“There is a stark difference between fear and uncertainty, Sarai. You fear nothing but are uncertain of everything.”
I have had this book recommended to me a lot over the years. But the thing is, dipping into older published dark romance normally isn’t the best experience, so I’ve put off this 2013 publication for a while. But honestly? This actually was a really enthralling read that held up really well in 2018. And I am really excited to continue on with the series.
➽ Sarai – Currently is twenty-three but was fourteen when her mom gave her to a drug lord. Sarai starts the book in captivity, as a sex slave of the leader of this organization that is in Mexico. And one day at the compound, she hears the first American accent she has heard in years and takes the opportunity to try for her freedom once and for all.
➽ Victor – An assassin who has only known bloodshed his entire life. But when he finds a girl in the backseat of his vehicle, he feels a soft spot for her, while also understanding that he could use her as leverage against a very powerful drug lord.
And from there these two’s paths are intertwined and their lives are changed forever. Neither one has ever really known what love is, and never really let anyone in before. But together, they form a really unexpected friendship and partnership. Also, neither one of them can give up on revenge and decide that maybe together they can right the wrongs that have been done against them.
So, I read this book for the #smutathon challenge of “slow burn” and holy shit was this the perfect fit for the category. You all, I was begging, wishing, praying, for these two to just realize that they like each other. Like, this is the most slow burn book of all slow burns! But the angst and wanting is really expertly done and make you totally unable to put this book down.
This is a darker book, so please use caution while reading. Content and trigger warnings for sex trafficking, slavery, kidnapping, murder, death, loss of a loved one, blood depictions, talk of sexual assault, talk of rape, talk of pedophilia, animal death, parental abuse, abandonment, torture, and fatphobic comments. Also, I mean, the romance in this could maybe be a little Stockholm syndrome, even though I didn’t feel that way, I can totally see how it could be perceived as such. And obviously there is a huge power imbalance between Victor and Sarai.
But I do need to talk about the reason I did give this three stars, and that’s because one of the villains in this book, who I’m guessing is going to be a really big villain in the next books, is not only queer, but he is constantly villainized for being fat. And this is exactly why going back and reading older dark romances are normally painful, because they constantly use hurtful tropes like this. And this in no way gets a free pass because it’s older, this is a disgusting trope that I will never be here for, regardless of the year of publication. Miss me with this nasty villainization of queer and fat people, when you could easily just villainize the man for being a rapist.
Overall, this is a really hard book to put down, and there is action on every page. I really enjoyed reading this one (besides the hot mess in the paragraph above this one). I totally plan to continue on, even if I’m a little apprehensive about the villain, but Sarai and Victor just have me feeling weak and I need to know what happens to them at the end of this story.