She wanted to start again. To be someone---anyone---different . . . 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 . . .
By now I've read many books in the New Adult genre, and I feel like I've experienced enough of both the good and bad to be able to separate the wheat from the chaff. That said, I'm having a hard time deciding what I think about this book. On the one hand, I was fully engaged from beginning to end and had a hard time putting this one down! On the other hand, I felt a bit bogged down by the sheer length of the book, as well as the repetitiveness of the writing and the constant back and forth between the two main characters. There are also a couple of plot developments that felt a tad overdramatic to me.
"In Ruins" is written in dual POV style, and so we get to know what both Carleigh and Tucker are thinking and feeling both in the present time frame and through flashbacks to the year before when their friendship developed into a romance, and subsequently disintegrated into "ruins". This worked well for me on a few levels. I loved seeing how Carl and Tuck moved from friends to more - it was both sweet and steamy, which you wouldn't think would be possible. Usually it's one or the other, but very rarely both, and I loved every minute of those particular flashbacks into the past. The way the plot unfolded in this manner kept me reading, as I wanted to know exactly how a couple who had been so close as friends and lovers could abruptly become so cold to each other, and I was only given snippets at a time until closer to the end of the book.
In the present time period, Carl and Tuck have had their nasty breakup. They are attending the same college, though, and even have a class together. Despite their efforts to avoid each other, we continually get the play by play as they attend the same parties and get assigned to the same group for their marketing class. Must be a small university. We see them eyeing up the competition, and occasionally getting possessive. It's all very been-there-done-that, except for the mystery behind their breakup.
As for Carl and Tuck themselves, they are both pretty good characters. I liked Carl's outward confidence and how she took such great care of her brother. She also seemed to be a decent friend, even though she hadn't really told anyone the truth about her family situation. And Tucker had all the usual desirable attributes of a romantic male lead, but with the added bonus of a sense of humour - he and Carl had some great banter going on between them. There were even some interesting secondary characters, along with hints of interesting plots to go along with them - do I sense a trilogy in the making? I guess I'll have to wait and see.
There were some elements of the plot that I really liked, and others, not so much. The situation that led to Carl's idea for her marketing class group project is definitely one that needs to be addressed, and I really like how the author handled this issue without becoming overly preachy. On the flip side, this led to another plot development that was a little over the top, and I didn't really love it. It was handled rather oddly, too, and the resolution didn't sit right with me. I can't go into more detail than that, unfortunately, but I'd be interested to know what other readers thought of the last few chapters.
So, definitely plenty of potential here, and I'm super curious to see how Danielle Pearl's writing develops in the next little while - I'll for sure be checking out any future books by her.