Review: Bane by L.J. Shen

Reviewed by Joanna

One of my favorite tropes is the wounded hero who is self-aware, even as he repeatedly messes up his life. Roman ‘Bane’ Protsenko is one of those guys. A mixture of cocky and resigned to his choices, he’s a prostitute, hired by rich women to satisfy their needs, but he’s also a businessman, he runs a protection racket, and lastly, he surfs. Naked. There isn’t much this guy won’t do to make his mark on the world. You’re probably thinking what an unappealing chap he is, and to some extent, you’re right, but he becomes sympathetic. He’s funny, too, in a way, and ballsy despite his sad background.

His redemption comes when he happens across Jesse Carter. This woman has been through the most awful, traumatizing events (trigger warning for rape), and doesn’t go out anymore, except to her therapist’s. She’s anxious and scared, taunted, unsupported, and wounded beyond help. Her despairing step-father hires Bane to bring her out of her shell.

The one rule is that he’s not allowed to have a sexual relationship with her. Bane accepts the deal without hesitation. He wants to build a surf park so the $6 million he’s being offered will go down nicely. I have no idea why he was offered so much, but there it is. He starts spending the money willy-nilly, while at the same time befriending the young woman. And…can you guess what happens? Yep, he falls in love. Hurrah!

I grabbed his hand, dragged it to my mouth and kissed his open palm. He nearly flinched, and it saddened me. He’d slept with so many women, but I wondered when the last time he’d been kissed on the knuckles, hugged in the rain, or had been loved the way everyone deserved to be loved.

Bane finds out about Jesse’s story at the same time as helping her uncover further secrets. Though he steps in to defend her, he doesn’t ultimately save her. She does that by herself using the available tools.

“You don’t need a prince, princess. You need a sword.”

I liked this better than the other books in this series (it’s standalone so don’t feel like you need to be up to speed). Bane had an excellent reason for his self-loathing and I felt for him. It made his concessions to romance all the sweeter because of how far he had to go to action those emotions.

I really liked Jesse too, and felt she was owed a huge apology by the world for everything in her life being completely shit. I’m not a huge lover of sexual assault and rape added purely for shock factor, which I felt, in part, it was here. I wanted the evil doers to be burned to the ground and for Jesse to wield a real sword instead of her metaphoric one. Maybe I’m just more bloodthirsty than most.

Did you like Vicious? (Book 1’s hero.) He makes a cameo, which was fun.

Rating: B

Click to purchase: Amazon

by L.J. Shen
Release Date: May 10, 2018


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