From the USA Today Bestselling author of Love, in English and The Artists Trilogy, comes a dark romance about a good girl and a very, very bad man. It’s a deliciously twisted take on forbidden love, set among the drug cartels of hot, steamy Mexico and is not for the faint of heart. It contains explicit sex, violence, abuse, drug use, bad language and sexy Mexicans. You have been warned…
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.
Some men were born to create empires, some women were meant to be queen.
**Dirty Angels is the first standalone novel in the Dirty Angels Trilogy, in which all books feature or involve different characters. The character of Javier Bernal is from The Artists Trilogy, and while reading TAT is recommended if you want additional insight into this twisted character, it is not required.**
He shut the door behind him and cocked his head at me. Even in the low light I could feel his eyes, feel him studying me. “I heard you weren’t too interested in eating today. Este says you told him to go fuck himself. I wish I could have seen that.”
When I didn’t say anything, he took a step toward me and held out his hand. “Get up,” he said, waiting. His posture stiffened and his voice lowered. “I said get up. I don’t like to repeat myself.”
It was only then that I noticed he was holding something in his other hand. Two things, it looked like. A folded-up rope and a knife. I waited for the pang of fear to hit me. It was subtle and I didn’t let it show. I also didn’t obey him.
He quickly reached down and grabbed me by the arm, yanking me up to him until I was pressed against his chest, crushing the front of his suit jacket.
“You’re a light little thing, aren’t you?” he asked in a bemused voice, his breath smelling faintly of cinnamon and tobacco. “Delicate and easy to break.”
We’d see about that.
I acted instinctually. With my free hand I jabbed my palm into his nose. He yelped in surprise, maybe even in pain, and momentarily let go of me. That’s all I needed.
I pushed past him and went for the door. I put my hands on the knob and turned, pulling it toward me. There was a wonderful feeling of freedom for just that one moment where the door opened and the light from the hallway spilled in. The feeling of power that came from fighting back.
Nothing in my life had felt as good as my hand connecting with his face.
But the feeling was fleeting. All at once the door slammed shut and Javier was behind me, the rope going around my chest. He hauled me backward into him so that he was holding me tight from behind.
“Don’t you know it turns me on when you fight back?” he whispered in my ear, his voice ragged. “Though it turns me on when you don’t fight back, too. I guess you can’t win.” He sniffed. “I think you bloodied my nose.”
“Then I guess you’ll have to bloody my face,” I taunted him, my veins on fire with the strange adrenaline that was running through me.
He sucked in his breath. “No, my darling. I would never do that to your face. Just your back. I have a lot of respect for beautiful things, you know. They are usually the most dangerous.”
Oh, how I wished I could be dangerous to him, to anyone.
“You know, Luisa,” he said, holding me tighter now. I could feel his erection pressing into my ass. “We’re going to be doing this dance with each other until we give you back to your husband. You could make things easier on yourself. I don’t like to play rough with you.”
“No,” I said quietly. “You just want to cut me up.”
“I’m merely branding you,” he said. “Don’t make it sound so ugly.” He lifted his arm so that the knife was shining in front of my face. I could almost see my warped reflection staring back at me. “My penmanship with a knife is very delicate. A hard-earned skill. If your husband’s name was Javier, I think you would be quite pleased with the finished result.”
The man was completely crazy. He planned to carve his name in my back, as if he was doing me a favor.
“Come on,” he said, and quickly wrapped the rope around me so my arms were held tight to my sides. He made a few knots and then shuffled me over to the bed before he pushed me onto it, face down. I turned my head to breathe and he pressed down on the side of it, to keep me in place. “Now stay.”
He straddled me, legs on either side of my waist, and his hands stroked softly along the back of my neck until he grabbed my collar. “My shirt looks good on you,” he commented. “But it looks better off.” He reached underneath me, grabbing me by my collarbone, and ripped the shirt open before pushing it to the side and sliding most of it off until one shoulder was bare.
“He’s not going to want me when he sees what you’ve done,” I managed to say.
“He’s not going to see what I’ve done until I have what I want. What your marriage can and cannot handle is not my problem and none of my business.”
“I’m many things but disgusting isn’t one of them.”
“Well, there’s no argument there. Good or bad, there is great power in knowing who you are and owning it. So, tell me, my beauty queen … who are you?”
He leaned down so those blazing eyes of his were visible to mine.
“No one you will ever know,” I told him, relieved at how strong I sounded.
“We shall see about that.”
With her USA Today Bestselling The Artists Trilogy published by Grand Central Publishing, numerous foreign publication deals, and self-publishing success with her Experiment in Terror series, Vancouver-born Karina Halle is a true example of the term “Hybrid Author.” Though her books showcase her love of all things dark, sexy and edgy, she’s a closet romantic at heart and strives to give her characters a HEA…whenever possible.
Karina holds a screenwriting degree from Vancouver Film School and a Bachelor of Journalism from TRU. Her travel writing, music reviews/interviews and photography have appeared in publications such as Consequence of Sound, Mxdwn and GoNomad Travel Guides. She currently lives on an island on the coast of British Columbia where she’s preparing for the zombie apocalypse with her fiancé and rescue pup.