Friday, January 8, 2016
Vice by Rosanna Leo
Liam Doyle is just the kind of man she despises—a handsome, enigmatic businessman with a knack for seducing customers into his casino hotels. Determined to put a lid on his growing influence, she prepares to picket the opening of his newest casino, Vice.
When Liam spots the lone protester hassling his customers, annoyance wars with instant attraction. And he quickly discovers the leggy redhead not only can’t be bought, she tempts him the way the sound of a roulette wheel lures a gambler.
They are natural enemies, but when a vile attack sparks Liam’s protective instincts, they begin a sexual odyssey that dances on the edge of addiction. Dangerously close to losing control...and losing themselves.
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Warning: This review may contain some mild spoilers
This book book represented a departure for Rosanna Leo from her usual sort of romance which is generally light-hearted at its core despite any temporary forays into darker scenes or subjects. Even when things are dire for her characters, there's generally plenty of humor to be found to keep things from getting too dark. While this book does have some light moments as well as flashes of humor, the overall tone is much darker, grittier, and at times almost downright depressing. And yet, it is exactly this sort of edgy realism that makes this such a great story in my opinion, for the characters here are real, with real problems and failings, and just as in real life there are no easy solutions for them. Love and attraction aren't necessarily magic wands that make everything better, and in fact they can actually be part of the problem at times, a fact that is highlighted well here.
Kate is something of an idealist, but she is also very much a realist. Devastated by the effects that her father's lifelong gambling addiction has had on her family, she strives to help others in similar situations, encouraging them to stop letting the addict in their lives control every aspect of it with their addiction. She secretly finds it difficult to practice what she preaches, however, and in many ways is living a lie. This situation only gets worse when she meets Liam and their explosive attraction for one another pulls her further down a self-destructive rabbit hole.
Liam is a man who would seem to have it all, wealth, notoriety, and stunning good looks. Yet his personal life is a disaster that is only getting worse. Successful he may be, but his near-single-minded dedication to work and his businesses is slowly but surely driving him toward an early grave. After meeting Kate, the attraction he feels for her at first seems as though it might be what he needs, namely a distraction to pull him away from working too hard and killing himself with stress. However, just as it is for Kate, the intensity of their passion quickly proves to be a flame that threatens to consume them and is merely the trading of one obsession for another.
Addiction is very much the governing theme of this book, and Leo shows us the many different forms it can take and how even things that would normally be positives can be turned into destructive negatives if not handled properly. Love can save you or lead you into madness. The flames of passion may be thrilling, but take care lest they consume you. All of this is shown with a realism that makes the characters truly shine as real people and makes your heart break for them and the trials they have to fact, both external and internal. For they are both truly their own worst enemies through much of the story. But even as we are led through the darkest parts of love's underbelly, the light of hope is never quite extinguished. It is ever made clear that it is not too late for them to change, to stop their downward spiral and work to get their lives and relationships on a healthier footing. It won't be easy, and there will be setbacks, but change is ever possible if you want it badly enough.
I am really excited to see Rosanna Leo stretching her wings as a writer and exploring different themes and tones with her work. Though I adore her usual lighter, more playful style, I am also blown away by how masterfully she handles this darker, edgier style as well. I believe we will only continue to see better and better things from her and I for one can't wait. If gritty, contemporary romance is your thing, definitely give this one a try. You won't be disappointed. Then check out her other work and keep an eye out for what is yet to come.