Dirty Deeds by Karina Halle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I have had ‘Dirty Deeds’ on my TBR for a long time now. Javier Bernal is one of my all-time favorite anti-heroes and I just can’t get enough of him. So, when I heard that this spin-off series would feature him, I couldn’t wait. I dived right in to the first book in the ‘Dirty Angels’ series.
However, after I finished the first book, I lost some of my enthusiasm for the series. Don’t get me wrong, the first book was fantastic and as it turns out, so was this one. It’s just that I was single-mindedly focused on Javier and when I saw that my favorite bad guy wasn’t going to be the central focus of ‘Dirty Deeds’, I moved it to the back burner.
That being said, I really wish I hadn’t done that now. ‘Dirty Deeds’ ended up being a terrific story. While it isn’t as “dark” as any story centered on Javier would be, it was well worth reading. It was packed full of danger and suspense. It was a highly entertaining read.
‘Dirty Deeds’ tells the story of Alana Bernal, Javier’s youngest sister. She has spent her life trying to survive the violence of the cartel world that she was born into. She just wants to have a safe, normal life, but has always known that this was not her fate.
Alana tries to distance herself from her cartel kingpin brother, Javier, as much as possible. She works as a flight attendant and keeps her brother’s identity a safely-guarded secret. Alana knows that regardless of her lack of a close sibling relationship with Javier, she would be used as a pawn for his enemies. If she ever doubted it, she need only remember the murder of her sister and her family at the hands of one of Javier’s enemies.
Dereck Conway is an American living in Mexico and working as a contract killer for the cartels. He doesn’t care why a hit is ordered, he only cares about whether or not he is paid. He has long since came to terms with the fact that he has sold his soul to the highest bidder.
When Dereck is hired to kill Alana Bernal, he finds himself wanting to know more about his mark. There is something about her that stirs an interest in him. He has never allowed himself to humor any curiosity about a job before this and knows that he is walking a dangerous line. He shouldn’t care about what she did to get a death warrant, but he does.
On the day that Dereck goes to complete the kill, an accident changes everything. In no time, Dereck goes from assassin to protector. He insinuates himself into Alana’s life. The deeper he gets, the more clear it becomes that he has no intention of ever letting her go, much less killing her.
Despite their connection, Alana and Dereck have built their relationship on lies. The deception runs deep. Alana has not been honest about who her brother is or why it is that somebody might want her dead. Dereck hasn’t even told her his real name and the story he gave her about his life is entirely fabricated.
In time, the truth is revealed and the little trust in their relationship is called into question. When this happens, everything hits the fan. Alana, not knowing whether or not Dereck is a threat, places herself in real danger trying to get away from him.
Although not the central focus of this story, Javier is certainly a strong influence. His relationship with Alana is the motivation for the price on her head. His enemies have become her enemies by association.
It is clear that Javier is changing. He was always dark and dangerous, with a highly questionable code of morality. However, ‘Dirty Deeds’ shows a transformed man that has become completely consumed by the power and danger of his life as a cartel leader. I was taken aback by the cold indifference of his treatment of Alana. No doubt, this book foreshadows events to come in ‘Dirty Promises’.
This book is part of a series and the books should be read in order to fully understand what is going on. In fact, I would recommend reading all of the books in ‘The Artists’ series prior to starting the ‘Dirty Angels’ series, since this series is a spin-off series and does reference events in the earlier series quite a bit. Not to worry though, all of the books in both series are wonderful if you like dark, dangerous stories with some romance thrown in.
Like it’s predecessors, ‘Dirty Deeds’ does not disappoint. I postponed reading this one because I wanted more time with Javier, but wish I hadn’t done that. Although he isn’t a huge part of this book, he was definitely influential. Alana and Dereck’s story proved to be engaging and entertaining in and of it’s own right. If you’re a fan of these series, I definitely recommend this book and these series.
If you’re a Javier junkie, like me, you’ll be glad to know that he does make an appearance in this one. He just isn’t the focal point of this book.
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