As a writer I always have my own vision and understanding of why my characters are the way they are and why they make the choices they do. I spend a lot of time researching Psychology as a hobby, which I combine with my own life experiences and that I know of friends who have confided in me. I have always been a people watcher, for my entire life and recognise, patterns , behaviours from a young age.
I feel like somehow this was all training to become the writer I am now and find it completely refreshing when a reader or someone working on the books has the same vision as me.
I asked my very trusted Team Member Rachel, who was proof reader on books 7 and 8 and also gave me her insight into the books, to write me a review that was a little more in depth to the ones posted on Amazon. Rachel was a huge part of the plot cleaning phase where I fix little issues that don’t sit right and she was also the idea behind Camilla’s first ‘throw things at Alexi’ scene.
BE AWARE THERE ARE SPOILERS ***********
This is her review. ( I cannot fault a single word)
The Carrero Contract – Amending Agreements.
As most Carrero fans have probably finished reading Book 8, I was asked to write an analysis review from a Beta/ proof-readers perspective. So here goes (please be aware these are my personal opinions and insights into this couple). Let’s get the obvious out of the way first. L.T. Marshall (aka Leanne) is an amazing author with a talent for telling hard-hitting stories about real life issues, she writes about topics that are, unfortunately, still quite taboo in today’s society. Her books are emotionally, frustrating and addictive.
With Alexi and Camilla’s story L.T. moved away from the businessman meets PR girl or friends turned lovers plot and ventured into something darker and more sinister, Mafia boss meets ex-prostitute. Having had the privilege of being part of the process of reading the original rough draft, giving Leanne help and support by making small suggestions with the story and then proof-reading the final copy I got to know the characters pretty well and feel like I understand the many layers of their personalities a little more. I have read many reviews of the first in this trilogy and I think the general consensus was that Alexi was a controlling, domineering and sadistic son of a bitch. Yes he was. And he was not much different in Book 8, a little softer and less aggressive towards Camilla, but still a bad bastard. However, he has his reasons. Now I know some of you reading this may think, whatever his reasons that’s no way to treat a woman. I agree, but on the other hand I also understand why he treated her that way. Just remember Camilla is no saint either. She also treated Alexi like shit some of the time, more so in Book 8, throwing things at him and calling him all sorts of names—name calling is still abuse, albeit verbal. So is it ok for Camilla to do it but not for Alexi? No, but again she has her reasons. You have to ask yourself why. Why are they this way? I would suggest that when you read any of Leanne’s books, you always keep the question of why in your head. Every time a character does something you don’t like, ask yourself why.
Now let’s get down to the nitty gritty of these two and their complex relationship. Both Alexi and Camilla are very lost broken souls. Many fans disliked Camilla for what she did to Sophie in Book 5, and I must admit I wasn’t much of a fan of hers myself, but I didn’t dislike her as I realised there was a reason for her behaviour and why she did what she did—self-preservation. She offered up girls to men as a way of saving herself from having to endure it. The way she did it was not right. We didn’t know much about Camilla in Book 7 so it’s easy to see from her actions why many hated her. However, with her story coming to light in this trilogy those same readers have done a complete U-turn and now like Camilla and are rooting for her. So you have to ask yourself why? What changed their minds about Camilla? Was it knowing a little more about her background, or because of the way Alexi treated her? Does knowing what people have been through help us understand them better? Of course it does, even the hardened among us can feel empathy towards another. Camilla suffered a horrendous childhood that began when her mother, a woman who should have nurtured, protected and loved her unconditionally, sacrificed her innocence for her own gain. In that one moment Camilla’s trust was irrevocably broken. And things only got worse. Trust is very hard to regain once it’s been breached. Throughout her childhood Camilla suffered more abuse at the hands of men, more details of which you will find out in Book 9 and Alexi’s POV. But the fact remains, her trust in anyone, men in particular, was gone. After enduring what she did in Book 7 at Alexi’s hand just exacerbated that lack of trust. So when I see people’s comments about Book 8 saying: Alexi is trying so hard, why can’t she see what is in front of her, it’s obvious he loves her, she should be throwing herself at him and take what he’s offering. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth type of thing. Camilla has a long road ahead before she can think about trusting anyone fully. She tried with Alexi in Book 7 and look where that got her. Camilla turned her abuse around and used it for her own gain. She, basically, became an abuser, not in the literal sense but she allowed girls to be used by men which is never ok, but again self-preservation. She got the chance to turn her life around with Alexi and become someone, and yes she started to trust him a little and even fell for him; that backfired, big time.
Now put yourself in Camilla’s shoes and answer this one question, if you had suffered horrific abuse, not only as a child but also as an adult, and then suffered again at the hands of a man you thought was going to give you what you’d always craved, a home, a job and be someone who cared for you and made you feel like you mattered in this world, would you trust him? He betrayed her in more ways than one. The demons from your past may fade but they never disappear, they are always in the back of your mind, and it only takes one trigger to bring them to the forefront. This is what Alexi did. He used her triggers and fears against her, used sex to punish and emotional and verbal threats to break her down further, to the point she tried to kill herself (he had no idea of the extent of the damage he was doing until that very last scene). Would you throw yourself at him and forgive just because he showed a side of him that could be softer; A side that is less aggressive than what you’ve seen of him and believe him to be. He manipulated and twisted everything Camilla trusted in the past, therefore that trust is once again broken. That is not easily rectified. Sorry just doesn’t cut it. Camilla couldn’t just fall at his feet and forgive what he did—Again self-preservation. She first needed to learn not to fear him, be able to stand up to him and then finally learn to trust him. We saw glimpses of this in Book 8. She doesn’t fear him as much; this is partly due to his change in demeanour around her, which confuses the hell out of her as she just doesn’t understand why the sudden change in him. We know he was falling for her, but she has never had anyone who actually cared for her let alone love her, so she doesn’t know what it looks like. She doesn’t recognise his feelings towards her, she just thinks he’s being weird and it’s part of his manipulation game again. She has also started standing up to him more—Go Camilla, get that feisty, sassy independence back, girl.
This brings me to Alexi. Alexi is a cold-hearted, domineering, controlling son of a bitch. He keeps everyone, except a select few, at arm’s length, which I believe, much like Camilla, is for self-preservation. Alexi’s story is not all sunshine and roses either. He too has his issues dating back to childhood, some of which were revealed in Books 7 & 8. His own story is complex and not an altogether happy one, again more will be revealed in Book 9 and especially his POV. Some say he is a sadistic and twisted bastard, bordering on psychopath. Yes he displays some psychopathic behaviour. Being pushed away and constant rejection by his mother, again someone who should have loved him unconditionally, from an early age, followed by the traumatic event in his teens had a profound effect on him. The shooting incident at the age of 13 found his mother severing ties with him for a length of time. Shunning is a silent and devious form of psychological torture which is on-going. It is designed to hurt and make you believe that you are completely unlovable, and always will be; in a word it is abuse.
Psychopaths lack emotion or only experience shallow emotions. They can’t form strong bonds with others. They are callous and lack empathy. They are cunning and manipulative. They display antisocial behaviours (often illegal). They can be impulsive and have promiscuous sexual behaviour. I’ve just described Alexi, right? But there’s a big difference, and we have evidence of this in Book 8, and I’m sure there’s more to come. Alexi does show emotion, he can feel empathy. We have seen that he has strong bonds to members of his family, and females he considers family. He has changed towards Camilla and is less callous and manipulative; he is showing her a side to him that most don’t get to see. Those are not the traits of a psychopath. Again there are many reasons for Alexi’s behaviour which will be revealed in the coming books. I feel with both characters their behaviour comes down to the nature-nurture debate. Camilla was not nurtured; she was not cared for or loved and only used as an object. She was used by her mother and men, and also rejected by her father later in life. You don’t just ‘get over’ that overnight. You have to learn to deal with it and find a way to live with it. Alexi … nature or nurture? Psychopathic tendencies can be innate, there are more people with these traits then we realise. However it can be environmental factors which bring them to fruition. A chaotic and violent upbringing can tip the scales for those already predisposed to behave psychopathically. Brain anatomy, genetics and a person’s environment can all contribute to the development of such traits. Alexi has been conditioned from what he experienced as a child and the horrors he sees in his line of work, so I feel with him it’s a bit of both (now I know the nature/ nurture debate has been on-going since the beginning of time and some may disagree with me, but like I said, these are my opinions).
So let’s talk about what we do know, or don’t know …
Alexi’s knew of Camilla and her reputation before he ‘bought’ her. He saw her as a cold, calculating manipulator who used sex and the exploitation of young girls for her own gain. Kind of like him in a dress. When he installed her in his club this is the impression he had of her, and in his eyes ‘A leopard never changes its spots’. So even though she never gave him any reason to doubt her or to not trust her, this is exactly what happened. His issues with trust and forming bonds with people had a huge impact on the way he treated her. After the cliff-hanger ending of Book 7 many people expressed their severe dislike of Alexi, some even saying they hated him. Most of these have now done a complete U turn and now love Alexi or are warming towards him. So what changed? And why is Camilla not throwing herself at him? She’s on to a winner, right?
Well, we know Alexi spent four months looking for Camilla. Even though she frustrated the crap out of him and he didn’t really trust her, he still felt the need to protect her. He was relieved when she finally came back to the club. However, he knew if she was to stay this time things had to change and he did try hard. He was afraid to touch her, in case she went crazy, after all she did hurl a load of objects at him when he first laid eyes on her again. She has called him a psychotic sociopath amongst other unsavoury names. He still has that underlying aggression, he is impulsive and can be reckless, all tied up with his memory of being unlovable. She told him often enough that it was never going to happen between them, so when she rejects him in Miami, he goes nuts. With her continued rejection he wasn’t going to just reveal his feelings for her straight off, through fear of her running a mile. This makes his job of showing her that he can be someone she can trust harder. He needed to show her a different side to him, gain her trust little by little, prove to her that he can be someone she can love and be with, and in doing so he broke down some of the walls surrounding his own heart. He has to learn how to be a different person for her; he’s not going to have a personality transplant overnight. Camilla can see the change in him, but like always doesn’t trust it. She fears he’s trying to manipulate her again. But sex wasn’t Alexi’s goal this time, just having her close where he can protect her and keep her safe was enough. But Camilla grew up not knowing how or what love should look and feel like. She is still that terrified kid in fear of being used again. She was burned the first time she trusted him and revealed her feelings—once bitten and all that. It took a long time for her to come to the realisation that she still loved him and the fear of losing him completely is what made her give herself to him at the end. That gave Alexi a glimmer of hope that she did still love him and he may be in with a chance, yet her lack of trust made her regret it instantly and run. Which is why he told her he loved her, he couldn’t lose her again. He’s trying to cement that trust for her.
I have seen many people asking Leanne what happened to make Alexi change. Why is he being nicer to Camilla? When will we find out? Well, all I can say is … Read between the lines. Leanne is very adept at hiding little subtleties in her books that many people miss. Remember the film The Sixth Sense? How many of you saw that film and when it came to the end said ‘OMG, I never even noticed’. The signs were all there. The fact the guy never interacted with anyone apart from the boy, he and his wife didn’t seem to talk anymore, the basement door was always locked when he tried it, and his wife was always cold when he was around. He was dead. Now go back and watch it again, you will see the signs and wonder how you missed them first time around. Book 8 is like that film. There are signs that reveal more than what’s on the surface. Go back and re-read, slower, and you may spot them. If not, Oh well, I guess you’ll just have to wait until Book 9 and Alexi’s POV. There are great things ahead.