Sometimes you might want to read a romance with a huge, huge jerk who falls in love.
Class, we call those heroes alphaholes, and L. J. Shen writes them superbly. Men who snarl. Who say the cruelest, crudest things, particularly to our heroine. Who seem so close to being irredeemable that you wonder if it’s actually possible for the main characters to have a HEA.
But with Shen’s books, it is. Her books are dishy, juicy, and naughty, and I feel the perfect amount of voyeur when reading them because the characters and their lives are so alien to me.
With her latest release, The Kiss Thief, Shen tackles the arranged marriage trope. Nineteen-year-old Francesca Rossi is beautiful and accomplished and she’s dreamed of marrying Angelo Bandini for years. But in one night, her father, Arthur, head of the Chicago Outfit, promises her in marriage to Senator Wolfe Keaton, a ruthless man who has dirt on Arthur and promises to use it.
Wolfe is not a nice person, and his plans to make Francesca’s father miserable include making her miserable as well. He puts his plans into effect ASAP, and the results are truly cringeworthy.
But Francesca is warm and quirky, and before he knows it, Wolfe finds himself doing things for her that he never imagined. Is it possible for Wolfe to allow himself to care about her? And for her to let go of the love she’s had for Angelo for so many years? Also, on an entirely unrelated note, how well does vengeance go with new marriages, particularly if the person being targeted is the bride’s father?
Though I tore through the pages of The Kiss Thief, this book didn’t resonate with me quite as much as some of Shen’s other books have (i.e. Bane and Dirty Headlines), and I think it comes down to these simple facts about the characters. Francesca is 19 and (understandably) unsure about a lot of things, and this, added to other factors like Wolfe’s intense vengeance plot and the complex lover’s triangle, led to some behaviors and decisions that I wasn’t entirely crazy about (even though I also recognized that those behaviors and decisions seemed fairly realistic to the characters, given what we knew about them).
But I still enjoyed this book very much, and here’s why: The Kiss Thief is glamorous and magnetic, and I fell into the story right away. I don’t usually identify with Shen’s characters, but I’m enthralled by them and eager to see what manner of mischief is about to transpire next. They’re always unpredictable, and enticingly dramatic, and this book was no exception.
I received a complimentary copy of the book from the author, but all opinions provided are my own.
About the Author
When my toddler and infant sleep--or are otherwise engaged--I write, read, and eat lots of chocolate.