Dirty Dealings (Zeta Cartel #3)

Dirty Dealings is the third book in the dark romance series Zeta Cartel by AJ Adams. Click these links if you are looking for my reviews of book one or book two.

3

Quique is having a bad time. Back in Mexico his marriage has fallen apart and his wife has made him a laughing stock by cheating on him. Now he’s in London and finding himself out of his depth with a complex commercial deal. To make things worse, Natalia Truelove, a chef and pub manager, is blackmailing him. Quique is ready to commit murder and he’s pretty sure who his first victim will be.

Warning: Dirty Dealings contains strong adult language and themes as well as graphic violence and fully depicted love scenes

—                         —                         —

I somehow completely missed the release of this book last year. I just picked up and started book four and realized that Quique was now married to someone new, and went back to one-click this book. No wonder it seemed like such a long time between book releases in this series. I’m just a dunce.

Dirty Dealings features an antihero who is familiar to readers of the Zeta Cartel. Quique is a surprising revelation within the macho Latino world of the Cartel. He has a thing against hitting women, and is amazingly lighthearted and sweet when not in work mode. He also likes his woman to be independent, a partner in life, when most of his colleagues view a woman as an ornament.

This book is mostly set in Britain, with lots of dry Brit humour and colloquialisms throughout. The heroine is a tough, brash woman with a disreputable backstory and an extended family of ex-inlaws with reputations of their own. Natalia reminds me of a workhorse, in the nicest of ways. She just doesn’t stop. She doesn’t acknowledge the obstacles in her way, she is always looking for solutions, searching for better, and will drag her family along with her no matter how much bitching or feet-dragging they do. She truly cares about them and their BS, even when they treat her horribly and have been the cause of much past suffering.

I felt like Quique and Natalia were well-matched and once they got over being on separate sides of a business deal, they realized it as well. Bruja mala leche (evil, little witch) is one of my favourite insults to use IRL (and I’ve been known to call my sisters this) so I was vastly amused as Quique’s use of this term gradually changed from a hate-filled curse to an endearment.

Also, apparently my efforts in learning the Spanish language are having an effect because I could translate most of the Spanish bits without referring to a dictionary or the internet! Woot!

Dirty Dealings is very plot-driven, more so than the previous two books. I felt that the romance took a backseat, and should have been brought forward more. The couple don’t fall into bed together until nearly 60% of the way in, so if you like super steamy books, that is something to take note of ahead of time.

** getting darker … **

I also wish that the issue of rape had been examined more. Adams wrote Quique mostly as a dark hero, a baddy who would still drop everything to rescue a child, but he is also a high-ranking member of the most powerful Cartel in the world, and a former Guatemalan special forces soldier. He doesn’t like rape, but had used it in the past as a tool of war, of intimidation and interrogation. Unfortunately, this subject is examined in a couple of short, introspective paragraphs and I think it is something that should have more of a big deal in the plot. Hopefully Adams will bring it up again with a future character in the Zeta Cartel.

* * * *

xx

My (Not So) Perfect Life…

my not so perfect life

Katie Brenner has the perfect life: a flat in London, a glamorous job, and a super-cool Instagram feed.

Ok, so the real truth is that she rents a tiny room with no space for a wardrobe, has a hideous commute to a lowly admin job, and the life she shares on Instagram isn’t really hers.

But one day her dreams are bound to come true, aren’t they?

Until her not-so perfect life comes crashing down when her mega-successful boss Demeter gives her the sack. All Katie’s hopes are shattered. She has to move home to Somerset, where she helps her dad with his new glamping business.

Then Demeter and her family book in for a holiday, and Katie sees her chance. But should she get revenge on the woman who ruined her dreams? Or try to get her job back? Does Demeter – the woman with everything – have such an idyllic life herself? Maybe they have more in common than it seems.

And what’s wrong with not-so-perfect, anyway?

—                         —                         —

Sophie Kinsella is my favourite British writer by far. Her novels are always on-trend with modern-day life and completely relatable to me, as a woman and a young professional. Her books are laugh-out-loud funny and a great way to cheer up. Considering I usually read dark romances or heavy erotica, it is a lovely treat to sit down and read something completly different when Kinsella releases a new novel.

My (Not So) Perfect Life is the most recent book to be released and one that I have devoured. Kinsella’s books are fast-paced page-turners, filled with good feels, awkward situations and a happy ending.

When Katie is laid off from her job in London she is devastated. It may not be the perfect position, but she is starting out in the field of her dreams, living in the “best” city in the world and learning loads everyday. The last thing she wants to admit to her beloved father is that she has failed, especially since he is all too eager to have Katie move home and live locally.

This experience is similar to one I went through a couple of years ago. I was working a shitty job in the field of my dreams, learning and putting in time until I could rise up in the ranks. Then I was laid off (five days before Christmas mind you!) and absolutely devastated. Looking back, I can say that it is one of the hardest – and best – things that I have ever been through because it made me grow as a person and I have ended up in a better place. But at the time, I thought the world was ending and that I was the biggest failure going, much as Katie does.

My (Not So) Perfect Life was a real win for me. I am a country girl at heart and totally into the organic and environmentally-friendly lifestyle that is trendy at the moment. The fact that this was so heavily favoured in Katie’s branding of her parents’ new glamping business, and the fact that most of the book took place in the country, made this country-girl shine.

Some of the plot is overly predictable, but that isn’t what you are reading a Sophie Kinsella book for. This isn’t a book full of mystery or intrigue. The story is character-driven, as the author unravels new layers of each of the characters and focuses on the relationships between them.

If you are a fan of Kinsella and think you have read all of her books, check out the ones under her pen name of Madeleine Wickham.

* * * * *

xx