on December 27th 2016
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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.
“We shared a history. I had feelings for him. Bad feelings, good feelings…in short, too many feelings.”
Vicious, by LJ Shen. It’s been freaking everywhere. I love my heroes on the asshole side, bordering on villainous, so this looked right up my alley. I liked it… I didn’t love it. That gives me a pouty face because with all the hype going around. I was 100% sure I was going to adore this one. It did however keep me entertained beginning to end. This is my first book by this author and I’m intrigued to read more of her stuff. The story is told alternating between past and present.
“I had rules, and I didn’t break them. No dinners. No dates. No visiting them at their place. Absolutely no fucking pillow talk.”
The two MC’s share a past full of turmoil. He’s your typical rich asshole kid that plays football and rules a student body full of other rich asshole kids through fear and intimidation. He’s a member of what they call the “Four Hotholes”, a special brand of asshole that happens to also be very “hot”. Emilia “Millie” Leblanc is the daughter of his housekeeper and handyman. Vicious (nickname, actual name Baron), is terribly rude to Emilia, going as far as calling her “Help” all the time (something that carries on through the majority of the book, even during the present.) I admit that made me cringe every time, but I did understand it was part of his asshole persona.
“This was bending the rules. What was worse—I wanted to break them all. With her.”
Vicious always wanted Emilia but he chose to show that through being a complete dickhead douchenozzle, which is why he naturally blows a gasket when his fellow Hothole, Dean, starts dating Emilia in high school. This is one of the reasons he hates Emilia, among many. He does something to retaliate that has a rippling effect on her life many years later. They find each other 10 years into the future in NYC but everything that happened in their native town of Todos Santos isn’t forgotten. Vicious has a proposition that Emilia won’t be able refuse, becoming his PA, but at what cost?
“He was perfectly, imperfect. Flawlessly flawed. Most importantly—he was Vicious.”
This book starts out with a BANG! I loved the first few chapters. Vicious is described in an almost vampiric way, so pale and dark and powerful, even at the age of seventeen. From then on the story never lets go. It’s fast paced and full of twists and turns. Vicious is a complete and utter asshole. This is not an easy character to warm up to. His motivation to be the way he is, does make sense after several details of his past are revealed, but man, this dude does test your patience. He genuinely intrigued me, but I have to admit that by the 60-70% mark I got tired of his abrasive persona. It started feeling a bit one note. I would have appreciated a lot more grovel and a bit more romanticism somewhat sooner.
“My obsession. My muse. My enemy.”
I would have also appreciated a little more spine on the part of the heroine. She seemed a bit too doormaty in parts to me. I thought she agreed too readily to several things on the basis of lust alone and “aw shucks, that’s just the way he is.” The motif of the cherry blossoms was just a teensy tad overdone to me as well. The sex scenes were great, but not very many and flashed by rather quickly. There was one particular scene that was hot and original though (involving a tattoo parlor).
“You’re better than me. I don’t deserve you. But I’m going to take you, anyway.”
The perfect way to describe this book to me is if you took Corrupt by Penelope Douglas, mixed it with Paper Princess by Erin Watt and added a dash of Punk 57. Except it never completely felt as focused as any of the former books which is the real reason for my 4 stars. This means nothing if you haven’t read any of these books, but it was difficult for me to not think about it while reading this story. It still had its own original spin to things, so that’s not a dig per se. The writing style sort of reminded me of Whitney G., which isn’t a criticism because I respect the heck out of Whitney.
All in all, not as amazing as I would have wanted but a solid, quick, fast-paced read with a lot of it to enjoy. This is absolutely not a hearts and flowers story, but that’s ok because it’s all it promises. I truly do love me a good asshole, and in that regard, this book delivered. I think that Shen is a good writer and a talented storyteller. On to the next one!