Sinner of Saint, Book #1

By L.J. Shen

ISBN# 9780996135665

Author’s Website:

Emilia’s parents moved the family from Virginia all the way to California when she was seventeen.  Her parents took jobs at the Spencer mansion, where they lived in the servant’s quarters on the property.  It also meant Emilia and her little sister, Rosie, had to attend the prestigious All Saints High with the snooty rich kids.  Also, attending was the Spencer’s son, who was known only as Vicious.

Vicious hated Millie from day one and went out of his way to make her life miserable.  He even called her Help instead of her real name since her family was ‘the help’. And, it only got worse when she started dating one of his friends, Dean.  She cared for Dean, but she burned for Vicious, despite how horrible he was to her.  Vicious made her break up with Dean not once, but twice, and ran her out of town once they graduated.

“I wasn’t stupid. I realized that I was preventing her from being around her sister and her parents. Her boyfriend. I was banishing her from everything she knew.

From a comfortable future.

From money and opportunity.
From family Christmases and blue-eyed kids with Dean, who was oh-so-fucking enchanted with her.
From love.
I was ruining her life.
Because. I. Was. Jealous.”

Emilia didn’t know the things that made Vicious into the cruel man he was.  She didn’t know that his stepmother and father had his mother killed.  She didn’t know that his stepmother’s brother beat him for years afterwards, permanently scarring his body.  She didn’t know she looked like the stepmother that brought so much pain into his life.

Emilia thought that she had forever left Vicious in the past until the day he showed up at the seedy bar, where she worked.  Vicious had no idea he’d find Emilia in New York, but now that he’s found her, he can’t let her go.  His dad is dying and Help is the perfect person to help him finally get revenge on his stepmother.  He just has to convince her to work for him and destroy Jo.

I always love a good L.J. Shen book, especially when it’s one of the All Saints/Sinners of Saint books.  Shen is a master at creating horrible jerks that somehow make you root for them, in the end.  Vicious was definitely no exception.  And, the chemistry between her characters always burns through the pages!  She always makes you feel ALL. THE. FEELS!!

“I’m just not sure how you can be both nice and compassionate and a terrible asshole all at the same time,” I muttered.

He smiled. “It’s a hard job, but someone’s gotta do it.”

Vicious made Millie’s senior year hell, even taking away the one bright spot she had in Dean.  He didn’t want her, but he didn’t want anyone else to have her either.  At least that’s what he tried to convince himself.

“I used to think of you as a villain, but you’re not my villain. You’re your own villain.”

Nobody knew the horrible things that went on behind the dark dreary doors of the Spencer mansion, not even Vicious’s three best friends.  He was only nine when he overheard his dad and his secretary talk about murdering his mother.  Although he never knew, what it all meant until it was too late and his beloved mom was gone.  When the only person who ever loved you is taken away, it changes you.  And, it hardened Vicious into the man he is today.

Millie is the exact opposite of Vicious.  So sweet and giving.  She’s raising her sister in New York, spending every dime she has to support them.  So, when she loses her day job, she really has no choice, but to take Vicious’s job offer, even though she tries to turn it down.  She is too kind and caring and let’s Vicious get away with far too much where she is concerned.  He’s an addiction she just can’t break…. Until he finally breaks her that is.

“Apologize for not being mine when you should’ve been. Because Emilia, baby…” I tilted my head sideways. “It w as always fucking us and you know it.”

This was such a good story and I loved seeing Vicious get his revenge and his redemption all on his own terms.  The ending of this story was sweet, but still Vicious too.  A leopard can’t change his stripes after all.  I can’t wait for another trip back to Todos Santos to see what kind of trouble the Hotholes (I do really hate that name though, it’s cringe-worthy) have gotten into.

“She’d painted me.

Not only did she paint me (and arguably gave me a better nose than the one I was born with), but it was also what I was doing in the painting that made me smile like a sleaze ball. I was holding a joint and laughing into a non-existent camera—though my eyes were still mine, kind of sad and dark and fucking scary—and I wore a simple black T-shirt that said “Black” in white. The background was stark, stupid pink.

I was her black.

And she was my pink.

I bought the painting in a heartbeat, dragging her boss aside. Gay, thank fuck. He was there with his boyfriend, Roi. By that time, I noticed Emilia was standing next to my image, talking about it with a woman, and I hoped I wasn’t too late to buy it myself.

I wasn’t.

Emilia didn’t know it yet, but she was going to paint another painting, of herself wearing a pink shirt against a black background, and I was going to hang it next to mine.”