ruiz has just woken up in a strange place. Blindfolded and bound, there is only a calm male voice to welcome her. His name is Caleb, though he demands to be called Master. Olivia is young, beautiful, naïve and willful to a fault. She has a dark sensuality that cannot be hidden or denied, though she tries to accomplish both. Although she is frightened by the strong, sadistic, and arrogant man who holds her prisoner, what keeps Olivia awake in the dark is her unwelcome attraction to him.

 


My Thoughts 2

29 year old me was so confused after reading `Captive In The Dark` ( book #1 ) by CJ Roberts. For the first time in ages I was stunned speechless because I´ve never read such a complex story before.

I remember feeling confused for loving this story because there was nothing to love. The male lead is a sadistic asshole. The young female protagonist is a fighter and survivor. Both struggle with the need to make it through another day of pleasure and pain, of defeat and survival. It´s a game of breaking wills and revealing truths and… I was on such a reading high from all the shocking moments.

A young girl gets kidnapped and is whisked away by a guy who´s involved in the human trafficking business.  From then on it´s his mission to train the young girl to become a sex slave.

This isn´t one of those tacky Oh – spank – me reads. Not a Let´s – play – on – the – weekends story, either. `Captive In The Dark` is a well crafted romance that´s clearly been given many days / weeks / months of good thought before a word made contact with paper. There´s a good reason for the warning labels that state that there´s disturbing situations, dubious consent, graphic violence and strong language… This book is truly painful. Mentally and physically for the Heroine and just mentally painful for a reader.

Olivia´s ( Heroine ) thoughts were realistic. Even spot on for a young lady her age. The fear she felt, the humiliation and degradation… It was understandable until she began to fall for her captor. That was the part where my confusion popped up.

So, a Stockholm Syndrome romance. Gottcha. But then again.. this book wasn´t that at all. It was more warped. Like a walk on a blurred line between sanity and insanity. And it was perfect in a weird way.

That was how I thought 7 years ago.

Has my opinion changed since then? Now that a few years have passed, am I still in love and in shock?

Yes and no. I´m not in shock anymore but I´m still in love. `Captive In The Dark` might be one twisted piece of written art but I love it. It´s deep. It´s emotional. It´s horrible and glorious. It´s intense and captivating. It´s one of those reads where you have to take a break for a much needed deep breath, followed by a visit to the liquor cabinet because there´s no way to survive this story without something strong.

The Cover – 3 stars ( Not my cup of tea )

The Story – 5 stars ( Raw, sexually charged, satisfying in a horrific way. It´s a kinky battle of wills and a proper mind fuck)

7 years haven´t changed a thing. I loved this book back then and I still love it.

5 stars



 

synopsis book 2

Seduced In The Dark ( Dark Duet #2 )

secuded

The exciting, titillating, and action-filled conclusion to Captive in the Dark.

What is the price of redemption?

Rescued from sexual slavery by a mysterious Pakistani officer, Caleb carries the weight of a debt that must be paid in blood.

The road has been long and fraught with uncertainty, but for Caleb and Livvie, it’s all coming to an end.

Can he surrender the woman he loves for the sake of vengeance? 

Or will he make the ultimate sacrifice?

Quote: 
It seemed to Caleb, the nature of human beings revolved around one empirical truth: we want what we cannot have. For Eve, it was the fruit of the forbidden tree. For Caleb, it was Livvie


 

My Thoughts 2 And the story continues…. WITH A TIME LAPS!! So, technically, the story continues, just not where it left off. 29 year old me was very annoyed about the constant back and forth between present and past. I remember not liking how more characters, in both time frames, were introduced.

We meet Olivia again, only this time in a hospital without Caleb. She´s safe. She´s protected. And what´s worse… she´s going through an emotionally painful interrogation.

Caleb, the one person who Olivia hated and loved, wasn´t with her and that brought her to the brink of insanity.

Despite everything she went through ( namely, more painful humiliation and abuse ) Olivia wasn´t capable of letting Caleb go.

While I hated the time lapse I was so enthralled by the story. The unhealthy obsession Olivia developed was truly remarkable and unsettling, even after the added cruelty she dealt with.

In the end, I was just as damaged as the Heroine. I was also on my way to move all the alcohol in my kitchen to the livingroom because I didn´t have the strength to move after reading such a genius mind screw of a story.  A Stockholm syndrome story gone to the next level and I loved it.

Those were my thoughts then. Do I still feel the same after 7 years?

 

Yes. I do. I have the exact same thoughts and feelings as I had back then. Still don´t like stories with a time lapse. I still love this twisted and cleverly written dark romance. When you read book #1 you think things can´t possibly get worse for the Heroine. You think you´ll get a sloppy and sappy happily ever after at some point and all will live on cloud nr.9  for the rest of their undying days. Fortunately, that doesn´t happen. At least not in the sense a reader would think. There´s a satisfying twist to the story.  There´s no pink hearts and fluff. There´s a nice touch of reality that´ll still leave a smile on a reader´s face.

After all these years… The Dark Duet is still a sexy, thrilling and darker than dark read.

4 stars

The Cover – 3 stars : Still not my cup of tea. But I guess it works for the story.

The Story – 4 stars: Brilliant and clever. Sexy and such a mind fuck. But those damn leaps from present to past, though…..
A total must have for dark romance lovers. I´m so glad I have these books.

 



 

synopsis book 3

Epilogue ( The Dark Duet #3 )

Epilogue

I’m writing this because you begged. You know how I love the begging. In fact, you probably know too many things and know them far too well. Who am I? Well, that’s what I’m trying to figure out. I was a whore in my youth, a killer since my adolescence, and a monster as a man. I am the man who kidnapped Livvie. I am the man who held her in a dark room for weeks. But, most importantly, I am the man she loves. She loves me. It’s quite sick, isn’t it? Of course, there’s more to our story than can be surmised in a few short sentences, but I’m at a loss for justifying my behavior back then. I assume if you’re reading this, I don’t need to make those justifications. You’ve already made your own. You’re reading this because you want to know about the rest of the story. You want to know what happened that warm summer night in September of 2010, the night I met Livvie at The Paseo. It was the night my life changed all over again. It didn’t happen exactly as Livvie said. She’s been very kind to me in the retelling of our story. The truth is far more…complicated.

 

My Thoughts 2 And just when I thought the story was over / done / finito.. the author presents us with more Caleb and Olivia.

29 year old me did a rain dance around the livingroom table when I found out the author had planned on releasing a third book.

And when word spread on book #3 being a Caleb POV… DEAR LAWD! The hyperventilation games were on. I was excited beyond words. Caleb. The bastard. The cruel and abusive POS who trained young women to become sex slaves and sold them to rich fuckers across the globe…. That fictional character was getting a chance to speak up.

To make a long story short: The book arrived. The book was read in one sitting. My feelings after I finished `Epilogue´? Indifferent, but in a positive way. I wasn´t necessarily blown out of my knickers but I wasn´t disappointed, either.

We get a reunite in `Epilogue`. Caleb and Olivia meet again but this time, they´re different. Everything is different. And both have difficulties living their new lives.

So, basically… this is a What – Happened – After – Everything – Happened  type of read. 

7 years ago, I didn´t mind buying this book. Now….

7 years later….

I don´t think this book is necessary. Yes, it was lovely to get inside Caleb´s head and see things from his POV. But I think his character lost a bit of that wow factor because a lot was revealed. When you take away the mysterious parts of a character then he / she isn´t mysterious anymore.

Also, the details of how they barely managed their normal lives didn´t exactly contribute to the story. But I guess that can be expected with an epilogue.

Personally, I believe this is a nice addition to the actual story but not a mandatory read. I´m not even sure I´d read it now anymore because I dislike POV switches. They do nothing for me.

Right now, I´d give `Epilogue` book #3 in the Dark Duet series 3 out of 5 stars.

3 stars

 

The Cover – 3 stars: Still not my type of book cover. But it definitely works for the story.

The Story – 3 stars: Nice but not really worth it as book #2 has an ending that works beautifully for the story.


 

Final Thoughts

My love for the series hasn´t changed much. I still find book #1 & #2 out of this world horrific and special but book #3 isn´t what I remembered it to be. Maybe I was blinded by the hype over this story. Pumped up with excitement and just wanting MORE.

I would still, even after 7 years, recommend this dark romance. I would still urge lovers of the genre to read this book as I believe it´s a story that can´t be missed out on. It´s deep. It´s clever. It´s everything shocking and fulfilling. A brutally painful romance that still affects me.


 

Get your copies of the Dark Duet books #1, #2 and #3 on Amazon or a bookstore near you!


 

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