CC’s ARC Review ~ Black Hearts by Karina Halle

4.5 Stars!

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Violet McQueen is a photography student who always felt like all wasn’t what it seemed within her family. Having been labeled as a sensitive person, it was easy to feel self-conscience and she learned to distrust her instincts. It isn’t until she meets a mysterious man when all she’s been wondering about comes into question.

“Your not just rebellious, you’re part of the rebellion.”


Vicente Bernal is the second in command in his father’s drug cartel. Determined to get his answers to the questions he seeks, Vicente heads to California in hopes of digging up a hidden past. With his own motivations, Vicente’s plan is straightforward until unforeseen circumstances begin modify his timeline and his target.

“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.”


When Vicente and Violet meet, it isn’t a coincidence because in their world, coincidences do not exist. However, despite their “chance” encounter, the pull between them is palpable and Vicente is prepared to use it to his advantage. But what he doesn’t expect is Violet’s honesty and willingness to share her vulnerability, as that can cause dire consequences in Vicente’s world.

“You need to be in the moment, with me. That’s all there needs to be. The world won’t disappear the moment you stop holding on to it.”


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As they continue to get closer, Vicente’s sexual intensity and appearance of safety serves to offer an escape from Violet’s mind-spinning thoughts. While Violet isn’t inexperienced, Vicente introduces her to a new world where she enjoys being in the moment of pleasure mixed with some pain which leads to some hot scenes.

“I gulp for air and dig my heels into him, holding on tight as he slowly pushes deeper and deeper inside. My hands grab the back of his neck, feeing the strength in his straining muscles.”


Told in multiple POVs, the plot unfolds in a steady pace allowing the characters to build dimensionality. While Vicente is influenced by his upbringing, he is still very much his own individual character and is driven to prove such is the case. With Violet, she is also a product of her parents, but Violet sets herself apart in asserting her strength and also embracing her weaknesses. Adding to their experiences are the secrets that have been kept hidden over the years, but there those who wish to expose all for their own gain.

With the timeline occurring twenty years after the Sins & Needles and Dirty Angels series ends, the integration of well-known characters with the new generation feels seamless. Though it isn’t necessary to read Sins & Needles or Dirty Angels before reading Black Hearts, those schooled in the history of the McQueens and the Bernals will probably have a richer experience. For me, being reacquainted with my king, Javier Bernal, is pure bliss and I’m very pleased as to how he relates to the storyline. As always, Karina Halle stays true to her characters and her ability to engage her readers at multiple levels prevails in her newest release.

Black Hearts is a story about how lies and deceit can protect and harm those you love. I highly recommend!!

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