Everything done in darkness, will eventually be brought into the light.
I ran, but all it did was keep me one step ahead of my past. I tried to start over; new name, new identity. But you can't change your soul.
A fresh start at college was just what I needed. For a while, it worked. I was the party girl, the one that seemed confident, but it was a lie.
When guys kissed me--I felt only pain.
When they touched me--Nothing but fear.
Deep inside, every girl wants to be the beauty in the story, to find someone that will see you as their world.
But the truth? I was the beast. And as much as I wanted redemption, I wasn't fool enough to think I'd ever get it.
Until he walked into my life.
I wasn't prepared to fall for someone. My scars were too deep, the wounds too raw. But he offered me peace, he offered me security. I should have known it was just another lie--I should have known that falling in love with my professor was a bad idea.
But I was powerless to stop myself from falling.
And he was powerless to catch me.
Because the darkness finally caught up to me, and as fate would have it, a cruel twist almost bled me dry. But I'm stronger than I knew. I'm stronger than you think.
You think you know my story, but you don't....after all everyone has Shame in their lives-- and I'm no longer afraid to show you mine.
Brilliant. Emotional. Beautiful. But I don't expect anything less from this series and especially from Rachel Van Dyken. She cemented herself as one of my favorite authors with the first book in this series, Ruin, and she does not disappoint with Shame.
This is Lisa's story of shame (hers and some that she inflicted on others), healing, and moving forward. Throughout this whole series, it is evident that Lisa is hiding something. It all comes to light in this book. She was part of an emotionally abusive relationship with a guy, Taylor, who had a slew of mental issues. He would make her do things to people to shame them and post the videos of it on their website, Shame. She got tired of it and her pulling away caused him to commit suicide in front of her. The shame and guilt of everything she did weighs on her daily.
Tristan just learned about what went down with Taylor and Lisa. In fact, he just recently learned that he had a half brother, Taylor, who committed suicide. He wants answers and he prematurely blames Lisa for causing his suicide. He gets a teaching position at the university so he can keep an eye on her and get close to her. What he wasn't counting on was getting so close that he falls in love with her. She isn't who he thought and it turns out that he will do anything to protect her, even lie about who he really is.
Throughout the book, Lisa is being stalked and threatened. Someone knows her real identity and what she was involved in. Of course Gabe and Wes (swoon) are there to help protect her, but they are married now and she hides the extent of the threats from them. This is where Tristan comes in. When the guys find out how bad it really is, it is Tristan who insists on taking her in and protecting her. Gabe's overprotectiveness of Lisa is so funny and endearing. He doesn't trust any man with her, but grudgingly agrees that Tristan has the best security around.
When things come to a head, Rachel Van Dyken brilliantly breaks my heart and manages to put it back together even better than it originally was. The Ruin series is by far one of my favorites. The way Rachel wraps up this book is nothing short of perfection. Each and every story in the series is so emotionally beautiful. If you haven't read any of the books, shame on you. Thankfully, it isn't too late to start. Word of advice, though, make sure you have tissues while reading them. Enjoy Wes, Gabe, and Tristan; they aren't just book boyfriend material, but book husband material. You will fall in love with them and carry them in your heart always. At least I know I do.
I closed my eyes and leaned my forehead against hers. A shaky breath escaped her lips. “I’m going to kiss you now.”
“Are you trying to prepare me or ask permission?” she whispered, her voice beckoning me like a siren’s call.
“Both.” My lips hovered near hers. “I figure it’s only fair.”
“Fair?” She pulled back slightly. “How so?”
“Ten thousand.” I angled my head and watched the pulse jump on her neck. “That’s how many nerve endings, on average, are in your lips. Consequently, when your body anticipates pleasure, the build-up is the best part. Imagine, those ten thousand nerves are swelling, allowing blood to surge through them in anticipation of… what?” I swept my tongue across her lower lip and whispered, “Of being touched. I ask permission, not because I’m being a gentleman. It’s actually the complete opposite. I ask permission so your brain anticipates the pleasure before I’ve ever even touched you.”
I tasted her lower lip again and abruptly dipped my tongue into her mouth. Then just as quickly retreated. “The human body is an instrument. Know how to master it… and well…” I let my voice drop as I moved my hands slowly to her shoulders and tugged her body flush against mine. Our mouths met softly at first. I deepened the kiss, memorizing her taste, knowing I wouldn’t experience a kiss like this again in my lifetime. The way her scent, her soft moans destroyed my body, wrecked me from the deepest part of me, was nothing short of life-altering.
And I’d like to think I’d kissed a lot of women.
I’d studied the psychology of sexuality.
I was an expert in pleasure.
But she was schooling me, absolutely wreaking havoc on every logical thought as her soft whimper cascaded over me. Blood surged through my body as it tightened with awareness at her proximity.
She pulled back, her lips swollen. “That was… not a good enough warning.”
Laughing softly, I cupped the back of her head and gently drew it toward mine and kissed her again, angling my lips differently, searching her, consuming her, drawing pleasure from her lips as if it was my life goal to discover every single secret she owned.
Her arms wrapped around my neck. She was shy; she didn’t push against me, didn’t wrap her legs around me or moan into my mouth like I was having sex with her rather than kissing her.
My hands moved down her corset to her hips, and I lifted her into the air and walked her backward toward the brick wall. The whole time, our masks collided. In frustration, I ripped hers off, then mine. The shadows of moonlight hid our faces as I kissed her harder, losing myself in her.
Her nails dug at the back of my neck as she jerked my head harder. Groaning, I let her fall to the ground as I placed my hands on the brick wall to keep myself from ripping the dress from her body.
Shouting started from the ballroom.
“Eight,” I whispered against her mouth. “Seven.”
“Six.” She sighed, her breathing labored as her tongue found mine again. “Five.”
“Four, three.” I pulled back and trailed kisses down her neck.
We broke apart, both breathing heavy. “One.”
People burst out onto the balcony as the fireworks started, lighting up the sky. And our faces.
And the only thing I could say as she gasped in horror was “Oh, shit.”
Rachel Van Dyken is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author of regency and contemporary romances. When she's not writing you can find her drinking coffee at Starbucks and plotting her next book while watching The Bachelor.
She keeps her home in Idaho with her Husband and their snoring Boxer, Sir Winston Churchill. She loves to hear from readers! You can follow her writing journey at www.rachelvandykenauthor.com