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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Review: Ruined by Jess Michaels

I have been waiting for Claire’s book for so long!

Format: .mobi (A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley for the purpose of an honest review. )
Publisher: The Passionate Pen
Release Date: March 8, 2016

When Claire found out a devastating secret about her family, the famous Woodley clan, she ran straight into the arms of a criminal and disappeared for years. But now she’s desperate to escape his clutches and get back what he’s stolen from her: her child. She turns to longtime family horse master Warrick Blackwood, knowing his secrets can get her close to her target.

War doesn’t want to return to the dangerous life he left behind, even to help Claire, but he has no choice. Not only does she know the truth about his past, but he’s never been able to resist her. Her frantic attempt to save her daughter will bring them close, revealing both War’s dominant nature and his heart, but it may also destroy any hope at the future both secretly long for.

A family secret caused Claire to fall victim to a smooth talking criminal once and has paid for it every day since. Now he has taken her child and she needs help from her family's horse master, Warrick Blackwood to take back her daughter.

War doesn't want to go back to the life he knew but for Claire he'd do anything. Spending time together draws War and Claire closer together even though there may not be a chance for them to have a future.

It’s finally time to say “Welcome Home Claire!” But wait, Claire doesn’t want to be welcomed home, she doesn’t even want to see the family she left behind, each member carrying their own form of guilt over her disappearance. So just what made Claire run away from home all those years ago?

Well to be honest, I expected it to be some really horrible, life or death situation but truth be told, I felt Claire was being a tad too dramatic about her reason. Did she have reason to be hurt and feel as if she wasn’t a part of the Woodley clan? Absolutely but once the truth came out and she saw that it didn’t matter one bit to her siblings then she shouldn’t have insisted on pushing them away again. It was obvious that they loved her dearly no matter what and she clearly loved them yet she stubbornly refused to let them be her family until it was almost too late. I didn’t understand that about Claire. She had a good family that was supportive and kind yet she was willing to throw that away because of a technicality of the times?

Claire was so certain of her decision to stay away from her family and throughout Ruined she never really convinced me to side with her. But that didn’t make her a bad character or even a bad heroine, quite the opposite. She may have made the tough (and wrong) decision to run away and the consequences were harsh for her but Claire grabbed that particular bull by the horns and made the best out of a really bad situation. She was stubborn enough to not only survive but thrive in a negative environment. I admired this character’s strength and her persistence but she was so used to trusting only herself that she had a hard time letting anyone help her, let alone love her.

And was it just me or did Warrick just appear out of nowhere? He’s a sneaky one! Here’s this background character, almost invisible and then he jumped onto the pages and totally dominated his scenes. And the man didn’t stop there because he was all about taking charge when he felt Claire was leading towards a foolish decision but he did it in a way that didn’t come across as manhandling or railroading. Maybe a little bulldozing but with a woman as stubborn as Claire it was a necessity. Together War and Claire had such chemistry both physical and emotional. War knew when to be gentle with Claire and when to force her into doing something. I loved their give and take relationship because it really did have a balance of power to it.

Ruined had a bittersweet feeling to it because while the entire Woodley clan has never given up hope that they would be reunited with Claire but once they were it was so clear that nothing was ever going to be the same. Everyone had changed, especially Claire and while her siblings never stopped looking for her, they did move on with their lives. It was interesting to see Claire and her siblings find their footing and forge new relationships. When I started reading Ruined I felt a bit sad since Claire was the last of the Woodleys to find a happy ending and I have grown so attached to them that I didn’t want to say goodbye.

Then Jess Michaels introduced War’s brother Jack. My, oh my but a bad boy like that has got to be written about. He’s all charm and fun on the surface but underneath it’s clear he’s deadly and mysterious. In other words he’s irresistible.

Final Verdict: The last Woodley is finally home where she belongs and it was one heck of a ride for her. I enjoyed Claire’s story, it wasn’t what I expected but it totally fit the image of Claire I had in my mind. I highly suggest the entire series to historical romance fans who like their romance on the spicy side.

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