arc · review · romance

The Kiss Thief by L.J. Shen

The Kiss Thief
by L.J. Shen

Rating: ★★★★★
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They say your first kiss should be earned.

Mine was stolen by a devil in a masquerade mask under the black Chicago sky.

They say the vows you take on your wedding day are sacred.

Mine were broken before we left church.

They say your heart only beats for one man.

Mine split and bled for two rivals who fought for it until the bitter end.

I was promised to Angelo Bandini, the heir to one of the most powerful families in the Chicago Outfit.

Then taken by Senator Wolfe Keaton, who held my father’s sins over his head to force me into marriage.

They say that all great love stories have a happy ending.

I, Francesca Rossi, found myself erasing and rewriting mine until the very last chapter.

One kiss.
Two men.
Three lives.
Entwined together.

And somewhere between these two men, I had to find my forever.

*ARC provided by author/publisher in exchange for an honest review*

You can also read this review on Goodreads

A story of a Nemesis and a Villain with no chance at a happy ending. Where the prince doesn’t save the princess. He tortures her. And the beauty doesn’t sleep. She’s stuck. In a nightmare.

What a fantastic beginning to reading in 2019!

I knew I’d fall in love with this, because it is L.J. Shen. One of, if not, my favourite author. Ever. She’s a proficient and excellent writer—her sentences are carefully and beautifully constructed into gripping scenes and concise prose—who continues to astound me with every release.

She’s mastered an ability to transform cold-hearted and callous asshole heroes, who undergo an inevitable transformation of redemption, into loveable characters we can’t hate. They’re always damaged, filled with cynicism and sarcasm and hatred towards the wrongdoer, yet loaded with vengeance and countless positive qualities that make them them.

God, she was sweet, and she was all mine. Not just her body but also her words and her courage.

I thought I loved Baron “Vicious” Spencer; adored Celian Laurent, but I’m unconditionally infatuated and unquestionably besotted with Wolfe Keaton—The Kiss Thief. On the surface, he appears to be nothing beyond ruthless; however, there’s an immense amount of depth, intrigue and enigma surrounding this mean anti-hero. Without doubt, he is complex and multi-faceted, someone who appears withdrawn and detached, yet beneath the tough exterior is someone able to love. And love hard. Fierce, without shame. Wild, without restraint.

We were entwined and entangled, connected with invisible strings, each of us trying to pull away, only to create more knots that made us closer.

Francesca Rossi is my newest fictional best friend. Tangent: I was almost named Francesca. Ergo, we’re best friends. I digress. Having been raised dreadfully sheltered inside a gilded cage, oftentimes Francesca appears to be docile, unsure of herself and awfully immature. Seeming complaisant, or sometimes quiet, however, doesn’t always mean being submissive or feeble-minded—she’s quick-witted and intelligent. Torn between an older life bound in tradition and a newer life promising freedom, Francesca transforms into someone more daring, challenging and outspoken.

He turned to me, his grays on my blues, two pools of beautiful lies.

Wolfe and Francesca are explosive. Passionate enemies who slowly and quietly transform into intimate lovers. Wrapped up in an unexpected fervid romance; embraced by an intense connection.

The Kiss Thief is an engrossing, riveting narrative of an arranged marriage set within a modern Chicago. Promises of revenge shadowed by danger is abundant—you will be turning the pages faster than expected. L.J. Shen continues to astound me with the ways she illustrates love. It is always an intense fierceness of earnest affection and vicious yearning that is wretched and heart-aching however real. To be in real love is to be free. To change. To transform into someone greater than you’ve imagined. And she’s portrayed this through Wolfe and Francesca.

contemporary · review · romance

Review | Birthday Girl by Penelope Douglas

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Birthday Girl
by Penelope Douglas

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JORDAN
He took me in when I had nowhere else to go.

He doesn’t use me, hurt me, or forget about me. He doesn’t treat me like I’m nothing, take me for granted, or make me feel unsafe.

He remembers me, laughs with me, and looks at me. He listens to me, protects me, and sees me. I can feel his eyes on me over the breakfast table, and my heart pumps so hard when I hear him pull in the driveway after work.

I have to stop this. It can’t happen.

My sister once told me there are no good men, and if you find one, he’s probably unavailable.

Only Pike Lawson isn’t the unavailable one.

I am.

PIKE
I took her in, because I thought I was helping.

She’d cook a few meals and clean up a little. It was an easy arrangement.

As the days go by, though, it’s becoming anything but easy. I have to stop my mind from drifting to her and stop holding my breath every time I bump into her in the house. I can’t touch her, and I shouldn’t want to.

The more I find my path crossing hers, though, the more she’s becoming a part of me.

But we’re not free to give into this. She’s nineteen, and I’m thirty-eight.

And her boyfriend’s father.

Unfortunately, they both just moved into my house


You can also read this review on Goodreads

Birthday Girl is my first story by Penelope Douglas. I know, I’m a terrible person who takes way too long to jump into good things. We’re here now and it won’t be my last story. I couldn’t resist the cover; it is gorgeous. And the blurb? So enticing! Those two are what really propelled me into finally reading something by Ms Douglas.

I normally can’t stomach significantly older men/fathers. Often the trope is weird, creepy and cringe-worthy. However, Ms Douglas managed to succeed in delivering that trope without it turning into an awful mess. And the taboo aspect made it so much more worth it.

And that’s what I am. Her boyfriend’s father. Nothing more. But deep in my heart, the small ember growing bigger and bigger every day knows that’s a lie.

Jordan Hadley is an interesting heroine. Despite being young, she’s mature, wise beyond nineteen years. That’s what happens when your mother leaves and your father is nothing more than deadbeat, trailer trash; she was forced to grow up quick and start fending for herself.

Moving into her boyfriend’s father’s house rent free will allow Jordan plenty of opportunity to save money. But this seeming amazing chance brings more complications than she ever anticipated.

We’re victims of circumstance. At least I can feel confident that I would’ve liked him no matter what. If he were any other guy who came into my bar, sat down, and talked to me, I would’ve wanted him…

When nineteen himself, Pike Lawson became a father. Without hesitation, he started working numerous jobs, sacrificing his social life and giving up his dreams to support his son.

The romance between Jordan and Pike is explored so wonderfully. It isn’t salacious or obscene; it is dealt with tact and sensitivity. Their mutual concerns and fears of others judgements is realistic and understandable. Birthday Girl is about a taboo romance, but it is also more than that: it is about forgiveness, family appreciation, raw sensuality and working hard towards your dreams.

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