Title: Cartel Author: Lili St. Germain Genre: Adult, Crime Rating: 3 stars
So these next few reviews are going to be hard for me because well I read all three of them within two days and not my thoughts are all jumbled and my feelings between books one and three vary so damn much. I’ve decided I’ve got a love hate relationship with these books.
I will start by saying if you’re like me and were led to believe that this series is an action packed love story, they lied. Book one, Cartel has the love story in it but the series is not a romance one. It is NOT another version of 50 Shades of Grey. It’s got sex, drugs and scary cartel crap and yes even has a love story woven in there but there is no way this book – or the whole series – is a romance novel.
Now I’m only saying this because I was not mentally prepared for this series and I’d hate for any of my fellow readers to be like me. With that said I will splurge the rest of my thoughts over this review of Cartel, then my other two reviews on Kingpin and Empire.
WARNING THIS WILL NOT BE A SPOILER FREE REVIEW.
I also read this as an E-book so some of my quotes on pages may differ to yours.
This Lili St. Germain has really crafted something unique here. The novel is set in a very dark, disturbing and realistic world, it is harsh, cruel and unforgiving but it is probably a very honest representation of Colombia and the cartel gangs. I’ll be honest, it scared me the stuff in this book but I knew it was based on some portion of reality because stuff like this does happen so I was glued to the pages instantly.
Its honestly great to be gripped from the first page and that’s what Germain did. She had you in the drama and action immediately. She really didn’t break you in easy, she is a relentless author who captures you from the first word on the first page. I honestly have to admire her gumption, one of the first scene’s introduces our main character with her partner in an alleyway locked in a moment of fierce passion. LIKE MAN, you have some series courage to open your book with that. I’ll confess, I’ve not read any other Germain books before and I know she’s got a few so I’m not sure if she’s always this gutsy but it sure as hell had me taken by surprise there for a bit. Now I’m not complaining I love an author who takes risks. But, there were a few issues I had with this opening scene.
Firstly, we lost Este in a very dramatic way but I found that for such a pivotal moment in the book we needed more detail. More emotion. Both characters were cute and caring but one moment they’re having sex while they can hear gunshots and the next they’re casually strolling in the opposite direction. They’re not concerned about the gunshots, which yes might be commonplace where they were but human nature is a fickle thing and running from danger is a natural reflex that I don’t think was emulated enough at the time. In addition, I felt like one moment Este was there and the next he was dying which I think was intentional but I also feel was not described with enough detail to let the reader feel and see what Mariana was seeing and feeling. I felt like I was watching through binoculars or something, observing from a distance both in feeling and in description.
Now I absolutely admired Mariana’s resolve at the start of this book, she was gutsy and a firecracker and that’s what drew Dornan to her along with her beauty. Unfortunately we lost that character a little too quickly, yes there were plenty of reasons why Mariana submitted to her owners but I feel for someone who was born and bred in Colombia in the cartel/drug gang lifestyle she just gave up to quickly. I might be along in these opinions but hey, she took multiple beatings from Daddy Dearest all her life, learnt how to fight and dish it back but she can hardly throw a few punches or take any from anyone else?
My next issue is that the first scene of Emilio talks him up like a big scary cartel drug lord, which is communicated perfectly but on page 9 he says “If you crossed the cartel, you got a bullet, simple as that. But your family, your wife and your kids, would go unharmed. At your funeral, a cartel lackey would deliver your wife a couple hundred bucks to get by on.” it went on like that for a another sentence or so but you get my drift. This was such a stupid comment because not once in this book did Emilio adhere to this so called moral code. In fact at every turn he would threaten and probably would have followed through with those threats which were the exact opposite of leaving the family unharmed.
I love Dornan. I’ve always been a sucker for the bad guy, the one who can redeem himself and is just sexy and dark and mysterious. Dornan is the perfect combination of bad and good and I find him quite dominating but still tender in some ways and I love that contrast. Though Mariana and Dornan’s connection was instant I felt it was natural and seamless. Their scene’s together were realistic and tempered nicely and very steamy which was just a bonus.
I at times felt like there was not enough going on and got a little bored, if not for the sex I think I might not have been so addicted to the story. I think there probably could have been a bit more to the plot than there was and for a book that is 240 odd pages long almost every page or chapter should have had some pivotal information or action. These books are only small, all three of the books in this series add up to one or just over one, of my normal novels so there should not have been a dull moment.
All in all, I enjoyed this book but I will forewarn you –
Books two and three are nothing like book one and will take a totally different turn. I almost wish I’d stopped at book one as I was happy enough with the story. Books two and three are probably better in terms of plot but you might find yourself disappointed.
Stay tuned for my review on Kingpin and Empire!
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Till next time,