The Kiss Thief (An Arranged Marriage Novel) by L.J. Shen
Released: January 6th, 2019
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: L.J. Shen
Reviewed by Keyrsten
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.
And somewhere between these two men, I had to find my forever.
Leigh has a way of crafting this tragically beautiful relationship that makes you crave everything it has to offer, but yet it drives you crazy all at the same time. She gives you characters that are flawed, sometimes despicable, occasionally a struggle to love, but in the end they are just human. Her characters aren't these sugar coated cookie cutter versions of a man and a woman in love. They are human. They fuck up. They fight. The hurt each other just because they can. They lie. They cheat. They forgive. They learn. They grow. They are loyal. They are brave. They love with everything they have. You get characters that are real and flawed. She lays them out with all their sins to bear and asks you to love them anyways.
The pacing was perfectly weaved throughout the story. It didn't feel rushed, but instead felt like a natural progression. Of course there were times I frustratingly yelled, "Just kiss already!", but that was more to do with my need for the characters to realize what I already knew. It was quite the unique take on an enemies to lovers type of story, and honestly was a breath of fresh air. I sometimes can get bored with the normal "x + y = z" storyline that romance books tend to repeatedly follow. With TKT it didn't feel like something I had read before and it kept me on my toes with every word that was written. I'm gonna say this now, I cannot get enough of Leigh's writing and will continue devouring it until my dying day ... or until I become too blind to read and in that case I'll just switch to audiobooks.
Francesca and Wolfe fit together so perfectly, whether they want to acknowledge it or not. Francesca has wanted nothing but to make her parents proud of the woman she has become. She has done everything they have asked without question in hopes of them seeing her as the good Italian girl she is and that they will choose her beloved childhood friend Angelo as her future husband. Francesca never thought her father would put The Outfit above his daughter, but she comes to the harsh reality that he will do anything for The Outfit even if it means selling his daughter to the one man she despises most.
Wolfe has worked hard to be in the position he is in now, with enough power to take down the one man who has destroyed everyone he has ever loved ... Arthur Rossi. He planned to take Arthur down piece by piece, and what better way than to take his beloved daughter away from him. To the world she would be his wife that he saved from the mob, behind closed doors she'd be the plaything he took to spite the man he hated most.
Francesca and Wolfe hated each other from day one ... but somewhere along the line that hate blossomed into a love that can tear down empires. Francesca is the innocence, the gentle hand, and quiet fierceness that Wolfe needed. Wolfe is the brash, steel force, and challenge that Francesca needed. She allowed him to feel again, even when he didn't want to feel at all. He allowed her to find herself and gave her the taste of real freedom she never knew she desired. Sometimes you hate your partner, but it doesn't mean you love them any less. Their love is a hurricane, and baby they thrive in the chaos of the storm.
Rating: 5 stars
Give me an alpha male with a woman who aces all forms of sarcasm and I'm putty in you hands -- bonus points if a Reverse Harem is involved. Supernatural esque romance and power plays tend to make my heart go pitter patter. I haven't met a book I wasn't willing to try, so if you've got recommendations email them my way. I'm a foul mouthed makeup addicted with slight wino tendencies.