Audiobook Review: Ruin – The Complete Series by Deborah Bladon

Ruin – The Complete Series by Deborah Bladon
Series: Ruin Parts 1-3
Audiobook Publication Date: March 22nd 2016
Length: 7 hours and 19 minutes
Narrated by: Angela Starling
Links: Audible • EbookPaperback • Goodreads
Source: I received an audiobook in exchange for an honest review

RUIN – Part One

Sitting next to a stranger on a flight from Boston to New York City alters the entire course of Kayla Monroe’s life. In her quest to escape the pain of rejection, she jumps into the bed of an irresistible man who offers her a night that she’ll never forget. Their connection is fierce and undeniable. When their paths cross again, a twist of fate brings her to the realization that the man she’s using to mend her broken heart is Dr. Ben Foster, a compassionate and respected physician. Warnings about his past threaten Kayla’s future. She knows she should believe the rumors, but the moments she spends in his arms – and in his bed – wash away any doubt in her mind. She sees a future with Ben, but those closest to her won’t let her forget that the man she’s falling for has left a path of ruin in his wake that may impact her in a way she never saw coming.

RUIN – Part Two

Kayla Monroe had fallen hard and fast for Dr. Ben Foster. He was everything she needed and wanted after being dumped by the man she thought she loved. What started as a one-night stand quickly turned into a blossoming relationship. Then the complications of his youth halted everything in its tracks. The voices around her are telling Kayla that Ben isn’t the man she thinks he is, but her heart is telling her something completely different. She’s drawn to him like a moth to a flame, and as she listens as he explains his past, she sees the promise of a future with him that she desperately wants. She’s the thread that will weave a path for Ben back into the family he has lost. She senses it, and as she takes on the task of releasing him from his burdens, she discovers that the man she has been sharing her bed with is more complicated than she ever imagined. Just as Kayla is about to step into her future with Ben, she ends up in a place where she’s forced to accept a truth that she never knew existed.

RUIN – Part Three

Kayla Monroe felt safe in the arms of Dr. Ben Foster. He was helping her move past a broken heart, and she was guiding him toward a reclaimed relationship with the brother he’d lost years ago. Their bond was unique, strong, and bordering on a love that would change them both forever. Then Kayla found herself thrust into the middle of a triangle she wanted no part of. She heard things that altered her reality completely. There’s no one for her to rely on but herself, and she has to decide whether a familiar voice from the past holds more weight than the promise of a future she can’t quite grasp yet. Trusting her heart has never been easy for Kayla. Trusting others has never been easy for Ben. Together they have to determine whether the sins of the past are too much to bear or whether a connection that is undeniable is worth the risk.

Holy plot twists!!! Going into Ruin, I really had no idea what to expect. I’ve never read Deborah Bladon’s books or listened to Angela Starling’s narrations, but what I got in this audiobook, I really enjoyed. I couldn’t stop listening to this! It’s sexy, fast-paced, and full of twists and turns you never see coming. There’s pretty much never a dull moment in Ruin. I’m so glad the series was bundled up in this audiobook because I know I wouldn’t be able to stand the cliffhangers and waiting for the next part. If you’re looking for a steamy romance audiobook that will have you biting your nails and on the edge of your seat, I’d recommend this one!

On her way back to New York after being dumped out of nowhere by her love and long-time boyfriend, Kayla Monroe rebounds with a one night stand with the gorgeous, sexy man she met on the plane. She never expects to see Ben again, except it turns out that he is Dr. Ben Foster, estranged twin brother of Kayla’s best friend’s fiancé. Their paths inevitably collide again, and the passion and chemistry they had when they first met comes roaring back as if they never went their separate ways. And then feelings get involved, but how could they not when Ben is kind, compassionate, sensual, and all-around an amazing man? But there are secrets surrounding his past and the mysterious reasons why his brother Noah hates him. When Kayla finds out what those dark secrets are, will she have the strength to stand by the man she’s beginning to fall for?

In the midst of building a relationship with Ben, Kayla is caught in the middle between one twin trying to gain forgiveness and acceptance, and the other twin trying to get answers. She’s endlessly surprised by all the twists and turns of Ben and Noah’s past, and the poor girl never catches a break. Thankfully, anytime she and Ben are together, everything is sweet and wonderful between them. Their romance would definitely be my favorite thing about Ruin. One big thing that got on my nerves though, were Noah and Alexa’s characters. I really couldn’t stand them and their judging ways. And since they take up such a big part of the story, that affected the way I enjoyed listening to the audiobook.

Luckily, Angela Starling did a wonderful job of narrating Kayla’s POV, so I have no complaints about that aspect of the audiobook. I would definitely listen to another of her narrations! Overall, I’d say Ruin is great audiobook – it’s not perfect and I didn’t fully love it, but it had me seriously hooked onto the story.

3.5 hearts
lacey

Here’s an audio excerpt from Ruin – The Complete Series!


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Blog Tour + Early Review & Excerpt: Shame by Rachel Van Dyken

Shame tour banner

Welcome to today’s stop on the blog tour for SHAME by Rachel Van Dyken!

Shame by Rachel Van Dyken

Shame by Rachel Van Dyken
Series: Ruin #3 (full reading order below)
Release Date: October 6th 2014
Add to Goodreads

Everything done in darkness, will eventually be brought into the light.

I ran, but all it did was keep me one step ahead of my past. I tried to start over; new name, new identity. But you can’t change your soul.
A fresh start at college was just what I needed. For a while, it worked. I was the party girl, the one that seemed confident, but it was a lie.
When guys kissed me–I felt only pain.
When they touched me–Nothing but fear.

Deep inside, every girl wants to be the beauty in the story, to find someone that will see you as their world.
But the truth? I was the beast. And as much as I wanted redemption, I wasn’t fool enough to think I’d ever get it.
Until he walked into my life.

I wasn’t prepared to fall for someone. My scars were too deep, the wounds too raw. But he offered me peace, he offered me security. I should have known it was just another lie–I should have known that falling in love with my professor was a bad idea.
But I was powerless to stop myself from falling.
And he was powerless to catch me.

Because the darkness finally caught up to me, and as fate would have it, a cruel twist almost bled me dry. But I’m stronger than I knew. I’m stronger than you think.
You think you know my story, but you don’t….after all everyone has Shame in their lives– and I’m no longer afraid to show you mine.

Buy Links:
Amazon • Barnes & Noble • iTunes

review

Ooooh!! Shame was such an addicting read! I’m so glad to have finally read Lisa’s story!

Shame always comes.
And you’re about to know mine…

Shame is the third book in the Ruin series, and though it can be read as a standalone, I’d recommend you not read it as one. The other characters from the previous books feature heavily in Shame (Wes and Gabe!), and you get to know Lisa through a different light in the previous book.

This book has a whole mesh of genres–there’s some mystery and suspense, some forbidden teacher-student romance, and some dark, heart-wrenching topics in Shame. When I finished this book, it felt like I’d been through the wringer. I was mentally exhausted after reading Shame–there was just SO much going on, it nearly felt like I couldn’t keep track of it all. I liked the book well enough, but I didn’t LOVE it. But for Rachel Van Dyken fans, you most definitely should enjoy Shame. It’s like her other books–you will be heavily sucked into the story and utterly addicted to the characters.

“The broken pieces are the prettiest ones, Lisa. The demons, the proudest scars.”

Shame is Lisa’s book, and it turns out that this girl has such a tragic past. I don’t want to spoil any part of her story because I feel that it’s best to go into Shame blindly, but I will say that there so much more to Lisa than meets the eye. She has a haunting, dark past that she tries to run away from, but of course the past has a way of catching up. Her shame makes her feel unlovable, but it’s only when Tristan enters her life that things start to change… for better and for worse. Because not only is Tristan Dr. Blake, Lisa’s professor, he’s also connected to her past.

The entire time I was reading Shame, I was biting my nails, just waiting for when the truth would come out. Nothing good could come from Tristan and Lisa getting together, but everything felt right when they were.

I wanted her. It wasn’t right; it was wrong, and for the first time in my life, I wanted the wrong. I wanted the bad. I wanted it more than truth. Give me the lie. Just give me her.

We get both Tristan and Lisa’s POVs in Shame, which was definitely something I enjoyed. Tristan and Lisa were a hot couple–they had an intense chemistry that only burned hotter because of how forbidden it was. I love forbidden romances, and Rachel Van Dyken wrote this aspect of the story very well. It was nail-biting, heart-pounding, intense!

Add in the fact that Lisa has a dangerous stalker on the loose, you get the wild ride that is Shame. It was a bit overwhelming at times for me, but somehow, instead of making me tired of the characters, Rachel Van Dyken made me addicted to them. I wanted to keep knowing what would happen next–Shame was an exciting book from start to finish.

Aaand, for fans of the series, you get TONS of Wes and Kiersten, Gabe and Saylor time. I was so glad to see those two couples again!

3.5 hearts! A bit hectic, but still so, so good!

3.5 hearts
lacey

Quotes are taken from the arc and are subject to change in the final version.

Now here’s an excerpt from Shame! ❤

excerpt

I closed my eyes and leaned my forehead against hers. A shaky breath escaped her lips. “I’m going to kiss you now.”

“Are you trying to prepare me or ask permission?” she whispered, her voice beckoning me like a siren’s call.

“Both.” My lips hovered near hers. “I figure it’s only fair.”

“Fair?” She pulled back slightly. “How so?”

“Ten thousand.” I angled my head and watched the pulse jump on her neck. “That’s how many nerve endings, on average, are in your lips. Consequently, when your body anticipates pleasure, the build-up is the best part. Imagine, those ten thousand nerves are swelling, allowing blood to surge through them in anticipation of… what?” I swept my tongue across her lower lip and whispered, “Of being touched. I ask permission, not because I’m being a gentleman. It’s actually the complete opposite. I ask permission so your brain anticipates the pleasure before I’ve ever even touched you.”

I tasted her lower lip again and abruptly dipped my tongue into her mouth. Then just as quickly retreated. “The human body is an instrument. Know how to master it… and well…” I let my voice drop as I moved my hands slowly to her shoulders and tugged her body flush against mine. Our mouths met softly at first. I deepened the kiss, memorizing her taste, knowing I wouldn’t experience a kiss like this again in my lifetime. The way her scent, her soft moans destroyed my body, wrecked me from the deepest part of me, was nothing short of life-altering.

And I’d like to think I’d kissed a lot of women.

I’d studied the psychology of sexuality.

I was an expert in pleasure.

But she was schooling me, absolutely wreaking havoc on every logical thought as her soft whimper cascaded over me. Blood surged through my body as it tightened with awareness at her proximity.

She pulled back, her lips swollen. “That was… not a good enough warning.”

Laughing softly, I cupped the back of her head and gently drew it toward mine and kissed her again, angling my lips differently, searching her, consuming her, drawing pleasure from her lips as if it was my life goal to discover every single secret she owned.

Her arms wrapped around my neck. She was shy; she didn’t push against me, didn’t wrap her legs around me or moan into my mouth like I was having sex with her rather than kissing her.

My hands moved down her corset to her hips, and I lifted her into the air and walked her backward toward the brick wall. The whole time, our masks collided. In frustration, I ripped hers off, then mine. The shadows of moonlight hid our faces as I kissed her harder, losing myself in her.

Her nails dug at the back of my neck as she jerked my head harder. Groaning, I let her fall to the ground as I placed my hands on the brick wall to keep myself from ripping the dress from her body.

Shouting started from the ballroom.

“Ten, nine…!”

“Eight,” I whispered against her mouth. “Seven.”

“Six.” She sighed, her breathing labored as her tongue found mine again. “Five.”

“Four, three.” I pulled back and trailed kisses down her neck.

“Two.”

We broke apart, both breathing heavy. “One.”

People burst out onto the balcony as the fireworks started, lighting up the sky. And our faces.

And the only thing I could say as she gasped in horror was “Oh, shit.”

Reading Order: Ruin series

Ruin by Rachel Van Dyken Toxic by Rachel Van Dyken Fearless by Rachel Van Dyken Shame by Rachel Van Dyken

#1 ~ Ruin: My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
#2 ~ Toxic: My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
#2.5 ~ Fearless: My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
#3 ~ Shame: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads

about the author

Rachel Van DykenRachel Van Dyken is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of regency and contemporary romances. When she’s not writing you can find her drinking coffee at Starbucks and plotting her next book while watching The Bachelor.

She keeps her home in Idaho with her Husband and their snoring Boxer, Sir Winston Churchill. She loves to hear from readers!

Website • Twitter • Facebook • Goodreads • Amazon

Release Day Review: Fearless by Rachel Van Dyken

Fearless by Rachel Van Dyken

Fearless by Rachel Van Dyken
Series: Ruin #2.5 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: March 9th 2013
Purchase: Ebook • Paperback
Source: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review

When I met Kiersten, time stood still. It was as if every cell in my body screamed HER. I couldn’t look away, I couldn’t walk away, I couldn’t even move. My other half, my soul mate, was staring right at me. I had to have her. I had to make her mine. But I felt selfish doing that–knowing that I may not have endless amounts of time to give her…and even now that every things’ over with and I’ve been given that time back.

Nothing is ever certain in this life.

Which is why I’m about to do something crazy, impulsive, daring.
After all, what type of person would I be if I didn’t take my own advice?
I’m jumping off the cliff, I’m living fearlessly.

This is the continuation of Wes and Kiersten’s story.

There will be SPOILERS in this review for those who haven’t read Ruin! Fearless is a novella continuing the beautiful story of Wes and Kiersten, so don’t go into Fearless thinking it’s a standalone! But for Ruin fans, Wes and Kiersten fans, you absolutely must read this novella.

He’d given me his heart a long time ago–and now I was giving it back, not because I didn’t want it. But because I wanted to share it. With him. Forever. –Kiersten

I was so happy that I got to read more of Wes and Kiersten. Their story just wasn’t enough! I wanted more of them together after Wes was cured of his cancer, and with this novella I got everything I wanted with their HEA–and more! I was all smiles with this novella. It’s sweet and heartwarming, and I was so incredibly satisfied with Fearless.

Wes has been given a second chance at life, and he wants nothing more than to spend the rest of his life with Kiersten. And you know how Wes was just the swooniest in Ruin? Well, he becomes even more swoony if that’s even possible. The things he says…

“I’ve spent my entire life being patient, Kiersten I’ve spent my life waiting…. And for once, I really, really, want to be selfish and screw the whole waiting process. I want you. I want you right now. I want you in every way a man could want a woman. I want you every second of every day. I want to give you my name. I want to live with you. I want to take care of you…. I want you so deeply etched in my soul that I don’t know where I end and you begin….”

He’s even more romantic and charming and passionate with Kiersten this time around, in my opinion. The both of them have learned that life’s short, and if spending the rest of their lives together is what makes them happiest, then they sure as hell will do just that. Wes and Kiersten made my heart so happy. After all they went through in Ruin, they completely deserve every second of happiness they can get.

And a lovely surprise about Fearless was that besides getting Wes and Kiersten’s POVs, we also get Lisa’s! Fearless, besides being a continuation of Wes and Kiersten’s romance, is also a little teaser for Lisa’s next book! We learn more about Lisa’s past and her fears, and I have to say, I’m SO intrigued by her story. I absolutely cannot WAIT for her book to come out!

4 hearts
lacey

Quotes are taken from the arc and are subject to change in the final version.

Reading Order: Ruin series

Ruin by Rachel Van Dyken Toxic by Rachel Van Dyken Fearless by Rachel Van Dyken Shame by Rachel Van Dyken

#1 ~ Ruin: My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
#2 ~ Toxic: My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
#2.5 ~ Fearless: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
#3 ~ Shame: My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads

Blog Tour + ARC Review, Excerpt & Giveaway: Toxic by Rachel Van Dyken

Toxic Blog Tour Banner

Welcome to today’s stop on the Toxic blog tour! I’m so happy to share my love for this book–Toxic is so. GOOD! You can read my review and an excerpt here today, and enter a fantastic giveaway from Rachel Van Dyken!

Toxic by Rachel Van Dyken

Toxic by Rachel Van Dyken
Series: Ruin #2 (full reading order below)
Release Date: March 4th 2014
Add to Goodreads

Everyone has a secret…

Gabe Hyde is on borrowed time. He’s been hiding his identity for over four years-hidden from the world that used to adore him–obsess over him–driven to the edge of insanity by one poor choice.
But that one choice, altered the course of his life forever.
Pretending isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, especially when pretending means hiding your real self from the people that care about you the most. But if anyone ever discovered the truth it wouldn’t just be his life at risk–but hers.

Saylor doesn’t hate men.
Just Gabe.
Only Gabe.
He’s a reckless, happy-go-lucky, silver spoon fed pain in her ass. Everything about him makes her more and more confused. Unfortunately they both donate time at the same Group Home. If she wasn’t afraid of flunking, she’d be long gone. She hates that she’s attracted to him almost as much as he hates that he’s attracted to her–and she can tell, especially since their first encounter ended up making her knees so weak she couldn’t form coherent sentences for weeks afterwards. But the closer she gets to him, the more confused she becomes. He isn’t who he says he is, and he’s hiding something big.

What happen when two worlds collide? Two worlds that never should have met in the first place? Some secrets are too big to be hidden forever–the only question? Will his destroy everyone he loves? Or finally bring about the redemption he’s been craving for the past four years?

Everyone has a secret…What’s yours?

Buy Links:
Amazon • Barnes and Noble • iTunes

review

Oh. My. Goodness! This book was NOTHING like I expected it to be. Toxic was unique and captivated my heart. I had been so excited for Gabe to get his own book. I fell for him and his sarcastic, cocky, playboy, but-still-a-good-guy-at-heart ways. I thought Gabe’s story would be at least funny, because he’s absolutely hilarious in Ruin. And was it funny? At times, yes… but be sure to have something to pick up the pieces of your broken heart while reading this book.

Gabe made me want to cry so much. I knew there was so much more to this playboy than what he only showed in Ruin, but I never expected the extent of the depth and complexity of this particular character. He has a dark and tragic past that he’s still living in–he can’t ever move past it, and he doesn’t feel he deserves to anyway. He’s in his own hell, though you’d never guess it from his interactions with his best friends. Wes and Kiersten know nothing about who Gabe truly is, and Gabe wants to keep it that way.

I wondered if there would ever come a day when Gabe would finally be free enough to be himself – the person he was born to be, not the mask number one or the mask number two. I wondered if he even knew how lost he really was – or if he was happy making the maze his home, the mask his identity, his life a lie. –Saylor

When Gabe meets Saylor, it’s not pretty. He’s actually very, very rude to her, so much so that I was a bit confused. I couldn’t believe how terribly Gabe was acting towards Saylor, a girl whom he’d never met before and who’d never done anything to him. But as his past opens up and his demons come back to haunt him, we see how Gabe is slowly unraveling, just like the facade he’s been living. It’s no excuse for how Gabe treats Saylor, but we understand his actions better now.

The facade Gabe has been living for four years is breaking apart, and yet he can’t show his true self to anyone… excerpt maybe Saylor. Saylor, who is beautiful and feisty, but innocent. She’s a gifted musician, just as we learn Gabe is, and they connect through their piano playing. Saylor can feel Gabe’s pain through his music, even though she hates him when they first meet. Saylor wasn’t someone I expected for Gabe–she’s not all that interesting, but I could connect with her. She’s headstrong and dedicated to making the good grades to get a job support her family. And she’s the only one who can truly see who Gabe is.

Gabe tries to keep everyone, most of all Saylor, away from discovering his past, but everywhere he turns, she’s there. Saylor has somehow become involved in his life, and try as he might to stay away from her, he can’t. Saylor worms her way unintentionally into Gabe’s life, and she slowly breaks through Gabe’s defenses. Gabe has been spiraling down into the darkness, but Saylor helps pull him out of it. And Saylor isn’t the only one willing to save Gabe–Wes, Kiersten, and Lisa are all there to support Gabe. It was so touching to see all of them be there for Gabe–my heart was nearly bursting from the love I felt from everyone for Gabe.

And Saylor also eventually falls for this tragic, beautiful, tattooed boy. Their growing relationship is beautiful and moving and so heartfelt. She doesn’t save Gabe, but helps him on his path towards healing and redemption. She’s there all the way for Gabe, and with her, Gabe can just be Gabe–he doesn’t have to keep up his exhausting facade with her.

Slowly, I raised my head to look at her. “When I look… I see you. Beyond the music, beyond your smile, your touch, your laugh.” My voice caught. “I see you.”
“I see you too.”

It’s hard for Gabe to love Saylor, but we see him falling anyway. It’s a beautiful book from start to finish, and I wish there were more. I fell in love with the writing, and Gabe and Saylor have both invaded my heart and will probably stay there forever. Toxic is not a book you can easily forget. It’s at times difficult to read, because of all the pain Gabe holds in his heart, but it’s a book I highly recommend.

4 hearts
lacey

Quotes are taken from the arc and are subject to change in the final version.

excerpt

Life has two stages. Birth and death. That’s it. What you do in between the two? Well, that’s up to you, isn’t it? —Wes M

Saylor

Behind me, Gabe ceased all motion. The only way I knew he was still there was from the heat that seeped into my back from where his body touched me. More warmth rolled off his hands where they seemed fused to mine. Any minute now, I expected him to pull away, to slip into mask number one or mask number two. Instead, he flipped my hands over, gripping them with his fingers and exhaled, long and slow. Seconds went by, but they may as well have been years. Each time he let out a breath, my heart skipped a beat of longing, needing more of his touch — more of something. My back tingled as the hard planes of his stomach pressed against me. I was in a Gabe cocoon.

And I loved it.

Until the music started.

With slight pressure, Gabe moved my hands to the piano, slowly, effortlessly placing them on each key.

He was playing through me, using my body as an instrument to convey the story of his life. Each time he pressed down on one of my fingertips or guided me to another area of the piano, I felt the sadness of the song clench deeper. The notes became floating tendrils of pain, each one of them slowly invading my body and taking hold until it hurt to breathe.

He moved faster and faster, my hands couldn’t keep up. I pulled back as he continued the song, in such a rush it was like he was yelling but doing it with music. Unable to convey it in any other way.

With a final burst of movement, he lifted his hands off the piano and smashed them against the keys, causing a chaos of notes to burst forth.

Gabe’s breathing was uneven, ragged as he leaned heavily against me, his chin resting on my head, and he whispered brokenly, “I can’t.”

“You were doing so good.”

“It’s like getting into a car with suicidal tendencies. You keep going faster and faster, needing the adrenaline to keep you alive until suddenly you turn the wheel and everything goes black. The notes, they go higher and higher, and right when I feel like I can change the outcome — I panic. Some things…” He sighed and pulled away. “Some things are better left in chaos.”

“Are you sure about that? Are you sure about perfection?” I folded my hands in my lap, but didn’t turn around.

“Sure.” He moved from behind me and sat on the bench. “If life was perfect, how in the hell would we ever learn to depend on someone other than ourselves? If anything, that’s what life’s taught me. The need to be perfect is stemmed in the very belief that it’s actually something we can achieve. Self-actualization — doesn’t exist.”

I licked my lips and looked down at the keys. “Does that mean we don’t try then?”

“No.” Gabe tickled a few of the ivory keys in front of him, the music note tattoos on his fingertips looking darker against the white of the piano. “It just means when you reach the end of your rope, you shouldn’t regret a damn thing, but applaud yourself for trying to do the impossible.”

I felt like he was using double meanings. The philosophical Gabe was a bit terrifying because he made me feel more insecure than the jackass Gabe. But the guy sitting next to me right now? I was beginning to understand, he wasn’t just one person. He was every person, everything, whatever he needed to be, he was.

Like a chameleon.

And suddenly the ending to the story made sense.

Ten different notes all clamoring at once.

Chaos.

Gabe was Chaos.

“So.” He sniffed and cleared his throat. “Now that I’ve totally ruined the moment by talking in my serious voice and scaring the shit out of you — why don’t we work on one of your performance pieces?”

“Okay.” I placed my hands on the piano again, careful to angle my wrists at the perfect degree and keep my eyes on the music ahead. Sometimes I wondered if my posture was better than my playing.

“What the hell are you doing?” he asked in calm voice.

I turned and gave him a firm nod. “I’m getting ready.”

“To go to battle?”

“What?” I relaxed my hands a bit. “No.” I straightened. “This is the right posture, it’s—”

“If you say perfect, I’m going to kill myself.”

“Someone should have majored in drama.”

He burst out laughing. “Oh, honey, you have no idea.”

“So?” I lifted my wrists again and looked ahead.

“Fine.” He smirked. “Play just like that.”

“Okay.” I started one of my harder pieces, Piano Sonata 14. It felt exactly the same. The movement wasn’t as fast as some of the others, but the timing for it had to be perfect.

“Close your eyes,” Gabe instructed.

“But—”

He swatted my wrists. “No arguing with your piano master.”

“Fine.”

“Say ‘yes, master’.”

I smiled tightly, my eyes focusing on the music in front of me. I started slowly playing. “Not in this lifetime.”

“Bet I could make you say it.” His voice had an arrogant lift to it, which made me all the more irritated. Master? Um, no.

“Eyes.” He growled again.

With a resigned sigh, I closed my eyes. “Better?”

“Immensely,” he said smoothly.

Darkness enveloped my world. All I had were the notes at my fingertips. All I had was the music — that and Gabe.

He wasn’t saying anything.

Which killed me.

It also made me want to open my eyes, but I knew he’d probably just tell me to close them again, so I kept playing.

And then, with a teasing touch, his fingers grazed my chin, slowly tilting it down toward the piano while his other hand went to my upper back then slowly moved down until it was in the middle, with a gentle push, he urged my body closer to the keys.

Eyes closed, posture completely off, I leaned over the piano. Everything felt wrong as I continued playing.

“Slower,” he said softly.

With a sigh, I started playing slower. His hands moved to my hips. And stayed there. Other than jumping a foot, I was still able to concentrate.

“The music,” he whispered, “It’s not just your story — it’s your lover.”

“Okay,” I squeaked. Heat washed over me as the word lover bounced around in my brain. I knew it, but I’d never experienced it. How was I supposed to use something I didn’t know how to use? And how embarrassing was it that I was stuck in that tiny room having never been… stuck in a tiny room with any guy? Lover. I’d take him. If I got a choice. It would be him. But people like Gabe, beautiful people who had music in their soul, who knew how to speak without words… they weren’t for girls like me.

“Each stroke…” His hands pressed against my hips making me gasp. “You need to feel it not just on your fingertips — but everywhere.”

Holy. Crap.

“Feel it here,” he squeezed and then ran his hands lightly up my sides, then resting right underneath my breasts, he pressed again. “And here.”

My breathing picked up speed, as did my music.

“Slow down,” he commanded in that same irritating patient tone. “Where is this story taking me? Where are you taking your lover?”

“Huh?” I breathed.

“Use your hands to tell me the story — use your body to propel the story forward, what happens next… Tell the story, Saylor. Make me feel it without even touching you.”

“But — that’s impossible.”

“You can feel a kiss without touching someone’s lips.”

“I’m confused.”

“Concentrate.” Gabe’s voice was firm. “I want to kiss you.”

“What?” He was lucky I didn’t actually collapse against the piano this time.

“In the story.” He chuckled. “I want to kiss you in this story, so kiss me.”

“You want me to get up and kiss you?” Mind you, I was still trying to play a difficult piece as he was asking me this, which basically meant I must have had talent, because my body was on fire.

“Without our mouths meeting.”

“Through the music.” I clarified in a doubtful voice.

I could hear the smile in his tone as he answered. “Yes, through the music, show me what the kiss would feel like. I want to taste it.”

“But how?”

He laughed softly. “I’m touching them.”

“What?”

“My lips,” he countered. “They’re soft, open, wet…”

I squirmed on the piano bench, squeezing my eyes shut. “What else?”

“As I part my lips… I wonder what your tongue tastes like, what type of pressure you’d use as you pressed your velvety smooth mouth against mine. I imagine exploring your mouth not just because I want to — but because I can’t help it. I’m lost. And your kiss is my salvation… so, Saylor, will you save me?”

My fingers glided effortlessly over the piano as I imagined his mouth — the way he smiled, the way he took his lower lip hostage when he was deep in thought. The dark look he got in his eyes when there was something he wanted. Our kiss would be epic.

The music picked up speed as I leaned over the piano, pounding each note with the rhythm of my footsteps as I approached him.

His hands would reach for my hips as he pulled me closer. My hands hovered over the keys making my hesitation known.

And then I pressed softly against the ivory, leaning forward as if I was leaning into Gabe with my body pressed against his. My breasts brushed the keys. I moved closer to the piano and then slowed the music.

His eyes would close.

His lips would part.

And we’d meet in the middle — because both of us wanted the same thing. Both of us wanted to taste, to explore, to feel.

I slowed my left hand as my right hand moved quicker across the keys, to show the anticipation.

And then, our mouths would touch.

I pounded the keys with my left hand, making it the loudest part of the piece which wasn’t normally how it was done.

Our tongues would tangle.

I pounded the piano harder.

His fingers would dig into my arms as he lifted me into the air.

I pulled back from the piano, stopping the music, and then gently started the rhythmic cadence again.

Our kiss was the perfect joining of music.

He was the left hand, I was the right.

Separate they sounded like silly scales.

Together — they were beautiful.

When I stopped the piece, I was sweating.

“Open your eyes,” Gabe whispered.

He was breathing so heavily it looked like he’d just run a marathon. With a smile he tucked my fallen hair behind my ear and tilted my chin toward him.

“That…” He leaned in. “…is how you perform. Like every kiss is both your first and last — like you’re saying both hello and goodbye — like you’ve just been born… like you’ve just died.”

Reading Order: Ruin series

Ruin by Rachel Van Dyken Toxic by Rachel Van Dyken Fearless by Rachel Van Dyken Shame by Rachel Van Dyken

#1 ~ Ruin: My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
#2 ~ Toxic: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
#2.5 ~ Fearless: My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
#3 ~ Shame: My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads

about the author

Rachel Van DykenRachel Van Dyken is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of regency and contemporary romances. When she’s not writing you can find her drinking coffee at Starbucks and plotting her next book while watching The Bachelor.

She keeps her home in Idaho with her Husband and their snoring Boxer, Sir Winston Churchill. She loves to hear from readers!

Website • Twitter • Facebook • Goodreads • Amazon

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Review: Ruin by Rachel Van Dyken

Ruin by Rachel Van Dyken

Ruin by Rachel Van Dyken
Series: Ruin #1 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: August 11th 2013
Purchase: Ebook • Paperback

I’m not your typical girl. I’ve been running away from the memories that haunt me for so long that depression has become my only comfort. I was content in the darkness…until Wes Michels offered to be my light.

I didn’t know that time wasn’t my ally — that every second that ticked past was one step closer to the end of something that was beginning to mean the end of myself. He tried to warn me. He promised me all he was able to offer–each moment as it came–but it would never be enough.

Sometimes when you think it’s the end, it’s only the beginning. Wes thought he could save me, but in giving me everything, he ruined me. Because after one kiss, one touch, I couldn’t–I wouldn’t ever be the same.

And from that moment on, his heartbeat became my own.

OH!! This was one of those weird books that was pretty freaking great, but I didn’t end up loving, you know? I should have loved it. I enjoyed everything–the concept, the characters, the romance–but I guess something was just off for me. So the whole “it’s not you, it’s me” thing? It’s totally me. But I’d still recommend it for everyone to try! Because even though I didn’t love Ruin (I just really really liked it), I could still appreciate the writing and the deep, emotional, moving parts to the book. Ruin is so much more than about love–it’s about living, too.

“The point is you have to live.”
It was the first time someone had given me permission to do exactly that. I always felt like I had to suffer because they did. How stupid, right? But the human condition is stupid. We torture ourselves in order to feel better–that’s what I was doing. Torturing myself because it wasn’t fair.

Kiersten has been living as a shadow of herself ever since her parents died. She’s shy and hesitant all the time, and I sympathized with her. Add the fact that she’s a new freshman in college, Kiersten is a very anxious girl. But everything changes for her the second she runs into–literally–Wes Michels. He’s gorgeous, kind, rich, funny, but he’s hiding a devastating secret. I wasn’t too into Wes at first–he’s got a reputation as a ladies man and he kept thinking of himself of being someone who wasn’t good enough for Kiersten, someone who would ruin her, but he grew on me. As I learned more about him read how he acted so sweet with Kiersten, I fell for him little by little as well.

With the help of Wes, Kiersten finally breaks out of her shell. She begins living again, and I found it so beautiful how much she learns, through Wes, how valuable life truly is. She stars making new friends, with Lisa and Gabe especially, who are amazing friends! They’re hilarious but so supportive. (And… they’re getting their own books!)

Wes stops himself and Kiersten from becoming anything more than friends because of his heartbreaking secret, he does everything he can to make Kiersten as happy as possible. They have such a strong connection with one another–I’d find myself smiling whenever these two are together, which is a lot. They slowly fall for each other, the big, bad wolf, and the innocent lamb, and I was so happy with their romance.

“I can tell you have a good heart…” I sighed, opening the door to the outside. “…because the minute I met you, I wanted to fight for it.”

I loved the relationship between Kiersten and Wes! Their feelings developed a bit too quickly for my taste, but overall, they have a beautiful, heart-wrenching romance. It’s definitely not an easy road towards a Happily Ever After for them, because they truly don’t know if they’ll even have one. I don’t want to spoil anything about Wes’s secret, but it plays a huge part in their relationship, and all I can say is that my heart broke over and over for this couple. Wes’s secret is slowly revealed throughout the book, though it’s fairly easy to guess what it is, and it truly is gutting how much Wes has been affected by it. We get both Wes and Kiersten’s POVs, and Wes’s POV was just… oh this poor, tragic boy. I have so much admiration for Wes, not only for what he deals with in the book, but for keeping his head high for Kiersten and eventually for loving her. Wes is one of the sweetest book boyfriends I’ve ever read, because when this boy loves, he loves hard and fierce.

So should you read this book? Yes, absolutely! It’s an incredibly gutting journey for Wes and Kiersten, but their beautiful romance is one I’d recommend reading. I just can’t explain why I didn’t love this book. Maybe I was just really distracted while reading? Ack, I don’t know, but even though I can’t give a high rating, please give this book a try! You might even cry during it–it’s that heart-wrenching.

3.5 hearts!

3.5-hearts

lacey

Reading Order: Ruin series

Ruin by Rachel Van Dyken Toxic by Rachel Van Dyken Fearless by Rachel Van Dyken Shame by Rachel Van Dyken

#1 ~ Ruin: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
#2 ~ Toxic: My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
#2.5 ~ Fearless: My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
#3 ~ Shame: My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads