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I resisted the urge to drag my palm over my stomach, imagining it getting swollen and round and perfect, carrying the fruit of our love. The fruit of my love. No one ever said that he loved me. No one even suggested that. - Francesca  (The Kiss Thief - L.J. Shen)

Hello sassy people
So today I’m gonna talk about my first book of the year!!!

The Kiss Thief - cover

Name: The Kiss Thief 

Author: L.J. Shen
Series: Standalone
Blurb: They say your first kiss should be earned.
Mine was stolen by a devil in a masquerade mask under the black Chicago sky.
They say the vows you take on your wedding day are sacred.
Mine were broken before we left church.
They say your heart only beats for one man.
Mine split and bled for two rivals who fought for it until the bitter end.
I was promised to Angelo Bandini, the heir to one of the most powerful families in the Chicago Outfit.
Then taken by Senator Wolfe Keaton, who held my father’s sins over his head to force me into marriage.
They say that all great love stories have a happy ending.
I, Francesca Rossi, found myself erasing and rewriting mine until the very last chapter.
One kiss.
Two men.
Three lives.
Entwined together.
And somewhere between these two men, I had to find my forever.

So, where do I start…?
Francesca is a mob princess, she is the daughter of a mob boss, from the Outfit, a Chicago-based mob family. She is in love and destined to be engaged to Angelo, the son of an important mob member, and also her childhood love. In her family, there is a tradition, a box with papers that help you find your true love. When Francesca goes to an event (a mascarade ball, this is an important detail), her paper says she will receive her first kiss from her true love, and she tries to make that happen with Angelo, but in the middle of the night, she meets a very antipathic man, Senator Wolfe Keaton, who embarrasses her at the dinner table. Later, when she leaves the ballroom for fresh air, Keaton (dressed as Angelo) shows up and gives her her true love’s kiss.
The title, “The Kiss Thief” despite being a nice story, is about the fact that he stole the kiss that was supposed to be her true love’s kiss, and that makes him her true love, but that bothers me, cause the main point of this book happens without consent. She never agreed to kiss him, and he tricked her into doing it. That for me is an issue and a very not cool starting point.

Later in the book, (or maybe the next day, I’m not sure) Keaton appears in her house, goes into her father’s office, and when he leaves, she is moving to his house, because she is going to marry him. Just like that.
From there on, she tries to fight him, until she starts having an interest in him, and they slowly start to fall in love as we already knew it would happen.
They have a lot of banter and a lot of jealousy explosions and misunderstandings that lead to fights and problems.

"Nemesis is my spirit animal. She was the one to lure Narcissus to a pool where he saw his own reflection and died of vanity. Pride is a terrible illness."

This book was interesting, not at all what I expected. Reading the synopsis, I believe that this book was gonna be about a love triangle between her childhood love and her newly arranged husband. But from the very beginning of their relationship (well, when they actually started one, not when he barged inside her house and demanded her from her father) Francesca was interested in Wolfe and in developing a nice marriage. At no point, I felt that they had an actual love triangle because she never loved them at the same time. When she loved Angelo, she hated Wolfe, and when she started loving Wolfe, she gave up on Angelo (actually I think it was even before she realized she loved Wolfe).

This couple lacks clear communication, and Wolfe is overall sexist and too possessive. This book has a lot of sexism, but at the same time is a mob-related book, so we ignore some things, like the arranged marriage and the huge age gap. But there is one difference from this book to all the other mob books I’ve read, Wolfe is not a mafia member, so I would expect him to be a lot more respectful and overall nicer to his fiance and later on, wife. He is a grumpy character, who warms up later, but in most of the book, he is really unpleasant.

Wolfe is horrible in a lot of moments, but then magically, when he is with Francesca in bed, he is lovely. Despite being a nice plot, “she makes him a better man” and everything, it is not a very realistic one. This couple in my opinion is not healthy, they have major trust issues that are never solved because you know, taking her virginity as a way to find out that she was in fact not lying about it, is not the solution to the problem, and just because they don’t address it anymore, doesn’t mean it’s not there, as the rest of the book proves. Wolfe is violent sometimes, possessive and bossy (in a very not cool way), he is overbearing and domineering, which I do not appreciate. And some of their actions are simply childish, as using other people to make their partner jealous. Francesca comes from a very male-dominated world and honestly, she leaves her horrible sexist father for a slightly better husband, whose only positive action I see is that he lets her go to college.
I expected him to be a normal guy, but he acts like a mob member, having actions that would never be ok in a normal situation.

"Kids, by definition, are the messiest, and therefore the lowest on my wish list. However, I do understand your need to reproduce, and I will not stop you if you wish to have children. You will just have to take into consideration two things. One - they will not be mine. You can get pregnant through a sperm donor. And two - I will not play a role in their lives. If you choose to have kids, I will make sure to provide for you and them, and house you somewhere nice and safe. But if you choose to be with me - really be with me - we will never have children Francesca.  - Wolfe  (The Kiss Thief - L.J. Shen)

When he doesn’t want children, that is it, matter solved (I understand that this is an arranged marriage and this is not a normal situation where these conversations would be had before you get married but is still something that annoys me). So yeah, Wolfe is the boss of this relationship and the only aspect I like about this is that Francesca fights for her rights inside this very unusual situation (at least I hope is unusual).

I am a warrior and a lady... and a sane person who can deal with this horrid man.  - Francesca  (The Kiss Thief - L.J. Shen)

The main plot point that I believed would be explored was the box about true love because it seemed like a nice touch and something that the story would develop around, but it was mentioned a couple of times and completely forgotten later. The box served just to have the stolen kiss and then later is pretty much a detail that you kind of forget. Also, the way that Wolfe plays with the box, manipulating the moments, kinda ruins the “true love magic” that it would be cool to have. 

Despite these characteristics, the book is well written, the characters have development, you learn their life history and understand them. That is why want to make clear that my criticism is about the history and the sexism presented in it. I love L.J. Shen, she is a great author and one of my favorites, just to make that clear…. The book is good, the situation is bad. 
I liked her approach to the mob princess life, and how she is compared to a normal person’s life. And also how the sexist mob world affected her relationship with her family. It’s nice to have a view of the mob world from the outside (the books that I’ve read were from an inside perspective) but still have some inside parts, where you see how they live and interact.

Our maid, Clara, often said, "You don't need to meet your husband, Frankie. You need to meet your parents' expectations."  She wasn't wrong. I was born into a gilded cage. It was spacious, but locked, nonetheless. Trying to escape it was risking death. I didn't like being a prisoner, but I imagined I'd like it much less than being six feet under. And so I'd never even dared to peek through the bars of my prison and see what was on the other side. - Francesca  (The Kiss Thief - L.J. Shen)

This quote represents her relationship with her family really accurately, showing how she is a prisoner and pretty much a product that her father was gonna sell at some point.
One thing that intrigued me was her vision of her father, and how that changed, along with the way he treats her.

The first quote was at the beginning of the book, where Francesca was still promised to Angelo, a nice little doll, with good manners, a pretty face, and an obedient attitude.
The second quote is later in the book, where she is already living with Wolfe, and he allowed her (it pains me to say allowed) to go to college. At this point she is no longer of value to him, so he treats her like trash. Very interesting change, don’t you think?
Last but not least, while I read my books, I highlight points that I know I’m going to want to talk about in my review. These highlights become the quotes that you saw above. But one thing that impressed me about this book is that I did not have any romantic highlights. Not one of Francesca talking about how she loves Wolfe. Not saying that the book doesn’t have it, just that most of it is negative, and that just shows me even more how unhealthy their relationship is.

These are the quotes that represent their relationship, and that is just sad. In falling for Wolfe, she did not just accepted living in a controlled and sexist environment, but she also gave up her individuality, even thinking that he was the best part of her. The last quote, spoken in the end of the book shows how she was in a cage at the beginning of the book, and at the end she just gave up the use of her wings, meaning that in both situations she is never gonna fly, she is never gonna be free, not a lot has changed.

In conclusion, despite all the negative relationship examples, mob books fascinate me and this one was an interesting and different experience, so it was not all bad. 


So the score on this book is: 

General grade: 4/5 (developed characters, the plot was a little dense, but overall a nice experience) 

Feminist grade: 3/5 (sexist characters, a strong female lead, but her actions are a lot of times childish and immature, and their relationship is far from healthy) 

Final grade: 7/10 (A nice book, but not something I feel in love with) 

Well, that is all for today, I hope you like this post, hope you enjoy this book if you decide to read it. Feel free to leave your opinion about it in the comments and I will see you next time! 

Bye sassy people! 


  • I make a lot of comments about sexism and healthy role models in books, but a lot of times these characteristics don’t make the book a bad book and definitely don’t make the author a bad author. Please never shame these authors and these books for these comments, I simply feel that we need to have awareness of the less than ideal situations some books bring us, and not use the romanticized problem as examples of what a relationship should be. Most of these authors are still amazing and the content they write doesn’t reflect directly with their personal views and opinions. Always make sure to respect and be kind to everyone, even while criticizing their content. 

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