Book Review, Romance Review

Review: The Villain by LJ Shen

The story opens to sweet, fun-loving Persephone Penrose living a difficult existence thanks to the no-good ex who left her behind when he went into hiding because of debt he owes to the mob. She’s at the mercy of the merciless and turns to Hunter’s sociopath older brother, Cillian Fitzpatrick, for help. She intends for this to be a business transaction, which is why she doesn’t ask Sailor and Hunter for help, but Cillian demands her very soul in return.

We met Cillian in The Hunter, learned that he’s physically exquisite but quite possibly Satan incarnate as he’s far too cold, calculated and soulless to be a mortal. Of course he’s awful to Persy but even his black, dead heart isn’t immune to her charms and it soon becomes clear that he’s capable of having emotions after all. What isn’t immediately clear is why he fights them so violently, preferring to maintain his isolated, inhuman existence instead of giving in to his urges for this woman. The why wasn’t at all expected and it’s a twist that I loved, although a very strange one.

“She scooted next to me, wrapped in a gown that clung to her curves like I would if I wasn’t a hundred and one shades of messed up.”

Persy seems naïve and docile but the easy demeanor and all her charm are only for the deserving. She’s no pushover. That lovely package includes teeth and nails that come out as needed because she’s tough and relentless when she needs to be and Cillian never saw that coming. He thinks she’ll do as he orders but she pushes back on everything, no matter how small. Persy’s not trying to prove a point, she’s simply being herself, but he’s never experienced any loss of control before and has no idea how to handle her – or the changes she brings about in him.

“You’re handsome when flustered.”

“I swear, Persephone, I’m going to relocate you to your precious Namibia if you don’t stop grating on my nerves.”

“So now I annoy you constantly.” Her blue eyes shone. “That’s one, steady emotion. Twenty-six more to go!”

I enjoyed watching Cillian evolve as their relationship changes and his backstory is fascinating, if a little unsettling. There’s more going on than just the mob threatening Persy and their fake relationship, too. The subplot about Cillian’s enemy is engaging, we get to see more Sailor, Hunter, Sam, Ainsling and Emmabelle, plus we meet Cillian’s friend, Devon, which suggests that book 4, The Rake, will be Devon and Belle’s story. There’s a lot of Hades-Persephone vibe in the buzz around this story, which I enjoyed but it’s not that simple, so don’t shy away from this because you’re expecting a modern retelling of the ancient myth, it’s really not that at all. Aspects of their relationship fit that profile, but their story is different.

One of my moments was Hunter and Sam ribbing Cillian since he’s unable to hide his feelings for what must be the first time ever. I loved Sam’s reaction in particular and it’s just another reason I’m so excited for The Monster. Sam’s story is the one I’ve wanted most because he’s an original.

“Maybe something got stuck in his teeth.” Hunter tapped his cards against the table. “Like, you know, feelings or something.”

“Zip it.” I warned

“No. They’re right. You’re beaming.” Sam frowned at me in abhorrence. “It’s disgusting. People are trying to eat here.” He dropped his sandwich onto his plate.

“Leave him alone. I think is cute.” Hunter took a pull of his beer. “Kill caught a case of the feels, and there’s no vaccine for what he’s experiencing.”

I love Persephone and warmed to Cillian eventually, although I still prefer Hunter to his big brother. This was an interesting story with unexpected twists and turns that was more exciting than I had expected so I was pleasantly surprised. Now I await The Monster, counting the hours until I finally find out what makes Sam and Aisling tick.

The Villain on Amazon

The Villain
by LJ Shen
Boston Belles book 2

Published 2020

The Villain by LJ Shen - Boston Belles book 2
Review: The Villain by LJ Shen
Boston Belles book 2

Cruel. Coldblooded. Hades in a Brioni suit.
Cillian Fitzpatrick has been dubbed every wicked thing on planet earth.
To the media, he is The Villain.
To me, he is the man who (reluctantly) saved my life.
Now I need him to do me another, small solid.
Bail me out of the mess my husband got me into.
What’s a hundred grand to one of the wealthiest men in America, anyway?
Only Cillian doesn’t hand out free favors.
The price for the money, it turns out, is my freedom.
Now I’m the eldest Fitzpatrick brother’s little toy.
To play, to mold, to break.
Too bad Cillian forgot one, tiny detail.
Persephone wasn’t only the goddess of spring; she was also the queen of death.
He thinks I’ll buckle under the weight of his mind games.
He is about to find out the most lethal poison is also the sweetest.

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