Friday, July 17, 2015

Book Review: King of Hearts (Hearts, #3) by L.H. Cosway

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Welcome to the City, London’s most prestigious square mile, where finance reigns and Oliver King is a rising prince. 

I used to rule the world.

There might be wolves on Wall Street, but there were crocodiles in Canary Wharf. Some of us craved money. Some of us craved power.

I liked money, and power had its advantages, but what I really wanted was to excel, to surpass the men who came before me. I never cared much for love and romance until I met Alexis.

I could feel it the very moment she walked into the interview, with her outspoken charm and vivacious personality. She cast all the others in shadow, made me laugh when life held no humour. Our friendship should have remained professional, but it wasn’t long before the lines started to blur.

You know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men? Well, I never foresaw where my plans would lead, and only in my darkest hour did I finally see the light…

You can have all the money and prestige in the world and still be the poorest man alive. And love, well, I hate to use a tired old cliché, but love can be the thing that truly sets you free.

King of Hearts is the third book in L.H. Cosway's loosely connected standalone series, Hearts. It follows the story of Oliver King (I love that name!) and Alexis Clark, and is told in the "Before" and the "After". 
In the Before, we see King as a successful banker in his early 30s with a mischief in spades, no tact, and a cocky yet oddly humble attitude. He's at the top of his game and wants for naught. Alexis Clark is a young woman applying for a job as his personal assistant, with only a diploma and experience as a bartender to back her.  She's whip smart, open, friendly, and sassy as can be. We watch as a friendship and romance is formed, chock full of sexual tension and witty banter Their connection is white hot, their back-and-forth hilarious, and their relationship is relatively drama free....until a horrible trauma throws their lives off course, and alters them forever. 
The After puts us back in the present time, with Alexis mature beyond her years and King a broken man. With agonizingly carefulness and love, Alexis works on mending what King thinks just might be broken beyond repair. 

My review:

I think that in the space between birth and death you can have one life, or you can have many. But in order to have many, you also need the strength to end the one that came before. And there lies the tricky part.

I read the first book in this standalone series, Six of Hearts (click it for my review), early this year and absolutely loved it. That book put Cosway on my radar, and she is quickly becoming one of my favorite and auto-buy authors. She has a gift for writing the most engaging stories, and her writing has such a perfect, easy flow. Every book I've read of hers has been wonderfully realistic, hilarious but heartfelt, with some of the best characters I've ever had the pleasure of reading. King of Hearts was no exception!

"The way I see it, the people who while away their days living by lofty ideals are the ones who have the money to do so. The rest of us are too busy trying to keep our heads above water to have time to play around with moral codes. So yeah, I don't believe the way the financial industry works is right or good, but if that industry is going to provide me with a way to pay my bills and keep a roof over my head, then I'm in no position to refuse."

It's been a very long time since I've enjoyed a heroine as much as I did Alexis Clark. I want her for a best friend! She was so honest, funny, and quick witted, and she could take what she dished out. She was assertive but flexible, and I truly enjoyed just how smart she was. She has a great head on her shoulders, and she knows it. She wasn't boastful at all, but she didn't put herself down a lot. I can't tell you how refreshing it was to read about someone who positively acknowledges their strong suits, or how much I liked her intelligence. All too often I'll be reading a book and my thoughts are a repeat of "good god, this chick is stoooopid". With Alexis, that didn't happen. I was frequently impressed with how she processed things, and the solutions she came up with.
She was a genuinely nice and pleasant person; it was so easy to be in her head. The story is told almost exclusively in her point of view, and her voice was wonderful to listen to. 

"You're allowed to look at me, you know."
He continued to stare at his lap, a frown causing his brows to furrow. 
"I wasn't sure'd find it distasteful to have someone like me looking."
"Hey," I whispered fervently. "I like it when you look.

I loved Oliver King. Cosway knows just what to do in order to write my book boyfriends! Well, almost: King is blonde, and I'm very much a tall, dark and handsome kind of girl. But I degrees.
King was a breath of fresh air in the wake of the usual, I-have-problems-and-I-want-you-to-know-every-last-one-in-agonizing-detail love interests. Is he perfect? No, and he doesn't claim to be. He's not without some personal demons, but who doesn't have those, and they honestly just added to his appeal. 
He was so damn funny! He had no filter, no tact, and despite being in his early 30s, he had a childlike mischief about his character. He was sexy as hell, and his joking and witty ways made him all the more attractive. The care he gave his mentally ill mother was beautiful to watch, and his flair for business was inspiring. I have to say though, the hottest thing just might have been the fact that he's a phenomenal pianist. Good god, there's just something about a man who can play that does something to me. 
In the After section of the book, he was a different man. However, it didn't lessen my enjoyment of his character at all; if anything, he was all the more interesting!

He wasn't awful at all. In fact, he might have been more beautiful now that he was flawed, more human.

I really enjoyed the way the relationship between Alexis and King was formed. There's enough attraction and sexual chemistry to power a small city, but there was definitely a friendship first. That's the best kind of love story! Alexis kind of forced it into a friendship first, as she told King she was a lesbian during one of their first meetings. I died laughing when I read that! The whole charade was one of my favorite parts in the story, and I was torn between laughter and wanton moaning when the truth came out.

"The way you come is fucking devastating."


I was truly surprised at just how interesting L.H. Cosway made the world of banking to be. Before reading, I pictured it as frightfully flat and monotonous, yet Cosway painted it as cutthroat, fast paced, and challenging.

"The mind becomes a prison as it replays its images, and all you want to do is drown them out. Dull the repetition. Alcohol is such an easy way to do it, to quiet everything down. It becomes a basic need, like water or air. Suddenly, you can barely go an hour without having it in your system."

The After part of the story was so beautifully emotional and realistic. King's healing process, Alexis's bravery and selflessness, the supporting characters, all of it set up such a powerful climax. I teared up on more than one occasion. It was spot on realistic, and by the end of the book I felt like I knew each character on a deep level. The way King's alcoholism was handled and described blew me away.

It would be ridiculous to think that just because I was there, just because I'd found him, that he'd suddenly make a miraculous recovery. That his addiction would simply be forgotten because the woman who loved him had come to find him.

My one small complaint with King of Hearts was a certain plot twist. I saw possibilities of it coming, but really hoped Cosway wouldn't lead me down that path. It felt like a bit of a copout to how this came together, and the idea is overdone for my tastes. However, it did end up working for the storyline and Alexis and King's relationship, and didn't effect how much I enjoyed the book.

All of the secondary characters were vivid and inspiring. I was thrilled when I read about Jay and Matilda, the main characters in the first standalone. That Jay....sigh. I love him. I haven't yet read the second book, but King of Hearts has me itching to buy it, and perfectly set the scene for the upcoming fourth novel.

It's not at all necessary to read the books in order, but I almost wish I'd have read Hearts of Fire before King of Hearts. Series order is Six of Hearts, Hearts of Fire, and then King of Hearts, if you want to do it in order.

Overall, King of Hearts is a fantastic novel of love, humor, healing, and hope. Its addictive writing and relatable characters make it a very quick read, and I highly recommend it.


Rating: 5 stars
Genre: Adult, contemporary romance 
POV: 1st person, single perspective
Steam/sexual content: Steamy like a teenage couple's car windows, some fairly explicit sex
Warning: Some violence, alcoholism
Series: Hearts #3, standalone
HEA: Yes
Cliffhanger: No
ARC for review, thank you to L.H. Cosway for allowing me to join in!

- The Bibliophile Babe


  1. Ooo I love the sound of Alexis! She seems like my kind of heroine and I have no doubt I'm going to enjoy being in her head as well. And of course King. There's always room for another book boyfriend!

  2. Sounds like a good book. I love the sound of Alexis. This does look like one good romantic book!

  3. Okay, I think I'll have to pick up book one. Great review!