5 electrified Stars
There are books you snuggle up with. Wrap your fingers around a cup of something hot while you scrunch your toes into the soft blanket you have tucked securely around you. You flip open the first page knowing that you will be taken somewhere fantastic and safe.
RUIN is not one of those books.
This is a book that makes you beg. You find yourself on your knees weeping with joy and terror and an unrealized orgasm. This is a story filled with characters walking a ledge between life and death, inviting you to watch as they make that choice. And what a choice it is.
Antonio and Teresa both come from worlds with rules. Ironclad rules that demand to be followed. And when you’re in their world, you do follow them. Because there is no other choice, not really. But this part of their story could not be more aptly named because we watch them each ruin their respective rulebooks. Choose each other over the rules, no matter how dangerous or unorthodox that choice may be.
Teresa Drazen is a warrior, born and bred from birth. She is wrapped in a cold façade of control so complete that to liken it to armor wouldn’t do it justice. Armor bends. Armor allows room to move and breathe. Armor has chinks. Teresa is complete, ready, willing at all times to stride into battle and win. Loving Antonio only serves to enhance her impermeability and reinforce her strength. Loving Antonio gives her permission to unleash her hidden feral nature and in that freedom she becomes a gorgeous and fearsome woman with whom anyone would tremble to clash.
Antonio Spinelli starts to show his cracks in this book. We get more in-depth perspective into who he is as a man, what he wants, how tired he is. But he is still undoubtedly formidable and never more so than when he has his Contessa in his hands. He can mold and shape the world as he sees fit, he’s simply deciding what he wants it to look like.
CD Reiss will never cease to amaze me with the sheer force of her writing. Her words open a spigot to the heavens simply so she can direct the lightning with a sentence. She writes with such intense intelligence and passion that every time I finish one of her books, I want to go back and re-read it again just to make sure it was all real. Her characters do more than just live and breathe, they give orders, and it’s everything I can do not to follow them.
Reiss has crafted this book as a free fall. Before even turning the first page, you already know how inextricably connected Antonio and Teresa are. You know the sheer weight of their love is already beyond measurement. But what this book does is put you right in there with them as they learn what it’s like to step inside the skin of their love and feel it breathe on its own. You get to watch them choose to live and die for each other, fuck and fight for each other, draw up blueprints for what they want their life together to look like and then burn those carefully drawn plans to the ground a few times. You get to watch these two characters take their starkly adhered to rule books and turn them inside out in an effort to subvert and subjugate the world to their love. It would be easy to describe it as a spectacle, but what it really is, is a fierce battle not only for their love, but their souls.
RUIN is book two in the Songs of Corruption series, so if you’ve not yet read book one, SPIN, you must do so before delving into this book. But don’t think of it as a chore, think of it as an opportunity to dive head first into another example of Reiss’ perfection. Think of it as the chance to get to know these characters from the outside in first. You won’t regret it; you’ll thank me for it. Because these books and these characters will take you on a ride of a lifetime and they’re nowhere near done yet.