This one is what it is.
Readers either be attracted to this trashy, pulp fiction style tale for its dark themes, sheer brutality and the love story that exists within the frames of easy-to-read, addictive prose, or they will be turned off for exactly the same reasons. This is not a book that has a lot of middle ground, and nor will be destined for a wide readership. What it may very well do, however, is become a hit within its target readership.
By now, many readers both in Australia and abroad will be familiar with Australian author Lili St. Germain for her scorching and violent self-published Gypsy Brothers serial that became a instant hit online. Cartel is the first of a prequel series (which can be read as a stand-alone,) and is being published by HarperCollins Australia. It tells the story of Mariana, a young, Columbian woman who is gifted to a motorcycle club to pay off the debts of her father. Surprisingly, love blossoms between Mariana and the brutal leader of the club, Dornan Ross.
In all honesty, I was not a fan of this one. I understand that a huge part of the appeal is the cheap, trashy brutality, a glimpse into what it might be like to see the inner workings of an organised crime group, where women are treated as property, used and disposed of with a bullet when they are no longer required, and the possibility of love blossoming in such unlikely circumstances. As a heroine, Mariana is quite the survivor, which makes her appealing in a way. After all, books like Cartel are guilty pleasure reads--they are read and enjoyed for their shock value, soap like plot twists and fast, easy to read pace. As erotica, such works are about the fantasy element and is not necessarily a reflection of what the reader may be interested in doing in real life. But all that said, there was still a big part of me who felt disgusted at some of the scenes and further disgust at myself for being interested in reading something like this in the first place. As I said at the beginning of this review this one is what it is. Some readers are going to love it. Some readers will hate it.
Recommendations? This time around, you'll have to make up your own mind.