Serving Sin by Angelina M. Lopez
Filthy Rich #3
May 25, 2021, by Carina Press
Review by Melanie
Angelina M. Lopez, who burst onto the romantic fiction landscape in 2019 with her debut novel, the delightfully subversive Lush Money, returns to wrap up her Filthy Rich series with the final book in the trilogy, Serving Sin. Set in the fictional Monte del Vino Real, a tiny Spanish principality, the first book focused on Mateo, the future king of the principality and the second book, Hate Crush, focused on his sister, Sofia. The third and final book focuses on Roman, who, in the first book, was revealed to be their half brother, the result of their father’s weekend fling with a flight attendant from Texas.
The end of the first book actually plays a pretty pivotal role in setting up this final book: the first book focuses on Mateo attempting to save his beloved Monte from financial ruin. Towards the end, Roman, a former soldier turned security expert, brings in a Mexican billionaire by the name of Daniel Trujillo to invest in the principality. Some years prior, he rescued Daniel’s daughter from kidnappers and as a result of that, he forged a friendship with Daniel.
Cut to the current book, where, unbeknownst to Roman, it’s actually Cenobia Trujillo, the aforementioned daughter, who approved and oversaw the investment and has been communicating with Roman under the guise of being her father. Make no mistake though, this is not a secret identity trope as this is revealed pretty much within the first chapter of the book. This is your classic bodyguard romance, a trope I do enjoy depending on how the characters are written.
One of the things I really enjoy about Angelina M. Lopez’s writing is how she writes her female characters. They are strong and fierce, smart and savvy, fully aware of what they want in life and how to go about getting it. Cenobia, no longer the trembling, scared 18-year-old Roman rescued from kidnappers 13 years ago, is on the verge of becoming the permanent CEO of her father’s company. I have to say, I really loved her character. I love competence porn in my romance novels, specifically as it relates to the main female characters, and nowhere is this more apparent than with Cenobia. She’s gutsy, she’s not one to suffer fools, and in an industry and culture and country known for its machismo and condescension towards women, she’s well able to hold her own. She’s also got a lot of secrets and I was able to figure out the twist pretty early on in the book – in fact, as soon as a certain character was introduced, I had a strong suspicion about who he would ultimately be revealed to be and I was proven correct. And while I don’t want to give too many of her secrets away, I will say that content warnings need to be given for this book, specifically in regards to rape. It happens before the start of the book but it is something that is talked about in some detail and may trigger people.
If there was a weak link in the book, it has to do with Roman, the strong, stoic hero. Known for being extremely capable and efficient, he spends much of the book proclaiming that he’s got a very specific and limited skill set. This is met with annoyance and disbelief from both his siblings and then also from Cenobia, all of whom see him as someone much more than a former soldier who’s only good at weeding out security threats. However, the truly baffling thing is, in the course of this book, his main job is to protect Cenobia from whoever is sending her threatening messages. And yet, on two separate occasions, he almost fails in his mission and the person who is eventually revealed to be the villain of the story manages to get the drop on him, resulting in two people being seriously injured! I’m not saying that I find him to be not worthy because he didn’t seem very capable of doing his job well but it is kind of weird that a character who proclaims at every turn that he’s only good for one thing turns out to almost fail at the one job he has in this book. Of course, his inability to foresee these turn of events then prompts a whole round of guilt and self-flagellation which then convinces him that Cen would be better off without him.
All in all, it’s a very tropey book and some parts of it work better than others. Aside from my issues with the hero, I did enjoy his family’s involvement and I enjoyed the take charge aspect of the main female character. I definitely thought it was the darkest book of the series just in terms of all that Cen had endured. The series is fairly soapy and over the top so if that’s not something you like in your contemporary romances, this may not be the book for you. But if you like books with lush settings, glamorous characters, over the top plot lines, and really hot sexy times, then this would definitely be your jam. While Lush Money will always be my personal favorite of the series, I did enjoy the way this book wraps up the whole series. It’s not a perfect book by any means but the epilogue is a heartwarming conclusion to a delightful series about strong, powerful women and the men who love them.
CW: kidnapping, rape, attempted murder, attempted kidnapping, assault, memories of war, trauma related to war