Bane, the highly-anticipated next standalone in the
Sinners of Saint Series by L.J. Shen is LIVE
4 Save Yourself CROWNS
When I picked up Bane, I thought I knew what I was getting. I thought I was going to get another alpha a-hole, another sassy heroine, and another angsty, sexy romance. And, yes Bane, is those things to an extent, but it is more. L.J. Shen pushes outside her normal limitations and tests the waters with hard topics and difficult moments, and what we get is something similar and yet uniquely different, making Bane a complete paradox.
Bane is a more complex character than I ever expected to get my hands on. Granted, we had only experienced him as a secondary character through the eyes of Edie and the other Sinner of Saint characters, but I didn’t anticipate the depth of his character. Bane, with his lack of care and disregard for other’s opinions and feelings, really couldn’t have been more suited for Jesse Carter. Bane is who is and makes no apologies for it, and she needs a bit of that in her life. Another layer that was surprising to me is the layer of concern of the sins of the father becoming the sins of the son, the general trepidation that maybe a person could be born bad, and he actively works to prevent it from occurring. What really made my fall for Bane, what really put him in my Shen’s top hero spot is his humor. I have never had burst out laughing experiences while reading a book, but I found myself continually laughing over his lines. Now, he is still the Bane, we know. We get the gritty criminal, the manwhore, and the aggressor, but we also get the loving son, the compassionate fan, the not always silent but supporter of Jesse, and the introspective and reflective man. I couldn’t have loved his character more. Every single flawed, broken, intricate, tarnished part of soul is perfection.
Jesse Carter is L.J. Shen’s strongest heroine to date, and what will resonate with readers is that her fortitude doesn’t sit on the surface. Her strength is subdued and buried when we meet her, but Bane draws it out of her, showing her that she can save herself. She is her own hero, and her HEA comes from her own choices and at her own hands. I did love that while she becomes stronger, she doesn’t change the essence of who she is. She doesn’t go back to the “old Jesse” or stay stagnant as the “new Jesse”, but she becomes this hybrid of a female who takes ownership of her life. She gets retribution on her own, and she creates the life she wants, removing those who have harmed her and keeping those who lift her up. Her strength defines her.
Like the characters, the story itself surprised me. The beginning is a bit slow for me in terms of pacing, but in terms of plot there is not one thing she could have cut. No detail is superfluous, and I found some of her best writing, stylistically, appears in the beginning (the words hauntingly beautiful comes to mind). When the story really picks up is when Jesse and Bane really begin to spend time together. Their chemistry, not even just sexually, is incredible. The conversations and witty back and forth gibes endlessly entertain readers. These are some of my favorite moments in the book. I did expect more grit, more criminality in the storyline, but again, most of the book takes place with Bane and Jesse, and so there really is no venue for a darker more dubious story-line. The story is about healing, being able to look in the mirror, being able to love yourself and saying screw everyone else who doesn’t like what they see. The themes and ideas are softer, and for these two characters and the love that forms between them, the tone of the story perfectly matches.
There will be parts of this story that are hard for people to read, especially in Jesse’s journey, but Shen doesn’t put her heroine through pain for the sake of pain. The acts are part of her, formative to who she becomes and how she interacts with others. There is an event in particular that I struggled with. I grappled with my personal feelings towards this act and the need/purpose for it in the story. I asked myself, “is this needed for character development, plot progression, etc?”, and, while I’m still conflicted over its use in the story, I can see the intent of the author. The act shows bad people can have moments of good, and it does serve as an impetus for the heroine to be able to get justice for herself. I just really wish parts of this act were omitted or rewritten, as I was angered by this secondary character’s acts later in the story.
Bane, whether you love it or hate it, is a beautiful story. This is a romance where the heroine saves herself. She battles her demons. She is victorious in the end. Shen has crafted a story that is empowering and beautiful, a modern day fairytale-esque romance that is written for the modern woman. It really is her best work to date.
ARC received in exchange for an honest review
Naked surfer. Habitual pothead. A con, a liar, a thief and a fraud.
Last I heard, he was extorting the rich and screwing their wives for a living.
Which is why I’m more than a little surprised to find him at my threshold, looking for my friendship, my services, and most puzzling of all—looking humbled.
Thing is, I’m on a boycott. Literally—I cut boys from my life. Permanently.
Problem is, Bane is not a boy, he is all man, and I’m falling, crashing, drowning in his sweet, perfect lies.
Hot as hell, cold as ice.
I wasn’t aware of her existence until a fat, juicy deal landed in my lap.
She’s a part of it, a little plaything to kill some time.
She is collateral, a means to an end, and a side-bonus for striking a deal with her oil tycoon stepdad.
More than anything, Jesse Carter is a tough nut to crack.
Little does she know, I have the f****** teeth for it.
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A godless thief.
My reputation was a big wave that I rode, one that swallowed everyone around me, drowning every attempt to fuck with what’s mine.
I’d been known as a stoner, but power was my real drug of choice. Money meant nothing. It was tangible, and therefore easy to lose. See, to me, people were a game. One I’d always known how to win.
Move the rooks around.
Change the queen when necessary.
Guard the king at all fucking times.
I was never distracted, never deterred, and never jealous.
So, imagine my surprise when I found myself being all three at once.
It was a siren with coal black hair who robbed me of riding the biggest wave I’d seen that summer. Of my precious attention. Of my goddamn breath.
She glided from the ocean to the beach like nightfall.
I crouched down, straddling my surfboard, gawking.
Edie and Beck stopped beside me, floating on their boards in my periphery.
“This one’s taken by Emery Wallace,” Edie had warned. Thief.
“This one’s the hottest masterpiece in town.” Beck had chuckled. Con.
“More importantly, she only dates rich bastards.” Liar.
I had all the ingredients to pull her in.
Her body was a patch of fresh snow. White, fair, like the sun shone through her, never quite soaking in. Her skin defied nature, her ass defied my sanity, but it was the words on her back that made my logic rebel.
It wasn’t her curves or the way she swayed her hips like a dangling, poisonous apple that warranted my reaction to her.
It was that tattoo I had noticed when she swam close to me earlier, the words trickling down the nape of her neck and back in a straight arrow.
My Whole Life Has Been Pledged to This Meeting with You
I only knew one person who went gaga over the Russian poet, and, like the famous Alexander, he was currently six feet under.
My friends began to paddle back to shore. I couldn’t move. It felt like my balls were ten tons heavy. I didn’t believe in love at first sight. Lust, maybe, but even that wasn’t the word I was looking for. No. This girl fucking intrigued me.
“What’s her name?” I snatched Beck’s ankle, yanking him back to me. Edie stopped pedaling and looked back, her gaze ping-ponging between us.
“Doesn’t matter, bro.”
“What’s. Her. Name?” I repeated through a locked jaw.
“Dude, she’s, like, way young.”
“I will not repeat myself a third time.”
Beck’s throat bobbed with a swallow. He knew damn well that I didn’t mess around. If she was legal—it was on.
Jesse Carter was going to be mine before she even knew me.
Before I even knew her.
Before her life turned upside down and her fate rewrote itself with her blood.
So here was the truth that even my lying ass wouldn’t admit later on in our story—I wanted her before.
Before she became business.
Before the truth caged her in.
Before the secrets gushed out.
I never did get to surf that day.
My surfboard broke.
Should have known it was an omen.
My heart was going to be next in line.
And for a small chick, she did one hell of a fucking job obliterating it.
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About LJ Shen
L.J. Shen is an International #1 best-selling author of Contemporary Romance and New Adult novels. She lives in Northern California with her husband, young son and chubby cat.
Before she’d settled down, L.J. (who thinks referring to herself in the third person is really silly, by the way) traveled the world, and collected friends from all across the globe. Friends who’d be happy to report that she is a rubbish companion, always forgets peoples’ birthdays and never sends Christmas cards.
She enjoys the simple things in life, like spending time with her family and friends, reading, HBO, Netflix and internet-stalking Stephen James. She reads between three to five books a week and firmly believes Crocs shoes and mullets should be outlawed.
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