I can’t remember the last time I stayed awake until sunrise because I couldn’t put a book down, but this deliciously addictive, toe-curling tale of forbidden love was exactly what I needed at a time when no other book was hitting the right spot. This was my first encounter with L.J. Shen’s writing, but it only took a few chapters for me to fall in love with it irrevocably, and by the end of the book, I was in a fully fledged love affair with her every sentence. One of the best age-gap romances I’ve ever come across, every aspect of this story was executed with breathtaking perfection, the author’s confident prose and her deep understanding of her characters turning a potentially unsurprising scenario into one of the most riveting books I’ve read of late. With a single-dad cherry on top.
He was a millionaire, single and therefore probably a playboy. He was, in short, the younger version of my father, which meant that I was interested in getting to know him as much as I was in catching cholera.
Eighteen-year-old Edie Van Der Zee might have been born with a silver spoon in her mouth, but she’s everything but a typical rich kid. Daughter of a successful businessman and an emotionally absent mother, yet entirely cut off financially by her spiteful father, Edie is forced to pickpocket to make ends meet, until her latest victim catches her in the act and recognises her as his business partner’s only daughter. And then only days later, she finds herself working for him entirely against her will.
“Now I wait.”
“Wait? Wait for what?”
“Wait until this leverage on you becomes useful, Edie Van Der Zee.”
A powerful, self-made mogul, and known in the business world as a man of very few words, Trent Rexroth might appear as ruthless and unfeeling to those who don’t know him well, but behind close doors, the thirty-three-year-old single dad hides a lonely, broken heart. Feeling powerless over his four-year-old daughter’s selective mutism, and growing more and more resentful of all the reasons that made his child choose to be silent for half of her young life, his loneliness has become his one and only companion. And no matter how much he dotes on his beloved little girl, nothing he does manages to pierce through her silence.
I wanted to show her that the world was a beautiful, frightening place worth experiencing. That peasants could be crowned kings if they worked hard enough, and how her daddy was living proof of that.
When an overconfident high school senior nearly half his age, and entirely off-limits in every possible way, storms into his life and does everything in her power to turn it upside down, Trent finds himself battling a physical attraction he knows he has no business feeling. And the more he fights it, the more his body succumbs to it every chance it gets. They taunt, they irk, they hurl contempt at each other even while ripping the clothes off one another, knowing all too well that the twisted game that brought them into each other’s lives would eventually deprive them of the fairytale they both secretly wish for.
Whatever we were, we were toxic. A lullaby on a thoroughly scratched record that keeps hiccupping again and again on the line that you hate.
But nothing in their lives is as it seems, both of them driven by selfless love and devotion and willing to do anything in their power to protect the ones they love the most, even turn their little game of cat and mouse on its head.
“I can’t breathe when I think about the things I want to do to you, and I breathe too fast when I think about the things I want you to do to me.”
There are so many unexpected facets to this story, making my heart race with excitement every time I turned the next page, all the while falling deeper and deeper with these crazy, perfectly flawed characters. With some of the tightest writing I’ve ever seen, L.J. Shen delivers an exhilarating reading experience, a story that beneath its overtly physical romance, is almost visceral in its intensity of emotion. This might have been my first book from this author, but it most definitely won’t be my last.
“When it’s all over, when all that’s left of us is sweaty flesh and shattered minds and torn hearts, you will remember me as the man who made you cry, and I’ll remember you as the girl I had to break to stay afloat.”