Friday, January 17, 2014

Ruined by Tracy Wolff

The Basics:
Ruined by Tracy Wolff
Random House: Loveswept
First in the Ethan Frost series
New Adult, Romance
Published Jan 7, 2014

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


Fans of Fifty Shades of Grey, Bared to You, and Release Me will be hooked on Ruined, an electrifying journey of emotional and sexual discovery that pushes two damaged souls to their breaking point—and beyond.

He’s the last man Chloe Girard should love . . . but the first she ever could.

Ethan Frost is a visionary, a genius, every woman’s deepest, darkest fantasy—even mine. And, somehow, I am his.

He stole into my life like a dream. Turned my reality upside down and made my every desire come true—especially those I never knew I had. He demanded everything I had to give and gave me everything of himself in return.

But dreams don’t last forever, and ours is no exception. Because my nightmares are darker, and my wounds deeper, than I could ever reveal. And as much as Ethan wants to protect me, the secrets we we share will only tear us apart.

Why I picked up this book:

For some reason I keep giving domineering, alpha men another shot.

My thoughts:

Because of the blurb, comparing this book to Fifty Shades, I was expecting this to be erotica. It definitely had some pretty hot sex scenes, but overall, it was more romance.

So, I expected Ethan Frost to be a real alpha guy. I thought he'd order Chloe around in and out of the bedroom. That he'd get pissy when he didn't get his way, that he'd set ultimatums for her that would  put her in an untenable (for me) position.

Happily, I was wrong. Ethan is definitely a character who knows his own mind. As Chloe points out repeatedly, he wouldn't be a billionaire CEO if he wasn't quite capable of setting his own terms and getting his way and so forth. However, I found that the way he treated Chloe was not overbearing, and that he didn't behave like a pompous or arrogant jerk all the time. I quite liked him, overall.

Chloe, for her part, is presented as a smart young woman, and she seems relatively capable of holding her own. I liked that we had workplace evidence of her intelligence. She's definitely got issues, and does frequently emphasize her need to be her own person and not put her life in anyone else's control.  It could easily have just been blowing smoke to try to give this character more dimension, but I think it was put into action in the story as well, which gave Chloe real depth.

There's some inconsistency in the workplace in terms of the day to day detail we get about the other interns. The treatment of Chloe on her second day of work seems like it should be setting the bar for the two weeks that follow but there's no references to it beyond being persona non grata. I expect this to be picked up again in future books, but I was a little letdown that this thread wasn't teased out more across the last third or so of the book.

This is clearly the first of a series and there's a lot of issues that aren't resolved by the end of the book. In fact, I felt like nothing was really taken off the table - Ethan's got secrets, Chloe's shared only a few of hers and they're not really fully dealt with by the last page. The author hints at some things but Chloe, who is our narrator, hasn't hit on them yet. I'd like to read more - which is saying a lot because I quite regularly am disappointed by follow-ups in series of this nature. I must say that because I did like Ethan, I found the story much more engaging than similar works (I'm looking at you in particular This Man series).

Bottom line:

I liked this one significantly more than I have anything else in the same niche - I'm hoping lots of other people feel the same way because this is a shift in the market that I happily support. It doesn't have the same degree of kink that erotica would, but it's still quite sexy. Fingers crossed that the rest of the series lives up to the high standard set by first entry.

4 stars
For fans of erotic romance (romantica? is this really a term people are using?), alpha men who aren't jerks, contemporary romance

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