Review: Scandalous by L.J. Shen

Format: E-Bookscandalous
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: New Adult
Series: Sinners of Saint, #3
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Trent Rexroth
Heroine: Edie Van Der Zee
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: September 21, 2017
Started On: April 03, 2020
Finished On: April 05, 2020

Scandalous by L.J. Shen is the 3rd book in the Sinners of Saint series. Having not read the two books prior to this one in the series, I just jumped right in because a lot of reviews seemed to hint that the hero was the kind that I love the best; ruthless, a tad cruel at times, and nevertheless endearing in a way that is hard to explain.

The one thing that I can say is that Scandalous can be read as a standalone; for the most part, I did not feel as if I had lost out on anything by starting straightaway with the 3rd book in the series. Scandalous tells the story of how 33 year old Trent Rexroth meets his match in 18 year old Edie Van Der Zee, the last woman on earth whom he would have chosen for the role, if he had a choice in the matter.

The story begins with the most unlikely of scenes, where Edie snatches a purse off a woman on the street, only to find that it is from Trent’s mother. Days later, she finds herself forced to work for her father (whom she hates and for good reason), who is in a partnership with Trent and his friends.

Trent’s only weakness lies in his love for his daughter Luna, whose refusal to articulate and give voice to her thoughts drives him to desperation. The therapy sessions seem to help, but it is in Edie’s presence that Luna comes alive for the first time in a long while, which basically seals the deal where Trent and Edie are concerned.

Even though Edie plays a dangerous game with her father which involves Trent, and Trent would like nothing better than to be able to keep his hands off of Edie, none of that matters when these two share the same breathing space. The heat between them is not the kind anyone walks away from, and before they both know it, they are both in too deep with each other.

While I liked the overall premise of Scandalous, which includes the forbidden factor and the huge age gap, I truly could not understand why Trent is referred to as The Mute in the story. It was apparently because he rarely speaks. I must have been reading a totally different book, because to me, he appeared to be perfectly fine in the speaking department.

I did like Edie and felt for her rough life with parents who neither of them deserved to be one. Edie’s penchant for stealing is explained as the story hits its climax, the secret which she keeps from basically everyone in her life, which is the shock factor of the story.

I also felt that there was just too much happening in the story to really focus on how the relationship between Trent and Edie evolves and builds to form something meaningful out of the foundation of wanting Luna’s happiness in common. I know that there was ample enough sex happening, and apart from Luna being the basis for Trent lowering his guard and letting Edie into his life, I couldn’t see much going for them to hold them together. Even the sex scenes were mostly focused on portraying just how good Trent is between the sheets or anywhere for that matter. I for one would have loved to see just once, how Trent is driven crazy by his want and need for Edie than the other way around.

I also did not find myself all that enamored with Trent. He was gushed about as an anti-hero by a lot of readers, but what I found was an asshole (who has friends who are a bunch of assholes), who are mean and rude to everyone else except when it comes to each other and their women. I wished for a hero who had his own issues to deal with, who actually showed through his actions that Luna meant more to him than just taking her to therapy sessions and then scratching his sexual itch with the therapist after hours. To me, that just did not sit all that well for some reason.

Recommended for fans of LJ Shen and fans of the Sinners of Saint series.

Final Verdict: Trent and Edie’s love is forged out of something easy to understand and stays that way for reasons best left unknown; after all, the heart wants what it wants, regardless.

Favorite Quotes

“How can it feel this good?” she nearly protested, reaching with her hand to touch me again. I moved away quickly, still playing with her tit.
“Because it’s different when you’re in the hands of a man.”
“Show me.”
I didn’t answer.
“Please,” she purred, and this time she managed to glide her bikini-ed groin over my training shorts. Fuck, I wasn’t sure if it was the ocean or her, but something there was damp.
That’s when I lost it.

“It means”—his teeth dragged along my neck—“that what we are to each other is potential sacrifices. As long as you know I will throw you under the train if you mess with my plans, I’m good.”
I swallowed. “I’m good, too.”
“Let’s have some fun then.”
And that was all the preparation he gave me before shoving his hand inside my panties. His strong, warm fingers stroked my folds gently, as if soothing them, preparing for whatever he was going to give me.
“One last warning,” he said, his hot tongue making its first appearance, licking a trail of tantalizing desire up the side of my neck, making me shiver violently. “I fuck rough.” He shoved one finger into me and I arched my back, gasping from the sudden penetration. “Deep-throating is a requirement, not an option”—he shoved a second finger into me—“and I’m about to fucking ruin you for any other man. So when the time comes and no one else can compare to me, just remember—you asked for it.”

The orgasm was slamming into me like whiplash. Again and again. It took me a few moments to realize I was experiencing multiple orgasms for the first time in my life. They were all equally intense, and I was beginning to wonder what it was about Trent that made me feel like I was burning from the inside out. Bane was good in bed. He was great, actually.
But he didn’t set me ablaze only to turn his back on me once the tongues of fire consumed me.
He didn’t ignite in me the need to do and say crazy things.

“I liked it when you bit my nipple hard,” she said. I ignored her, pulling my fingers out and coating her pussy with her arousal.
“You make me feel deranged with need,” she whimpered, just as I slapped her pussy for the first time. It made her body stutter and stir, and she let out a little yelp I stifled by shoving my wet fingers into her mouth.
“Shhh,” I said. “You said you like it. Show me how much.”

“Harder.”
“No.”
“Trent.”
“No.”
“I need it.”
“You’ve had enough for one day, Edie. Your cum is all over my dick. I can eat you out if you want another orgasm.” Was I bargaining with her mid-fuck? That was a first. And a last. This chick wasn’t running the show, no matter how hard I wanted her tight pink pussy to milk my cock.
“If you won’t, Bane will.” I heard the smile in her voice but couldn’t see it. Fuck it. She’d asked for it.
Thwack!
We came together like a storm.

“Did you just give me a nickname?” I smirked, feeling the muscles of my tight hole tightening around his finger. It hurt a little, but mostly felt weird. Not weird bad, either. But the kind you needed to get used to in order to enjoy. The way he worked his fingers over mine…that was the real treat.
“Better than Gidget.” He bit my chin.
“I like Gidget.”
“You like Little Tide more.”
“No, I don’t.”
“You’re about to.” He slammed his finger deeper into my ass and I yelped, clinging to his broad shoulders. His lips met my ear and he bit my earlobe, smiling.
I exploded on our fingers.

There was no excuse for what I was doing. For me walking into that room and closing the door behind us. For me striding over to her with chaos dancing in my chest, watching her as she lifted her eyes from the toy, reading everything that was inside of mine.
I could say it was because she’d protected my daughter, but that wouldn’t be true.
I could say it was because I saw her layers as she held that toy soldier in her small hand, but that would be bullshit, too.
I did it because I had to. Because fuck the consequences and Jordan Van Der Zee and everything standing between us. For the first time in five years, I put my lips on another person’s and kissed her. Hard.

“I won’t beg.”
“You won’t beg,” he repeated, pushing his whole cock through my panties, penetrating me. The fabric of my underwear stretched along my inner thighs painfully, and I threw my head back, wincing.
I wanted more.
I wanted it harder.
I wanted everything.
I moaned, slipping my fingers into his denim and underwear and clutching his ass as I opened my legs wider for him. “What are we doing?”
“Exactly what I promised myself I’d never do again. Fucking without a condom.”

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

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Review: The Kiss Thief by L.J. Shen

Format: E-Bookthekissthief
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: New Adult
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Wolfe Keaton
Heroine: Francesca Rossi
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: January 06, 2019
Started On: January 08, 2020
Finished On: January 24, 2020

The Kiss Thief is my very first novel by L.J. Shen, the story being one that has popped up on various recommendation lists for ruthless heroes. I am a die-hard fan of anti-heroes, the ruthless and ones disliked by most readers, and loved by the few. Hunting those books down in the world of romance today has become a challenge and yet I persevere. The Kiss Thief was one of the rewards that came my way, thanks to aforementioned perseverance.

When 19 year old Francesca Rossi, the only child of Arthur Rossi, head of The Outfit (organised crime if you will), makes her official introduction to Chicagoan society, the only thing on her mind is to get Angelo, the perfect husband in the eyes of her parents, to kiss her as if he means it, kiss her as the woman he was going to make his wife and enjoy doing it.

That is also the night that 30 year old Wolfe Keaton, a US Senator, makes his presence known to Francesca, and steals the kiss that was meant for Angelo, and in the process upends her entire world. Forced into marrying Wolfe, Francesca at first has no intention of cooperating with a man whose high handed manner irks her to no end, not to mention the derailment of plans to fulfill her dreams of being married to the man she had grown up with and had given her heart to over the years.

However, the force that is Wolfe Keaton is one to be reckoned with, and before Francesca knows it, she enters a world where she learns firsthand what it means to fall in love and lose your heart to someone as ruthless as her husband.

There are scenes in this book that is definitely not for the faint-hearted, which is one reason why I loved the story and the turns it took to bring to us a happily ever after worth rooting for. My dislike for books that fill every nook and cranny of romance genre today lies in the fact that there is nothing worthy of fantasizing about the “ruthless and dangerous hero” that turns putty at the heroine’s hand from the minute they meet.

All the build-up that the author does in painting the hero as someone who has committed unthinkable acts in his life who suddenly, with the least amount of resistance, loses every essence of his character that makes him vitally himself is just tiring. How does that even translate into realistic human behavior? I can understand a character who subtly changes over the years, maybe months into a relationship, but the first time he lays eyes on the heroine, he just does a 180 degree turn on his character? That is foolhardy and as unrealistic as they come in my opinion.

The Kiss Thief certainly did not do that. L.J. Shen has crafted a hero worthy of salivating over and then some in Wolfe Keaton, and I wouldn’t change a single thing about him. From his ruthlessness that serves him well in every single manner, to his inner core of strength and vulnerability when it comes to his wife as he learns to love all over again were facets of the story that fascinated me. I loved the fact that Wolfe was able to give his wife the one thing that was denied from her as she grew up and how in his embrace she found the freedom to be herself and let go.

Francesca was lovely in many ways; she was certainly brought up to fulfill a certain role, but she is a quick learner if ever there was one and able to adapt to situations and the punches as they rolled. I loved her for quick wit, her ability to keep up with Wolfe, and the way she brought him to his very knees towards the end.

Recommended for those who love a hero who is ruthless and loves just as ferociously.

Final Verdict: With a couple of surprising twists and turns, The Kiss Thief delivered a highly combustible read from the get-go!

Favorite Quotes

I grabbed the edges of his suit, pulling him closer. I’d imagined our kiss countless times before, but I’d never expected it to feel like this. Like home. Like oxygen. Like forever. His full lips fluttered over mine, sending hot air into my mouth, and he explored, and nipped, and bit my lower lip before claiming my mouth with his, slanting his head sideways and dipping down for a ferocious caress. He opened his mouth, his tongue peeking out and swiping mine. I returned the favor. He drew me close, devouring me slowly and passionately, pressing his hand to the small of my back and groaning into my mouth like I was water in the desert. I moaned into his lips and licked every corner of his mouth with zero expertise, feeling embarrassed, aroused, and more importantly, free.

Slowly, and despite my better judgment, I crawled into my future husband’s lap. I knew that by doing that, I was raising a white flag. Surrendering to him. Seeking his protection, both from my father and from my own internal turmoil. I flew directly into my cage, asking him to lock me inside. Because the beautiful lie was far more desirable than the awful truth. The cage was warm and safe. No harm could find me. I wrapped my arms around his neck, burying my head in his steel chest and holding my breath to prevent the next sob.
He stiffened, his body rigid with our sudden proximity.
I thought about what Ms. Sterling said about killing him with kindness. Defeating him with love.
Break. Crack. Feel me. Accept me.

Wolfe Keaton was a kiss thief, but it wasn’t only a kiss that he stole. He stole my heart, too. Ripped it from my chest and put it in his pocket. I did what he promised me I would do, and willingly—I spread my legs and begged him, once again, this time meaning every word. “Because you were right. You said I’d come to your bed willingly—and I am. So, take me.”
He kissed me dirty, biting down on my tender lower lip, that was still sore from the accident. “Still not the entire truth, but this’ll do.”

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

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