Book #1 Reina Del Cartel
Published by Baneful Ink Publishing (15th May 2022)
My rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Actual rating of 3.5
Cecilia Flores has been prepared her whole life for the crown that she will one day take. Queen of the Cartel, that is her destiny and she is ready for it. Until her Uncle steals her throne out from underneath her causing her to have to hide away and run so that he doesn’t catch up to her. When he begins to close in, the only place that Cecilia can go for help is the man who’s heart she broke twelve years ago. He wants her dead, but she’s hoping that there’s still some part of that boy she fell in love with still in there. Her betrayal shaped Ronan Zerkos into the ruthless leader of the Black Crow Brotherhood that he has become – now he’s known as Berserk. Along with his brother’s in arms, Santo and Mateo, the three of them run the most violent and powerful gang in the city. In order to reclaim her throne, Cecile will have to survive the hell they put her through and hope that when she comes out the other side, they’re behind her.
I was excited to read this one. I haven’t read very many mafia reverse harem stories and I’m keen to explore more because I love the strong, morally grey characters that we’re sure to meet in them. This one definitely delivered on that and I’m keen to see what happens.
We first meet Cecilia when she’s younger, we get to see her life as her father is the head of the Cartel, we get to see some of what she went through in order to be trained up to take his place one day. Fast forward a tiny bit and we see her relationship with Ronan evolve and how her father reacts to this while she is still being trained and prepared. We see the tragedy that unfolded which brings us to Cecilia now, hiding and on the run when she should be sitting on the throne of the cartel as their Queen. When she appears at Ronan’s doorstep the reception she receives in not entirely what she hoped for but it is what she expected. Having never told Ronan what her legacy and future was meant to be he has no understanding of what she’s dealing with or running from, though he’ll do his best to break her in order to find out the truth.
I absolutely LOVED the beginning of this book. Getting to see Cecilia’s upbringing in preparation for the crown she will one day hold was amazing, and I loved getting to know this character from such a young age. I was keen for when she appeared on Ronan’s doorstep appealing for help because I couldn’t wait for things to unfold. However, I did find that once we hit the middle portion of the story, the pacing kinda fell in a bit of a hole. I get that this part of the book was giving us a chance to get to know the male love interests a bit more in the way that the reacted to her torture and captivity, the way their feelings towards her changed as the days progressed and how they treated her differently from the the other captives. I also loved that even though these are some bad men, their motives and goals are actually something that I can get behind. I just found that the bulk of the book felt a bit repetitive with her days in the tower, though I understand that this also gave a chance for more information to be given due to the flashbacks Cecilia experienced due to the torture she was going through, so I’m not super mad at it, I just wish it had have moved a little bit faster. This book was definitely a set up for what is to come and I’m super excited to see how things progress and I cannot wait until the guys realise who Cecilia actually is, that is the main point that will probably keep me reading.
Cecilia is such a strong character and I absolutely adore her. She is calculated, brutal and dangerous and I am here for it, her story just has me enthralled and I can’t wait to see how it unfolds as the series progresses. I love Mateo and Santo’s characters as well, Ronan I’m still on the fence about, but I understand that his prickly exterior is due to the betrayal he felt when Cecilia up and left in the middle of the night. I’m keen to see the moment when he realises why she did it and that in the end she was just trying to protect the one man she has ever loved. There is still so much to be unpacked an explored in this story and for these characters and I can’t wait to see what happens.
The story itself is just beginning, as said above, this was definitely a setup instalment where the foundation has been laid for the story to build on. I’m keen to get right into the story and see what’s going to happen with Cecilia as well as the guys. I also love that we got a bit of a look into the Black Crow Brotherhood and their agenda and what they stand for, even though these characters are bad people, deep down I believe there is good in there, but they need to get their hands dirty in order to help others and they’re not afraid to do that.
The world building was done well, and gave enough information in order for the reader to understand the way the Cartel and the gang organisations work without getting too bogged down in the details. There were violent and sexual situations in this story but they worked so well for it, they weren’t just being used for shock value they were used to allow us as the reader to get a feel for certain characters and what they stand for, as well as character and relationship development, which I loved.
All in all, this was a good first instalment, it’s really opened up the way for amazing things to come, and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens when Cecilia finally reveals all, I’m waiting on the edge of my seat for that moment, you have no idea. This has me wanting to delve deeper into the Mafia, Gang and MC stories that I’ve been putting on the back burner. I’d also love to eventually get an offshoot for the Motorcycle club that we encounter in this series, I feel like there is a wealth of stories just waiting to be told there!