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King of Sloth by Ana Huang


King of Sloth

by Ana Huang

Published by Bloom Books

Book 4 in the Kings of Sin Series


He'd never wanted anyone enough to chase them...until he met her.

Charming, easygoing, and rich beyond belief, Xavier Castillo has the world at his fingertips. 

He also has no interest in taking over his family’s empire (much to his father’s chagrin), but that hasn’t stopped women from throwing themselves at him…unless the woman in question is his publicist. 

Nothing brings him more joy than riling her up, but when a tragedy forces them closer than ever, he must grapple with the uncertainty of his future—and the realization that the only person immune to his charms is the only one he truly wants.  

***

Cool, intelligent, and ambitious, Sloane Kensington is a high-powered publicist who’s used to dealing with difficult clients. 

However, none infuriate—or tempt—her more than a certain billionaire heir, with his stupid dimples and laid-back attitude. 

She may be forced to work with him, but she’ll never fall for him…no matter how fast he makes her heart beat or how thoughtful he is beneath his party persona. 

He’s her client, and that’s all he’ll ever be. Right?



Genre


Triggers

Trauma from death of parent and abuse from remaining parent, affair with family member (not MC's), family alienation


 

I wasn't sure if I was going to like this one. While I knew there was obviously much more to Sloane than we knew - her hate for rom-coms was pretty telling that she had some sort of trauma from a past relationship - Ana kept Sloane very much in the background in the other books.

We got that she was successful.

Definitely a Type-A personality.

Loyal to her friends, but had some issues with commitment, made clear by her not naming her pet goldfish.

I ended up really loving it.

Sloane and Xavier were the perfect opposites attract couple. Sloane's perfectionist ways up against Xavier's laid back personality made wonderful, entertaining banter that I couldn't get enough of.

Adding the sexy tension on top of that banter made Sloane and Xavier an insanely hot romance to read.

BUT, because Ana doesn't just focus on the romance, these character's personal arcs were just as interesting.

Sloane's trauma from her family and their treatment of her, and her past relationship wasn't unsurprising, but it was still interesting to read. I especially loved that Sloane's seemingly cold exterior isn't because of that trauma - that is just who she is.

Not everyone reacts to traumatic events the same way, and I loved that Ana made that clear. That just because someone doesn't cry, doesn't mean they don't feel.

Xavier's journey throughout the book was also interesting. While titled King of Sloth, he wasn't inherently lazy. He just chose to be. When it mattered, he stepped up. When it was something he wanted, he did it.


This book would have been a five-star read if it wasn't for the multiple editing issues. I was surprised by the amount of them, considering that the other books, while having some, were in much better shape for release than this one. We had continuity errors - like how they started out having sex with no condoms, then randomly he gets one, then they go back to not using them. Why do that when it's already been established that they don't want to use them?

Then, for most of the book, chapters begin with the name of the character's POV the chapter is in, or, when split mid chapter, have the character name there to indicate the change. A portion of the book didn't have that, so when a split in POV's came up a chapter, it was jarring, and took you a second to regroup.

Also, while I expected it, how dare Ana kill off The Fish?


While King of Sloth could have used another good, thorough edit, the actual story was excellent. I couldn't help but fall in love with these characters, and I was genuinely invested in the story. I think it's safe to say I'm loving this series much more than the Twisted series, and I can't wait to read the next one. Too bad it doesn't come out till 2025.



 



 


If I ruined my brand-new Stella Alonso dress over this, I’d kill him, bring him back to clean up the mess, then kill him again.


Sloane: “You will get out of bed,”

I said, my voice chilly enough to freeze the droplets of water lingering on his skin.

Sloane: “You will board that jet, attend the gala with a smile, and stay for the entirety of the event like a good representative of the Castillo family because if you don’t, I will make it my personal mission to ensure you never have another second of peace. I will crash every party you attend, warn off any woman stupid enough to fall into your orbit, and blacklist any of your friends who enable your worst impulses from my events. I can make your life a living hell, so don’t make an enemy out of me.”


I kept my expression neutral as I shifted my stance and carefully stepped on his foot with a razor-sharp stiletto. The table hid what I was doing from prying eyes, so from a distance, it looked like nothing was wrong. Xavier’s cockiness instantly disappeared beneath a grimace.

Sloane: “You have thirty seconds to get up, or you’ll lose not only a toe but a much more important part of your anatomy.”

I cocked my head and tapped a finger against the tequila bottle.

Sloane: “Did you know there are online tutorials for everything? Including how to castrate a home invader with common household items.”

To his credit, he didn’t flinch at the word castrate.

Xavier: “Let me guess. You’ve watched all of them, overachiever.”


Sloane: “Just shut up and follow me,”

I snapped, wishing I had a wittier reply.

Xavier: “Yes, ma’am.”

His cheeks dimpled.

Xavier: “I love a woman in charge.”


My grin made a wicked return.

Xavier: “You’ll love this. I promise.”  

******

Sloane: “I do not love this.”

The heat of Sloane’s glare rivaled the one-hundred-fifty-degree air billowing around us.

Sloane: “I do not love this at all.”

Xavier: “See, that’s exactly the type of frustration we’re working on today.”

I leaned back and laced my hands behind my head.

Xavier: “It’ll be tough, but we will pull that stick out of your ass.”


On my list of worst ways to die, overheating half naked in a sauna with Xavier Castillo ranked somewhere between medieval torture and getting eaten alive by piranhas, which was why it was not going to happen.


Xavier: “I think it’s a great start to the week,”

he said as we walked to our couples massage. The spa concierge had been so apologetic about the sauna lock-in that she’d added an extra half hour to our treatment.

Xavier: “We survived death. It can only go uphill from here.”

I pushed him into a nearby bush.


Luca: “I’m here to mend my broken heart.”

He slumped dramatically in his armchair.

Luca: “Leaf and I broke up. She moved to a goat farm in Tennessee.”

Sloane: “Isn’t she vegan?”

Luca: “She’s there to save the goats.”


Xavier: “Go for the Daugherty twins. They’re looking for a good time.”

Luca: “Can’t. Their family is in textiles, which reminds me of goats, which reminds of Leaf.”

For fuck’s sake.


Xavier: “You know rom-coms aren’t supposed to be realistic.”

Xavier wasn’t over my review.

Xavier: “They’re supposed to be entertaining.”

Sloane: “They would be more entertaining if they were realistic.”

I pointed at the end credits rolling across the screen.

Sloane: “What are the chances longtime rivals would fall in love just because they’re thrown together on a work project?”

Xavier: “Less than a hundred and more than zero.”

Sloane: “Your optimism is nauseating.”


Xavier: “What are you thinking about?”

Sloane: “Moving my hips in a circle.”

Xavier: “That’s your problem. You shouldn’t be thinking about that.”

Sloane: “You just said—”

Xavier: “You have to feel the movement. The more you think, the less natural it looks.”

My teeth ground together in frustration.

Sloane: “I’m sorry, but I like thinking. It’s something I try to do on a daily basis.”

Xavier: “That explains a lot.”

Xavier released me and stepped back.


Xavier: “I’m naming it the Sloane. Bitter at first but with a sweet aftertaste. Just like someone I know.”

Sloane: “You don’t know how I taste.”

His smile took on a decidedly more wicked slant.

Xavier: “Not yet.”


I didn’t care that he was the most influential gossip blogger in Manhattan; I was going to peel the skin from his sorry body and use it as a canvas for his obituary.


Certain things in life made sense. For example, the concept of cause and effect, the heat of the sun, and female praying mantises killing their partners after sex. No muss, no fuss—they got their pleasure, and they were done.


Xavier: “Let’s say you and your father are still talking. What would you do if he said he’ll cut you off unless you quit your job and marry some polo-playing douche named Gideon?”

Touché.

Sloane: “I’d tell him to fuck off.”

Which I basically had.

Sloane: “Though ironically, I dated a polo player named Gideon in high school and yes, he was a douche.”


Xavier: “You should leave.”

A rough edge turned his words into a warning. He was right. I should. It was late, and I had to finish writing my movie review, and…and…My mind blanked.

Sloane: “Why?”

Another shiver ran down my neck when the distance between us shortened by another inch.

Xavier: “Because it’s late,”

Xavier said softly.

Xavier: “And because…”

He trailed off when I licked my lips in a brief, involuntary movement. His gaze latched on to my mouth, and my parched throat dried even more. The world narrowed to this very moment, beneath the dim lights of the library, listening to our escalating breaths sync with each other. And when he let out a tortured “fuck” and dipped his head, molding his mouth to mine, it didn’t even occur to me to pull away. This was the world, and I never wanted to leave.


Sloane: “It’s the dry spell,”

Either that, or Isabella had acquired a magical ability to manifest anything she said into reality. Normally, I’d be terrified—she read way too much dinosaur erotica to safely possess such a power—but I would rather deal with that than consider the remaining explanation.


Xavier: “Look at Eldorra’s royal couple. They had a centuries-old law working against them, and now they’re happily married.”

Sloane: “I’m not a princess, you’re not my bodyguard, and they were in love. It’s different.”

Xavier: “Every love starts with a kiss.”


The problem? Men always got so attached. Sleep with them a couple of times and they suddenly thought we were going to ride off into the sunset together. I didn’t even like sunsets. They were depressing.


Sloane: “You just told Mark to know when to take a hint. Why are you being so insistent about this?”

Xavier: “Because I want you.”


The cab screeched to a halt in front of me. I opened the door and climbed in. Xavier climbed in after me.

Sloane: “What are you doing? This is breaking and entering!”

Xavier: “It’s a cab.”

Sloane: “That you’re breaking and entering into.”

I rapped my knuckles against the divider separating us from the front seat.

Sloane: “You have an intruder in your car. I don’t know this man. Please dispose of him immediately.”

The driver glanced in the rearview mirror, unimpressed.

Driver: “Weren’t ya just talking to him a second ago?”

Sloane: “He was talking to me.”

Xavier: “We were talking to each other. I—”

The driver released a huge sigh.

Driver: “Look, lady, I don’t got time to deal with a lovers’ spat. You wanna go or not?”

Sloane: “We’re not—”

Xavier: “She wants to go. Just keep driving around until we say otherwise.”

Xavier slipped a hundred-dollar-bill through the opening in the divider.

Xavier: “A pre-tip for your service. Thanks, man.”

The driver snatched the bill from his hand and sped off.

Sloane: “This is kidnapping. You are committing a crime.”

Xavier: “You broke into my room twice in the past month, so consider us even.”


Xavier didn’t tell me what he had planned, only that I should wear “cozy clothing,” and if it were anyone else, I would’ve balked the second he told me our first date was at his house. That was how charming serial killers lured their victims to their deaths.


Sloane: “Are you ever going to tell me why you call me Luna?”

Xavier: “One day.”

His dimples winked into view.

Xavier: “If you’re really nice to me.”


Xavier: “I don’t pass first base on the first date. What kind of man do you think I am?”

Sloane: “You’re telling me you’ve never done more than kiss someone on the first date.”

It wasn’t a question, but the voice that delivered it was so breathless, I didn’t recognize it as mine.

Xavier: “I have, but that was years ago, we weren’t dating, and I wasn’t trying to woo them.”

Another type of warmth, one that had nothing to do with arousal, pooled in my stomach.

Sloane: “Is that what you’re trying to do? Woo me?”

Xavier: “Depends.”

A smile played on his lips.

Xavier: “Is it working?”

Yes.

Sloane: “No.”

Xavier: “Liar.”


Sloane: “Your sense of meal times needs recalibration. It’s only four.”

Xavier: “By the time we fight through rush hour traffic, it’ll be five, which is happy hour time. You know what comes after happy hour?”

Sloane: “A shower.”

Xavier: “Dinner.”

My mouth curled into a grin.

Xavier: “Though I’m not opposed to sharing a shower.”

I pitched my voice low enough for just her to hear. She went a teensy bit pink around her ears, but she cocked an eyebrow and asked,

Sloane: “What happened to slow and steady wooing?”

Xavier: “Get your mind out of the gutter, Luna. All I proposed was sharing a shower. It’ll be perfectly PG-13 except for the two very attractive naked people in it.”


Sloane: “What did you do?”

Xavier: “Gave the drivers three hundred bucks each to go the opposite direction.”

Xavier frowned at the side street, which was also clogged.

Xavier: “Bribery works wonders.”

Sloane: “We need to talk about the dangerous amount of cash you carry— shit.”


Sloane: “Pen is family. She was four at the time. She shouldn’t be held responsible for the poor decisions made by adults in her life.”

Caroline: “Penelope is a Kensington. You are no longer a Kensington in anything but name, which means she’s not your family. You have no right to be here.”

Sloane: “That’s rich coming from someone who pretends she doesn’t exist half the time.”

I returned her glare with a chilly smile.

Sloane: “Don’t stay too long, Caroline, or people might mistake you for an actual mother.”


Sloane: “He emailed me about your pregnancy.”

I smiled over the churn in my gut. I shouldn’t have eaten that chicken salad for lunch.

Sloane: “I would say congratulations, but I’m the only person here who doesn’t lie.”


Sloane: "What did you tell the front desk to get them to let you up?”

Xavier: “Nothing.”

Xavier’s grin twinkled with mischief.

Xavier: “I let Benjamin do the talking. Five Benjamins, to be exact. I may have also told them I was your fiancé.”

Sloane: “That has to be illegal, and you have to stop walking around with so much cash. It’s unsafe.”

Xavier: “Unsafe?”

He shifted, his knee grazing mine.

Xavier: “Don’t tell me you’re starting to care, Luna.”

Sloane: “Starting, no.”


Sloane: “What’d you think of my sister and her husband? Charming, aren’t they?”

Xavier: “That’s not the first c word that came to mind.”


She was wet, so wet that I could easily slide inside her right now without much friction, but I hadn’t come this far to rush the best part.

I liked to play before eating.


Sloane: “Don’t act so smug when you haven’t been tested yet.”

My cock gave another painful throb.

Xavier: “Valid point. Test away. I’m your willing guinea pig.”

Her laugh followed mine.

Sloane: “Tip: Never use the phrase guinea pig in the middle of sex.”


Pen: “So. What’s going on with you and my sister?”

I almost choked on my Coke while Rhea tried and failed to hide a smirk.

Xavier: “We’re hanging out,”

I said vaguely. I wasn’t sure how much detail I should share with a nine-year-old about my love life, but I had a feeling I should err on the side of caution.

Pen: “No, we’re hanging out.”

Pen gestured between us.

Pen: “You and Sloane are doing more.”

Jesus Christ. I glanced at the door, willing Sloane to walk through it and put me out of my misery. No such luck.

Xavier: “We’re dating,”

I clarified. I hoped like hell Pen wasn’t going to ask me what doing more entailed. I wasn’t going to touch that conversation with a fifty-foot pole.


Pen: “Don’t hurt her,”

Pen warned, her little face fierce.

Pen: “If you do, I’ll sic Mary on you.”

Xavier: “I would never hurt her,”

I said, and I meant it. The thought alone made my heart clench. After a short pause, I added,

Xavier: “Who’s Mary?”

Pen: “Show him, Rhea.”

Rhea, still laughing, pulled up something on her phone and handed it to me. A Victorian doll stared up at me from the screen with unblinking blue eyes. She had black hair, a frilly white dress, and a smile made of pure evil. It was the creepiest fucking toy I’d ever seen.

Pen: “My mother got her at an antiques shop. She belonged to an English aristocrat’s daughter who was murdered by an unknown killer. Legend has it the girl’s spirit lives on in her favorite doll.”

Rhea: “About ten years ago, someone tried to steal her from her old owner because she’s so valuable, but they died of mysterious stab wounds in their sleep,”

I couldn’t tell if she was joking.


Sloane: “I’ve seen your house. You still have a trophy for winning Biggest Flirt at prep school.”

Xavier: “Hey, that trophy is made of solid fake gold. It’s worth its weight in sentimentality.”


Xavier: “None with walnuts though.”

Those butterflies in my stomach were getting out of hand; I needed pest control or something.

Sloane: “I don’t think walnuts are usually featured in Thai cooking,”

I said, trying to hide the swell in my chest.

Xavier: “You never know. What do you have against those poor nuts anyway?”

Sloane: “They look like brains. It creeps me out…Stop laughing.”

Xavier: “I’m not laughing,”

he managed through gusts of laughter.

Xavier: “I just didn’t expect that to be the reason.”


Playboy, heir, hedonist, flirt—those masks were gone, leaving only the man in their place. Raw in his vulnerability, flawed in many ways, and marred by cracks and bruises beneath a deceptively polished façade. I looked at him, and I’d never seen anyone more beautiful.


Sloane: “I’m… flattered, and obviously, there’s really only one answer.”

Bentley: “Obviously,”

he said with enough smugness to power an entire fraternity house.

Sloane: “Take your proposition, and go fuck yourself with it.”

Bentley blinked. My words registered, and his smile disappeared beneath a mottle of red.

Bentley: “You—”

Sloane: “Let me make a few things clear.”

I spoke over him.

Sloane: “One, I would rather sleep with a leprosy-infected ogre before I ever let you touch me again. You are a disgusting, misogynist pig whose brain is inversely proportionate to the size of your giant ego, and you’re lucky I was too young when we met to know otherwise. Two, Georgia has many faults, but she and every other woman who’s unlucky enough to cross your path deserves better than you. I hope the next time she throws a vase at you, she doesn’t miss. Three, Xavier is ten times the man you could ever hope to be. He’s smarter, kinder, and better in bed.”

I cocked my head.

Sloane: “News flash, Bentley, you’re not the sex god you think you are. Your technique is shit, and you couldn’t find a clit if the woman drew you a map and marked it with a giant X.”


Kai studied me in that quiet, thoughtful way of his. Isabella’s face popped up over his shoulder again; this time, she gave me a double thumbs-up.

Nailed it, she mouthed.

Kai: “Isa, love, stop talking to Sloane behind my back,”

he said without turning around. Her face fell.

Isabelle: “How do you always know? I swear you’re not human,”


Sloane: “You are such a kiss-ass,”

I said when she left.

Xavier: “Me?”

Xavier placed a hand over his heart.

Xavier: “I prefer to think of it as being charming.”

Sloane: “A charming kiss-ass.”


Georgia: “You bitch.”

My eyebrows winged up at her scathing greeting. Georgia was usually subtler than that.

Sloane: “That’s a matter of opinion, but I’m only a bitch to people who deserve it,”

I said, overcoming my initial jerk of surprise to offer a cool smile.

Sloane: “For example, people who show up uninvited to my workplace and attack my character before I’ve even had my second coffee.”


Sloane: “Believe me, don’t believe me. It’s not my job to convince you of your husband’s infidelity.”

My voice cooled another degree.

Sloane: “But there’s an old saying, Georgie: if he cheats with you, he can cheat on you.”

I paused, letting pettiness take the wheel.

Sloane: “There’s also another saying: karma’s a bitch.”


Xavier: “You kept asking me why I called you Luna. I didn’t tell you because I was afraid it would send you running for the hills. Even before we kissed, before we were anything other than a publicist and her client, you were a light in my life. A persistent, sometimes scary one, but a light all the same.”

Xavier’s throat bobbed with a hard swallow.

Xavier: “Luna is short for mi luna. My moon. Because no matter how dark the nights got, you were always there, shining so brightly that I always found my way through.”


Xavier: “I’ve been falling in love with you day by day for years, and I didn’t even know it,”

he said, his voice thick.

Xavier: “Well, now I know it.”


Sloane: “My little job happens to be one of the top PR firms in the country.”

I gave her a brittle smile.

Sloane: “Not everyone marries up for money. Some of us are smart enough to earn it.”


Xavier: “Life would be pretty boring if we knew what was going to happen every day.”

I sniffled.

Sloane: “Actually, that sounds wonderful. I would love that.”

Xavier: “Well, you color coordinate your office supplies, so I’m not surprised


Pen: "Did Xavier hurt you? Because I told him I’d sic Mary on him if he did.”

Sloane: “He did briefly, but he didn’t mean it, and he apologized.”

I paused, my brow creasing.

Sloane: “Who’s Mary?”

Pen: “A haunted Victorian doll.”

I narrowed my eyes.

Sloane: “You don’t have a Victorian doll. They creep you out.”

Pen: “I know.”

Pen’s grin was pure mischief.

Pen: “But he doesn’t know that.”


Sloane: “What I say will be influenced by our relationship. I’ve worked with Xavier for three and a half years, and I’m the only person on this call that has watched him build the Vault from the ground up. I’ve watched him grow from a hedonistic degenerate—”

Whoa, a bit harsh, but okay.


Xavier: “Not God, Luna.”

I dipped my head, my mouth brushing hers with each word. She tasted sweet, warm, perfect.

Xavier: “God has no hand in what I’m about to do to you.”


Sloane: “Feisty.”

Sloane pursed her lips in thought.

Sloane: “That should be his name.”

Feisty the Fish? My God.

Xavier: “If the store said he was the goldest one, would you have named him Goldie?”

I asked, my cheeks hurting from the force of my grin. Her pensive expression gave way to a stern glare.

Sloane: “Very funny,”

she said, her cheeks pink.

Sloane: “I’m not great at naming pets, okay?”

Xavier: “No, no, I think Feisty is a great name. A proud name. A literal name!”

I called after her as she stalked back to the living room. Laughter warped around me as I followed her.

Sloane: “Shut up before I throw a lamp at you. If you’re so great at names, you choose one.”

Xavier: “Nope, he’s for you and whatever name you choose is the one that sticks. At least Feisty is a better option than The Fish 2.0.”

I corralled my face into some semblance of seriousness.

Xavier: “Every fish deserves a name, and his is Feisty.”

I almost made it through the entire sentence without cracking up again. Almost. My failure resulted in Sloane throwing a cushion at my head, but it was worth it.

Feisty the Fish. I chortled.


 


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