Queen of Humboldt by Tagan ShepardQueen of Humboldt by Tagan Shepard is an enemies to lovers, crime novel thrill ride packed with loads of daring and danger.

Growing up happened way too fast for Marisol Solitero. Finding herself living on the streets at an early age, she quickly learned what it took to survive. And once she applied her instincts, wit, and perseverance, she quickly learned what it took to thrive. However, establishing herself as the Queen of Humbolt did make things difficult when it came to dating, especially when she just happens to fall in love with the straightest shooting politician this side of Harvey Dent.

If hard work and determination were what it was going to take to clean up the crime ridden streets of Chicago, then Sabrina Sloane was going to work harder than anyone. And it is starting to look like she has the gumption to succeed. Her tough on crime perseverance however never seems to land the one woman in jail she wants behind bars the most. Marisol Soltero… a past indiscretion she can’t seem to forget for more ways than one.

But there are worse criminals out there than Marisol and when the two women find their paths cross once again, there may not be a way out for either of them unless they work together. But how can they rely on one another to survive given who they are and their shared history, especially with an attraction that never really went away looming over them?

The Characters 

Marisol Soltero had a rough life pretty much from the get-go. She ended up on the streets young and did what she had to to survive the harsh and unforgiving lifestyle, eventually becoming a feared crime boss. But Shepard manages to make her appealing and, ok I admit, a little swoonish by adding a depth that pairs beautifully with her dangerous nature and suave swagger.

Brin, or Sabrina Sloane, is a tough on crime, attorney turned governor whose only character flaw seems to be that she works too hard. I have to say I craved a little more dirt from her as it’s hard to imagine someone being that perfect and falling for someone like Marisol. But this does allow her to fulfill her role in the opposites attract trope to perfection.

The relationship between the two is about as enemies to lovers as you can get – mega crime boss and altruistic crack attorney come politician find HEA. They are not exactly what you would think is the perfect fit but through different twists and flashbacks, their similarities become more apparent and you find yourself rooting for them in the end.

The Writing Style

The story is told from both Sabrina and Marisol’s perspectives and is nonlinear in that some of the chapters are flashbacks. I found these glimpses into the past to be a great way to introduce some much needed character history as well as helping to understand and sympathize with Marisol. This structure can sometimes be confusing, but Shepard does a great job using this device and I never felt disoriented or lost.

This book reads like a blockbuster action film (I was getting some Sicario vibes at times). It is a pulse pumper with a ton of action that will keep you excitedly flipping the page to see what is coming next. Unfortunately, this leaves a little to be desired in terms of character development, but I don’t think this detracts from the overall enjoyment of the book as it more than delivers on its promise of action and excitement.

My Favourite Parts 

I love how this book embraces what it is and keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout. I was expecting action and I got it in spades.

Heads Up 

This book contains some heavy and graphic subject matter. There are references to sex trafficking, rape (including one on page attempt), punishment, abuse, and murder. In addition, there are some are some very visceral torture scenes played out in the story.

The Conclusion 

Sometimes I want to disappear into fantastical realms with unicorns and knights or hop aboard a spaceship with aliens and weird science. Occasionally I’m in the mood for a rib tickling RomCom, and of course there are times I want zombies. Ok… I almost always want zombies. But there are also times I crave some good old fashioned, edge of your seat, blow things up, nonstop, adrenaline rushing action. This book certainly filled that need. So, if you find yourself in need of some literary induced heart palpitating excitement, well grab this book, strap in, and hold on because you’ll be creating a windstorm from turning the pages so fast.

Excerpt from Queen of Humboldt by Tagan Shepard

The light changed and Sabrina started forward with the crowd. She must be the new Assistant State’s Attorney Marisol had heard about. As if things weren’t complicated enough. She should let it go – keep the memory of a lovely weekend and disappear into the crowd. Instead, she hurried to catch up and leaned close to Sabrina’s ear.

“Like you said, Brin, it’ll be a long day. I’ll need a drink after. Maybe even dinner.”

Sabrina’s smile answered before she did. “Brin? Hmm. I like that. We’ll discuss dinner over the first drink.”

When they made it to the courthouse stairs, a man in an off-the-rack suit waved his arm and Sabrina waved back. Turning to Marisol she said, “There’s Krone. So, Mario’s? Six thirty?

Marisol nodded and Sabrina hurried away. As she made her way into the crowd surfing up the stairs, Marisol caught the man’s confused glare in her direction. He pointed at her and Sabrina’s frowning gaze turned to follow.

Making herself comfortable in the pool of reporters at the back of the courtroom, Marisol pulled out a notepad and started doodling while the room filled. Sabrina marched in, her eyes straight ahead, but her colleague was looking into every face. When he finally found Marisol, he smirked and she smirked right back. He whispered in Sabrina’s ear but she didn’t react. It was the lack of response that had Marisol’s gut twisting.

The judge arrived fifteen minutes late, looking bored. He addressed Sabrina as Assistant State’s Attorney Sloane, confirming the trouble Marisol had gotten herself into. As the day progressed Marisol’s notepad filled with doodles. Men in orange jumpsuits filed in and out of the room. Marisol stopped squirming after the third one. She remembered all too well what it felt like to be shackled wrist and ankle. Her jumpsuit had smelled like beef stew and had made her itch all over.

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Bits and Bobs 

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About the author

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I live in Ontario, Canada. If I’m not seeking out my own adventures, I am reveling in the reading of the adventures of others.