King of Pride by Ana Huang

Reviewed by Wendy Lipke

On reading the title of this book, King of Pride, I did not know whether the story to come would be about humans or animals. However, the cover also tells me that this book is the second in a King of Sin series and when I began reading about a conversation which included strawberry flavoured and glow in the dark condoms, I dropped all thought of it being about lions.

I then discovered that Anna Huang is an author of primarily steamy New Adult and Contemporary Romance which can be on a scale of light-hearted to dark. This story is a steamy opposites-attract- forbidden-billionaire romance. The characters encountered will apparently also grace the pages of all the books of the series with one couple taking centre stage in each book.

Those in the spotlight in this story are Isabella Valencia, working behind the bar of the Valhalla Club, and Kai Young, member of the club’s managing committee and candidate for a CEO position. They couldn’t be any more different in their lives, work situation, level of confidence, personalities and the way they dress. The club has strict rules of behaviour and any relationship between the two could have catastrophic results for both of them. The back cover tells a prospective reader, ‘No matter how hard they try, they can’t resist giving in to their forbidden desires’.

The book is written in the first person, depending on which of the two is progressing the story. Isabella has purple-black hair, a tattoo on her wrist, a rich throaty laugh and owns a pet snake. She is bold, impulsive and an accomplished pianist. She is supporting herself by working in a bar while she tries to write the novel she hopes will give her the sense of achievement she so craves.  Sometimes she feels like she is bobbing aimlessly in the post-school waters, while others are settled into respective careers (26).

Kai on the other hand is heir to a media empire, values propriety, is predictable, perfectly tailored and the epitome of aristocratic sophistication. He is very accomplished at whatever activities he chooses to undertake and does not like sharing. Both are under pressure to settle down to their family’s expected role.

Kai’s pride is bruised when he is told his piano playing is ‘lacking something’ (21). This sentiment is unfamiliar to him and so unexpected. In his thirty-two years, no one had ever told him he was lacking in anything. Pride is a characteristic well-seated in both the personalities of the protagonists although strongest in Kai. Hence the title of this book, I suppose.

Although the story is richly flavoured with sparks of awareness, electric shivers, tingles, goose bumps, pulses pounding, it is also a story about business and the underhand tactics employed to achieve personal goals. It also has the strong flavour of maintaining inherent values and staunch friendships.  There is a lot more to this story than raunchy sex scenes.

Sometimes the expressions the author uses seem very unusual, not inappropriate, but different from what I have encountered in my many years of reading, for example ‘life quilted with neat squares and perfectly delineated lines’ (57) and ‘a growing Civil War between my logic and my emotions’ (59).

A Tik-Tok bestselling phenomenon, Ana Huang grew up in the United States as a daughter of Chinese parents. Her heritage often shines through in her writing. Her love of travel and different cultures led her to study International Relations and her trips abroad often inspire the settings in her stories.

To my pleasant surprise I enjoyed reading this story and have been left with a curiosity about the stories behind the minor characters which I met in this read.

King of Pride

by Ana Huang



ISBN: 978-0-349-43634-0

$22.99; 368pp

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