Vicious (Sinners of Saint #1) by L.J. Shen
Publishing Date: December 27, 2016
The Premise from the Author: "Emilia - 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. Vicious - 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" (Shen).
My overall thoughts and review: This review has been a long time coming. I read this book a few months back and absolutely loved it. From there, I began buying all of Shen's backlist and binge read them all. Vicious was the first to draw me in, and even after a reread yesterday, I'm still in love, and if it's even possible, I love the book even more with a reread?? There is just something about Shen's writing that immediately pulls you in and she somehow makes you feel such frustration for a character, but also love for them at the same time. Baron Spencer AKA "Vicious" was given this nickname, because he is absolutely vicious. He is one of the Hotholes of Todos Santos and the narrative flips between present day and the past in his high school years. When he first meets Emilia, she accidentally walks into a private conversation, and from there, he seems to have this hatred towards her. Her parents work for his family on his estate, and even though don't get along well, they are constantly drawn to one another. Things also get complicated when Emilia starts dating one of his best friends, Dean "Ruckus" Cole. It's clear they both have feelings for one another though, and Vicious acts out through jealousy and Emilia pushes her feelings away.
Flash forward to present day New York, where Emilia has been fired from her job and she must work every waitress shift she can get to support herself and her sister, Rosie. On one unlucky evening, she meets Vicious again and from there, he offers her an offer she can't refuse. A PA job with a great income and a new apartment for her and Rosie. She promises herself that she will keep her guard up this time, and not fall for him again. Vicious says he's simply only hiring her so that she can help him with a certain lawsuit. It sounds so incredibly complicated, but it just worked. The future/past narrative really worked because you got to see how they were with each other, and how Vicious acted incredibly selfishly and impulsively. Gosh, I wanted to shake high school Vicious!! But I loved that Emilia was chipping away at his hard exterior piece by piece. She was so strong, independent, and sassy. She definintely gave back everything he threw at her, and he described it best at the end of the book just how "good" she was: "Knowing what I'd done, she was still here. What's more, she was still strong. That was the true beauty about this girl. She never cowered. She always stood tall and thought for self, knowing what was right and what was wrong in her universe. Always" (303). Their day in New York, going to the museum and the tattoo shop, is definitely my favorite moment of the book. You just see Vicious completely undone by her and I think that's what made me love him so much. So many hilarious and cute moments during this moment in the book. He's frustrating as ever, but also soooo swoonworthy. I loved their messy and not so-beautiful love story: "We've waited a long time for this. I want the real thing. Not the watered-down version. And the real thing is not only beautiful. It is also ugly. I want your truth" (199). I love how they both made mistakes and both had flaws, but I loved how they somehow were better because of the other person, while not losing themselves completely. I feel like with a lot of romance novels, some of the bad guys do a complete 180 after falling in love, but Vicious remains Vicious (I love how crazy he can get and his arrrogant hot hole self), and in a way, he becomes Emilia's Vicious? I don't want to say too much and spoil the book because holy twists and turns and reveals, but when you learn the background story of Vicious, it just tugs at your heartstrings and you want to hug this guy. Emilia put it perfectly when she described how complex her can be: "I shook my head quickly. 'I'm just not sure how you can be both nice and compassionate and a terrible asshole all at the same time,' I muttered. He smiled. 'It's a hard job, but someone's gotta do it'" (281).
I loved this book so much and I can't say enough good things about it. It's definitely an enemies to lovers story, but also a second chance romance. It is just the best kind of romance, and I'm sitting her wishing that Shen will one day write more of Emilia and Vicious' story. When Vicious learns that he has fallen for her, well has loved her all this time, it's just beautiful: "'I want you,' he said simply. 'Just you. Nothing else. Only ever you,' he breathed out in pain, closing his eyes" (295). If you haven't read anything by L.J. Shen yet, what are you waiting for? THIS is her best book in my opinion and I loved it so much, I now own a few copies of it ;)
🎵🎵 - Haunting by Halsey // Back to You by Louis Tomlinson & Bebe Rexha
(I had these songs on loop while reading and they made me think of Vicious/Emilia)
My rating of the book: ✮✮✮✮✮ (5/5 stars)
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