Review: Ruined by Jackie Ashenden

ruinedTitle: Ruined

Author: Jackie Ashenden

Mills & Boon imprint: Dare

Year of publication: 2018

The heroine: Cat Livingston

The hero: Biker Dane Kingsolver

The blurb: Dane “Smoke” Kingsolver and Cat Livingston need to fake a relationship to get her abusive ex off her back. Convincing people their friendship has heated up to scorching levels is unexpectedly easy! But when their red-hot chemistry threatens to ruin everything they’ve ever known can they go back to what they had before? And do they even want to?

Standalone or series: Book one in The Knights of Ruin series, but can be read as a standalone

The review: Wow, this book was hot on every level it could have been. Cat and Dane have been best friends for decades, ever since they met when they were children. Of course, this book had me at ‘best friends’ since best friends to lovers is my favourite plot, hands down. Dane has loved her for years, but doesn’t think she feels that way about him so he’s bottled it for the sake of their friendship.

Cat has a six year old daughter, Annie, who loves Dane. Annie’s father is Cat’s douchebag ex, Justin, and she left him when he smacked her around one too many times. She works two jobs to support her daughter and lives in a crappy apartment. Justin is a lawyer and the chief of police’s son, so when he threatens to go for custody of Annie, Cat turns to Dane, or Smoke, as he’s referred to for most of this book (side note – motorcycle clubs are not my favourite trope, least of all because they all have club names which make me roll my eyes) for help. Cat knows Justin doesn’t actually want Annie, but is only doing it to hurt her. So she asks her best friend for help.

Dane thinks the only way he can protect Cat and Annie is to have them under the protection of The Knights of Ruin, the MC club he’s a member of. His uncle, Keep, is the president. The only way they’ll protect the girls, however, is if they are part of the club, too – and the only way they can be is if Dane declares Cat to be his old lady to the club.

Cat doesn’t take much persuading, because she’s been hot for Dane for years but didn’t think he thought of her like that, so she, too, has been hiding her feelings. When Dane suggests the plan, she says sex is off the table, but as soon as he tells the club they’re together, he drags her into a corner and tells her to get down on her knees. Cat is helpless to resist and gives in to the lust and fire burning between them, and once it happens Dane refuses to pretend anymore. He wants Cat to be his old lady for real, and she’s going to be because he won’t take no for an answer.

They indulge in some seriously hot sex and Cat realises she’s been in love with him all along, but is scared. Scared of losing him as a friend, scared of letting him in because he could ruin her. He shares her fears, but he wants a family. He wants to be Annie’s father. So when Justin turns up at the unit and starts manhandling Cat, Dane beats the crap out of him.

Thinking he’ll be facing jail time, he leaves Cat, even though he promised he never would. She’s heartbroken at the idea of living without him, and it’s only when Keep tells him what a complete idiot he’s being that he acknowledges it and goes back to the best thing that ever happened to him. I devoured this book. Read it. You won’t be sorry.