This King of Pride book review tackles the second novel in Ana Huang’s fantastic (and spicy) Kings of Sin series.
Prior to reading King of Wrath, I hadn’t picked up an Ana Huang book before, but please believe me when I tell you I ran to dive into her other series. Now, I haven’t made it through more than Twisted Love and Twisted Games (so much to read, so little time), but she’s already topped my list of Authors I Trust with My Heart and My Wallet.
I read King of Wrath when I was first dipping my toes into romance outside of my usual authors (aka Katee Robert), and I was delighted by what I had discovered. It was tough waiting for King of Pride‘s release, but I knew it would be worth it in the end. As soon as the book landed on my kindle, I flew through it in just a couple of sittings.
We got a sneak peek of both Kai and Isabella in the first book, and they had both already stolen my heart by the time I got to their story. Kai was (and continues to be) a fantastic foil for Dante, while Isabella is the fun, outrageous, and weird friend any of us would be proud to have on our side.
This is a true opposites attract in so many ways. Kai Young is always polished and put together. His upbringing means he has the ultimate control over his emotions and never loses his cool or makes judgments that jeopardize everything he’s worked hard for—namely, the opportunity to become the youngest CEO in the history of his family’s company.
Isabella Valencia, on the other hand, is the bartender at Valhalla, the extremely exclusive club of which Kai is a member. With her purple hair and tattoos, she’s not the kind of woman you bring home to your very reserved, very judgmental mother. Especially because she also comes with no filter and plenty of secrets.
King of Pride is also a forbidden romance because members and employees of Valhalla are not allowed to cross that line of professional friendliness. Obviously, these two do exactly that, and maybe it’s because I already have a fondness for this trope, but it’s worth every agonizing second.
And trust that the stakes are high. With Kai in the running for CEO, he cannot afford a scandal or risk losing out on the chance to take over his family’s company. Not only will that be a blight on his own record, but on the Young legacy, as well. Meanwhile, if they’re caught, Isabella won’t just lose her job—she’ll be blacklisted from all the bars in the area. In the interest of keeping this King of Pride book review spoiler-free, I’ll also add that there are some other consequences to her actions, too. Neither of them enter into this relationship lightly, and yet they can’t dream of staying away from each other.
What I love about Ana Huang’s writing, and this series in particular, is that each character has their own life and ambitions outside of the other. Kai cares about taking over his company, and when he becomes aware that someone is attempting to dethrone him, he must use his wits and resources to unmask them without losing his morals along the way. His gentleman’s sense of honor adds dimension to the story.
Isabella is even more fascinating to me because she has her own hopes and dreams which pit her against the rest of her family—or, at least, her eldest brother. With mounting pressure from all sides and a scandal brewing, she has to decide who she wants to be and whether she’ll put her foot down for the career—and the man—she truly wants. Though this is a billionaire romance, there is little emphasis put on the power imbalance between these two characters, which I found as refreshing in this book as I did in King of Wrath. There is so much more going on in their lives that it’s nice it didn’t just come down to Kai throwing his money around to impress Isabella.
In fact, the balance of these characters might be my favorite dynamic in this series so far. Kai sees Isabella for who she is and encourages her in a way no one else has. Despite the fact that she’s his opposite in so many ways, he never asks her to tone it down or be anything other than who she is. Even better, he stalwartly encourages her the most to follow her dreams. And on the flip side of that, Isabella shows Kai that there’s so much more to life than work and translating books into Latin for fun. These two are truly an excellent example of what makes opposites-attract romance so enticing.
The last thing I want to mention in this King of Pride book review is how this installment blasts the world right open. There’s every chance I didn’t catch the references in the last book since I hadn’t read the Twisted series yet, but there are quite a few familiar faces who show up in this one. Even better, we get to know a few of the secondary characters quite well, and it’s becoming more obvious which ones are being set up for future books.
On that note, I’d also be remiss to mention how Ana Huang has dutifully laid the foundation for Dominic and Alessandra’s failing marriage and, subsequently, their book, King of Greed. I haven’t read a ton of second-chance stories, and none where the characters are already married, but I’m certainly ready for plenty of groveling. Alessandra has already endeared herself to me, and I can’t wait for her to reclaim the relationship she once had with her husband.
The Kings of Sin series by Ana Huang is truly a standout in my reading list so far, and I simply cannot wait for the next one!
‘King of Pride’ hit store shelves on August 22, 2023
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