Friday, January 30, 2015

Cartel by Lili St. Germain Blog Tour

How much is a life worth?

Mariana Rodriguez is the eldest daughter of a Colombian drug lord. Growing up in Villanueva, Colombia, she has never wanted for anything. Private schools, a lavish lifestyle, and the safety of the Cartel that her father works for.

At nineteen, she's got her entire life mapped out, and what a good life it's going to be: graduate from college, move to America, and finally be free from the stifling grip of the Cartel.

Only, her father messes up. A shipment of cocaine - a very large, very valuable shipment - is seized by the authorities whilst under his care and he becomes liable for the debt. Half a million dollars’ worth of cocaine.

Half a million dollars he does not have.

But he has a daughter, a very smart one, a daughter who would give up her very existence and offer herself as payment for her father's sins, to ensure her family survives.

But falling in love with the man who owned her wasn't part of the plan...

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Book 1
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His eyes lit up at that as his gaze travelled across my chest and wandered down to the most private of places. I was clothed and covered in the right places, but in front of him, I felt completely naked. The feeling was unnerving and delicious all at once, which only confused me further.

So he’s sexy as hell. It doesn’t matter. He’s the enemy.

‘It doesn’t matter anyway,’ I added hastily. ‘I’ve got a nasty case of the clap. Better not rape me or your pico might fall off.’ I thrust my chin out as I used the Spanish term for ‘small dick’, smirking at the Gypsy Brother as his warm hands continued to roam every bit of bare flesh on my arms.

Dornan laughed at my admission, a throaty noise full of gravel and insolence that made me increasingly unsteady on my feet.

‘I’m not going to rape you,’ he replied, amusement dancing in his dark eyes. ‘And you don’t have the clap. So don’t use that one on me.’

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

I am going to preface this review with a statement, and try as I may, I’m trying to not have it affect my rating. I was drawn into the book quickly, yet I can’t help feeling bittersweet. To me, reading Cartel is like reading the last book in a long-standing series first (Gypsy Brothers), and then going back to read the prequel (Cartel). It doesn’t matter how well-written the story is, you already know the final outcome. With this series, the outcome is as final as it could possibly be, with no room for interpretation and absolutely nowhere to go.

So, with an open mind, I read Cartel, pretending I didn’t know the finite outcome, and tried to become emotionally invested without feeling heartbroken. I’d always wanted to know more about Marianna, and I’ve always been a HUGE Dornan fan. I basically pretended this was a new story, one I was eager to read.

How best to describe Cartel? Fast-paced. Thrilling. Violent. Dark. Raw. Ruthless. As frustrating as it is gripping. From the first page, I was sucked in and engrossed with this brutal book, even with the fact that I knew what was coming. I felt empowered reading Marianna, as she used strength and intelligence to endure, instead of lying down and acting pitiful. The heroine has a strong constitution, written in a way that shows a depth of emotion, making her lifelike to the readers. Loyal, she sacrificed herself even knowing what it meant, and I appreciated Marianna’s thoughts on her father as a result.

Even with the villains in this story, the reader can empathize, understand what makes them tick and why they react as they do, even when it’s with horrific consequences. Each ‘villainous’ character is written as a legacy, their actions evolve from their parents, and worsen over time as they pass these same traits onto their children, until it infects all those around them.

I will admit, I speed-read Cartel in one sitting, unable to put it down, so I’ve yet to fully digest it.

The only negatives I can state at this time- as I didn’t allow the book to marinate in my mind before writing this review –are the things that yanked me from the story as I read. Cartel needs a good polish with the editing. Not just with grammar and mistakes, but with colloquialisms and regional spellings. For me, the narration should reflect the narrator. When a character is from a specific area, their slang and the spelling of their words should reflect them. I expect the Columbians, the Italians, and the Americans to think and speak in their native tongue. I’m not suggesting foreign languages, just keep to the character’s roots.

Would I recommend Cartel? Absolutely, especially to those who love a well-written Mafia/MC series that is fast-paced, violent, and brutal. If you haven’t read the Gypsy Brothers yet, I suggest waiting and reading Cartel and its subsequent books first. I believe the feel of the series and the emotions it elicits would have been dramatically different if I’d read them in reverse. For me, even though I didn't know the minute details, it was like‘watching’ a painful rerun. 

Check out the Gypsy Brothers Series for more books including these character.

For reviews and more info, check out our stop on the One Love Blog Tour.

Lili writes dark romance, suspense and paranormal stories. Her serial novel, Seven Sons, was released in early 2014, with the following books in the series to be released in quick succession. Lili quit corporate life to focus on writing and so far is loving every minute of it. Her other loves in life include her gorgeous husband and beautiful daughter, good coffee, Tarantino movies and spending hours on Pinterest.

She loves to read almost as much as she loves to write.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Cartel (Cartel #1) by Lili St. Germain by the Wicked Reads blog to read and review for this tour.

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