Release Day Review: Dirty Souls by Karina Halle

Dirty Souls by Karina Halle
Series: Sins Duet #2 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: March 20th 2017
Links: EbookGoodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review

From New York Times bestselling author Karina Halle comes DIRTY SOULS the much-anticipated, nail-biting CONCLUSION to the sexy and thrilling Black Hearts…”

Violet McQueen has always been a sensitive soul. Troubled and misunderstood, she never realized her place in the world, nor her true potential…until she met Vicente Bernal.

From birth, Vicente Bernal has always known his place in the world – he’s been groomed to be a ruthless king. Yet for a man whose soul has become morally bankrupt, it’s only through Violet he’s realizing the worth of someone’s heart.

But at what cost?

With a deadly game set in motion taking them from the stark deserts of California to the steamy jungles of Mexico, Violet and Vicente’s forbidden relationship will be put to the test. Boundaries will be pushed, lines will be crossed and souls will get very, very dirty.

Because how do you choose between blood and love when both might get you killed?

After the slightly disappointing first book in the Sins Duet, I was hoping that Dirty Souls would make up for what I didn’t feel in Black Hearts by actually making me grow invested in Vicente and Violet’s star-crossed romance. It didn’t, BUT I will say it was a hell of a conclusion to the McQueens’ and Bernals’ story. It’s nonstop action and insanely hot, filthy sex. It’s a no-holds-barred kind of read, which I admired. If you loved Black Hearts, you will most likely love Dirty Souls just as much!

I need to figure out how to keep this forever. Her, me, the open desert. I don’t fucking need anything else. I may be young but I know enough that sometimes you don’t need the world. You just need that one person to rule the world with.

Violet and Vicente are on the run from their parents. Violet has found out that her whole life and family has been a lie, and Vicente is trying to protect her from the people who want to harm her – his father and his men. But try as they might to make their world just the two of them, reality comes crashing down and both are taken by Javier to Mexico. Can Vicente and Violet’s love withstand the test of time, or will Javier succeed in breaking the both of them?

I love her with my dark and dangerous heart. I love her with my wicked and dirty soul.
I love her enough to raze the world around me to the very ground, just so we can be together.

I enjoyed Vicente and Violet’s characters more in this sequel, mainly because they didn’t feel as naive as they did in the first book. I loved the way they were around each other, but I have to admit I started skimming the sex scenes when I was deeper in the story because, even though they were hot, they started to feel like filler. Still, Karina Halle knows how to write erotic scenes filled with chemistry, but I just grew a little tired of them when there seemed to be too many scenes of them.

We get a lot more of Ellie and Javier’s POVs in this book. I liked the contrast between them and their children, the fact that their children are what they could have been if it weren’t for the lies. But then the book felt like it was focused too much on the parents’ past and story rather than Violet and Vicente’s, which was what I really wanted. That’s one of the main reasons I couldn’t love this series more, because I really wanted more of the main characters rather than their parents. But it was still nice to see beloved characters again, even if one of them (*cough* Javier) become a little unlikable.

The Sins Duet might not be a favorite of mine from Karina Halle, but it’s a dark, gritty read that had me on the edge of my seat. It was a crazy, intense ride, and while I didn’t love it, I’m still glad to have read it. If you love the author, you should definitely check this series out – especially if you love the Artists Trilogy or Dirty Angels series!


lacey

Quotes are taken from the arc and are subject to change in the final version.


Reading Order: Sins Duet series

 

#1 ~ Black Hearts: My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
#2 ~ Dirty Souls: EbookGoodreads

The Sins Duet is a standalone spinoff series of The Artists Trilogy and the Dirty Angels series. Here are the reading orders for both series (which you don’t need to read before starting Black Hearts).

Reading Order: The Artists Trilogy

   

#0.5 ~ On Every Street: EbookAudible • Goodreads
#1 ~ Sins & Needles: My Review • EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ Shooting Scars: My Review •  EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#3 ~ Bold Tricks: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads

Reading Order: Dirty Angels series

Dirty Angels by Karina Halle Dirty Deeds by Karina Halle Dirty Promises by Karina Halle

#1 ~ Dirty Angels: EbookPaperbackGoodreads
#2 ~ Dirty Deeds: EbookPaperbackGoodreads
#3 ~ Dirty Promises: EbookPaperback • Goodreads


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Review: Black Hearts by Karina Halle

Black Hearts by Karina Halle
Series: Sins Duet #1 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: February 19th 2017
Links: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review

I wasn’t supposed to know about her. I never should have found her. And I sure as hell shouldn’t have taken her…

From a New York Times bestselling author comes a BRAND NEW smoldering romantic suspense that will get your pulse racing, your thighs clenching and the pages turning.

For Vicente Bernal, truth is all he’s known. The son of an infamous drug lord, Vicente was born to help run the family business, which means he’s been raised on a throne of sordid pasts and dirty laundry, violence and pride. But when Vicente stumbles across someone he’s not supposed to know about – a woman from his father’s checkered past – he sets out to California to find her behind his father’s back.

What Vicente doesn’t expect to find in San Francisco is Violet McQueen, the woman’s twenty-year old daughter. Beautiful and edgy with a vulnerability he can’t resist, Violet tempts Vicente from afar and though he promised himself he’d stay away from her, curiosity and lust are powerful forces. Besides, Vicente has always gotten everything he wants – why shouldn’t he have Violet too?

Soon his wants turn into a sexual obsession, one that sweeps Violet into his games as they fall madly, deeply in love with each other, the type of first love that can drive a person mad.

In a world of hot sex, raw love and damaging lies, these forbidden and star-crossed lovers are going to have to fight tooth and nail for their happy ending.

Our families would die before they ever let us be together.

I was SO excited when I heard that Karina Halle would be writing this series. I was a huge fan of the Artists Trilogy when it first came out, and though I still haven’t read the Dirty Angels series, it’s been on my tbr because of none other than Javier! Now we finally get Ellie and Camden’s, and Javier and Luisa’s children’s story. This is a star-crossed lovers romance like no other. Violet McQueen’s mother and Vicente Bernal’s father were lovers turned enemies, and now their children get the chance at a love that could have been.

Vicente Bernal has known his drug lord father to be the ruthless, dangerous, insane, almost-cruel man he’s been all his life. But when he finds letters written by his father from a time when he was actually sane and possibly with a heart, he’s determined to find the woman who brought out the man Javier Bernal used to be – Ellie Watt, now Ellie McQueen. When he arrives in America with a fake identity, Vicente isn’t sure of the path that will get him to Ellie, but when her daughter, Violet, appears in front of him, it seems as if fate was deciding which path he should take.

“You’re everything I’ve ever needed,” he says through a lustful groan. He bites his lip, the corded muscles of his neck straining. “I was famished, starved, for you. For this.”

Violet McQueen doesn’t know why, but she’s always felt like her family was just a little bit… off. Her parents are hiding something, and when she finds out about a grandfather who was supposed to be dead her whole life had died only recently, she sets out to uncover the lies told by her parents. Along the way she meets the gorgeous, mysterious Vicente – the passion and lust between them is fierce, and it isn’t long before she finds herself falling and trusting him. But what will happen when she finds out that another person she loves has been lying to her?

“You’re mine, Violet,” I murmur roughly against her mouth, my fingers pressing into her cheekbones. “I don’t care how that sounds, but it’s all truth. You belong to me.”

I had high expectations for Black Hearts, but it fell a little flatter than I expected. I never connected with either of the main characters – Violet was too naive and trusting and Vicente felt wishy washy and immature. I never really BELIEVED in the love that grew between them. It seemed like one minute they were in lust and the next minute they were in love. I get that they were in moments of action so it would be hard for them to have any down time, but I would’ve liked to see the romance bloom more genuinely. I actually started disliking the parents too, which was a disappointment because I loved them in their own books. Much of the book was just a little too boring and aggravating, and I just couldn’t find it in myself to care that much about all the problems going on in the book. However, these feelings could entirely be just me, so if you were a fan of either of the original series, please don’t let this review stop you from giving Black hearts and the Sins Duet a try! Hopefully you’ll enjoy it more than I did!


lacey

Quotes are taken from the arc and are subject to change in the final version.


Reading Order: Sins Duet series

 

#1 ~ Black Hearts: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
#2 ~ Dirty Souls: My Review • EbookGoodreads

The Sins Duet is a standalone spinoff series of The Artists Trilogy and the Dirty Angels series. Here are the reading orders for both series (which you don’t need to read before starting Black Hearts).

Reading Order: The Artists Trilogy

   

#0.5 ~ On Every Street: EbookAudible • Goodreads
#1 ~ Sins & Needles: My Review • EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ Shooting Scars: My Review •  EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#3 ~ Bold Tricks: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads

Reading Order: Dirty Angels series

Dirty Angels by Karina Halle Dirty Deeds by Karina Halle Dirty Promises by Karina Halle

#1 ~ Dirty Angels: EbookPaperbackGoodreads
#2 ~ Dirty Deeds: EbookPaperbackGoodreads
#3 ~ Dirty Promises: EbookPaperback • Goodreads


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Release Day Review: Riot by Tillie Cole

Riot by Tillie Cole
Series: Scarred Souls #4 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: March 7th 2017
Links: Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

BRUTAL. INTENSE. PASSIONATE. THE WORLD OF THE SCARRED SOULS.

They call me 901. I am a monster, a killer, a champion. In the blood pit I am a god. I have no name, no family, and no identity. When master says fight, I fight…until I am the only one left standing. I have one goal, to fight so well that I am freed. I don’t need friends, I don’t need women. They are weaknesses. I am strong.

Until I see her. She is gorgeous and kind and off-limits to me. She was stolen as a child to be the worst type of slave and now master wants her. What he wants, he gets. With a smile, she melts my brutal heart. I have never wanted anything more.

I need to make a choice. Freedom or Love. I cannot choose wrong.

I hadn’t read a good dark romance in a while, so I was in the perfect mood for it when I started Riot! Tillie Cole writes some great dark romances, with intense alphas and obsessive love, which is what I was expecting to get in this final Scarred Souls novel, and I wasn’t disappointed. This finale is a heart-pounding, dramatic ending to this dark, gritty series that I highly enjoy. Every moment in the series has been leading up to this book. If you’re a fan of Scarred Souls, you’ll definitely want to get your hands on Riot!

“You are the Arziani Pit Bull. You are feared. But to me, you are safety.”

901 is the most powerful fighter, the Master’s champion, of the blood pit. He was taken as an orphan and groomed to be the violent, killing machine that he is now. He is undefeatable and unfallable… until he sees 152, the High Mona who the Master uses for his sick pleasure. 901 has always known that to accept a woman into his heart would mean weakness, but there’s nothing that can stop him from falling for 152 as they embrace each other in this dark, hopeless world.

901 and 152’s story broke my heart. The way they were forced into this life and broken down… it’s awful. But despite it all, they both manage to find light in each other. Their romance grew slowly and beautifully (if a bit cheesy at times), and it was the light that balanced out the darkness of this blood pit underworld. But is there a way for these two to escape this broken world? Or will they forever be owned by the Master?

“Inessa and Ilya. Ilya and Inessa . . . more than just our numbers.”

Riot might not be my favorite of the Scarred Souls series (that belongs to Raze), but it’s definitely a fantastic conclusion that fans of the series shouldn’t miss. The build-up to the climax of the story was so well done – I loved it! All of the Scarred Souls characters have been through hell and back, and I’m so happy with the ending that they all get in this novel. The whole story is action-packed, suspenseful, and crazy intense – basically everything you expect in a Tillie Cole dark romance. The heroes are over-the-top alphas, the heroines are the perfect balance to them, the world is unabashedly violent and intense. If you haven’t read one of her dark romances yet, you haven’t experienced the genre!

“Inessa,” he said in a husky voice, “without you here with me, I’d rather be dead. With you in my heart, and me in yours, I am alive.”


lacey

Quotes are taken from the arc and are subject to change in the final version.


Reading Order: Scarred Souls series

Raze by Tillie Cole Reap by Tillie Cole
  

#1 ~ Raze: My Review • Ebook • Audible • Goodreads
#2 ~ Reap: My Review • Ebook • Audible • Goodreads
#3 ~ Ravage: My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads
#4 ~ Riot: Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads
#1-2 ~ Scarred Souls: EbookPaperback • Goodreads


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Release Day Review: Menace by J.M. Darhower

Menace by J.M. Darhower
Series: Scarlet Scars #1 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: January 16th 2017
Links: Ebook • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Once upon a time, there was a guy who got so fed up with life that he resorted to murder and mayhem just to feel alive.

Lorenzo Gambini is bored. So f*cking bored. Most people either annoy him or avoid him, afraid to face him. Figuratively. Literally. With his face partially disfigured, scarred, he looks every bit the monster the stories make him out to be: the notorious menace they call Scar. They say he’s a sociopath. Maybe he’s a psychopath. Whatever path he’s on, people tend to stay far away from it.

Until one day, a young woman bumps right into him–a woman just as fed up with life, but for much different reasons. With a Scarlet Letter inked on her wrist and secrets buried deep in her soul, Morgan Myers is running from something… or maybe somebody. Lorenzo isn’t quite sure.

You can bet your ass he’s going to figure it out, though.

J.M. Darhower is one of my top favorite mafia romance authors, and every time she has a new release (which recently usually comes as a surprise), I get SO excited and ready for it. Menace is the first in the Scarlet Scars duet, which is a spinoff of the Monster in His Eyes series. Admittedly, I’d completely forgotten who Lorenzo was so I had to do a little reread of the Monster in His Eyes series, which I couldn’t complain about – it’s only my favorite mafia romance series ever. But thankfully the reread got me prepared for Lorenzo’s story, which was an absolute fantastic experience to read. I loved it so much, even though it’s not a typical love story. You just need to read it to experience it!

Lorenzo Gambini is anti-hero personified. He’s not a good man – in fact, many are terrified of him and you could say that he’s a sociopath. He’s got issues from his past and a scar on his face, but that doesn’t stop him from being top dog in his underworld. Nobody crosses him without getting punished, so it’s a surprise to him when he bumps into a gorgeous woman… who ends up robbing him of his wallet. Rather than exacting his revenge though, Lorenzo ends up intrigued and captivated by this woman, who’s internal scars match the ones he holds inside him.

“I’d wreck you for any man that came along after me, put them all to shame, because I’d give you exactly what you wanted.”
“How could you possibly know what I want?”
“Because,” he says, grabbing a fistful of my hair and twisting my head, forcing me to turn away from him. “Looking at you is like looking in a mirror, Scarlet.”

Morgan Myers, aka Scarlet, is mystery personified. Who is she running from? How is she involved with the Russian mafia? What is she looking for? Morgan is very different from heroines that I’m used to, and her tenacity and frankness felt like a breath of fresh air to read about. She knows what it’s like to struggle, but she keeps getting up every time she’s pushed down, and I loved her for it. I especially enjoyed the way she never backed down from Lorenzo. They were the perfect match for each other. I do want to warn you, though, the romance between them is very slow to develop. I liked the pace that it went at, but I will say that I’m excited for it to move more forward in the next book.

I know he’s just a man. A man with flaws. A man with his own problems. And I know he can’t solve my problem. Not really. He can’t fix what’s wrong with me. Nobody can. They can’t even understand. But being around him, it makes me feel things, things I’ve missed just as much as the music and the laughter, things that make me feel alive again.
He’s excitement. He’s adrenaline.
He makes my heart do stupid shit.

Everything about this book, from the characters to the story, took me by surprise in the best way. To say it was unpredictable would be an understatement. I was so impressed with the way I never really saw things coming. And the twist at the end was KILLER!! The ending isn’t too bad, but you’ll definitely want to get the next book asap. Sadly it won’t be here until next month, but I’m waiting with baited breath! J.M. Darhower honestly never disappoints, so if you love her books, you’ll probably love this new series. It’s a little funnier than her other books too – Lorenzo’s POV is hilarious. It’s crude and blunt, sarcastic and a little sassy. Not what I was expecting from this crazy man, but I loved it anyway!

4.5 hearts
lacey

Quotes are taken from the arc and are subject to change in the final version.


Reading Order: Scarlet Scars series

#1 ~ Menace: Ebook • Goodreads
#2 ~ Grievous: Goodreads (out Feb. 2017)

The Scarlet Scars series is a spinoff of the Monster in His Eyes series, though you don’t have to read the previous series to understand the new one.

Reading Order: Monster in His Eyes series

Monster in His Eyes by J.M. Darhower Torture to Her Soul by J.M. Darhower Target on Our Backs by J.M. Darhower

#1 ~ Monster in His Eyes: My ReviewEbook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads
#2 ~ Torture to Her Soul: My Review • Ebook • PaperbackGoodreads
#3 ~ Target on Our Backs: My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads


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ARC Review: Ravage by Tillie Cole

Ravage by Tillie Cole
Series: Scarred Souls #3 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: August 16th 2016
Links: Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Is finding one’s true love worth committing the greatest sacrifice of all?

Taken as a teen, prisoner 194 was stripped of his name and freewill, meticulously honed to be a ruthless machine. Even as he tries to fight his captors hold on him he knows that obedience is the only way to save his sister, who is the one person that keeps him from turning into a monster.

As a young girl Zoya Kostava barely escaped the brutal attack that killed her entire family. Now twenty five she lives in secrecy. That is until she hears her brother also survived and is living with their greatest enemy.

Zoya risks her safety and anonymity to find the brother she thought dead and is captured by a beautiful, brutal man. A man who both captivates and scares her, in him she sees a soul as lost as her own.

They both have so much to lose will they be able to save each other…and survive.

I LOVED the first two books in the Scarred Souls series, so I’m a bit bummed out that I didn’t quite love this third book as much. I enjoyed some parts, but as a whole it just didn’t live up to the previous books – I never really connected with the characters or romance, which was a shame because I was so excited about the main characters. Still, if you’ve been a fan of Tillie Cole’s dark romances like I have, Ravage is just as gritty, intense, and thrilling as you’d expect. The romance just wasn’t believable enough for me to truly love this book like I’d hoped to.

I was insanely excited when I heard Ravage would be about Zoya Kostava. Tillie Cole knows how to entice her readers, because that snippet at the end of book two had me salivating for more. Zoya’s family was murdered when she was a young girl, and she was assumed to be the only survivor until she finds out that one of her brothers is alive. But on her quest to reunite with Zaal, she becomes a pawn to a game bigger than she realizes, one with a target right on her brother. She is kidnapped by a ruthless killer… who turns out to be so much more than he seems.

“We are different. Me weak and you strong. Me a Georgian and you Russian, but our broken hearts are tired and old. Our spirits are low, though not broken. But our souls, though thoroughly tested and hardened through pain, are resilient.” Her lips twitched, and she added, “They are the same.”

Abducted and sold into underground slavery, Valentin and his younger sister were forced into horrifying conditions no child or person should ever go through. Valentin was pumped with drugs to become a mindless killer while his sister was forced into sexual slavery. But as mindless as Valentin became, he never forgot about his sister and only allowed the things to be done to him in order to keep her alive. His latest task given by his “Mistress” is to kill a man named Zaal, and his way in is through Zoya. But even as his captive and being psychologically tortured day after day, Zoya never gives up information on her brother, and her resilience astounds Valentin.

I had survived the massacre that took my family, but lying here, I realized that the years spent away in hiding I was simply existing.
And it took a monster to revive my heart. It took a killer to touch my soul.

I loved Ravage… up until the romance started to kick in. The main reason I wasn’t into the romance was because of how unbelievable it was. I never understood how or why Zoya and Valentin started to fall for each other. Their feelings developed too much too fast, especially after what Valentin makes Zoya go through. I started liking the romance better once Valentin became fully invest in Zoya, but I still couldn’t fully connect.

If you love the Scarred Souls series, chances are you’ll probably enjoy Ravage too. It’s another fast-paced, crazy intense, action-packed installment, just a little weak on the romance side. I’m still incredibly excited for more of the series – Valentin’s sister is the heroine of the next book, and I seriously can’t wait to read it!

3 hearts
lacey

Quotes are taken from the arc and are subject to change in the final version.


Reading Order: Scarred Souls series

Raze by Tillie Cole Reap by Tillie Cole
  

#1 ~ Raze: My Review • Ebook • Audible • Goodreads
#2 ~ Reap: My Review • Ebook • Audible • Goodreads
#3 ~ Ravage: Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads
#4 ~ Riot: My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads
#1-2 ~ Scarred Souls: EbookPaperback • Goodreads


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