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May 9, 2014

Loved It: Ruin Me by Jaime Brenner

Series: Stand-Alone
Format: Mobi
Release Date: May 6, 2014
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Source: Author 
Genre: New Adult
The sexy New Adult e-original from Jamie Brenner, in which Lulu has everything except the one thing she never knew she desired—until now.

She lives in a world of beauty.

His life is shrouded in darkness.

When they meet, she must choose between everything she has and the one thing she has always desired.

Lulu Sterling thinks she has it all figured out: with one more year left at NYU, she’s spending her summer interning at her mother’s iconic art gallery, determined to overcome the long shadow of her father’s suicide and prove herself to her critical mother. With her boyfriend, rising artist Brandt Penn, Lulu also hopes she will finally experience the love and desire that have always eluded her. But passion comes where she least expects it in the form of a brilliant, reclusive street artist known only by the tag GoST, and Lulu must decide how much she is willing to risk – and how far she is willing to go -- to claim it.

Literary yet still very pop fiction, that's my summation of Jamie Brenner's new adult novel, RUIN ME. Maybe it's just me or whatever shiznit I'm on but the tone of the story is highbrow artsy like the story. The plot is set in the New York art world which was surprisingly very cutthroat and Anna Sterling is the Grand Dame of that world. So it goes without saying that she wants her daughter, Lulu to succeed the throne but the latter has something else in mind. Not only that, Anna's right hand, Inez, wants it as well and she is bent on kicking Lulu out of the picture no matter the cost. Compounding this with Lulu's empty love life and desire for change and you have a very character driven novel. 

RUIN ME has a lot of intrigue and controversy going on for it which I loved. Anna and Lulu's relationship is very strained because Anna's got issues that she's passing on to Lulu thanks to her sculptor father who committed suicide a long time ago. No abuse from Anna whatsoever except she can be very controlling and would dictate what Lulu should and shouldn't do. Inez I love the best because she is so Machiavellian! Inez is such a schemer, using people as her pawns for her own agenda. Inez's downfall was falling in love with Anna and as she wasn't really good at covering up her tracks, her plotting eventually caught up with her. 

Lulu is a complex heroine and she possess strong contrasting characteristics. She can be docile but stubborn at the same time, naive yet discerning, soft but tough. Lulu is also loyal to a fault, her boyfriend is up and coming artist, Brandt Penn, who's technical skill didn't translate into talent. In short his work sucked balls. Lulu is sexually frustrated in her relationship because Brandt is the stereotypical artist, narcissistic, temperamental with a chip the size of Texas on his shoulder. This relationship fell apart eventually and Lulu found herself with graffiti artists, GoST and the latter represented a lot of things to Lulu, not just fascination for his work but something personal as well.
I know I should go. But I’m rooted in place. I feel myself close to greatness, true greatness. Something bigger and more important than anything that has hung in the walls of my mother’s gallery. And if I leave now, I might never get close to it again.
I love the idea of GoST and what his art stands for. He's an activist who advocates his revolutionary thoughts about society et al via his art. He has achieved notoriety and it's Lulu's fascination for his work that led her to him. It wasn't insta-love, it was slow burning and it started as pure curiosity in Lulu's part but given her messy personal life and chemistry with GoST, it was only natural that these two would fall in love. Their passion's a given but understated because JBrenner didn't really focus on the sex despite Lulu never having an orgasm in her life, the focal point of RUIN ME remained on the character developments. I'm thankful for this because I'm one of those NA-prejudiced readers who's experience with the genre centered on slutty new adults, their trainwreck lives and emotional immaturity. So to read NA-Lit that isn't like that is a blessing already.

Back to the novel, Lulu's character development is very remarkable and very consistent with the story, it wasn't forced, no convenient plot devices and the dramatic confrontations were all subdued. The same thing goes with the rest of the characters, once it was set in motion, none of them were the same in the end. Anna had a rude awakening, Inez and Brandt got what they deserved, GoST now has a legitimate voice and Lulu found her own person and is happily pursuing her own vision.

I guess I've justified why I absolutely loved RUIN ME. I don't know if there's a sequel, I sure hope there's one that would feature Lulu's BFF, Niffer, she's a firecracker. On a more general note, I am such a huge fan of JBrenner, her work has this signature feel to it especially her women. Her heroines are always so feminine and their strength lie in their femininity, they don't have snarky tongues, they're not the life of the party, they're very normal but above average, more ladies than women, if that makes sense. Her stories to me always has this classic literary feel and by injecting current plot devices turns it into a "trendy" read. So even if her work is popular contemporary fiction, it never felt "trashy" to me. I strongly advice, encourage, recommend you try her work.

Anyways, I know I'm rambling so I'll just stop now. 


24 comments:

  1. Oh, Braine, you're so good at being bad, lol!! His art sucked balls? :))) That's gotta hurt when his ex gets together with an artistic activist (or activistic artist, lol?). Mwahahaha.
    Definitely sounds like an interesting read, and your review alone is friggin' pure win so I can only imagine how fun the novel is :D

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    1. Awww thanks, Livia! And I gotta call it as I see it! Yup, my kindergarten nephew could probably beat Penn's work

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  2. A rambling review is always nice

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    1. Thanks, I promise I always try my best to be succinct, sometimes it's hard though

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  3. This sounds like a great read. I don't read too much New Adult but I love a story set in my hometown :) I love that it's a stand-alone so there's no commitment...LOL Thanks for the awesome review Braine!

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    1. I don't read a lot of NA too, I simply trust that Brenner won't make me read something I won't like

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  4. That's neat that she matched the tone of her writing to the story itself. And I love the idea of a bit of intrigue and soul-searching. Hadn't heard of this one, thanks!

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    1. I don't think my review did a good job in explaining how much I loved this one. I hope you can check it out one of these days, Sophia!

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  5. I don't think I've even heard of Brenner before, but you've sold me! I like the title of NA-Lit, the pop culture, the focus on character development. Great teview, Braine!

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    1. You're welcome and you should definitely read her books!

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  6. I started her Gin Lovers serial novellas but never got around to finishing them, I do hope to get back to them cause I was enjoying them. This sounds like a good one too! Great review!

    Teresa @ Readers Live A Thousand Lives

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    1. I have those too, I'm not in a historical kick yet though. You know we book readers/bloggers, we're very temperamental like that.

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  7. Glad you enjoyed it Braine. I think it's one I'd have to be in the right mood to go for.

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    1. That's no problem, I hope the right mood will strike you one of these days

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  8. My biggest problem with NA are the overly abundance of sex scenes bordering on porn. Like, I get it...you have the most awesomest orgasms with him but can we focus on other aspects of the relationship now? I'm glad that this book isn't one of those slutty NA. LOL, I love that.

    No insta-love with a great premise, will check this ouT Braine :)

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    1. Yup, this is more tame compared to the other NA reads out there.

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  9. I've never read Brenner, but this does sound fabulous. And those names, LOL. I hope there's a continuation just so I can read a book with an MC who's a snarkfest named Niffer, LOL. Lulu also sounds like an interesting MC. I love it when an author can write a character of such contrasts without making the character a big ol' lousy, unbelievable contradiction. Wonderful review, Braine.

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    1. Yeah, she made the name Lulu real classy LOL. Thanks, Jessica!

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  10. Incredible review, Braine! I've never heard of Brenner but the way you've described this story - character driven, complex, slow-burn love, arty - I really want to read it! Luckily, I just won a GC so I can afford to one-click it. ;)

    I wanted to answer a couple of questions you had about Bend...first, no i hadn't previously read Torre despite having won a few of her books (from you, I believe). But I LOVE HER!! Still is amazing and I'm pretty sure I'm gonna love whatever she writes! Kick, by Reiss, does have BDSM in it - as in the MC is involved in the lifestyle. But there aren't any scenes in Kick, just mention of it. Of course, I assume it will be present eventually...but who knows. Kick was my first Reiss read and I'm in love with her writing too. :)

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    1. Thanks for getting back to me re: KICK. I think I can handle that, when I see BDSM I shy away from it, that or I have huge expectations that I'll be blown away by it.

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  11. I am reading this one this week, so I am so glad to hear you loved it!

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  12. Wonderful review Matey! I like complex characters, I think I would like Niffer too. Odd name. I might check this one out based on your review. I do like NA lit that isn't too over the top sexual too. I mean I always thought the WHOLE idea of NA was that it was between YA and Adult. That is what I THOUGHT when it first came out. But now NA is more than adult. it has no boundaries, it could in some books, be called erotica. I think NA has lost its boundaries. But eh, that's just me. I thought it meant older than YA, but less than adult. Cause in adult you get the smexi plus scenes. Now I am finding some adult reads are so much less sexual than NA. Hmm. maybe I got the genre all wrong. I just thought later twenties was NA. But it is turning rather porno. LOL! Bottom line I loved you loved this, which means I will too :D

    Mich

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    1. I'm with you on that one. I though NA was more of "coming of age" or would answer the question "what will i do when I grow up,". Sure hormones are raging but I'm sure being in your 20's constitutes more than sex.

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