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.
I absolutely loved everything about Vicious. I loved that it was atypical romance. An intoxicating combination of intrigue thanks to tropes like bullying, second chances, boss/employee, blind obsession, manipulation, and tortured pasts. It’s also the perfect rich bad boy/poor good girl combination. So many romance niches it could be classified under and each one worked perfectly. L.J. Shen’s writing flowed wonderfully. Her words rich in context, in showing me the story so I could watch as it vividly played out. Her brilliantly executed choices in structuring this story from both hero and heroine’s points of view juxtaposing past and present. The plot was manipulative and dangerous just like the hero as well as fun and sassy just like the heroine. The entire reading experience was deliciously decadent and oh-so-satisfying.
What on earth is it about a tortured hero who is a complete and total jerk that makes a love story that much more addictive? And trust me, Vicious Spencer embodies the perfect example of a completely deplorable and cunning yet undeniably sexy and lovable hero. He’s a walking demon this one; with seemingly no redeemable qualities. Out for control, revenge, and manipulation. The way he talks, acts, and thinks really sent shivers up my spine and more often than not they weren’t the unwelcome kind of shivers even though they probably should have been. He’s a man fueled by righting the wrongs in his past through whatever means necessary. His determination and grit are stunning. He’s fiercely protective in his own dementedly sweet way. Because of all of this he demands reader’s attention and captures it fully.
In his case, and as it should always be, he compels us thanks wholly to the compassion and color his heroine brings into his life. I LOVED Emilia LeBlanc – the perfect match for Vicious. Bright, quirky, and utterly unique, Emilia’s whole demeanor towards Vicious and how she handles him strikes every romance chord. The girls got spunk! She’s got soul and so much heart. As an artist to looks into herself and those around her always feeling more. And she's strong and fearless, if she can take on Vicious, which she can, making her strength unmatched.
These two can’t decide who’s coming and who’s going. Whether the like each other, hate each other, or just need to satisfy a craving for one another. The way they constantly parallel each other yet are so contrasting. He’s crude and wickedly dark; she’s purely exuberant and light. Emilia casts an illuminating rainbow over Vicious’ raging storm cloud. A unique pairing; to puzzle that look as though they don’t fit yet unexpectedly fit perfectly. They’re despicably, unreasonably, and passionately obsessed with each other. Their banter is top notch, some of the best. The games they play hands down complete entertainment. And the devious currents running so hot between them made the most electrifying chemistry. Their obsessions sink deep into reader’s veins making us equally as obsessed with their story.
Books like Vicious are perfect reminders why I love Romance. Because pure romance can be anything, any form, any shape. It can be trickery, deceit, and downright craziness mixed with passion, curiosity, and understanding. Add in the interesting back stories and captivating characters the push and pull between two people who can’t decide if they like or hate each other other proves Vicious a brilliant story for me. But in this one the obsession was the key. It drove everything like a ripple effect from beginning to end. And while it was dark and arguably toxic it was some seriously great reading. Sometimes being obsessed with your enemy turns into something a whole lot more. Loved, loved, loved.