Review: Ruined

Review: RuinedRuined (The Wicked Woodleys, #4) by Jess Michaels
Series: The Wicked Woodleys #4
Published by The Passionate Pen on March 8th 2016
Genres: Historical
Pages: 248

“Since she’s been gone, Claire had obviously developed the ability to hide her emotions. In the kind of world where she had been living, she would have had to do so to survive.  But in that moment after she shouted out her secret, War saw everything she’d been fighting to hide. Her pain was so clear, it might have been tattooed across her face in words like grief, terror, and anguish.”

FINAL DECISION: A satisfying resolution of the mystery regarding Claire that has dominated the Wicked Woodleys series.  I absolutely loved Claire and War who are strong and compelling characters.  My new all time favorite by Jess Michaels.

THE STORY: Claire Woodley made a terrible mistake two years ago.  The aristocratic daughter ran off to marry a man who turned out to be a liar, a thief and extremely dangerous rogue.  Avoiding her family who has been searching for her, Claire has immersed herself in the underworld where her lover lives.  Finally, she has emerged and seeks the help of the Woodley horsemaster Warrick Blackwood to retrieve something that her lover stole from her. War has wanted Claire for years, even though he rejected her attempt to seduce him two years ago.  Claire’s request for help requires him to confront his own past and perhaps sacrifice his future, but he cannot resist her.

OPINION: I absolutely loved this book.  Claire is a woman with a scandalous past, a desperate present, and only a vague future.  Throughout the series, readers have been teased with hints of what motivated Claire, what her current situation is and questions as to why she has not returned to her family.  I’m pleased to say that this book provides a satisfying resolution while still providing a hot, sexy and suspenseful story.  Thankfully, Michaels doesn’t make readers wait long to discover one of her big secrets.  Even better, the hot romance between Claire and the man she wanted but who rejected her, War gets off to a fast and torrid start.

War becomes an intriguing hero because he is a good man who has dark secrets.  This gives him a complexity that makes him interesting and worth reading about.  I especially like how he orchestrates the reunion of the Woodleys.  He truly cares for the family and he is a good man who is willing to risk much to help Claire.  War rejected Claire for her own good once and that ended up in Claire’s running off with a con man.  Now that Claire is not so innocent, War is determined not to let the possibility of being with Claire slip by him again.  War is sexy, earthy and complicated.

War and Claire together are combative, emotional and a perfect pair.  The two work together to solve Claire’s problem and end up discovering that their pasts have ended up making them an ideal match for one another in a way that wouldn’t have been possible before Claire’s downfall.

One of my favorite parts of the Wicked Woodleys series has been the cross-social class romances.  For those who like more historically accurate romances, this may not be the story for you.  This series tends more toward erotic sexual encounters and the morals of the characters feel more modern.  For me, however, I love this type of historical book where the time and setting provide texture and substance to the story but where the actual execution of the story has more of a romanticized fairy tale feel to it.  If I want pure historical accuracy, I read historical fiction not romance.

I enjoyed the plot of the book which was suspenseful and worked to provide an opportunity for the relationship between War and Claire to develop and deepen as te two depend upon one another and discover all the secrets each are hiding.  I read through this book in record time and immediately went back to reread passages.  For me, that is the primary indicator of a book that I will reread again and again in the years ahead.  A book that exceeded my expectations!

WORTH MENTIONING: Oh, I can’t wait until Jack’s book.  That’s how an author builds a great series by having compelling characters that demand their own stories be told.

CONNECTED BOOKS: RUINED is the fourth book in the Wicked Woodleys series.  This book can be read as a standalone, but is so much more fulfilling after reading the stories of Claire’s siblings.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in order to provide a review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.



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