*Review originally posted at Smexy Books
“Having finally finished her last toe, Tori gets up to follow me. But since she’s worried about smudging the polish, she kind of waddles on her heels, toes in the air. With her hair dyed race-car yellow and cut short and spiky, she looks a little like a top-heavy duck.”
College student Chloe Girard lands a coveted internship in the intellectual property legal department of Frost Industries, the most innovative and fastest-growing biomedical corporation in the country. Chloe is ambitious and hardworking, and sees the internship as her ticket to securing a scholarship and a stepping-stone to achieving her dream of getting into law school. Chloe is intelligent, committed and she fully intends to stay the course she has mapped out for her life. Dating which could lead to a relationship is not part of the plan.
On the first day of her internship, she meets the company CEO, almost billionaire, Ethan Frost, who is masquerading as the cafeteria juice bar trainer. The guy looks familiar, but Chloe initially can’t place who he is. Ethan and Chloe engage in a fun verbal power play over her choice of smoothie and aha: sexual attraction flares.
“He’s smiling now, but the look in his eyes is intense. Interested. Interesting. It tugs at something deep inside me, makes me wonder, when I never wonder. Makes me want, when I never want.”
Chloe is the product of a very dysfunctional family dynamic and she has major issues concerning men and intimacy due to being the victim of a brutal assault 5-years previously. She considers herself emotionally damaged but compartmentalizes her posttraumatic fears and stays focused on her career aspirations. We are also lead to believe that Ethan has his own dark secrets, which partially come to light during the novel’s conclusion. If this characterization sounds familiar, in the multitude of books out there with a billionaire hero you would be right.
I’ve read and enjoyed Tracy Wolff’s books in the past; she writes a sensual narrative with sexual tension that arcs between the main characters like an electrical force.
“He lifts his hand to my face, runs his fingers down the line of my jaw. His touch is soft, so soft, and I can’t help myself. I lean into it, press my cheek into the palm of his hand until he’s cupping my face.”
I also like this author’s clever, witty humor, which is evidenced on numerous occasions not only between Chloe and Ethan, but also between Chloe and Tori, her eccentric roommate (who also has personal issues). Ethan was easy to like given his charisma and sensitivity toward Chloe when she eventually shares the details regarding her history.
It was easy to see how Ethan’s strength of personality and impassioned pursuit of her would be difficult to resist but I had difficulty buying that Chloe would sacrifice her principles for a relationship with him given how the demonstration of an excellent work ethic during her internship was important to her future success. Further, there were graphic scenes of sexual encounters in Ethan’s office that I found unbelievable given their status within the company and supposed professionalism. As their relationship intensifies Ethan seems to like making a meal out of Chloe ergo she is covered in hickeys, but apparently that was okay due to his need to mark her as his even though hiding all those love bites from her coworkers proves problematic. This particular issue caused eye rolling on my part.
Lastly, and this made me absolutely nuts, was the mother of all dramatic cliffhanger endings. Obviously Ethan and Chloe’s tumultuous love story will be continued in book two. When will said book be available? I have, no idea, and trust me I’ve checked out the various sites where book release dates are documented.
If you enjoy a novel with a billionaire hero and an abundance of angst, anguish and drama, you might like to give Ruined a try. I’m not sure if I will read book two, my memories of the first of the Ethan Frost novels will likely have faded by then.