My very first Lili St. Germain book, and definitely not my last.

I was a bit nervous starting this book. I don’t consider myself a dark reader especially when it comes to my romance, and I’m picky when it comes to my dark reads. Fortunately, I enjoyed this book very much. I enjoyed the writing and got sucked into the world that Lili built. Although I have to say, this book or this series in general isn’t really considered romance, but there is a very strong romantic elements that runs throughout the whole book that most romance readers like me would appreciate. 

So what is it about?

How much is a life worth?

I grew up in Colombia, the daughter of a wealthy drug lord. I lived a life of extravagance, until one day a drug run went horribly wrong and everything came crashing down around us.

I was given away. A payment for a debt. The Gypsy Brothers Motorcycle Club became my new owners, and I did everything I could to survive.

But falling in love with the man who owned me wasn’t part of the plan…

Cartel is the prequel to St.Germain’s hit series the Gypsy Brothers. It’s about a girl who was given as a payment for his father’s debts. It also follows Dornan Ross’s rise to power and descent into darkness. For those of you who’ve read GB, then you know who Dornan is. This is also his story. His and Ana to be exact.

While this book is about Ana’s plight, what made Cartel tick for me was Dornan. And no, I’m not nominating him for the best book boyfriend award because he’s definitely not book boyfriend material. If you’ve read the Gypsy Brothers series, you’d know how awful this person is. And for those of you who are curious, this wasn’t some story about a good guy who became bad.

On the contrary, Dornan to me, already has that darkness in him. He tried to tamp it down but working for his sick fuck of a father brought it out of him. I thought that even if he didn’t work for his dad, it would have just delayed his descent into madness and not stop it. Why? Well, Dornan is broken. He thinks he has a conscience and some passages show he has some but his sadistic self is king.

But his character was well fleshed out and you can’t help but be fascinated by his journey. I have no sympathies for his character but the author did a good job writing his evolution from a gray character into a very dark one.

Now Marianna is another story. She’s a bit inconsistent to me to be honest, in her actions and thoughts. I couldn’t quite put my finger into it but I don’t understand how she could fall in love with someone like Dornan when he’s not even that good to her. He didn’t do anything special. In fact, apart from “saving” him from her father, he went out of his way of terrorizing her. So to me, this wasn’t much a case of Stockholm Syndrome but a case of a woman who was attracted to her captor because he’s hot.

I did like that Marianna’s isn’t a cowering virgin. I also felt that she also has a bit of darkness in her which made Dornan even more attractive to her and vice versa. Whatever the reason for their attraction to each other, one cannot deny their explosive chemistry. Readers also get a sense that, this union or whatever the heck this is, isn’t going to end well. Sooner or later, one of them will destroy the other and not only that, both of them are going to bring a lot of chaos to those around them.

This book captured my attention from beginning to end. The moment I started it, I could not put it done. And unlike most series these days, this ended on a hopeful note relationship wise. Although, I don’t think we’ll ever get HEA for Marianna and Dornan, I appreciated how the author ended things in this book. 

Edit:I haven’t read the Gypsy Brothers series yet, but I was told that it might be better to read this one then GB. Either way, I can’t wait to sink my reading teeth into GB along with this series.

Rating: 4 Stars!

An ARC was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.