Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Length: 320 pages
Genres: Romance, Contemporary, New Adult, Adult, Fiction, Dark, Politics
Publication date: January 6, 2019
I found my bride sitting in front of her vanity mirror, wearing a tight black velvet dress – it looked like we coordinated something other than trying to stab each other – a lit cigarette dangling from the corner of her luscious lips. She was shoving mud into a pot, gardening in the middle of her bedroom, in a Chanel evening dress.
She was crazy.
And she was my crazy.
Francesca believed that a first kiss should be earned, not stolen. That the vows you make on your wedding day should be cherished, not broken. That your heart only beats for one man. That it isn’t split and bled for two rivals who’ll fight until the bitter end. She believed that all great love stories have a happy ending, but found herself erasing and rewriting her story until the very last chapter.
Francesca Rossi wanted nothing more than to marry her first love, Angelo Bandini, heir to one of the most powerful families in the Chicago Outfit. Yet instead she finds herself taken by Senator Wolfe Keaton who held her father’s sins over his head. Somewhere in the middle of this mess, she’s going to have to find her forever.
It took me a while to get into this story, and I’m very glad that I stuck it out until the tale had its claws stuck into me. I picked this book up because I was interested in its premise – who wouldn’t be interested in reading a modern day romance surrounded by the mob and political ambition? What, not everyone? Okay then. – but I wasn’t really sure what I’d gotten myself into. After all, the synopsis of this story doesn’t really let you know what’s in store for you.
This turned out to be for the best as I had no expectations going into the read, which allowed me to be blown away with what I found in the tale. Too often a synopsis will over promise things, leaving me feel let down when the story doesn’t blow me out of the water. The way that Shen left her synopsis purposefully obtuse allowed the story to do all the talking and I loved it.
Having taken a couple of Classics courses myself, I adored the casual use of Greek mythology in small ways throughout this tale. While the story of Nemesis and Narcissus isn’t the most well known, it’s a great tale and I encourage everyone to look it up if you don’t already know it. Having this myth play even a small role in this story made me smile and enjoy it that much more.
The thing that I most enjoyed about this read is the way that Shen made the relationships and characters messy. Too often I find that books try to make their characters seem perfect and infallible. Not here. Instead, Shen does a fantastic job at having the characters undermine and underestimate each other. She uses the lens of youth as a tool to allow the characters to make mistakes, while traditions help force people down paths that they wouldn’t otherwise have taken. These tools allowed the people and their interactions to feel more real than they would’ve otherwise.
I’d recommend The Kiss Thief to someone looking for a romance that deals with heavier topics such as political corruption and the mobster mentality. While I can understand that this read might not be for everyone (my earlier joke aside), I really did enjoy my time in this world. I think it was a great standalone romance, creating the perfect amount of world and character to fit into this tale to leave me satisfied without craving for more.
However, I’d like to give a quick warning about a near-rape scene in the story. If something like this is hard for you to read, I would look elsewhere. While the scene in question is not considered rape by the characters in it, it’s close enough that I’m sure some people will be uncomfortable reading it.
There are also scenes of domestic abuse in this tale. While these do not take the forefront of the story, they do play a role in it. If these scenes make you uncomfortable, you might want to find another read.
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