Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

‘King of Pride’: Ana Huang climbs beyond expectations

Courtesy of Ballast Book Company

If you read and loved “King of Wrath,” you’ll love “King of Pride” that much more. Ana Huang writes male main characters incredibly well alongside an alluring love story, and Kai Young and Isabella Valencia are just another example of that.

I’ve read the “opposites attract” trope before, and I wasn’t the biggest fan; there was nothing I hated but nothing I loved. The chemistry between the characters would feel lost, and I felt like the storyline was lacking. But in true Huang fashion, she’s proved me wrong. Unlike past authors I’ve read, Huang blended the bold, impulsive female main character and the reserved, sophisticated male main character seamlessly.

“King of Pride,” the second in Huang’s “Kings of Sin” series, follows Kai Young and Isabella Valencia’s push-and-pull relationship from being acquaintances to falling in love. Kai has a crucial, looming CEO vote in the future and can’t afford a distraction — or else he risks losing his family’s media empire to someone else. Simultaneously, Isabella’s dealing with her older, overbearing brother who demands she finish the manuscript she’s been working on for years. If she doesn’t before her upcoming family visit, she’ll have to move home. Between the two, they confide in one another and push each other to their greatest potential as individuals and as partners.

Despite being opposites, Kai and Isabella gravitate towards one another. With his controlled and proper behavior, Isabella is his opposite, becoming his greatest temptation. Kai’s life pulls him in numerous different directions, each one demanding something from him, and Isabella’s is at a standstill, yet the two are drawn to the stability and fearlessness that the other provides. This allows the two to connect during open, vulnerable moments that transform into a close relationship with stolen touches and secret glances. Although I wish there was more angst in the beginning half of the book, Huang delivers an incredibly sweet and spicy slow burn romance.

Despite romance books having some predictability, “King of Pride” had a few turns I was not expecting that kept me wanting more (aside from the beautiful love story). Kai’s CEO vote did not pan out the way I expected, even if it ultimately ended in his favor. The turn was a bit surprising and showed a new side to Kai, a side with impulsiveness and anger that readers had not received a glimpse of, which I happily accepted.

Isabella’s story was a bit more predictable but not in an unimaginative way. While Isabella’s story unfolded in the direction I was anticipating, it also provided the vulnerable, intimate moments one can expect from any of Huang’s bestsellers. With both Kai and Isabella’s separate stories, Huang blends the two tastefully, never having their personal affairs taken away from the story they were building together, only adding to it.

One of the most refreshing things about Huang’s writing is the representation of her characters and how her series fuse together, giving readers easter eggs of past romances she’s written. A majority of Huang’s characters from her past two series have POC characters, which are both appreciated and notable. She creates beautiful love stories for the characters, while also intertwining cultural backgrounds with the general outline you can expect from a contemporary romance book. “King of Wrath”’s narrative carries into “King of Pride,” offering fans an even deeper glimpse at the love stories Huang creates.

While Huang is praised for her ability to blend wonderfully written spice into her books, I felt as if “King of Pride” was one of her firsts to focus more on the building of a relationship and the domesticity of everyday life. This created the slow burn I crave in romance books and made it my favorite of the “Kings of Sin” series so far and one of my favorite Huang books overall.

Huang’s spin on the seven deadly sins is both imaginative and admirable. Barring my future read-through of her first series, “If I Love,” “Kings of Sin” is my favorite of Huang’s romance series for the tension and slow burn as she’s become known for.

Her newest release, “King of Sloth,” is out on April 30 (I’ve, of course, already pre-ordered a signed bookplate version). And if you are into sports romance, her upcoming series, starting with “The Striker,” will be out in September 2024.

Huang has become my auto-buy author, and her writing promises and delivers beautifully crafted romance each and every time. If you like billionaire romances, opposites attract tropes, with diverse main characters, “King of Pride” is the romance book for you.

5/5 stars

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About the Contributor
Sophie Bornefeld
Sophie Bornefeld, TikTok Manager
Sophie Bornefeld is currently working on the Maroon's Digital Team as TikTok Manager. She is a junior with a Public Relations major and a minor in Marketing. Sophie also works at The Donnelley Center as Creative Manager and Student Life and Ministry as Social Media Manager. For fun, she likes to listen to music, watch new tv shows with friends and paint.      

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