Published by Indie on May 23rd 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
They say that life is a beautiful lie and death a painful truth. They're right. No one has ever made me feel more alive than the guy who serves as a constant reminder that my clock is ticking. He is my forbidden, shiny apple. The striking fallacy to my blunt, raw, truth. He is also my sister's ex-boyfriend. One thing you should know before you judge me; I saw him first. I craved him first. I loved him first. Eleven years later, he waltzed into my life, demanding a second chance. Dean Cole wants to be my bronze horseman. My white knight has finally arrived. Hopefully, he isn’t too late.
They say the brightest stars burn out the fastest. They’re right. She sets my mind on fire. All smart mouth, snarky attitude and a huge heart. In a world where everything is dull, she shines like fucking Sirius. Eleven years ago, fate tore us apart. This time, I dare it to try. Getting to her is a battlefield, but man, that’s why they call me Ruckus. Rosie LeBlanc is about to find out how hard I can fight. And conquering her will be the sweetest victory.
Ruckus is book #2 in the Sinners of Saint series by LJ Shen but it’s been promoted as a complete standalone. It’s the follow up to the mega hit Vicious, which brought this author out from relative obscurity to the top ranks of Amazon.com. I feel like I need to start there because there’s a chance your experience reading this book is going to be heavily influenced by your experience reading Vicious (or lack thereof). If you’ve never read Vicious there’s a higher chance you’re going to love this book but if you have there’s a chance you’ll be puzzled by a few inconsistencies between the events happening here vs. the events happening in Vicious, inconsistencies that feel a lot like retcons to make the couple in Ruckus feel like they always were meant to be, all else be damned. I’m not going to delve too much into this but I’ll still heavily recommend reading Vicious before going into this one if you want to get the full picture of what this series really is about and everything that led to the events unfolding here. If there’s something I admire about LJ Shen is her ability for world building even in a contemporary series, where most authors skimp in establishing worlds that feel real. LJ Shen does a great job interconnecting all these characters and creating a foundation in Vicious that is, if not essential, truly enriching.
The main thing about Dean and Vicious is how much of alpha jerks they are. I’d say Dean is Vicious lite though but he has his own charm. Rich, powerful and privileged from the get go, both the lives of Vicious and Dean are inevitably tangled with those of the LeBlanc sisters. Dean dated Emilia, Vicious’ now wife, back in high school but he always pined for the other sister, the one with the terrible illness cystic fibrosis, Rosie. The circumstances that led to him dating Emilia are better explained in Vicious, it’s kind of a mess and something that takes a bit of suspension of disbelief to deal with but if you manage to buy into it, Ruckus is an addictive, crack-like read that depicts how Dean eventually, many years down the road, finally convinces Rosie to give him a chance. He’s crass and vulgar when he approaches her at the beginning of the book, and that might turn some people off, but I don’t expect butterflies and honey when it comes to this series. I appreciate the grit and the darkness and the more “edgy” parts that make these books such outlandish fantasies.
Some scenes were absolute gold and some quotes were beyond lovely, like the following:
She was a comforting candle (Millie), you were the dazzling sun.
or this one:
“It’s not my fault you fell in love with a dying girl.” “It’s not my fault you made it fucking impossible not to.”
I also adored the underlying theme of Jacob and Rachel in the Bible, even if it seemed a little out of place given how little religious both of these characters are. The astronomy references, although cheesy in parts, were actually a brilliant addition that spoke to my own astronomy nerd heart. I loved how single-mindedly Dean pursued Rosie once he decided they were happening at last, and how he kept breaking her defenses to show her he meant to spend his life with her despite her short life expectancy. To me that’s what romance is made of, it’s committing to being with someone through the good the bad and the ugly. And despite Dean’s faults and mistakes, the sole fact that he loved Rosie this much, made up for all he messed up, which was a lot.
There were times when I had a few issues with Rosie and her seemingly ridiculous, hardheaded desire to repay her families sacrifices and worries with what felt like disdain. I admit at times she seemed ungrateful to me. But I’ve never had this illness so I can’t say how I’d react to being babied all my life and desiring independence no matter what.
There is a mystery subplot with Dean that rounds up his character nicely with a plot twist I didn’t see coming, which is great, because I tend to guess twists a mile away. Well played by Shen because the paradox between Dean’s past and his present and the angst served there made him much easier to understand, especially in relation to his weed and alcohol addiction.
But once again, if you love Vicious, please please do me a favor and read this book because so much happens in it involving Vic and Emilia. These books are almost like soap opera installments and the full cast of characters continues to evolve through each new book. It’s apparent Trent is the next hero and we’be been given a lot of information on his life, his struggles and also on the current state of Fiscal Heights Holdings, the business that binds all these men together.
The ending to Ruckus could have been better handled. I’m not sure the epilogue meshed well with the very last chapter and it felt extremely jarring to me, even if the authors’s ultimate decision was there for dramatic effect. I also thought the epilogue seemed to concern itself too much with Trent to the point where I was just screaming for us to get to Rosie. But when we finally did, it was a nice enough ending. Yes, this book has an HEA although some may consider it a HFN. I still found it acceptable even if it wasn’t as explosive as the rest of the book.
All in all I recommend this series, and I’m giving this one 4 stars.
ARC PROVIDED IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEW.