Author(s) Ashley and JaQuavis
Length: 304 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: August 18th 2020
Rating: 4 Stars
MONEY DEVILS Book Summary
The LaCroixs are four beautiful Haitian American women bound by money and blood. On the surface, the LaCroix Group is a venture capitalist company, but underneath, it’s so much more. The four sisters run long cons, targeting wealthy, prominent business figures. They have a system: Find the perfect mark, create the problem, then present the solution. For a cost…
Sutton “Sutty” LaCroix, the eldest sister and an accomplished business maven, sits on the family throne as the CEO of the LaCroix Group and is the face of their operation. No one is as good as Sutton when it comes to finding new prey.
However, when Sutton meets West, a young, black oil tycoon—a man who represents a life she and her sisters vowed never to live—she breaks all the rules. The LaCroix sisters have a pact: to never settle down and leave roots in one place. But Sutton falls in love with West's good looks, charm, and old money. This means that West is a problem. When he inducts her into a high society of opulence, power, and generational wealth, Sutton finds herself torn between the love of her life and the love of her family.
MIAMI, FLORIDA CIRCA EARLY 2000s
“Se pou nou jwenn em kounye a,” the man said smoothly in his native Haitian language—Haitian Creole to be exact. His accent was heavy, and his raspy voice sent chills up the spines of many men in Miami. In translation he simply said, “Let’s get them now.” His voice was calm and steady; however, his heart was filled with anxiety. Fear didn’t trigger his internal butterflies; rather, sheer eagerness and a burning passion for revenge had his blood racing.Two Haitian men were inside a van parked directly across the street from a popular restaurant. One man sat in the driver’s seat, while the other sat in the back, right next to the van’s sliding door. An AR-15 semiautomatic was in the man’s hands. He was waiting for the perfect time. They had been sitting there for the past hour and a half after receiving a tip about their enemy’s whereabouts, and they’d wasted no
time getting there to handle unfinished business. They’d been looking for him for quite some time.The man in the back seat cocked back his rifle, prepar- ing for what would be a gory scene. Anonymity didn’t con- cern them, so they’d passed on wearing ski masks or other disguises. They wanted to send a clear message: DO NOT FUCK WITH THE HAITIANS IN DADE COUNTY.This had been an ongoing drug war between their crew and the other side for a very long time, and the only way to end it was to kill the other side’s leader—none other than the notorious Carter Diamond, boss of the feared drug syn- dicate the Cartel. The Cartel controlled the Port of Miami, which meant it controlled the flow of the country’s imported drugs. Its power and influence were so strong that it was al- most a death sentence to go against them. Yet Matee and Milo did when they’d set up shop and started selling drugs in Carter’s territory, a crucial mistake that ignited the war they were currently losing by a landslide. Just a few months prior, a drive-by shooting claimed many members of their Hai- tian mob while at a birthday party for a member’s child, and their niece had been one of the victims. Not only that, a bul- let had grazed Milo’s daughter during the attack. Milo had thanked God every night his daughter wasn’t murdered, but his thoughts always swung from grateful to being enraged over the possibility of “what if ?” What if his precious daughter had been taken away from him? The hypothetical drove him nuts and vengeance became his burning desire. Getting back at the Cartel, but especially Carter Diamond, was personal to them. The Cartel had crossed the line of morality even for a drug war, and revenge was the only thing on both of their minds. It was a sad day for their family and a tough pill to
swallow. Although it wasn’t intended for her, a young life was lost, and all bets were off at that point.Milo and Matee understood there was no honor in the streets. They had been trying to find the head of the Car- tel for so long, knowing that ending him would be the only way for them to win the war. No matter how many soldiers they killed, Carter could recruit more and more. He had an endless supply of street mercenaries and his power was over- reaching. His money was longer and stronger so there was no match. So Milo suggested they shift from killing soldiers to solely hunting for Carter Diamond.And today, it was their time. They had their man. However, they were racing against the clock. Carter Di-amond was currently on trial for tax evasion and he could serve jail time if convicted. That would take their chances of murdering him from slim to none. They had to get him before his possible conviction, which would be next week.As they looked through the front window, the man at the wheel cranked the ignition. His dark, smooth skin was the same color as tar and long locs hung past his shoulders. A Haitian flag–themed bandana was wrapped tightly around his head, keeping his locs from falling into his face. The man in the back wore locs, too, and resembled the driver very closely. They were blood brothers only a few years apart. Milo, the driver, was the eldest, the more levelheaded of the two. He looked down into his lap and released his firm clutch from the steering wheel to grip two chrome pistols, one in each hand. He rarely went into the field or got vio- lent, but this matter was personal. Milo was the brains of the operation and typically acted as the silent partner to their drug organization. The tension in the street was so high and
both sides had lost much. As they watched Carter closely, Milo could hear his brother’s heavy panting. Matee was like an animal that stalked his prey. He looked back and saw Matee’s chest rapidly rise and fall with each breath. He could literally see the adrenaline pumping throughout Matee’s body. Tears began to form in Matee’s eyes and Milo knew his little brother was locked in. He wanted Carter Diamond dead in the worst way. Milo, mindful of how hotheaded his brother was, under- stood he had to calm Matee before they made their move.“Matee,” he called out, but Matee didn’t snap out of his rageful trance. “Matee!” he called again, louder this time. Matee slowly shifted his eyes and looked at his brother with a demented gaze.“Konsantre!” Milo spat with a stern expression and a pierc- ing stare. This meant “focus” in Haitian Creole. He spoke in their native tongue, knowing that would resonate better with his hell-bent brother. He grabbed Matee around the back of his neck and turned him so they were eye to eye. He whis- pered harshly, peering directly into his brother’s soul through the windows of his dark eyes.“Konsantre,” he said again, giving Matee a firm shake to get him to snap back to reality. In a calmer tone, he repeated once more, “Konsantre.”Matee nodded quickly in agreement as he slightly leaned forward, gently pressing his head against his brother’s. They would do this as adolescents, a soothing technique Milo used with his troubled younger sibling. Matee finally blinked and returned to the present as a lone tear fell from his left eye. Just the sight made Milo’s insides shake and he had an urge to cry along with his brother, but he didn’t. He was the stronger of the two, so he had to remain stout to keep Matee
stable. Nevertheless, Milo felt uneasy seeing the most ruth- less man he had ever known on the edge of insanity. That was a bad combination. It was only a matter of time before a mental explosion happened. He hadn’t seen Matee drop a tear since they were little boys. The death of their precious niece had his mind foggy, but his goal was crystal clear. Matee wanted Carter Diamond to feel the pain he’d caused his family and to experience it in the worst way possible.Milo also wanted to exact revenge—he could feel his trig- ger finger begin to itch—but he wanted to be strategic about it. He suddenly began to regret bringing Matee along for the potential hit. During the past few months, they had stalked and waited patiently. Even now, his eyes were trained on the restaurant’s entrance, closely studying the tall, dark, handsome man in a well-tailored Italian suit who’d just emerged. It was him, the urban legend, Carter Diamond. A smooth, chocolate man with the grace of a professional ballplayer, he was all that he was cracked up to be and then some. Diamond’s salt-and-pepper beard was perfectly lined and his bright smile shined from a distance. Some could hardly believe the gracious man was as vicious and coldhearted as they came. Not many knew about his dark side, but those who knew, knew.Milo and Matee intently watched Carter talk to the valet at- tendant and then stand on the curb to wait for his car. Other patrons walked in and out of the restaurant.“We get ’em now, bruva,” Matee said, not taking his eyes off Carter. Matee’s jaw clenched tightly, the muscles visibly flexing as he ground his back teeth against one another. He was thirsting for retribution, ready to shoot with reckless abandon. The cold steel in his hands had never felt better.
“Make sure you hit him in de head. We can’t afford to miss this mu’fucka. All head shots, you ’er me?” Milo in- structed as he slid the van onto the streets, merging into traf- fic. “Listen close. We going to slide right up on ’em. Let ’em have it as soon as I slide the door back.”Milo slowly drove past Carter, who was on the opposite side of the street. He smoothly made a U-turn. Now they were on the same side of the street as the restaurant and were creeping up to the restaurant’s front curb where their target stood.“Here we go . . . here we go,” Milo drawled under his breath.His eyes locked on Carter, not even blinking, fearing he would lose sight. He then reached up to push the button that automatically slid the van’s door open. They were two cars behind in the valet line and had the perfect angle to assassi- nate the Cartel’s leader.“Pare . . . pare,” Milo mumbled, meaning “get ready.”Matee licked his lips and focused as he squeezed the rifle’s handle and extended his pointer finger just next to the trigger. His nose began to run and sweat beads formed on his brow. His animalistic nature had clicked on and he was in pure savage mode. His heart raced ferociously as the van inched up, now only one car back from Carter. They watched as Carter looked past them to focus on the Bentley behind them, which was his car. Carter then looked back to the restaurant’s entrance and motioned, waving someone over. They couldn’t make out what he was saying, but soon out came his Dominican wife and a young girl. The car in front of them cleared the way for them to pull up right next to Carter. As Milo slowly edged forward, he could see the
young girl’s face and the guilt began to tweak his heart. She seemed to be the same age as his oldest daughter. He began to breathe deeply, knowing this child could catch a bullet that wasn’t meant for her.“Hold on, Matee. No kids,” Milo whispered as he pulled up to the curb.“Fuck sa a femèl chen ti kras,” Matee said, meaning “Fuck that little bitch.” He was zoned in and didn’t care about his brother’s protest. He only saw red.Matee finished sliding open the door and there stood Carter, his wife, and his daughter. Without hesitation, Matee raised his gun and yelled, “Sak pase! Remember me?”He put his finger on the trigger and pointed the gun at Carter, slightly smirking as their eyes met. He then twitched his gun to the right, aiming it directly at the young girl.“Breeze!” Carter yelled as he realized what was about to happen. Matee’s twisted smirk turned even more sinister as he thought about the pain Carter was about to feel. Matee’s lip began to quiver in demonic pleasure and his eyes got as big as golf balls as his attention focused on the young girl.The young girl froze in fear. There was nothing she could do.Carter lunged to protect his daughter, but the crack of gunfire sounded before he could reach her.Milo quickly pushed the gun away at the same mo- ment Matee pulled the trigger, causing him to sway. Bullets sprayed throughout the air and sparks flew from the rifle’s barrel. Milo’s last-second push made his brother hit the valet worker instead of Carter or his family. Milo then mashed the gas pedal to the floor, making the tires screech and a cloud of smoke appear. The van fishtailed into the middle of the street and it quickly fled the chaotic scene.
The vehicle’s unexpected jerking motion thrust Matee across the van. “Fuck! What de fuck are y’u doing?”“No children!” Milo yelled, swerving in and out of traf- fic. The thought of Carter Diamond’s daughter almost being shot made him feel unexpected empathy. That was a pain no man should feel, and his moral compass wouldn’t let him lean all the way into the devil’s playground.“Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!” Milo screamed as he repeatedly hit the steering wheel out of rage and frustration, his mind rac- ing. They’d likely never get a chance like that again to kill their sworn enemy and shift the balance of power.Matee sat in the back seat, shaking his head in disbelief. He looked at the rearview mirror and caught a glimpse of his brother’s eyes. Their stares matched in intensity and both de- cided to remain quiet. It was unspoken, but they both knew things would never be the same. They were at a point of no return. Carter had seen them and now knew exactly who they were. This street war had reached its boiling point. It was no longer about the lower-level drive-bys and drug ter- ritories. It was personal on both sides. Carter and Matee had locked eyes and there was no room for misinterpretation. It was crystal clear and etched in stone.They would be enemies for life.• • •
Money Devils #1 is the kind of book that is very easy to write off as just another Urban Contemporary. Written in the "flash and fight" style of most "tales from the street.
A la Zane and Jerome Dicky.
I, as a reviewer will be the first to admit that I had to fight the urge to DNF this book several times in the offing. Due to the staggering number of cliche racial descriptors and fashion label name drops within the book's first few chapters.
But having preserved.
I must admit that under all of that cliche; there is a story well worth reading.
The fact that the story starts with two conflicts.
First the blood feud between the Diamonds and LaCroix.
Then the Ashton situation. And its segue into to the LaCroix family and their "not so bright and shining world".
Other factors working in this story's favor.
- The panache of the LaCroix sisters and their "business of blackmail".
- The fact that each of the sisters is allowed her own storyline and time in the spotlight.
Though Sutton and Ashton are front and center for the majority of this story.
- West, August, and Beamer Sinclair:s stories. And the way that they intermingle with those of Sutton, Ashton, and the others.
- The way that everything and everyone that is so far removed from the street and the blood feud relates back to it in the end.
This book is very reminiscent of the nighttime soaps of the 80's and 90's. With larger than life characters. Mounts of cash. And plots so twisted that one dared not blink for fear of missing something. Although one was never really sure what that something might be. Until the big reveal at the end of things.
Although this book ends in an unforgettable cliffhanger.
This fast paced and surprisingly fun read is one that makes good on its promise to shock, surprise, titillate, and sate, all who dare to enter the world of Money Devils #1.
*WTF Are You Reading would like to thank Netgalley and St. Martin's Press for providing the review copy on which this honest critique is based.