Review: Scandalous by LJ Shen

Reviewed by Joanna

Last I heard this book wasn’t coming out until next year so when I got notified, I one clicked the sucker faster than the speed of light. This is the latest in the series that brought you the filthy-mouthed Hotholes, and this edition offers Trent Rexroth, single dad and last man standing. He’s bad tempered, morally dubious and likes to hurt the women he sleeps with. No sweet kisses from this guy. The only people he cares about are his immediate family and his three friends who he runs a highly successful business with. But it’s the fifth partner in the business who’s causing him trouble. As well as the guy’s eighteen-year-old daughter.

Edie Van Der Zee is a surfer and a thief. She resents all the things her rich father values, though when he tells her to jump she can only ask ‘how high?’ Daddy dearest has a hold over Edie and he forces her to toe the line and join him working at the Hotholes company. She has mixed emotions, primarily around the fact she’ll have to see Trent every day. And the two of them have history – he lusted over her at a family BBQ recently though he considered her jail bait, and she tried (without knowing her target) to mug his mother.

They both feel the heat between them but know there’s nowhere it can go. Instead they begin the standard Shen love-hate relationship, worsened when Edie’s horrible father instructs her to gather dirt on Trent.

The age difference is meant to be the shock factor of this book, but it didn’t bother me all that much. Edie is eighteen (to Trent’s early thirties) and is entitled to make her own mistakes (though I could’ve done without the childlike description of her body). Trent is a bit of a grump, but he loves his kid and he’s super hot (have you seen the cover?). His character is a microcosm of the other Hotholes, except he’s quieter and not quite as crude. The violence thing I didn’t much like, but it hardly featured so I’m not sure why it was there at all. Trent didn’t come across as a thug, just not particularly sharp.

The plot revolves around Edie needing to help her family out in a number of ways while her father and Trent try to destroy one another. She’s a pawn between them as well as being used as a very well paid babysitter for Trent’s kid. Where he’s called The Mute, his child actually is non-verbal – silent, after her mother abandoned her. She and Edie bond which aids Trent seeing her differently (beyond the lust that he can only express as hate). If you’re familiar with this author you’ll expect the usual less than pleasant way the guy treats the woman. Trent puts controls around Edie and is rude to her. She’s mean and dismissive to him too and it’s this giving-as-good-as-you-get which builds these romances up. Shen’s heroes have all the power in terms of financial stability but nothing of humanity or self-respect until love knocks them over the head and sorts them out. Her heroine’s aren’t shrinking violets who make the hero good with their faithful hearts; they’re strong and dominant themselves and need their own knocking into shape.

“I should warn you, Edie. I’m not the prince in this fairy tale. I’m the villain. The poisonous apple, the flame-breathing monster.” “Good. I always enjoyed the broken in the fairy tales better. The apple always looked shinier because I knew it could destroy me. The villain was just damaged and misunderstood, and the monster…” I leaned on my tiptoes, biting the tip of his ear, just barely reaching his impossible height. “I always kept the door to my closet a little ajar as a kid to make sure it could come out in case it wanted to play.”

Overall this was sexy as hell, but I wasn’t as enamored with the plot. Some of the motivations didn’t bear up to close examination, and the grand reveal was a little out of the blue. I also cringed at seeing a teenager being set up to be a mother, but again, her life, her choice.

The six main characters from the older books all made an appearance, as is customary in series like these, and where this wasn’t my favorite, there’s still a lot to like in the hella sexual tension and two-way sniping Shen writes. There are few others who do it so well, and I’ll continue to one-click her work when it appears. All the Hotholes now have kids and are married off, so I’m wondering if Shen will go the way of Penelope Douglas and jump into the future to write the romances of the next generation. We shall see.

As it is, and this is hot off the press, Bane, Edie’s sort of boyfriend, gets his book next. So the saga continues.

Rating: B-

Click to purchase: Amazon

by LJ Shen
Release Date: September 29, 2017



  1. Shelly Browne says:

    Is he 2x her age (she 18, he 30’s)?

    • Yep. You hate an age gap don’t you? I remember you saying so on the other of her books with a young guy and his teacher

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