Black Hears (Sin Duet #1)
by Karina Halle
Release Date: February 19, 2017
4 DANGEROUS LOVE CROWNS
I am a huge fan of Karina Halle. I have read several of her novels, and they are always written, so superbly. Black Hearts, however, was new venture for me in the world of Ms. Halle, as it is a darker romance, and I absolutely am enamored with this world she has created.
Vicente, the heir to the drug cartel in Mexico, visits the U.S. looking for a way to use the information he finds there against his father. This plan puts him in the direct path of Violet McQueen, which is when readers will really start to become enchanted with the man that is completely dangerous and should be off-limits. When he is with her, readers get to see his protective side and his dirty-talking dominant side, but readers also get to see that he is deeper that the two dimensional hero. He sees and observes, and this is never seen more than when he looks at Violet. He sees beneath her surface, and by doing so, readers get to see beneath his hard exterior to see a man who is falling in love no matter what the consequences will be.
Violet, just like Vicente, immediately gravitates to him. Usually closed off and introverted, something pushes her to speak to him, and with each passing moment and day, readers get to see her develop into a stronger woman. She willing confronts her parents, chooses to walk away when needed, and fights when backed into a corner. And while she is still the weaker of the two characters, by the end of the Sins duet, but I don’t think that will be the truth as the story progresses in book two. I have this feeling that Ms. Halle has big plans for her in the second book of this duet, and I cannot wait to see how Violet continues to change.
Readers will be fascinated by the world Karina Halle has created. The backstories, the family history, the lies, and the deception all serve to entice the reader, bringing them deeper into this world of corruption. Readers will be engaged from the opening pages, and intrigued by the two families. They will fall in lust and then love with Vicente and Violet, and their star-crossed love journey they are getting ready to embark on. I am so excited for the second book in this duet in order to get the conclusion of their story.
Even though this is a new genre of romance for me from Karina Halle, there are some aspects of the book that still remain true for all her books. She provides her readers with complex stories and flawed characters that entrance readers from the very beginning. Her writing is excellent, making her one of the most talented writers I have had the pleasure to read, and her words put readers there with her characters in these enthralling worlds. I certainly cannot wait to return for book 2.
ARC received in exchange for an honest review.
Two items of note:
When Ms. Halle says you don’t need to know the previous books, she is absolutely correct. I own but have not read the previous two series that centers on the parents of Vicente and Violet, and never once did I feel lost or like I was missing a part of the story. This can absolutely be read as a standalone.
The 4 Crown review is a result of the plot. There is not one aspect of the story-line that I disliked; however, it is the exposition and rising action of the full story line arc, which covers two books. There is a lot of background and development of characters as well as character relationships, which is absolutely necessary. The reader would be lost if she does not do this. The lack of action, though, led me to the review. I think I came into this one expecting guns and violence and deviant behavior, and while it is there to an extant, it is nowhere near what I thought. I do feel though that the second book in this series is going to be different, and I can already feel that the story overall will be a 5 CROWN read.
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 an 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.
But it’s a love with tragic consequences.
Both the truth – and the lies – not only threaten to tear them apart, but threaten their very lives.
Someone has to pay for the sins of the fathers.
And they’ll be paying the price with their souls.
NOTE: Black Hearts is book one of the Sins Duet, with the sequel, Dirty Souls, releasing in March 2017.
These books can be read as a standalone – though they are a spinoff of the Sins & Needles and Dirty Angels trilogies, Black Hearts & Dirty Souls are set 20 years in the future and follow new characters. You do NOT need to read TAT or DA to enjoy or understand this duet.
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The fog is continuing to roll in, bringing a briny mist that you can taste. Only the tops of the bridge remain visible, the orange red seeming to glow against grey skies, while shadows of the structure come and go as the fog moves in.
Violet stares in quiet fascination, her dark eyes taking it in. I can see the fog reflected in them, giving her an eerie quality. She appears to be listening but whether it’s the fog horns, the chatter of the fishermen, the lapping waves, or the dull roar of the bridge traffic, I don’t know. Could be something else entirely.
I don’t want to break her concentration or bring her back from whatever world she’s in. I just stand beside her and let her be. If anything, it says a lot about her comfort level with me if she lets herself drift away.
After a few minutes, she slowly turns to me and blinks. “How long did you say you were going to be in San Francisco for?”
“I don’t know,” I say carefully. “It depends if I find what I’m looking for.”
“And what are you looking for?”
“A reason to stay.” I hold her gaze with mine. The sea breeze picks up a few strands of her hair, moving them across her face like a black veil. Without thinking, I reach over and brush them away, tucking them behind her ear.
I could kiss her. I should kiss her. The feel of her skin against my fingers ignites a million torches inside.
Then she looks away, uncomfortable, the silence between us changing.
I steer the subject onto her. “You said your mother is a famous photographer. Does she have a studio?”
She lets out a soft sigh, her eyes back on the bridge. “Yeah. In the mission district.”
“And you don’t want the same for yourself?”
She rubs her lips together in thought before looking down at her hands that hang over the side of the railing. “As I said, I don’t know what I want. I’m not sure I feel comfortable with the idea of having a studio. My mom does portraits of people. That’s not what I like to shoot.”
“Not a people person?”
A wry smile cracks her lips. “No. Not really. It’s too…intimate. My mom is great at it because people feel comfortable with her. She can…I don’t know, manipulate their feelings.”
Interesting. Very interesting.
People like my father.
“So they end up exposing pieces of themselves that they don’t see. I guess I have the same intuition as her but the one on one is too much for me. I prefer to work with nature. With this.” She gestures to the fog. “No one else really understands how beautiful this is to me.”
I look back at the fog, moving faster now. I wouldn’t call it beautiful. Moody. Dark, maybe. If anything, her beauty stands out more because of the bleakness around her.
“My goal is to take photos that show how I see the world. All the beauty in it. The world is such an ugly and beautiful place, horrible and hopeful. I want to show the light in all the dark places.” She pauses and gives me a sheepish look. “Sorry. I know that must have sounded hella pretentious.”
I slowly shake my head because she sounds anything but that. She sounds real. She sounds like something I want to shake loose from her, to let free and run wild.
“You’re not pretentious,” I tell her, my voice low. “Not even close.”
“That’s not what I hear.”
“What do you hear?” I move in closer to her, the distance between us just a few inches. She doesn’t back up. “What does the world tell you you are?”
I watch her swallow, take a moment. “Oh, you know. I’m too self-absorbed. Narcissistic. Pretentious. I live too much in my head, I’m too anti-social, too distant. I feel too much, care too much. My mother has always chided me for being too sensitive and then I was diagnosed with having hyper-sensitivity, so it turns out she was right. I am too sensitive. About everything. And there’s not a single thing I can do about it except know that when I experience reality, it’s not what everyone else experiences. For better or for worse.” She sighs. “Mainly for worse.”
I feel like this is something she doesn’t unload on many people. My instincts about her were right. She’s fragile but not weak, too much a part of the world and too much removed from it. A contradiction.
“I’m sorry,” she says, shooting me a glance. “I didn’t mean to blab away like that. I know you probably think I’m crazy now. Hell, I think I’m crazy half the time. I really wish I could just be like everyone else. To just…shut it all off.”
“You’re not crazy,” I tell her. “I’m just understanding you better.”
Her mouth quirks up into a dry smile. “I’m surprised you understand me at all. We’ve only just met.”
“True,” I tell her as I reach out and run my fingers along her jaw, tipping her chin up. “But I’m sure you of all people would know that sometimes you can connect with someone in ways you didn’t think you could. Or should.”
She barely nods, her eyes focused on mine, anticipation on her brow. I’m met with the overwhelming desire to protect and shield her which is extremely inconvenient, if not unwelcome, given the circumstances. One minute I need to fuck her, the next I need to protect her, and in the end, what I really need is to do the job I set out to do.
About the Author:
Karina Halle is a former travel writer and music journalist and The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today Bestselling author of The Pact, Smut, The Artists Trilogy, Heat Wave and over 20 other wild and romantic reads. She lives on an island off the coast of British Columbia with her rescue pup and her husband Scott Mackenzie, who co-wrote Rocked Up with her. That’s right. It’s like the book SMUT come to life! This is their first venture as a writing team. A lot of music was played. A lot of laughs were had. A lot of sex was…put in the book!
Follow her on Amazon.