Book Review, Contemporary Romance, Music, Romance Review, Standalone

Review: The Hunter by LJ Shen

Billionaire spawn Hunter Fitzpatrick is an heir to the family’s Boston-based oil empire, Royal Pipelines. He’s known since age four that he and his brother Cillian will one day take over the company, but Hunter has no interest in oil, business or his dysfunctional family. While his siblings were educated at the best prep schools in the world, Hunter was getting expelled and has never lived up to the family name. His desperate parents sent him to live with family in Todos Santos, a wealthy California suburb.

Hunter’s the hard-partying sidekick of Knight Cole and Vaughn Spencer from LJ’s All Saints High series centered in Todos Santos, but this is a standalone so you don’t have to read that series first. Be forewarned, however, that there’s a spoiler for one of those books in this story, if you choose to begin with The Hunter. Likewise, this story is second-generation characters from Sparrow, so if you haven’t read it yet, spoiler alert. I don’t think it ruins anything in either case, but some would disagree so I’m just putting that out there as a caution.

Hunter is a laid-back guy who cares about his friends and having fun, specifically sex and partying. The problem is that he doesn’t care about anything else. Despite his parents’ rejection, Hunter is unfazed by being banished to the opposite coast and loves his notoriously hedonistic lifestyle. It’s not without problems but his father’s money and connections mean problems go away quickly and without much fanfare.

Unfortunately, the internet gives Hunter an opportunity to embarrass his family far more than ever before and in a permanent way that can never disappear. It’s the final straw for his family so his father orders him back to Boston to live as a virtual prisoner. He’s being put up in an apartment with a baby sitter to ensure he remains sober and celibate while splitting his time between learning his place at Royal Pipelines and earning a business degree for the next six months. If he fails, he’s cut off completely from the family fortune and his future inheritance permanently.

“My life had seemed to shift from a theme park of orgasms, designer clothes, and eternal sunshine to an ongoing, cloudy, celibate catastrophe.”

His father even found the perfect sitter for his wild child: Sailor Brennan is a shy, antisocial tomboy unlikely to tempt him and expected to rebuff any advances from Hunter quite harshly. She’s mature, responsible and respectable, in addition to having family ties that ensure Hunter won’t piss her off. Sailor’s the daughter of Troy Brennan, the one guy in Boston that even the mob turns to for help, and sister of Sam, who’s followed in their father’s footsteps.

The two are polar opposites and both are horrified to be stuck in this arrangement. Hunter has no choice of course, but Sailor is wooed by her need for sponsorship. She’s an archer with Olympic goals and makes this sacrifice for her dream. They quickly butt heads since they’ve both made assumptions but it’s clear early on that they complement one another, if only they’ll be civil to one another.

“Out of my way, Prince Syphilis.”
“Have dinner with me, Princess Psychotic.”

As their tentative friendship evolves, we get to see inside the horribly dysfunctional Fitzpatrick family and learn that Hunter’s been ignored his entire life. It’s obvious that he’s spent his life desperately trying to get his parents to pay attention and became this caricature without ever having a true identity of his own. After all, even negative attention is better than being invisible so he’s crafted this court-jester, all-around-fuck-up façade that’s come to summarize the whole of his being but he’s so much more.

There’s a lot of drama in his family, including multiple subplots, one of which only gets resolved at the very end of the story. In contrast, Sailor’s family is loving and supportive and picture-perfect, in spite of her father and brother’s careers. Yet she’s struggling with the same issues as Hunter, albeit for totally different reasons. She crafted her own persona long ago and now she’s desperate to figure out if that’s who she really is or if it’s just something she’s hidden behind all these years to avoid making tough choices.

Sailor freely admits that Hunter’s a gorgeous specimen from the beginning, while Hunter is critical of his new roommate for her red hair and tomboy look. That’s not surprising from a shallow party-boy but when we see his attraction to her blossom, we learn there’s more to him that he’ll admit. And although Sailor can admit he’s nice to look at, she doesn’t want to like him so she’s horrified when she first discovers that he’s actually not that bad.

“In that moment, I wished I’d never laid eyes upon Hunter Fitzpatrick, because I knew with certainty that for all his spoiled ways, corrupted behavior, and obsession with pleasure, he was innately good, loyal, and courageous.”

The family and relationship drama aren’t the only things happening here. There’s a corporate espionage-type intrigue that may or may not involve an assassination plot, plus a completely unrelated enemy and both make for a great story. There’s a lot of angst here but the humor balances it nicely because this book made me laugh out loud more than once. I love Sailor and Hunter as well as an interesting supporting cast. In addition to cameos from a few of our favorites from Todos Santos, we meet family, including siblings, Cillian and Ainsling Fitzpatrick and Sam Brenna, along with Sailor’s friends, Emmabelle and Persephone Penrose, all of whom will be featured in other books in this series.

It’s not necessary to read the prior books before this, as it is a standalone but if you’re so inclined, begin with Sparrow to learn the story of Sailor’s family because it makes this one a little more fun, in my opinion. Cillian Fitzgerald’s story is next in The Villain, and I’m counting the days to June 15 and the release of The Monster. It’s the third book of four and tells Sam Brennan’s story.

The Hunter on Amazon

  • The Hunter – Boston Belles book 1
  • The Villain – Boston Belles book 2
  • The Monster – Boston Belles book 3
  • The Rake – Boston Belles book 4 – December 2021 release

The Hunter
by LJ Shen
Boston Belles book 1

Published 2020

The Hunter by LJ Shen - Boston Belles book 1
Review: The Hunter by LJ Shen
Boston Belles book 1

Boston’s debauched elite is going up in flames, and it’s the Fitzpatrick family that set it on fire.

Hunter
I didn’t mean to star in a sex tape, okay?
It was just one of those unexplainable things.
Like Stonehenge, Police Academy 2, and morning glory clouds.
It just happened.
Now, my ball-busting father is sentencing me to six months of celibacy, sobriety, and morbid boredom under the roof of Boston’s nerdiest girl alive, Sailor Brennan.
The virginal archer is supposed to babysit my ass while I learn to take my place in Royal Pipelines, my family’s oil company.
Little does she know, that’s not the only pipe I’ll be laying…

Sailor
I didn’t want this gig, okay?
But the deal was too sweet to walk away from.
I needed the public endorsement; Hunter needed a nanny.
Besides, what’s six months in the grand scheme of things?
It’s not like I’m in danger of falling in love with the appallingly gorgeous, charismatic gazillionaire who happens to be one of Boston’s most eligible bachelors.
No. I will remain immune to Hunter Fitzpatrick’s charm.
Even at the cost of losing everything I have.
Even at the cost of burning down his kingdom.

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