Author: Karina Halle
Series: Sins Duet #1
Published on: March 2017
For Vicente Bernal, truth is all he’s known. The son of an infamous drug lord, Vicente was born to help run the family business, which means he’s been raised on a throne of sordid pasts and dirty laundry, violence and pride. But when Vicente stumbles across someone he’s not supposed to know about – a woman from his father’s checkered past – he sets out to California to find her behind his father’s back.
What Vicente doesn’t expect to find in San Francisco is Violet McQueen, the woman’s twenty-year old daughter. Beautiful and edgy with a vulnerability he can’t resist, Violet tempts Vicente from afar and though he promised himself he’d stay away from her, curiosity and lust are powerful forces. Besides, Vicente has always gotten everything he wants – why shouldn’t he have Violet too?
Soon his wants turn into an obsession, one that sweeps Violet into his games as they fall madly, deeply in love with each other, the type of first love that can drive a person mad.
But it’s a love with tragic consequences.
Both the truth – and the lies – not only threaten to tear them apart, but threaten their very lives.
Someone has to pay for the sins of the fathers.
And they’ll be paying the price with their souls.
NOTE: Black Hearts is book one of the Sins Duet, with the sequel, Dirty Souls, releasing in March 2017.
These books can be read as a standalone – though they are a spinoff of the Sins & Needles and Dirty Angels trilogies, Black Hearts & Dirty Souls are set 20 years in the future and follow new characters. You do NOT need to read TAT or DA to enjoy or understand this duet.
“And as far ahead in the future as you might be, the past is never far behind.”
Unofficial review: I loved the shit out of this book. Black Hearts reminds me of the gritty and bold Karina Halle that I first fell for. From the moment I heard about this new series and who it was about, I knew I had to get my hands on this. Karina didn’t disappoint. Black Hearts was an intense, sexy, and action packed story.
Yes, Black Hearts is a spin off of Karina’s The Artist Trilogy and Dirty Angels. Vicente Bernal is the son of Javier Bernal and Violet McQueen is the daughter of Ellie Watt and Camden McQueen. Yes, Ellie, Camden, and Javier all make appearances in this novel but YOU DO NOT, need to read the other series to appreciate this one. Though, I will say for T.A.T fans like me, their appearances made this story much more fun.
“If Helen of Troy’s face could launch a thousand ships, Violet McQueen’s face could launch a thousand stories, all filled with lust, heartache, and death.”
Vicente Bernal and Violet Queen are two people from completely different backgrounds. While their lives are completely different, it is their parents pasts that have them unknowingly connected. Vicente is a the son of a Mexican drug lord. He’s set to take over his father’s business, but Vicente wants to do things in his own way. Vicente and Javier, were alike in many ways. Both were ladies men, and both could be ruthless, cunning, and persuasive. Yet, Vicente had a somewhat softer side to him. Something that felt a bit more real and caring then Javier’s own personality. Though he has seen the world, Vicente has been somewhat sheltered in his life. When he comes across a few secrets from his father’s past, it leads him to San Francisco and to Violet.
Violet is a college student in San Francisco, studying photography. It’s her passion, her love, but she’s still finding her way. Her mom is a popular photographer and her dad is a tattoo artist. Growing up her parents were a bit unconventional and bit overprotective. Violet was a character that took me a bit to warm up to. She was young and sheltered in some ways. She could also be a bit naive at times. Yet, I liked her. She was just a normal girl trying to figure out her life. Meeting Vincente was an unexpected adventure in her otherwise normal life.
“He made me step away from myself. He pulled me out of that prison. He opened my eyes to a reality I didn’t think I could be a part of. He made my weaknesses my strengths. He made it raw and beautiful. I don’t see how my life can possibly go back to normal after this.”
There is a definite spark between Violet and Vicente. Their relationship happens quickly and it’s so intense. They had some scorching hot moments together. Vicente pushed her boundaries and gave her the chance to explore new things. Even though his initial intentions were not pure, he does have true feelings for Violet. Violet doesn’t want anything from Vicente, other than himself. She easily captured his heart. They don’t have the most conventional relationship but they were so good together.
I am excited to see what will come of their relationship. This story blended both the good deeds with the bad and the lies with the truth. I loved the mix of action and suspense. I was so wrapped up in this story that I didn’t want to put it down. This story left me needing more. Thankfully, Dirty Souls will be out next month and I can not wait to see how this will all play out.
The fog is continuing to roll in, bringing a briny mist that you can taste. Only the tops of the bridge remain visible, the orange red seeming to glow against grey skies, while shadows of the structure come and go as the fog moves in.
Violet stares in quiet fascination, her dark eyes taking it in. I can see the fog reflected in them, giving her an eerie quality. She appears to be listening but whether it’s the fog horns, the chatter of the fishermen, the lapping waves, or the dull roar of the bridge traffic, I don’t know. Could be something else entirely.
I don’t want to break her concentration or bring her back from whatever world she’s in. I just stand beside her and let her be. If anything, it says a lot about her comfort level with me if she lets herself drift away.
After a few minutes, she slowly turns to me and blinks. “How long did you say you were going to be in San Francisco for?”
“I don’t know,” I say carefully. “It depends if I find what I’m looking for.”
“And what are you looking for?”
“A reason to stay.” I hold her gaze with mine. The sea breeze picks up a few strands of her hair, moving them across her face like a black veil. Without thinking, I reach over and brush them away, tucking them behind her ear.
I could kiss her. I should kiss her. The feel of her skin against my fingers ignites a million torches inside.
Then she looks away, uncomfortable, the silence between us changing.
I steer the subject onto her. “You said your mother is a famous photographer. Does she have a studio?”
She lets out a soft sigh, her eyes back on the bridge. “Yeah. In the mission district.”
“And you don’t want the same for yourself?”
She rubs her lips together in thought before looking down at her hands that hang over the side of the railing. “As I said, I don’t know what I want. I’m not sure I feel comfortable with the idea of having a studio. My mom does portraits of people. That’s not what I like to shoot.”
“Not a people person?”
A wry smile cracks her lips. “No. Not really. It’s too…intimate. My mom is great at it because people feel comfortable with her. She can…I don’t know, manipulate their feelings.”
Interesting. Very interesting.
People like my father.
“So they end up exposing pieces of themselves that they don’t see. I guess I have the same intuition as her but the one on one is too much for me. I prefer to work with nature. With this.” She gestures to the fog. “No one else really understands how beautiful this is to me.”
I look back at the fog, moving faster now. I wouldn’t call it beautiful. Moody. Dark, maybe. If anything, her beauty stands out more because of the bleakness around her.
“My goal is to take photos that show how I see the world. All the beauty in it. The world is such an ugly and beautiful place, horrible and hopeful. I want to show the light in all the dark places.” She pauses and gives me a sheepish look. “Sorry. I know that must have sounded hella pretentious.”
I slowly shake my head because she sounds anything but that. She sounds real. She sounds like something I want to shake loose from her, to let free and run wild.
“You’re not pretentious,” I tell her, my voice low. “Not even close.”
“That’s not what I hear.”
“What do you hear?” I move in closer to her, the distance between us just a few inches. She doesn’t back up. “What does the world tell you you are?”
I watch her swallow, take a moment. “Oh, you know. I’m too self-absorbed. Narcissistic. Pretentious. I live too much in my head, I’m too anti-social, too distant. I feel too much, care too much. My mother has always chided me for being too sensitive and then I was diagnosed with having hyper-sensitivity, so it turns out she was right. I am too sensitive. About everything. And there’s not a single thing I can do about it except know that when I experience reality, it’s not what everyone else experiences. For better or for worse.” She sighs. “Mainly for worse.”
I feel like this is something she doesn’t unload on many people. My instincts about her were right. She’s fragile but not weak, too much a part of the world and too much removed from it. A contradiction.
“I’m sorry,” she says, shooting me a glance. “I didn’t mean to blab away like that. I know you probably think I’m crazy now. Hell, I think I’m crazy half the time. I really wish I could just be like everyone else. To just…shut it all off.”
“You’re not crazy,” I tell her. “I’m just understanding you better.”
Her mouth quirks up into a dry smile. “I’m surprised you understand me at all. We’ve only just met.”
“True,” I tell her as I reach out and run my fingers along her jaw, tipping her chin up. “But I’m sure you of all people would know that sometimes you can connect with someone in ways you didn’t think you could. Or should.”
She barely nods, her eyes focused on mine, anticipation on her brow. I’m met with the overwhelming desire to protect and shield her which is extremely inconvenient, if not unwelcome, given the circumstances. One minute I need to fuck her, the next I need to protect her, and in the end, what I really need is to do the job I set out to do