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The Kiss Thief by L.J. Shen

"A story of a Nemesis and a Villain with no chance at a happy ending. Where the prince doesn’t save the princess. He tortures her. And the beauty doesn’t sleep. She’s stuck. In a nightmare."

When I starting reading The Kiss Thief, I had no idea of what to expect. I don't even remember reading the synopsis, the cover caught my eye and I downloaded it to my Kindle. I didn't know this book was going to rock my world, leave a mark in my heart, and be imprinted in my mind for a long time.

This book is nothing I would have expected in a million years, there was a poetical feel to it, a messed up fairy tale of sorts that left me wanting for more plot and more scenes. After the book ended I just wanted to start it over, which doesn't happen with lots of books.

I will start off with a disclaimer. This book is not for everyone, I feel some people wouldn't enjoy because it is very raw, very real, its harsh and its enchanting. If you like Alpha Males, if you like raw and at time disturbing material this one is for you. I love all these things, books that make me think, that are evil and surprisingly good so it is no surprise that this has been one of my favorite reads this year.

If you do start it, try to keep your heart intact and keep a box of kleenex nearby.

Francesca Rossi was born into Italian royalty. Her father, owner and head mobster of The Outfit is considered a King around his peers. He is rich, he is evil, he is violent and antiquated. He believes women are worth nothing and should do nothing apart from bearing children and playing house. He basically runs a mafia in Chicago. A mafia that involves even the government and the police. He is untouchable, all the Rossi's are until Senator Wolfe Keaton arrives.

Ruthless, hot, determined and revengeful Wolfe wants to become the President of his country, but his first goal starts with ending Rossi. As he meets Francesca not only does he steal her first kiss, but her future and her freedom. With way too many dangerous information on her father, Mr. Rossi has to bid her daughter goodbye and throw her into marriage with Wolfe. Much to Francesca's dismay. All her life she behaved well, saved herself , remained holy and pure only for one man only, Angelo Bandini. However, her true love has to be put on hold as her life takes on a new turn she wasn't expecting.

The story doesn't end there, because slowly and surely she starts breaking Wolfe's wall and sometimes even his heart. However Wolfe does it too, breaking Francesca into pieces to only piece her back up again.

The story is raw and intoxicatingly good. Leigh took a chance, a very big one in writing in between a fine line of evil and awesomeness and she accomplished greatness. There are scenes (one particular one) that was so strong I had to stop reading and sob. You hate to love these characters, and you love to hate them. They are inspiring in so many ways.

Our heroine is amazing and as the book progresses you see her development from a scared, bratty teenager to a warrior, a goddess. The best part is that you always know that is what she was meant to become and how Wolfe's rejections and insults only made her strong, she builds an armor around her heart all of a sudden and she opens her eyes. She changes everything around her, the garden, Wolfe's life, and by doing so she changes her fate and her future.

"Then a smile hung on his beautiful face, like the moon, and I knew—with a good portion of melancholy—that I was in love with this cruel beast of a husband. That for another one of those glowing, genuine smiles, I would butt horns with my father, slay dragons, and hand him my pride on a silver platter. It was depressing to admit, even to myself, that I was under his thumb."

Now Wolfe, is another character that impressed me. Many many times I thought it was messed up that I was falling in love with such a mean and stressful character. However, if you absorb the book as I did you will love him. You will root for him. You will understand his upbringing and his actions (never agreeing with his words or doings but at least understanding). He is a one of a kind villain, a sexy one, one filled with love even at times when he doesn't know it yet.

"As it was, I had a control issue. I lacked it. She had all of it."

The story is one for the books. It flows majestically and it ends perfectly. It weaves tradition with modernity and antiquity with the new era. This grand book will be one I will definitely remember.

"I was in love with her. I was dreadfully in love with her. Ruthlessly, tragically mad about the teenager with big blue eyes who talked to her vegetables."

--- 5 stars ---