Series Sinners of Saint #1
Author: L.J. Shen
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release date: 27th December, 2017
Cover Model: Andrea Denver
Cover Design: Letitia Hasser, RBA Designs
They say love and hate are the same feelings experienced under different circumstances, and it’s true.
The man who comes to me in my dreams also haunts me in my nightmares.
He is a brilliant lawyer.
A skilled criminal.
A beautiful liar.
A bully and a savior, a monster and a lover.
Ten years ago, he made me run away from the small town where we lived. Now, he came for me in New York, and he isn’t leaving until he takes me with him.
She is a starving artist.
Pretty and evasive like cherry blossom.
Ten years ago, she barged into my life unannounced and turned everything upside down.
She paid the price.
Emilia LeBlanc is completely off-limits, my best friend’s ex-girlfriend. The woman who knows my darkest secret, and the daughter of the cheap Help we hired to take care of our estate.
That should deter me from chasing her, but it doesn’t.
So she hates me. Big fucking deal.
She better get used to me.
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“If you’re looking for a book that’s a little bit dark, a little bit twisted, with a character driven story that leaves you panting more than once, Vicious is it.” – 5 Obsessed Stars – Reader Review
“Absolutely amazing book! You will never find another guy like Vicious and you will never find another book like this ever.”– Tongan Book Lover 5 Stars
“Christ. Just Christ. The naughty bits are hot and steamy, the love story is unique for sure, and the writing is fucking epic because LJ Shen.” – Mells View 5 Stars
Release Party is TODAY!
(January 6, 2017)
Invite only – send LJ a message on Facebook for your invite HERE
5 Vicious Stars: Reviewed by Sharon Thérèse
Don’t you love that feeling of excitement you get when you read the first paragraph in the first chapter and know that book you’ve started is going to make you put your life on hold? Ms Shen’s story did just that to me and at a drop of a hat. Never was the male protagonist’s nick name taken in vain as he most certainly lived up to this adjective’s definition. Re: the title. Although I skipped no words, what I didn’t do was highlight any passages or jot down notes. By doing so would have essentially slowed my reading pace down which wasn’t an option. By being overly toyed with the plot, I was given no choice but to reread the whole book which I can assure you, was effortless! The author left me spent and guess what… I wanted more! So be warned; Shen’s story isn’t merely reading her written words. The depth of them is nothing less than absorbing. The force of the storyline is as such that delving deeply into the thoughts of two diversely different characters’ backgrounds and personalities results in a very challenging and an emotional read. The time-frame construed made my morbid curiosity yearn for the next move like a bee to a honeypot and was perfect. In this case, the word perfect is an understatement.
Baron Spencer has reasons for not wanting to use his given name. He also has reasons for being callous and downright ruthless. Figuratively speaking, he provoked my thoughts to such an extent that I could have given him a taste of his own medicine. I felt quite ashamed of myself for loving him regardless of his outrageous behaviour towards Emilia LeBlanc. She just so happened to be in the firing line, and I had no doubt that if it wasn’t her, it would have been someone else. But she was the perfect target in the wrong place at the right time.
“Ms LeBlanc, who am I?”
“A sadistic jerk?”
Vicious’ quest for vengeance is a complicated one and would normally be the recipe for disaster for someone as young as him. I was astounded that nothing ruffled his feathers, that he’s in no rush… at all. The timeline is very relevant though. He doesn’t even need to put manipulating skills to the test. He’s a born natural! He’d learnt at an early age the hard way and the situations he plays on are always to his advantage. Nevertheless, Vicious still got under my skin, and still annoyed and bewildered the pants off me!
“I smell a challenge. You know I’m always a little silly for a challenge…”
Now then, the author went to town on her characters’ development in such a way that for me, it was obvious from the start that she wanted to shock the reader. There’s no lovey-dovey relationships with any of Vicious’ tight-knit group of friends, either. They know what to expect and stick together… until one of them steps into his territory and upsets well-laid plans depending on how one looks at it. And that folks, is when the merde hits the fan! Yet bent truths have a way of showing their ugly heads sooner or later.
“What’s your problem with me, huh? What have I ever done to deserve this?”
Only Vicious has the audacity to give the noun ‘help’ in parenthesis to a gal who never deserved his ire. Maybe said noun will change into the verb. Wait and see future readers! Emilia is not only adorable, naïve and a talented, but also a fighter. Neither her dress sense nor social status worries her. I had her back throughout what was to become a game of deception she had no idea she was participating in. She’s a pawn in a catastrophic secret which was beyond her. If you’re like me and can’t wait for the outcome, get ready ‘cause it’s harsh and will help you to put Vicious’ story is into perspective!
“How about you keep your side of the deal, Ms LeBlanc?”
“I will. Eventually. Patience is a virtue.”
Her foremost concern is for her sister whose handicap is one of the bi-roots of this story. However, certain circumstances put me in panic mode because I had no idea how either of them were going to come out this nightmare unscathed. There wasn’t one moment I sat back and breathed deeply. I was on tenterhooks; on their team cheering them on.
“I don’t know what you’ve got planned for her, but if it’s vicious like you, I’m not going to let you get away with it.”
None of the most important characters swayed their ideals in a fast-flowing but complex story. Some of them grew up side by side, were successful in their joint professions and their joint goals in life. Others weren’t so fortunate. Their ups and downs are at all times, easy to relate to. Except of course, Vicious! But the simple fact that they don’t adhere to his convoluted ways of thinking or his actions was for me, chapeau. His persona is unbendable, he is invincible, he is outstanding!
“I’m going to regret this”
“Probably.” “But it’ll be worth it.”
Summing up this read is not as easy-peasy as I thought it would be. I hope I haven’t let on because the last thing I would do is inadvertently spoil this read for you. Please take note that I haven’t mentioned the bedroom scenes in this review. I’d like to say more. I won’t! What I can say is the magnetism between Emilia and Vicious is Off. The. Charts, their dialogue—incredible. There was not a single thing I disliked about this book and it’s fast become one of my fave reads this year. I couldn’t have wished to have had a better initiation into Ms Shen’s storytelling, too. The editing and proofreading which I give a lot of importance to was faultless. Bravo ma’am!
“Am I an idiot for sitting here with you?”
“You’re a lot of things. And idiot has never been one of them.”
“Then what am I?”
You’re … complicated…”
“You’re pissing me off,” she said quietly, her eyes still searching my face.
“And that’s turning me on,” I retorted, my voice flat. “So you might wanna tone down the hate glares if you don’t wanna find yourself being fucked on this desk with the blinds still open.”
I was still staring at my screen, working on the merger deal I was eager to get signed before Christmas, but I could see from my peripheral that she had paled. I liked how—once again—I’d gotten under her skin. Quickly.
“You’re disgusting,” she muttered, still staring at me—but not in a way that suggested she was appalled.
I cracked my neck, opening my browser and checking the stocks on the screen, skimming through the greens and the reds. “That may well be, but I’m balls deep in your fucking head, Help, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
Her eyes glittered with rage, and fuck, I was so hard, and fuck, she was so beautiful. This was so on. I was going to fuck Dean’s ex-girlfriend, use her for my personal needs, and toss her away when I was done.
And after choosing the wrong guy, there was no doubt in my mind, she deserved it too.
“You just gave Floyd a lecture about the inter-office fraternization policy. No mixing business and pleasure.” She leaned forward. Her elbow touched my finger accidentally, and she jerked it away.
I met her halfway, erasing the space between us across the desk. “Correction—guys like Floyd won’t give you pleasure. Men like me would. Besides, the man likes Arrow,” I drawled, as if this alone was a reason to fire him.
To me, it was.
“You know what your problem is, Vicious? You still haven’t decided if you hate me or like me. That’s why you act like this every time I’m around other men.” There wasn’t a trace of embarrassment in her voice. She owned up to this.
What she didn’t know was that I knew exactly how I felt about her.
I hated her, but was attracted to her. It was really that simple.
“You know what I feel right now, Ms. LeBlanc? I feel like you need to pack a fucking bag and start making the necessary arrangements. You’re coming with me to California, whether you like it or not.”
L.J. Shen resides in sunny California with her husband, son, chubby cat and wild, wild dreams. Her passion is to write badass stories, sushi, UFC and her awesome family and friends (not in this order, though. Obviously, sushi comes before writing. Oh, and also the family part.) She spend the first half of her twenties traveling the world and is now paying all the fun with extra shifts in front of her MacBook. Feel free to contact her on her Facebook page. She loves to hear from readers.
L. J. Shen’s Social Media Links:
Blood to Dust
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Title: Hate Story
Author: Nicole Williams
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release date: 23rd December, 2016
Nina can’t let herself fall in love with the man she’s going to marry. Both of them have experienced the sting and sham of love and have no intentions of falling victim to it twice. Love is expensive—hate is free.
Three years. A million dollars. A solution to both of their problems. They planned it all, from the story of their first meeting to the date of their divorce. Nothing could go wrong.
But what they didn’t consider was chemistry, and Nina and Max have no shortage of it. After too many near-kisses, Nina convinces herself that hating Max is better than loving him, and the more she gets to know this soon-to-be-husband of hers, the more she discovers just how very much she truly, madly, and deeply . . . hates him.
This isn’t a love story. This is the other kind.
He hadn’t stopped smiling at me, and it wasn’t the friendly kind of smile. It was the kind that made it seem like he was in on some secret I wasn’t privy to. The kind of smile that made me feel like I was being trifled with and made the punch line of a hundred jokes I had yet to hear.
I wanted to wipe the cocky smile off his face, but that would have required touching him and even I wasn’t gutsy enough for that. A woman did not touch a guy like him unless she wanted him to be her undoing. Nope. You didn’t play with fire. You didn’t touch it. You didn’t even come close.
Fire. That was all I saw when I looked at him. I was playing with it by agreeing to this kind of arrangement with him.
Even the way he lounged in the chair was smug. Like it was his throne and he was just waiting for minions to come bow before him.
“You’re younger than I thought you’d be.” He broke the silence first.
Though it was faint, I could just make out an accent. It was European, but I couldn’t nail down the country. To look at the bastard, you’d think he was Scandinavian—blond hair, blue eyes, commanding frame—but his accent was too sharp to hail from the land of Vikings.
I was tempted to glare at the tipped smile aimed at me, but I didn’t want to lead him to the impression I cared. I gave him my version of the same smile, abandoning my “no expectations” policy for the prospect of pissing him off. “You’re older than I thought you’d be.”
His smile shifted into the realm of a smirk, like he knew I was lying. So yeah, maybe I was lying about thinking he was older, but I wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of confirming his silent accusation. He was older than me, but not by much. He might have been closing in on thirty, but he wasn’t past it.
He leaned forward in the chair. When his gaze circled my face to my fiery red hair, his brow elevated. Yes, I am the stereotype. Be warned.
I stiffened. He was fucking with me now. I’d already agreed to marry him. How much more did he think he could screw me over?
I gave him a cursory glance and kept the unaffected look on my face. “Uglier.”
He cocked a brow like he knew better. “And the personality of ten women rolled into one.”
His head shook once. “Intrigued.”
His eyes investigated me again. It felt intrusive, definitely not cursory. “Impressed.”
“As impressed by me as the woman in heat who was just mauling you over by the bar?”
“You mean the woman who gave me this?” He pulled something out of the inside pocket of his suit jacket and set it on the small table between us.
It was a hotel card key. With a lipstick kiss pressed into it.
“Classy place, this five-star hotel.” I glanced back at the woman at the bar. She was still there, watching him as though he was the height of the male species. “Did you tell her the reason you were here?”
His attention stayed on me. “Yes, I told her I was here to meet the woman I was going to marry.”
My stomach wrung. This was the man I was going to marry.
“And she didn’t ask for her room key back?” I asked.
“She didn’t give it to me until right after I mentioned that.” His stare was intense. Too intense. I felt like every secret—every piece of who I was—was strewn out on that table for him to see. “Women love a man who isn’t afraid of commitment. It’s like an aphrodisiac.”
“You know what else women like?” I didn’t pause for an answer because I guessed he didn’t have a clue. “A man who’s humble.”
He fought a smile and leaned back in his chair when a server approached with a couple of drinks on a tray. “No, they like to think they do, but they don’t.” His head shook authoritatively. “They like the cocky bastard who goes after what he wants and doesn’t take no for an answer.”
Because the server was shielding some of me from his view, I allowed myself to shift. I was getting fired up, and if he kept saying the same kinds of things with the same kinds of looks on his face, that drink was going to wind up in his face.
That was when I noticed what the server had set in front of me. A tumbler with something amber in color. The same thing she was setting in front of him. Although from the curve of her smile, she was offering to give him a blow job on the side, compliments of the house.
“What is this?” I asked. Him. Her. Whoever wanted to answer.
“Scotch,” he answered, ignoring the server lingering between us.
My nose curled at the drink.
“I don’t care if it came from the fountain of youth. I won’t drink it.”
His forehead creased with what appeared to be irritation, but I couldn’t be sure. Maybe it was confusion, like he couldn’t decide what to make of me. “You would have me believe you wouldn’t take a sip of that if you knew it would give you eternal life?” When I shook my head, his head tipped. “Why?”
“Because I value my free will far more than long life.” I pushed the drink away until it clinked against his. “I’d rather live one day free than an eternity in a cage.”
He was quiet for a moment. The server stayed between us, staring at him, waiting.
“Then why are you here?” he asked me finally.
I leaned forward and hoped my stare was as powerful as his. “Because free will is expensive.”
Kindle Friends Forever 5 ★ Review by Sharon Thérèse
The premise of this story is not new one. Nonetheless; Ms Williams managed to make this read especially hateful, downright lovable and totally unputdownable. I had no option but to put life on hold and do an all-nighter! So be warned; if you start reading it at stupid o’clock like me, you’ll most likely have to pay for the consequences the next day! This author never ceases to astound me with her writings. Her protagonists’ personalities and woeful stories quite honestly played havoc with my imagination. She made them come alive in such a way that at times I felt like I was intruding on their most personal space. In fact, talk about babbling to myself isn’t in it! If I gave advice to one, the other was getting a good talking to and vice versa! And did either of them listen to me? Nope!
“Better to worry too much and be pleasantly surprised than worry too little and get taken advantage of.”
As Nina Burton’s story panned out, she effortlessly got under my skin and I soon understood the predicament she was in. Solution’s seed was sown by Kate, her sassy and open-minded bestie who at all times, was in the background and had her back. I actually felt what Nina was about to do arguably debatable. Feasible, definitely. Morally correct…you’ll have to make your own minds up! Yet like Kate, I still thought if no-one was going to get hurt, this short-longish project of sorts might just work out regardless of Nina shying away from any kind of emotional relationship.
“You are clueless.”
“Yeah, and I’d like to remain clueless when it comes to that part of his anatomy, so scoot…”
Observing this young woman give as good as she gets and come over so strong blew the socks off me! Her dry wit creased me up and her no-nonsense fighter attitude I adored. However, as she’d willing stepped out of her comfort zone, the way she handled her emotions annoyed me a tad. Her consuming fears were like blinkers. She couldn’t see further than her nose when the man who inadvertently wiggled his way into her life consumed her. Always a lover of Shakespearean scenarios, tragedy seemed to be too close to home for my comfort.
“This isn’t an act. Maybe it was in the beginning. Maybe I wish it still were. But this—it’s not an act.”
Why then, did I support the heroine and blast the hero out of the astrosphere when his proposition was the perfect package? Probably because said package was indecently his to start with. Although my pain for Nina was fraught; in contrast, Max brought out even more conflicting feeling in me. Re: Hate Story! I truly wanted to give Nina a good wake up call, too. I found her icy attitude towards him incomprehensible seeing as he tried so hard to make things work under such unusual circumstances. I knew her trust issues were justifiable. Hurtful events going back as far as she remembers became my present torment and hers. . . they were always hers. Saying that, her future worries stem from this and are the crux of the matter. In her book, getting close to anyone was a no-no. Will that solid wall she’d carefully built around her heart protect her from Maximilian Hans Xavier Sturm?
“I’m good with my hands. I’ve got references should you need them”
“I’m sure the only reference who’d give a glowing recommendation is the region below your belt.”
Was making a deal with the devilishly gorgeous Max who wears a suit like his second skin, selling her soul? In my book, yes! He’s drop-dead yummy gals. . . but, and the huge but is how long it takes Nina to realise what she’d actually let herself in for. Believe me, all my feelings cried out aloud in that one unlawful clause written in ink that has a sell by date making me want to curl up and die. Signing on the dotted line was easy to envisage, difficult to fathom. . . do they abide by it or keep their promises?
“Is your silence a sign of agreement, disagreement, or indecision?”
Maximillian Hans Xavier Sturm. It’s been a long while since I have been able to invest in such a character as is him. He has personal reasons for his actions. Neither he nor I ever expected an outcome that would floor both of us. While writing this review, I sobbed my heart out. His stance regarding the situation Nina and himself were in was of his own doing. Only throughout the story did I see him grow and bend beyond my wishes showing me his true facets. In fact, I really hope the author doesn’t mind but I have to speak to him in first person. “Max, you did good. Your patience was your virtue.” Saying that, I lost my patience with Nina whilst she battled with her emotions.
“But one day at a time, okay? Don’t rush this. Don’t rush us.”
I really don’t want you to take these words of mine lightly. This heartfelt standalone is worthy of reading. The storyline was above my expectations, the secondary character development, par excellent. Family conflicts come to a head giving this read the spice I yearned for. As you might have observed in this review, I haven’t mentioned the bedroom scenes. I was actually prepared to give them second place since this story is so much more than this. Despite trying to ignore them, I simply couldn’t. Aptly woven into two beautiful characters’ to and fro, come and go or make it and break it, these precious moments grazed my thoughts just enough to make me smile. Conclusion, Max and Nina made me believe life’s struggles are worth it. And Nina’s secret is safe with me. Bravo Ms Williams!
Nicole Williams is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of contemporary and young adult romance, including the Crash and Lost & Found series. Her books have been published by HarperTeen and Simon & Schuster in both domestic and foreign markets, while she continues to self-publish additional titles. She is working on a new YA series with Crown Books (a division of Random House) as well. She loves romance, from the sweet to the steamy, and writes stories about characters in search of their happily even after. She grew up surrounded by books and plans on writing until the day she dies, even if it’s just for her own personal enjoyment. She still buys paperbacks because she’s all nostalgic like that, but her kindle never goes neglected for too long. When not writing, she spends her time with her husband and daughter, and whatever time’s left over she’s forced to fit too many hobbies into too little time.
Nicole is represented by Jane Dystel, of Dystel and Goderich Literary Agency