Series: City of Stars, #2
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Mine are drenched in greed and hatred.
A beautiful lie hiding the ugly truth lying beyond.
Saint Astor is the big bad wolf I’m trying to run from.
He is the only one that can see beyond my veil of deception.
The only one who has the power to break me into a million pieces.
My forbidden crush, coming to life in the form of a nightmare.
I had a plan to escape from the crutches of a loveless marriage.
Fall in love with someone else.
But when that turns sour, the media’s golden boy comes to collect.
And I can’t do anything except lay my soul at his feet and hope he doesn’t burn it.
There’s just something about Clara Elroy’s writing that sucks you into the story from the minute you open the book. It’s intoxicating and hooks your attention till you reach the final word. In the City of Stars, everyone has a secret and everyone is beautiful, but everyone is also slightly twisted. Which just adds to the excitement of the story.
Vow of Hell is the second book in the series and while you don’t have to read the first one before this, it’s good to have that background. You do meet some characters who appeared in that first book, so having that in your pocket helps. Kiss of War was a wild ride, a dark(ish) romance battling wits and lust. Vow of Hell holds a lot of what the first book has, but it’s a little lighter. The characters are still absolutely captivating!
Ariadne Fleur and Saint Astor carry this book with their frustration for each other and their obvious distaste for what the other stands for. They might come from the same world, but they’re nothing alike. Both their families own leading fashion labels in the city – and their families have drama that extends beyond the kids – so there’s a lot of not so subtle rivalry. But when the families find a way to tie the two companies together to save one and make more money, Ariadne and Saint are tugged into this without a choice in the matter.
These characters are really interesting too. Ariadne is young, impressionable and she’s slowly coming into her own. Just because she’s the daughter of a big fashion house doesn’t mean that she wants to work for her family – if anything, Ariadne wants to make her own clothes, sell them on her own name and make a name and status for herself without the weight and pressures of her family. Thanks to the constant pressure from her family, Ariadne is also weighed down by expectations, body issues and everything else that a family can do to you. She’s only 21, but Ariadne’s made a strong name for herself and I loved that about her. But like any 21 year old, she’s also a little naive in certain aspects and being presented to Saint on a silver platter really wakes her up to a lot of things.
While Ariadne is a quiet and subtle sort of woman, Saint is the opposite. He’s 30 and a former NFL player, who after a career ending injury is now working for the family business. He doesn’t enjoy it, he doesn’t care for his family; all Saint wants to do is rebel. He knows what needs to be done for the business, but since nobody takes him seriously, he doesn’t have the time to deal with everyone else. Saint is also a well known party animal and playboy, so his rough reputation already goes against everything Ariadne stands for. But she’s also his weakness, which is something Saint doesn’t want to acknowledge or accept.
“Caring, funny, generous, and all alpha when need be. The perfect blend of I’ll bend you over the side of my desk and kiss you slow under the stream of the shower.”
Their relationship might be fabricated and forced by their families – see arranged marriage of convenience – but I loved how much it grew as the book progressed. They go from snipping at each other to desiring the other to Saint finally snapping into ‘you’re mine and nobody else can touch you’ and I’m here for it. I’ve never really been drawn to the alpha-holes who are unnecessarily protective, but there was something about Saint that really drew me in. He wasn’t being an a**hole for the sake of it, his feelings for Ariadne really did grow into something more that sent him down that path. The character growth for both Saint and Ariadne is stellar, because you can see them change and become different people as their relationship progresses as well. And to me, that’s the best part of any story.
But let’s not forget about the steam! I’m not a fan of virgin heroines and their virginity being used as a tool or a weapon by other people, and thankfully that doesn’t happen here. Ariadne and Saint have explosive chemistry, even before they’re paired off together. The sexual tension from sniping and biting at each other in public settings all comes to head when they finally drop their walls and let the other person in. And it’s not just the sex that is hot, it’s their interactions, their conversations and all of that incredible sexual tension. It’s absolutely HAWT.
I wasn’t a big fan of Eliana and Leo, so I was definitely skeptical going into this, but I really really enjoyed Saint and Ariadne. The version of Saint we saw in Kiss of War was a lot harder to appreciate than the version we got in the book, and that’s what they call character growth!
Thanks to Clara Elroy for generously providing me with an advance copy. I am voluntarily leaving an honest review.