Freedom. When Carleigh Stanger thought of college, that was the word that came to mind. Freedom from her unhappy home life. Freedom from high school mistakes. Freedom from the memory of that terrible morning. Only instead of bringing a sweet escape, Carleigh’s first campus party traps her in the scornful gaze of the last person she wants to see, Tucker Green.
It wasn’t long ago that being close to Carleigh was everything Tucker wanted. But that was before he realized she was just another scheming girl who’d do whatever it took to get her way. Even lie to the guy she claimed to love. Unfortunately while Tucker’s brain remembers the pain Carleigh caused, his body only remembers the pleasure . . .
The pacing and writing style are great; I had no problem whatsoever jumping right into the story and immediately getting hooked. (I know that claim is overused so much on book reviews, but in this case, it’s really true.) Within the first couple of pages, I connected with the character enough to want to rush through the book, and that feeling really didn’t let up for the duration of the novel.
I know much of that can be attributed to the great characters. I give a lot of credit to writers (and their editors) who can balance the pacing with plot and the development of so many characters. The author didn’t just rely on Carleigh and her love interest Tucker to keep the story going; she believably incorporated several other multi-dimensional characters. From her college friends to her family back home, almost all of them had unique characteristics and personalities.
However, even with as quickly as I devoured the novel, that’s not to say it wasn’t without a few faults. While I liked the characters and the chemistry between Carleigh and Tucker, the entire premise for why they weren’t together was… ridiculous. This is a common problem within this genre, and plots like this are why I’ve grown so mistrustful of authors who keep the reason for the “angst” between two characters a secret from the reader. If the reader can’t both know and understand the reason from the start, then it’s probably not strong enough of a storyline to justify the characters’ behaviors. (After all, in a multi-POV story, we’re supposed to know more than the individual characters, not less.)
Another [smaller] issue I had with this is that it may not be marketed correctly. The description reads like a standard New Adult romance, but the novel itself jumps from New Adult to Young Adult and back again (as the characters go from present “college age” to past “high school” quite frequently). In fact, if it weren’t for the graphic (and highly unrealistic, which is a whole other issue) sex scenes, I’d classify it as young adult overall. Plus there was the random twist that had the end of the book turning into a thriller; again, quite a jump from the New Adult Romance genre.
Overall, there is a lot going on in this novel – which could be good or bad, depending on your expectations for the story. There’s some rape culture that quickly became redundant (when will authors stop preaching “rape is bad” to their female audience??), but as I mentioned in the beginning, I truly couldn’t put the book down until I’d finished it. I consider that a good sign, particularly considering the major plot issue and unrealistic sex scenes (both of which are genuine pet peeves of mine). Considering the length and pace of In Ruins, I’d recommend it to readers of the genre who want a new book to bring on their next weekend getaway.