This King of Wrath book review is sure to pique your interest if you’re into billionaire romances or arranged marriage stories.
This is my first Ana Huang book, and I can easily say that I think she just found a fan for life. I was intrigued by the Kings of Sin series because each one is based on one of the Seven Deadly Sins. I used to be obsessed with knowing all of them, probably in part from the episode of Charmed that turned the Halliwell sisters (plus Leo!) into their personifications.
On top of that, I love a good arranged marriage/marriage of convenience story, and I’ve been getting more into billionaire romances as of late. After all, there are very few of us who don’t dream of suddenly coming into money and finding most (but certainly not all) of our worries swept away amidst the rush of cash and caviar.
I was delighted that King of Wrath incorporated various forms of these tropes, but found a way to sidestep many of the stereotypes of these stories. As the title implies, Dante Russo runs his business with a ruthless iron fist. He thrives on maintaining control, but when he lets that façade slip, he can become a cruel judge, jury, and executioner to those who cross him.
As with all heroes of his archetype, however, Dante has a softer side underneath his mask of arrogance. We are given enough of a backstory to understand why he has cultivated this cold exterior (it boils down to shitty parents and a callous grandfather), and we are shown his inner turmoil enough times that it’s obvious he has a good heart underneath all that wondrous brooding.
What surprised me most about this billionaire romance is that our heroine, Vivian Lau, is not poor or broke or even staunchly middle-class. She is a jewelry heiress who, as a child, did not have money, but has been wealthy enough for most of her life to know how to carry herself in various high-society circles. Though there is a difference in their wealth—as Dante is old money and Vivian is new—I loved that Ana Huang did not use their fiscal differences to drive the story forward. Yes, Vivian benefits from the respect that Dante Russo’s name offers, but she is not stepping into a world that she doesn’t understand. This allowed to the story to explore other avenues for conflict.
The main avenue of conflict comes in the form of Vivian’s father, who blackmails Dante into marrying his daughter or else some information will come to light that will undoubtedly lead to his brother’s death. Vivian is in the dark about the deal, but dutifully accepts the arranged marriage because she knows that’s what’s expected of her. Vivian is elegant and well-mannered, but she’s also wickedly ambitious and venomously intelligent. I loved the cat-and-mouse game these two played as they were forced into close proximity, especially because of how often those roles were reversed. Both Dante and Vivian could hold their own against each other even in the most cutthroat of circumstances, and it was a delicious kind of foreplay to witness.
As the story moves along, Dante continues to search for a way out of the marriage (and the blackmail), and yet he ever-so-slowly gives into Vivian’s charm. As uncaring as he appears, Vivian feels how gentle his touch can be, and craves to know the person beneath the mask he wears each and every day. The book takes place over the course of a year, and while I would’ve been happy to read an account of every day in between, the pacing of the story was excellent—moving past the frivolities of daily life and stopping on the moments that matter most. It was believable that these two went from distasting each other to tolerating the other’s presence to falling in love. It is not an easy or uncomplicated love, but one that feels real and earned.
If you’re looking for steamy sex scenes, then please let my King of Wrath book review be the bearer of excellent news. Ana Huang knows how to build tension, where even just a single touch can have you devouring the pages, looking for more. Once these two finally end up in bed together, there’s still enough strain between them to keep it interesting. Every time they give into their carnal desires, you know they’re one step closer to admitting what we already know—that they’re falling for each other.
I am most certainly the kind of woman who doesn’t mind more porn than plot in her romance books, but I found myself as interested in King of Wrath‘s story as I was in the steamy scenes. Dante has his business and his familial problems, and Vivian has her job and her duties as a Russo-to-be. Vivian’s agency in this book was a breath of fresh air, and though there were plenty of instances where other characters simply treated her as Dante’s fiancée, she proved her intelligence and resourcefulness time and time again. Both of these characters were powerful and engaging, each having enough of their own story to make them interesting outside of their arrangement. Though, I’ll admit, when those stories are finally woven together, the ending is as satisfying for the couple as it is for the reader.
I couldn’t leave this King of Wrath book review without teasing you about what’s to come. Throughout the book, certain characters are highlighted in a way that makes it clear they will be the subjects of future books, and I am so excited to see what’s to come. King of Pride cannot arrive fast enough, especially because it features my two favorite side character from the first book. Who are they? Well, you’ll have to read Vivian and Dante’s story to find out.
‘King of Wrath’ hit store shelves on April 25, 2023
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