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King of Wrath by Ana Huang


King of Wrath

by Ana Huang

Published by Bloom Books

Book 1 in the Kings of Sin Series


She’s the wife he never wanted…and the weakness he never saw coming.

Ruthless. Meticulous. Arrogant. 

Dante Russo thrives on control, both personally and professionally.

The billionaire CEO never planned to marry—

until the threat of blackmail forces him into an engagement with a woman he barely knows.

Vivian Lau, jewelry heiress and daughter of his newest enemy.

It doesn’t matter how beautiful or charming she is. He'll do everything in his power to destroy the evidence and their betrothal.  

There’s only one problem: now that he has her...he can't bring himself to let her go.

***

Elegant. Ambitious. Well-mannered.

Vivian Lau is the perfect daughter and her family’s ticket into the highest echelons of high society.

Marrying a blue-blooded Russo means opening doors that would otherwise remain closed to her new-money family.

While the rude, elusive Dante isn't her idea of a dream partner, she agrees to their arranged marriage out of duty. 

Craving his touch was never part of the plan. 

Neither was the worst thing she could possibly do: fall in love with her future husband.



Genre


Triggers

Blackmail, Some Violence


 

I was halfway through Zodiac Academy's final book when I had to put it down to satisfy my need for a contemporary romance.

And ever since encountering Dante and Vivian's character in Twisted Lies, I've been intrigued to read their story.

The crumbs Ana left had me hook, line and sinker, and I followed that trail right to this series.

I mean - arranged marriage, where they obviously don't like one another?

SOLD!

That being said, there wasn't as much antagonism between them that I originally thought. There was some for sure, but not as much as was teased in Twisted Lies.

Now tension is another story.

There is certainly lot's of that.

Dante and Vivian's characters are written in such a way that the chemistry between them is undeniable. Their romance is just want I was looking for at the moment, and fun to read.

And yes, the sex is top notch as well.

Besides that, the overall story is great, and kept me interested throughout the book. The tough situation Dante finds himself in, and Vivian's loss of choice, and wanting to live up to her families expectations to the detriment of her happiness had me equally invested in their story.


While King of Wrath wasn't at all what I was expecting, it didn't take away from my overall enjoyment of the book. Ana does a good job leaving those crumbs throughout the book that makes you want to pick the next one up immediately. Guess Zodiac Academy will have to wait.



 



 

We’d exchanged only a handful of words, yet I already knew two things with gut certainty.

One, Dante was going to be my fiancé.

Two, we might kill each other before we ever made it to the altar.


Dante: “I appreciate you taking the time to fly in when we could’ve met in New York. I know you must be busy.”

I cut a piece of veal and brought it to my mouth. Vivian’s stare burned a hole in my cheek while I chewed leisurely.

Vivian: “I also heard the more zeroes one has in their bank account, the fewer words they’re capable of speaking.”

Her deceptively pleasant voice could’ve sliced through butter.

Vivian: “You’re proving the rumor correct.”

Dante: “I thought a society heiress like yourself would know better than to discuss money in polite company.”

Vivian: “The keyword is polite.”


Vivian’s eyes glowed with anger.

Vivian: “You’re an asshole.”

Dante: “Yes, I am. Better get used to it, mia cara, because I’m also your future husband. Now, if you’ll excuse me…”


Who needed therapy when you could punch your friend in the face every week?


Kai: “I’m sure your absence on the list was an oversight on Dante’s part.”

He whisked two glasses of champagne off a passing server’s tray and handed one to me.

Kai: “Speaking of which, congratulations on your engagement. Or should I say, condolences?”

My smile blossomed into a laugh.

Vivian: “The jury is still out.”


Vivian: “As delightful as I find our conversation, I have to excuse myself as I have other places to be. However, I expect all logistical information related to my move-in my inbox by tomorrow at noon. I would hate to have to show up in front of your building and reveal your incompetence to your neighbors.”

I touched the diamond pendant at my throat.

Vivian: “Imagine how embarrassing it would be if people found out the great Dante Russo couldn’t coordinate something as simple as his fiancée’s move-in.”

Dante’s glare could’ve melted the gold frames hanging on the walls.

Vivian: “You might not care what others personally think of you, but reputation is everything in business. If you can’t handle your home life, how could you possibly handle your office dealings?”

I took a business card out of my clutch and tucked it into the jacket pocket of his suit.

Vivian: “I assume you already have my contact information. In case you don’t, here’s my card. I look forward to your email.”

I walked away before he could respond.


Dante: "But since we’re on the subject of public image, we should establish the boundaries of our relationship.”

Vivian: “Ah, communication. I do believe you’re finally graduating from the Neanderthal stage of your life.”


Vivian: “Here I thought you only ate caviar and human hearts.”

Dante: “Don’t be ridiculous. Caviar tastes awful with human hearts.”

Vivian’s laugh evoked a strange sensation in my chest.

Heartburn? Investigate later.


Vivian: “For once, we agree.”

She followed me to a nearby bench and tucked her dress beneath her thighs before sitting.

Vivian: “We should check the temperature in hell.”


Christian: “A toast to you and Vivian. May you have a long, happy life together.”

Dante: “Fuck off.”


Vivian: “Don’t call me that. Mia cara. It’s insulting.”

I notched an eyebrow.

Dante: “How so?”

Vivian: “You don’t mean it.”


Vivian: “Look, I know this is business to you. You’re not high on my dream list of people to marry either, but it doesn’t change the fact we have to live with each other. We should at least try and make the most of the situation.”

What the fuck? A rush of irritation ran down my spine.

Dante: “Who, exactly, is on your dream list of people to marry?”

Vivian: “Seriously?”

Exasperation bled into her voice.

Vivian: “That’s your takeaway from what I just said?”

Dante: “How long is the list?”


Dante: “Are you asking me out, mia cara?

A smile touched my lips at her glare.

Vivian: “I told you to stop calling me that.”

Dante: “Yes, you did.”

I was going to call her mia cara every chance I got.


Isabella’s lips pursed in disappointment.

Isa: “Fine, but if you change your mind, I have strawberry-flavored condoms. Magnum size, ribbed for your—”

A light cough interrupted her. Isabella’s smile dropped like a concrete kite, and I turned to see Kai watching us with bemusement.

Kai: “Apologies for interrupting, but I’d like to order another drink.”

He set his empty glass on the counter.

Kai: “I can’t get through another conversation about the latest society scandal without more alcohol, I’m afraid.”

Wryness touched his last sentence.

Isa: “Of course.”

Isabella regained her composure with admirable speed.

Isa: “What can I get for you?”

Kai: “Gin and tonic. Strawberry flavored.”

I almost choked on my drink while Isabella’s face turned an alarming shade of red. She stared at Kai, obviously trying to figure out if he was mocking her. He stared back, his face the picture of polite impassiveness.

Isa: “One strawberry gin and tonic, coming right up,”

She busied herself with the drink, her embarrassment a tangible weight in the air.


Dante: “You forget.”

I pressed my fingers against her nape, forcing her to look up at me.

Dante: “You’re my fiancée. Not Kai’s. Not anyone else’s. I don’t give a fuck how handsome they are or what type of accent they have. You’re mine, and no one…”

I dipped my head, my lips brushing hers with each word.

Dante: “Touches what’s mine.”


Her teeth sank into her bottom lip. Lust and defiance battled for dominance in her eyes.

Vivian: “You’re an asshole.”

My fingers brushed against drenched silk. She grasped my shoulders, her nails digging into my back when I slid her underwear aside and rubbed my thumb over her swollen clit. Her body jerked. Small trembles ran through her as her teeth dug deeper into her lip.

Dante: “I’m an asshole, yet you’re dripping all over my hand.”

I kept my thumb on her clit while I slipped a finger inside her.

Dante: “What does that say about you?”

I slid a second finger inside, filling her. Stretching her. Stroking and curling until I hit her most sensitive spot. The trembles gave way to a full-body shudder. Sweat beaded on her forehead, but she remained stubbornly silent.

Dante: “Answer me.”

Command hardened my voice into steel. Vivian shook her head.

Dante: “If you won’t say it, I will.”

I slowly withdrew both fingers, then thrust them inside her again.

Dante: “It says you’re mine. Puoi negarlo quanto vuoi, ma è la verità.


Dante: “That’s it.”

My velvety murmur glided between us.

Dante: “Give into it, sweetheart. Let me feel you come all over my hand.”

Vivian: “Fuck you.”

I let out a soft laugh.

Dante: “That’s the idea.”


Dante: “Make no mistake, mia cara.”

I grasped her chin and tilted it up. I pulled her bottom lip down with my thumb, letting her taste her own arousal.

Dante: “This is business. And if there’s one thing I take seriously, it’s my investments.”


Janis: “Darling! Oh, it’s so wonderful to see you! My baby boy!”

She rushed toward us and embraced me in a cloud of patchouli.

Janis: “Have you lost weight? Are you eating enough? Sleeping enough? Having sex enough?”

Vivian disguised her laugh with a delicate cough. I grimaced as my mother pulled back and examined me with a critical eye.

Dante: “Hello, Mother.”


Janis: “This is your room.”

My mother flung open the door with a flourish.

Janis: “We spruced it up just for you.”

Vivian’s mouth parted in shock while a migraine bloomed at the base of my skull.

Dante: “Mother.”

Janis: “What? It’s not every day my son and future daughter-in-law visit for Thanksgiving! I figured you’d like a more romantic atmosphere for your stay.”

The migraine spread up my neck and behind my eyes with alarming speed. My mother’s idea of romantic was my idea of a nightmare. Red rose petals blanketed the floor. A bucket of chilled champagne sat on the nightstand next to two crystal flutes while a box of chocolates, condoms, and towels folded into the shape of swans rested at the base of the canopy bed. A fucking couple portrait of me and Vivian hung on the wall opposite the bed beneath a glittery banner that read, Congratulations on your engagement! It looked like a goddamn honeymoon suite, except it was infinitely more horrifying because my own mother set it up.


Janis: “Anyway, I’ll leave you two to get settled in. If you need more condoms, let me know.”

She winked at us before darting out the door.


Vivian: “How does he look at me?”

Janis smiled.

Janis: “Like he never wants to look away.”


Her laugh carried into the night like a soft melody.

Vivian: “Are you saying I’m putting you to sleep?”

Our legs brushed, and my muscles tensed at the brief contact. I hadn’t realized how close we’d gotten. Against my better judgment, I turned my head to find her doing the same. Our gazes met, and the rhythm of our breaths splintered into something more jagged.

Dante: “Trust me. Of all the things you do to me, putting me to sleep isn’t one of them.”


Dante: “Keep screaming my name, sweetheart.”

I kissed my way down her neck and chest, eager to map every inch of her body with my mouth. I closed my mouth around a clothed, peaked nipple and pinched the other between my thumb and forefinger, eliciting another moan of my name. Approval rumbled in my chest.

Dante: “That’s a good girl.”


Vivian: “I’m not a toy, Dante. You don’t get to toss me aside and pick me back up only when someone else wants me.”


Dante: “I don’t know!”

The force of his reply stunned me into silence. Dante’s granite mask cracked, revealing the torment underneath.

Dante: “I don’t know why I care. I just know I do, and I hate it.”

Self-loathing coated his voice.

Dante: “I hate the idea of you touching anyone else, or anyone else touching you. I hate that other people can make you laugh in a way I can’t. I hate how I feel around you, like you’re the only person that can make me lose control when I. Don’t. Lose. Control.”

Every word, every step brought him closer until my back pressed against the wall and the heat of his body enveloped mine.

Dante: “But I do.” His voice dropped, turning ragged.

Dante: “With you.”


Dante: “You shouldn’t have let him touch you, mia cara.

Dante’s soft voice sent shivers over my skin a second before he pinched the sensitive peaks, hard. I instinctively jerked at the jolt of pain and pleasure.

Vivian: “I didn’t…”

My reply melted into a breathy sigh when he dipped a hand between my legs.

Dante: “Do you want to know why?”

he continued, as if I hadn’t tried to respond. My teeth dug into my bottom lip. I shook my head, my hips bucking as he pressed his thumb against my clit.

Dante: “Because you’re mine.”

His teeth scored my neck.

Dante: “You wear my ring. You’ve come on my face and hand. You live in my head all the fucking time, even if I don’t want you to...”

His palm slid to my hip, where his fingers dug grooves into my skin.

Dante: “And God, I want to punish you for driving me so damn crazy. Every. Single. Day.”


My gaze locked with Dante’s in the mirror.

Dante: “You like this? Watching me wreck your pussy while you make a mess all over my cock?”


Dante: “I’m the only one who gets to see you like this.”

His voice turned harsh.

Dante: “You”

—thrust—

Dante: ”are”

—thrust—

Dante: ”my”

—thrust—

Dante: ”wife.”


Vivian: “It’s not just business for you.”

I forced back the uprising of nerves in my stomach.

Vivian: “And it’s not just duty for me.”


Vivian: “On that note, if we’re setting new boundaries, I have a few of my own. One…”

I ticked them off on my fingers.

Vivian: “No more scowling as your default expression. Your face is close to freezing that way, and I’d rather not wake up to the Grinch for the rest of my life.”

Dante: “I’m much better looking than the Grinch. And if people stopped pissing me off, I wouldn’t scowl so much.”


Dante: “Just like that,”

Dante growled. He grazed his teeth across my nipple, his breath raising goosebumps all over my skin.

Dante: “Ride my cock like a good girl.”


Only half my resulting scream made it out before a hand clamped over my mouth.

Dante: “Shh. You don’t want people to hear how much you love being fucked like this, do you? On all fours in the backseat of a car, taking every inch of my cock like you’re fucking made for it.”

He gave my clit another long, lazy stroke with his other hand.

Dante: “It’s not very becoming of a society heiress.”


He rubbed a gentle thumb over my bottom lip.

Dante: “Might want to fix your lipstick, mia cara. As beautiful as you look freshly fucked, I would hate to ruin our evening by having to kill every other man who sees you like this.”


Dante: “You can’t see the stars in New York. So I brought the stars to you.”


Isa: “Who comes up with these names? Is there a rule that the richer you are, the uglier your name has to be?”

Vivian: “They’re not that bad.”

Isa: “Buffy and Bunny, Viv! Buffy and Bunny!”

Isabella shook her head.

Isa: “Once I have the power, I’m banning all names beginning with the letters B and U. God forbid they add a Bubby to their group.”


Vivian: “Maybe I’ll wear a silk suit instead of tweed at our next dinner. Spice things up a bit.”

Dante: “Silk suits you better, anyway. Next time they drop in for a surprise visit, we can also tell them we’ve contracted a terrible, highly contagious stomach bug and lock ourselves in our apartment until they leave.”

Vivian: “Hmm, I like it.”

I tilted my head.

Vivian: “But what would we do, locked all day in the apartment?”

He slid me a wicked grin.

Dante: “I can think of a few things.”


Dante: "If I had to sit in another meeting discussing what champagne we should serve at the after-party, I would’ve been arrested for murder,”

Vivian: “I’m sure you would’ve found a way out of it. You’re a Russo,”

Dante: “Yes, but the paperwork would’ve been a pain in the ass.”

Vivian: “You love paperwork. That’s what you do all day.”


Vivian: "I can’t do this for the rest of my life, Aggie. I’ll…oh my God. We’ll be the couple in the Netflix documentary. Love and Murder: The Couple Next Door.”


Vivian: “Would you have really called off the wedding?”

Agnes had always been the “better” daughter out of the two of us. More accommodating, less sarcastic. I couldn’t resist a subtle dig now and then, but she was unfailingly genteel at home.

Vivian: “Mom and Dad would’ve…”

Agnes: “Probably disowned me. I know. But as much as I wanted to make them happy, I couldn’t have tied myself to someone I didn’t like for the rest of my life. That’s one thing I’ve realized now that I’m older, Vivi. You can’t live your life trying to please others. You can be courteous and respectful, and you can compromise, but when it comes down to it? It’s your life. Don’t waste it.”


Sloane: “You don’t need to apologize. Stay as long as you want. My guest room wasn’t getting much use, anyway. You, Isabella, and the maintenance guy are the only people I allow in my apartment.”

Vivian: “I didn’t know you had that kind of a relationship with your maintenance guy,”

I half-heartedly joked.

Vivian: “Scandalous.”


Dante: “Don’t let your pursuit of wrath ruin the best thing that’s ever happened to you. Yeah, figuring things out with Vivian will be hard, but you’ve always been a fighter. So fucking fight.”


Vivian: “Disobedient?”

Indignation blew through me like a sudden gale, sweeping aside any remnants of guilt.

Vivian: “I’ve done everything you’ve asked of me! I went to the ‘right’ college, broke up with Heath, and played the role of perfect society daughter. I even agreed to marry a man I barely knew because it would make you happy. But I’m done living my life for you.”

Emotion thickened my voice.

Vivian: “It’s my life, Father. Not yours. And the same way you can’t make decisions for me any longer…I can’t make excuses for you. Not anymore.”


My heart wrenched, but I shook my head.

Vivian: “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

Frustration and a splash of panic tightened his features.

Dante: “Why not?”

Vivian: “There’re a thousand different reasons. You hate my family. You never wanted to get married, and you never wanted me. You were forced into it, and if we get together again, my father still wins. And…”

Dryness coated my throat.

Vivian: “We’re not good together, Dante. Our relationship was so hot and cold, but we made it work because we had to make it work. Now that we don’t…”

I searched for the right way to phrase my thoughts.

Vivian: “Things have been difficult since day one. Maybe it’s a sign.”

The last part came out quietly, like a pin dropping into the ocean. Our relationship had been tainted from the start. Even if I loved him, I couldn’t see how we could overcome the mistakes of our past. My heart twisted again, this time with pain so sharp I wasn’t sure how I’d survive it. But I would. I had to.

Dante: “That’s six reasons. I can work with six. I can even work with a thousand.”

My chest ached.

Vivian: “Dante…”

Dante: “You don’t think we’re a good idea, but I’ll prove we are.”

Determination lined his jaw, but his voice and lips were soft as they brushed my forehead.

Dante: “Give me time, mia cara. That’s all I need, besides you.”


Dante: “I don’t want to come off as too forward, since we just met, but would you like to go out sometime?”

I squashed a reluctant bloom of amusement at the absurd situation and shook my head.

Vivian: “Sorry. I’m not interested in dating right now.”

Dante: “So it won’t be a date,”

he said without missing a beat.

Dante: “It’ll be dinner between two people getting to know each other better.”

My gaze narrowed. He stared back at me, his expression innocent but his eyes alive with mischief. The barista finally called my name. I broke eye contact and picked up my coffee.

Vivian: “It was nice to meet you, Dante. But I have to get back to work.”

He followed me to the door and held it open.

Dante: “If not a date, then your number. I promise I won’t prank call you or send you inappropriate photos.”

A wicked slant of his lips.

Dante: “Unless you want them, of course.”

I suppressed another smile and arched a skeptical brow instead.

Vivian: “Are you always this persistent with women you meet in a coffee shop?”

Dante: “Only those I can’t stop thinking about,”

he said, his eyes steady on mine.


Vivian: “You say you miss me now, but the feeling will pass. You’re Dante Russo. You can have anyone.”

A waver rippled beneath her voice.

Vivian: “You don’t need me.”

The tiny crack on the word me hit me like a punch in the gut.

You never wanted to get married, and you never wanted me. One of her six reasons, and one I took a fair share of the blame for. But I wasn’t the only one. Her parents had a hand in making her feel like she was dispensable other than what she could do for them, and I’d never forgive them for it. It was hypocritical, but I didn’t care.

Dante: “I don’t want anyone. I want you. Your wit and intelligence, your kindness and charm. The way your eyes crinkle when you laugh and how your smile makes the world tilt just a little bit. I even want the disgusting food combinations you put together and somehow make taste good.”

A half laugh, half sob bled over the line.

Dante: “But that’s the thing about you, Vivian.”

My voice softened into something rawer.

Dante: “You take the most ordinary or unexpected things and make them extraordinary. You see the silver lining in every situation and the good in everyone, even if they don’t deserve it. And I’m selfish enough to hope you’ll see how much I don’t just want but need you. Today, tomorrow, and all the days that come after that.”


Vivian: “Taking advice from a teenager? Very un-Dante Russo-like.”

Dante: “Yeah, well, being Dante Russo-like hasn’t been the best decision lately.”


Dante: “We can make it longer.”

His grin worked its way into my chest. If he was upset about me rejecting his proposal to move back in, he didn’t show it. He hadn’t brought up the issue since his initial disappointment.

Dante: “Overnight trip to upstate New York? I have a cabin in the Adirondacks.”

Vivian: “Don’t push it. I’m docking the extra hours off of our next date.”

Dante: “So there is going to be a next date.”

Vivian: “Maybe. Depends if you keep annoying me or not.”


Agnes: “You have to save me,”

Agnes said without preamble.

Agnes: “Mother is driving me up the wall.”

Relief loosened the knot of anxiety in my chest.

Vivian: “It’s four a.m. your time. Did you really call to complain about Mother?”

Agnes: “I couldn’t sleep, and yes, I did. She tried to redecorate our house, Vivi. Twice. And she’s been here for less than a week.”


Vivian: "This is emotional manipulation.”

Agnes: “I learned from the best.”

Agnes and Vivian: “Mother,”

we said in unison.


Vivian: “We were better as a family before we were rich.”

Three forks froze mid-air. Dante was the only one who continued eating, though his eyes were sharp and dark as he watched the others’ reactions.

Vivian: “We had family dinners every night. We went camping and didn’t care whether our clothes were last season or what type of car we drove. And we would’ve never forced someone into doing something they didn’t want to.”

The insinuation hung heavy over the frozen table.

Vivian: “We were happier, and we were better people.”


That was always his excuse. I am your father. As if that absolved him from any wrongdoing and gave him the right to manipulate me like a chess piece in a game I never consented to. My mouth tasted like copper.

Vivian: “No, you’re not. You disowned me, remember?”

The silence was loud enough to make my ears ring. My mother’s lips parted in a silent inhale; my sister’s eyes turned the size of half quarters. Dante didn’t move an inch, but his warm reassurance touched my side.

Vivian: “You didn’t treat me like a daughter. You treated me like a pawn. Your willingness to cut me off the minute I refused to do your bidding is proof of that. I’ll always be grateful for the opportunities you provided me growing up, but the past doesn’t excuse the present. And the truth is, present you is not someone I would be proud to call a parent.”


Vivian: “I know how busy you are, and it can’t be fun staying under the same roof as someone you hate.”

Dante: “I don’t know. It was pretty fun seeing him almost burst a blood vessel at the table.”

An involuntary laugh spilled past my lips.

Vivian: “You’re horrible.”


Dante: “Per te aspetterei per sempre, amore mio.”

Vivian: “Spero non ci vorrà così tanto.“


Luca: “It should be. You wouldn’t be here without me,”

Luca said, bringing my attention back to him. He reeked of self-satisfaction.

Luca: “Who pulled your head out of your ass when you were busy wallowing?”

Dante: “I’m about to put my foot up your ass if you don’t shut up.”

Whoever invented younger siblings deserved a special place in hell.

Christian: “Both of you shut up,”

Christian said from Luca’s other side.

Christian: “Christ, brothers are annoying. Thank fuck I don’t have one.”

A-fucking-men.


Vivian: “I’m not Mrs. Russo yet. There’s still time for me to live out my runaway bride fantasy,”

A wicked smile spread across my lips.

Dante: “I do love a good chase.”


Mother: “Vivian! Have you seen your sister? She went to the restroom an hour ago but isn’t back yet.”

Vivian: “No. Maybe she’s in there with Gunnar,”

Mother: “Vivian. Honestly.”

Her hands flew to her necklace.

Mother: “That’s not a joke to make in public.”


 


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