The Kiss Thief took me by surprise. This is partly due to my mistaken belief that it was a historical romance. It is not. It is set firmly in the 21st Century. But there is definitely a Romeo and Juliet vibe with the sweet, first love between Francesca Rossi and Angelo Bandini. Like Romeo and Juliet, this story begins with a masquerade. Francesca is a sleeping beauty. Sheltered and controlled by her mafia father, she is a good, obedient Catholic school girl, waiting for her first kiss.
But there are more romances tropes in which to delight. This story has a forced marriage, a plot for revenge, and an obsessive love. There is even a nosy housekeeper, who knows everything ala Rebecca. There are several betrayals. This story had few surprises, but it did provide a delightful, fresh twist on old themes.
Two men want Francesca, her childhood friend and first love, Angelo, and Senator Wolfe Keaton. Senator Wolfe Keaton drags this story into the dark romance realm. Unlike Angelo, Wolfe is far older and more jaded than Francesca. His feelings for Francesca are not sweet. Yet neither rival could be described as a villain.
This book has all the sizzle and sexual tension that a reader can expect from Ms. Shen. Her characters will evolve. The only criticism I have is Shen’s failure to develop a sense of place for Chicago. It is a minor complaint. But as a former Chicagoan, I was disappointed by such a bland description of the city that works. But as I said, this is a minor complaint. Otherwise, this is a satisfying romance.