Thursday, January 26, 2023

Ruthless Rival by L.J. Shen

Now Live! Kindle Unlimited. Ruthless Rival by L.J. Shen.

From Wall Street Journal bestselling author L.J. Shen comes an enemies-to-lovers romance about the fine line between seeking revenge and finding love.

When she was young, Arya Roth became best friends with her housekeeper’s son. Soon, friendship turned to young love, and when Arya dared him to kiss her, a chain reaction of disastrous events led to the boy being sent away and out of Arya’s life.

Now, two decades later, Arya is an on-the-rise publicist with her beloved father as one of her biggest clients. So when her father is sued by a former employee, Arya sets out to prove that her father is not the monster he is accused of being. The only problem is the attorney who is determined to destroy her father’s good name. Christian Miller is charming, ambitious, and devilishly good looking, and Arya has no idea he is that same boy who kissed her all those years ago.

Past and present collide as Arya falls hard for Christian. But when she finds out who he really is and about his obsession with getting revenge on her father, can she choose love over family?


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Ruthless Rival by L.J. Shen

Book 1
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Audiobook (US)  ~  Paperback (US)
~ Also Available to Read & Listen with KindleUnlimited ~




Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Word of advice from a "friend," do not start Ruthless Rival at bedtime, lying to yourself about reading a chapter or three, or you'll see light casting in your windows at six in the morning as you read the last page. My "friend" is a walking zombie this morning. Definitely recommend you have time for a cover-to-cover read. Please excuse any incoherence in this review, my "friend" is rather tired today.

Told in two points of view (Arya’s and Christian’s), set in two different eras, past (ages 12-14) and the present. Not in a linear timeline, not quite flashbacks. When the scene fits, L.J. Shen thrusts the reader in the past to get an understanding on the dynamic between the entire cast of characters.

Arya is the daughter of a wealthy, influential man, his most precious possession. Christian is the son of their housekeeper, who tags along to work with his mother when school is not in session. During several summers in a row, on the cusp of puberty, Christian and Arya form a bond, a friendship, and a budding crush. This was back when Arya knew Christian as "Nicky," when the world was innocent and the kids could be kids together, but that all came crashing down.

In the present, Christian is an up-and-coming attorney looking to make partner, needing a high-profile case that sees the inside of a courtroom. In walks the perfect case involving an influential man sexually harassing his ex-employee. That creep happens to be the man who destroyed his life – Arya's father.

This case draws Christian and Arya back into each other's orbits. Christian is holding grudge and this is the perfect opportunity to seek vengeance. Arya is a stressed-out woman trying to defend her father, the only person on the planet who has had her back, always seeing the good in her, being there when she needed him most.

Arya is drawn to Christian in a way she hasn't felt since she was a girl, this instant connection as if her soul recognizes this other person. Only his name is no longer Nicky, a boy she assumed is dead, and he's now a ruthless grown man. While her soul recognizes Christian is Nicky, her mind struggles to link the connection.

Sparks fly. The connection ignites. Christian and Arya cannot seem to stay away from each other, which could result in career-ending consequences on both their parts, as well as putting her father's fate at risk. But they cannot seem to stay away, using the excuse of cat and mouse games, where in one instance they are the cat, and in the next they are the mouse.

That one chapter at bedtime ended up being the wee hours of the morning as I finished the book in one sitting. The tension and angst, both from the past and the present, along with the court case, created an addictive read that couldn't be put down. I had to know what happened next.

Ruthless Rival is the perfect setup for a new series, featuring Christian and Arya's friends. They were an engaging cast of unique characters, intriguing me to see how their stories would play out. I hope to hear more from this cast of characters. Highly recommend to contemporary romance readers who are entertained by the love interests being combative while ignoring their true emotions for one another.

Take my advice, carve out time before opening this novel.

This is the first book in a new series, and I will definitely be looking out for future episodes – but not sure how they will be able to rival this fantastic read! Without a doubt, this is a book which once picked up will not want to leave your hands. It is intense enough that you need the next page now!

I am not always a fan of books which slip backwards and forwards in time, but this was done so seamlessly, and made the story and the anticipation much higher. Getting to see both Arya and Christian's perspectives and understanding of then and now was both tantalisingly hopeful and also madly frustrating. The fact that we know who he is, and how important they were to each other, but she has no clue, helps us second guess every turn, and then be amazed at the direction that the author draws us. That he cannot help but care in spite of his well-planned revenge; that his view as an adult has to be adjusted for what he did not see as a child; that his heart still wants Arya... these change the man. For her too, the truth that she has chosen to ignore about her father requires some soul searching.

Passionate, complex, intense, and highly readable, I most definitely recommend this book to you – ideally on a day you can devote to reading it non-stop!

This is the story of rich girl Arya and poor boy Christian. It took me a while to get into this story because as 14-year-olds, I didn’t find either Anya or NIcky as particularly likable. As adults, their story was far more interesting and the chemistry between them was great and their fighting was good fun. I also really enjoyed the few trips we took back to the past to learn more about Christian and how he met his two best mates, who I’m hoping will get their own stories soon.

In the present day, this story is full of drama, and knowing that Christian was keeping his identity from Arya meant an ongoing tension. But when everything came to a head, where I knew I should have been a mess and crying, I didn’t shed a single tear. This is the first time I’ve read an L.J. Shen book that didn’t leave me in tears at some point. I realised I was enjoying the story, but I wasn’t as emotionally connected to Christian and Arya as I would have liked to have been.

Overall, Ruthless Rival was a good read and I look forward to the next book in the series.



Author Bio

L.J. SHEN is a Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Washington Post, and Amazon number one bestselling author of contemporary, new adult, and romance titles. She likes to write about unapologetic alpha males and the women who bring them to their knees. Her books have been sold in twenty different countries and have appeared on some of their bestseller lists.

She lives in California with her husband, son, and eccentric fashion choices, and she enjoys good wine, bad reality TV shows, and catching sunrays with her lazy cat.

Connect with L.J. Shen

Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Instagram  ~  TikTok  ~  Website  ~  Goodreads
Facebook Group: LJ's Sassy Sparrows


ARC provided by


Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided with a free copy of Ruthless Rival (Cruel Castaways #1) by L.J. Shen to read and review.

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