5 out of 5 Stars
*I was provided a copy of Dirty South Drug Wars by the author in exchange for an honest review. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*
Rue Monroe is no stranger to law enforcement, having grown up in a family where selling drugs is an everyday occurrence. Her father was killed when she was twelve in the middle of a drug war with their rival, the Montgomerys, so she wants nothing to do with the family business. Rue goes to school, works at her grandmother’s cake shop, and takes care of her sister and the house because her mother can’t be bothered to help.
At age eighteen, Rue meets a boy who makes her feel something for the first time in her life. As it turns out, he’s the boy she’s been dreaming about for the last six years. Unfortunately, he’s also her family’s biggest rival. But Tanner Montgomery won’t give up on his love for Rue. He’s determined to be with Rue regardless of their last names.
What should be a simple relationship between two eighteen-year-olds turns into an all-out war between the families. Lies are uncovered, and Rue questions everything she thought she knew about the rivalry. When secrets come to light, the danger mounts, and not everyone will make it out of this war alive.
Dirty South Drug Wars is the thrilling debut novel from Jae Hood. It is a compelling combination of romance and suspense that will have you ensconced in the lives of the characters and the world they live in. Set in rivaling small towns in the rural South, the book draws you in to the world of drug kingpins and cake decorating. This young adult story includes drugs and violence and is recommended for the older young adult audience.
Told in first person point of view by Rue, we get a first-hand look at the life of a teenager who has had to grow up before her time. Rue’s father was killed when she was twelve and her mother is an absentee parent. This leaves Rue in charge of her younger sister who has an untreated mental illness, not to mention working to pay the bills and take care of the house while still in school.
Rue’s characterization is contrasted nicely with her love interest, Tanner Montgomery. Tanner is reckless and enjoys a good thrill. He deals with the consequences of his actions after they’ve occurred. But both Rue and Tanner have to take on a little of the other’s personality when push comes to shove. Tanner needs to execute carefully laid plans, while Rue needs to put aside her responsibilities and act for her own interests for once.
The story is full of action and excitement within the lives of these teenagers. They’re thrust in the middle of a drug war and need to do what’s necessary for what they believe is right, figuring out who is an ally and who is the enemy along the way. It will keep you on the edge of your seat right to the very end.
Dirty South Drug Wars is a fantastic debut from Ms. Hood, and I look forward to reading more of her work.