by Naima Simone
Series: Dynasties: Seven Sins #1
Publisher: Harlequin Desire
Publication Date: May 1, 2020
I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
Pride made him what he is.
But desire might change him forever...
Millionaire CEO Joshua Lowell earned his icy reserve and arrogant pride through painful experience. He refuses to allow gorgeous but determined reporter Sophie Armstrong to dredge up his family's dark past -- or circulate rumors of his secret child. But Joshua's fierce pride is at war with his heated desire for Sophie, the only woman who could ruin him...or save him from himself.
I’m not much of a category romance reader due to its constraints, but I couldn’t resist this one after I saw that this book was by Naima Simone and the first in a connected series. While I haven’t read her other categories, I’ve read her Sweetest Taboo series, and this book is exactly what I expected from her – tons of angst and tons of heat. It’s enemies-to-lovers with just a bit of forbidden love, considering that a relationship between a CEO and the reporter writing an article on him would definitely get them both in hot water!
After his father disappeared with millions of dollars embezzled from the family company and his clients, Josh gave up his own dreams to take over the helm in an attempt to make reparations. It’s cost him everything – his relationship with his brothers, his own art career – and the last thing he needs is another hotshot reporter who’s looking to capitalize on rehashing his family’s downfall. But something about Sophie tantalizes him, and Josh isn’t what Sophie was expecting either. Sophie’s intrigued and moved by Josh’s art and struggles to reconcile it with the cold businessman who refuses to give her the time of day. Neither can deny the instant attraction between them, but will it burn out and leave them both with nothing but ashes?
“The whole shitfest with the hedge fund had left him with precious little—the death of his art career, the eradication of his relationships with his brothers, a ghost of a mother, an overabundance of shame and a ruined family company. But they’d been his choices.
All that had remained in the ashes after the firestorm were the ragged tatters of his pride because he’d had the strength, the character, to make those choices.
And now Sophie Armstrong sought to steal that dignity away from him, too.”
Given the title, it’s no surprise that pride plays a big part for both of the characters. For Josh, he’s proud of how he’s turned around the company and made it successful again, even if it was at his own expense. But that pride isn’t enough to compensate for the loss of his passion and the abandonment by his family. He has enough of it left, though, to know that he can’t afford to get emotionally invested in anyone, even the woman who haunts his thoughts. Sophie also had a serious case of insta-lust for Josh, though she recognizes there’s a serious conflict of interest since she’s supposed be writing an unbiased article on him and his company. Plus, after a previous boyfriend manipulated her to get more favorable coverage for a politician, she’s wary of falling into the same trap again, of compromising her career – her passion – for the sake of a relationship.
“Sheathe your sword, Sophie,” he said.
“So you finally admit that you need every bit of help you can muster when going up against me?” she challenged, amusement lighting her eyes like glittering stars.
“I never said I didn’t. Only a fool would encounter you and not be battle ready with everything in his arsenal available to him.”
She heaved an exaggerated sigh and splayed her fingers wide over her chest. “I do believe that’s the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me.”
And yes, Sophie and Josh’s relationship is definitely insta-lust, which is not my favorite trope, but the author really sells it. The chemistry between them is intense, even when they’re both operating under misconceptions – the millionaire CEO who’s cut from the same cloth as his embezzler father versus the scheming reporter who won’t hesitate to dig up dirt to sell more papers. As the trust builds between them, the lust transmutes into something more emotional, though the heat level stays sky high. Both characters have some pretty angsty “oh no, not feelings!” moments which were quite fun. They also have some excellent banter, which is always a highlight for me. As for cons, there are a few loose ends – whether his father is still alive, and though it’s pretty much discounted, View Spoiler »whether there was actually a secret baby (perhaps his twin brother’s?), and if not, who was feeding that information to Josh’s enemies « Hide Spoiler. I’m hoping these are things that will be picked up in the rest of the series.
Because, yes, I will definitely be reading more in this series – I’m very curious to see what happens with Josh’s brothers and if Josh’s assistant / practically sister gets her own book, as well! Overall, this is a delightfully angsty and high heat category!