Saturday, January 28, 2017

Cartel by Lili St. Germain

Cartel by Lili St. Germain

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

*Review Edit*

I originally read this in August of 2015, and rated it only 3 stars and no review. Not sure why. I just did this as a "re-read" for a group challenge, and I *LOVED* it!

Writing: ★★★★★
Story: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★★

Overall rating: 5.0

Cartel is the first book in the Cartel Trilogy, and it starts off the series with a bang! It's dark and gritty and Lili does the one thing I love the most with her books. She builds the sex scenes, (which, by the way are HOT!), *into* the story and not the other way around. The sex is well timed, and doesn't overwhelm the story.

There are several characters in this story some I liked some I hated and wanted to grab them from my Kindle and throat punch them. Everyone is twisted and crazy!

Mariana Rodriguez
"Of all the things in life, love is the most confusing. The most all-consuming. The reason we breathe, the light in our darkness." --Mariana
Mariana has been "cooking the books" for her father, Marco, for most of her life, moving money around to pay his debts. But when Marco drives a truck full of cocaine right into the waiting arms of the American DEA, there is no amount of "book cookin'" that can save him from the wrath of Emilio Ross. Emilio and his thugs show up at Mariana's home in Columbia with the intent to kill the entire family, but Mariana is taken to pay the debt instead. 

Emilio Ross
You know what they say about extraordinary times? They call for extraordinary measures." --Emilio
Emilio is the leader of the El Sangue Cartel, and he doesn't take losing a large shipment of cocaine very well. But taking Mariana will ease the pain of it... he can sell her into sexual slavery and recoup some of his loss. Emilio deals in drugs, guns, and human trafficking, and Mariana is his new target.

Dornan Ross
It was a dangerous proposition, to be falling in love with a woman who is owned by the cartel. --Dornan
Dornan is Emilio's son and the VP of the Gypsy Brothers Motorcycle Club, and his reputation precedes him as a man even more lethal than Emilio, if that's even possible.

Dornan sees Mariana and he immediately wants to help her. He is *compelled* to help her. But he can't let his father see that weakness in him. He *does* help Mariana, he saves her from being sold by telling his father about her ability to cook the books, hence turning Mariana into "The Accountant" for the El Sangue Cartel and the Gypsy Brothers. .
"Dornan respected his father, but if the right person came along and wanted to take Emilio out, Dornan would probably load the bullets into the gun and hand it to them himself."
Unfortunately, at this point, he doesn't see that any such person has come along. And Dornan, in order to keep Mariana safe, has to endure under the thumb of his suffocating father.

But unexpectedly, Dornan finds himself falling in love with Mariana and it makes keeping her safe hard. Dornan has an apartment in Santa Monica that he won in a poker game a few years ago, that he's managed to keep secret from almost everyone, it turns out to be the perfect place to keep Mariana... a place where they can spend some sexy time together. And the times do get sexy in that apartment!

John Portland
"Dornan often had to remind him that his role as president was largely symbolic; he was not the one in charge."
John is the character i fell in love with from the beginning, he's Dornan's best friend and President of the Gypsy Brothers. It's in title only (for both of them) since they flipped a coin to see who would be President and VP. They wanted the Gypsy Brothers to be a club that traveled the roads, and had each other's backs, not a gang. But when Dornan's girlfriend got pregnant and John's younger sister needed cancer treatments that were beyond his read financially, and Emilio caught up to them... the "club" officially became a "gang".

The darkness of these characters, even John, kept me turning the pages, walking through the house with my Kindle and anxious to see what was going to happen next.

I'm looking forward the the rest of this series, to see who does what to whom. This series is somewhat of a prequel to the Gypsy Brothers series showing us what shapes the characters to become who they are.

While Dornan isn't a warm and fuzzy character by any means, I hear he is much worse in the other series. So for me, it's interesting to read this series first before reading the other, even though I don't think that's how it was intended.

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