Date of publication: February 19th, 2023
Trigger Warning: Rape of a child (graphic), racism, attempted rape, murder, attempted murder, gun violence, domestic violence, stalking, depression
A riveting tale of revenge, survival and redemption, wrapped around an unlikely love story and set against an urban backdrop corrupted by bigotry and misogyny.
Following a racially motivated rape by three Ku Klux Klansmen, 12-year-old Desiree Devine vows revenge. After eight years of training, now a strikingly beautiful assassin, she accomplishes her mission.
Her campaign continues with solitary walks through dark city streets, hoping to be assaulted by men with bad intentions. Those entrapped by her spider’s web pay dearly for their efforts.
Surrounded by three white men one night, she’s rescued by Tony Marino, an Italian-American passerby. A stormy, up-and-down relationship ensues. Ultimately, as her rage matures into purposeful action, and as he begins to see the world through her eyes, they become a team.
Along the way, they encounter serial killers, wife-beaters, actual and would-be rapists, gangsters, crooked cops, a kidnapper and a pedophile priest, as well as numerous women in desperate need of their help. Beneath all the action, though, is the blossoming of a most unusual love story.
What the hell just happened? wondered Tony Marino. Tony had been walking home from a poker game in Brooklyn’s Little Italy, the Bensonhurst section.Desiree’s Revenge by K.C. Carson
After being gang-raped by Klan members who were upset that her father tried to register to vote when she was 12 years old, Desiree wanted revenge. When her father, concerned that she is acting out at school and home, sends her to learn martial arts at the local community center, Desiree becomes immersed in her training. Eight years later, Desiree accomplishes her goal. But it wasn’t enough. Soon, Desiree is walking the streets of New York City, looking for men with bad intentions. On one of those hunts, she meets Tony Marino, a handsome Italian PI. Shortly afterward, she saves a young woman from being raped on the subway and realizes she was found her true calling. With Tony and her friend at her side, Desiree tries to rid the world of serial killers, wife-beaters, rapists, gangsters, crooked cops, a kidnapper, and pedophile priest. While this happens, Desiree and Tony start a romance. Will Desiree get caught while dealing with her brand of justice? Will Tony reconcile the two sides of Desiree that he sees?
The synopsis and what I wrote above barely touch what this book was about. When I started reading it, I thought it would be an interracial romance with some action and maybe some touchy subject. What I got was that, but it was also more. As a woman, I was alternately terrified and cheering while Desiree exacted what the world’s criminals need: justice. As a person, I cringed when people threw racial slurs around. And as a mother, I was horrified and then angry by what Desiree was put through at only 12 years old.
There are triggers in Desiree’s Revenge. Most are graphic, so keep that in mind while reading this list:
- Rape of a Child: Desiree is gang-raped in her house by three members of the Klan.
- Attempted Rape: Desiree walks into a subway station where a man is raping a girl. A kidnapper almost rapes Desiree.
- Racism: Racism is a huge factor in this book. Desiree was gang-raped because her father attempted to go register to vote in 1960s Mississippi. Her rape was racially motivated. Tony’s ex-wife calls Desiree a racial slur in Italian. Racial slurs are painted on the stairs of Tony’s house in Little Italy because the neighbors don’t like Tony’s involvement with Desiree. Desiree is kidnapped by a serial killer who only kills black prostitutes.
- Murder: Desiree kills six people throughout this book, and it is done graphically.
- Attempted Murder: Crooked cops tried to kill Tony while he was on the force. A rival gang attempts to kill Tony several times.
- Gun Violence: Tony and Desiree are shot at several times during the book. Tony is shot while on the force. Desiree uses a gun to kill most of her victims.
- Domestic Violence: Tony’s ex-wife is severely beaten by her new husband.
- Stalking: Desiree stalks a serial killer at the beginning of the book. When she and Tony take a break, she thinks he’s seeing another woman and stalks him.
- Depression: Desiree falls into a depression towards the end of the book (when she and Tony break up).
As stated above, these are all graphic (the author didn’t hold anything back). If any of these triggers you, I suggest not reading this book.
Desiree’s Revenge mainly occurs in early 1970’s New York City, particularly Brooklyn’s Little Italy. There are brief forays to Hickory, Mississippi, and Alcona County, Michigan, at the beginning of the book. Then it stays put.
Desiree’s Revenge is also a fast-paced book with no lag. The book’s pacing kept me glued to it because I needed to know what happened.
The main storyline centers around Desiree and then shifts to center around Desiree, Tony, and her vigilante justice. This well-written storyline kept my focus on Desiree and her evolving sense of justice. I liked that it went from revenge (which was justified) to rage to a sense of protection (Desiree taking on the serial killer, wife beaters, and pedophiles). As I said above, it is a graphic storyline with much violence.
There were a lot of smaller sub-storylines that fed into the main storyline perfectly. I will not get into them all, but my favorites were the serial killer (the first one with the yellow tulips) and Desiree building her self-defense classes.
I was slightly afraid of Desiree, but I liked her and was cheering her on. Her rape altered her on a fundamental level (I mean, a gang rape does that to a kid). She was so focused on getting her revenge that she didn’t take the time to do anything. But what impressed me was her growth during the book. She went from wanting revenge and hurting men all the time to wanting to protect people from what happened to her. I also liked that she had a vulnerable side to her. Tony meant more to her than she realized at first. He was the one that calmed her down.
Speaking of Tony, he was a good guy. He dealt with Desiree with a calm that I know I wouldn’t have had. If I were him, I would have jetted. But he saw a better Desiree and decided he would protect her. And he did, for most of the book.
There was romance in Desiree’s Revenge. It wasn’t your typical romance because Desiree doesn’t do things typically. Instead, Desiree and Tony do this dance for half the book, where they would ignore their feelings for each other. It drove me a little crazy, but at the same time, I liked it. When they finally did get together, I was like, “Finally!!!“
Now, there is sex in Desiree’s Revenge. I was wondering if/when Desiree was going to have consensual sex. I was a little thrown off by how she liked to do it. She fought with her partners. It was almost like wrestling. Everyone has their kink, and Desiree is wrestling with her partners. The sex scenes weren’t graphic, but the first time the sex wrestling happened, I didn’t know what to think. By the second time, it was expected, and I didn’t raise an eyebrow.
The end of Desiree’s Revenge was interesting. I liked that Tony came to terms with Desiree’s needs. I liked that he was supportive of her need to hurt people (other than him). The author had the book end on a happy note, which it needed. So much happened during this book that it needed a happy ending.
I recommend Desiree’s Revenge to anyone over 21. There is graphic violence, graphic language, and moderate to mild sexual situations. Also, see my trigger warning list.
Many thanks to K.C. Carson for allowing me to read and review Desiree’s Revenge. All opinions stated in this review are mine.