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.
When I’m in a book funk, reading or writing slumps, I turn to Rachel Van Dyken. I know it, she knows it, the world would know it if they wanted to hear it.
The Ruin series. God, the Ruin series. Shame. God, Shame. Rachel has done it again; left me speechless and worthless to the literary world for a while. Will I be diving into another book in the next few days? No. Will I pick up my pen and work on my own stories? No. And I’m happy and proud to admit, I’m suffering from another huge Rachel Van Dyken book hangover.
Ruin, book 1 of the series, is still the ONLY book I recommend every chance I get. I read it not long after release and even now it stirs up all the emotions I had when I first read it (I had to put my Kindle down while I sobbed. Sobbed!) just by thinking about it. Then came Toxic. Again, I cried, I hoped, I hurt, I panicked, and I prayed for a HEA.
And then we have Shame. Lisa, beautiful Lisa’s story. I’m sitting here wondering how I can possibly do the story justice, so I will begin with this…
Have you ever read a story that touched your heart and soul? One that lifted you up, knocked you down and then lifted you up again, just to give you a different, clearer perspective? Have you ever read a story and got to the end and just known, no matter what, that it would stay with you, in one way or another, forever?
That is what Rachel does with this series. It does not and will not disappoint.
Shame, book #3, is Lisa’s story. I wasn’t prepared for the roller coaster it sent me on. I thought I knew where the story was going – there was one, one event that was predictable but still a huge kick in the teeth when it actually happened. As for the rest of the story? Like I said, I thought I’d figured it out…I hadn’t.
We’ve seen Lisa throughout the series, as Gabe’s cousin; she’s close to Wes, and to Kiersten and Saylor. They’re like a family – a slightly screwed up family with one hell of a web of tales between them – but a family nonetheless and I loved each and every one of them; but Lisa deserved to have her story told and boy, did Rachel tell it. I loved that we got to see a whole new side to Lisa…and that with her story, came Tristan. Dr. Blake. There’s just something about brooding, protective, smoking-hot professors…*cue swoon*
If you’re into perfectly imperfect men, dripping with sex appeal, I give you three names. Well, Rachel does. Wes. Gabe. Tristan.
Lisa has secrets. She has a past that she desperately tries to run from and to lock away. We’ve seen glimpses of her difficulties throughout the series; such as Mel being her real name (or the name she was formerly known by), she used to be a model and child celebrity with Gabe.
And then the veil is dropped and we see into Lisa’s mind. I wanted to hug her, to make her believe all the beautiful things about her she’d been ‘conditioned’ to forget. When she thought she had lost it all; plagued by threats from someone who knew her true identity and was ready to expose her secrets; when all that was good in the world had been tarnished by pain, guilt and regret; when all Lisa wanted was to find herself in a world that would never allow her to be free, she met Tristan. Her psychology professor. A seemingly random stranger. But a stranger, he was not.
The story is so thick with suspense that my heart was racing throughout most of the book. The journal snippets were chilling, Lisa’s recollections were so realistic, I was gripping the arms of my seat. Tristan was such an amazing man; right from the get-go, even though you knew what his plan was, he was redeemable. He was a redeemable tight ass. And I loved him. Their relationship was incredible, full of teasing and banter, and chemistry that was just…wow. Again, I went through every emotion possible. Tears were shed, frustration was eased, truths were told, lies and secrets were exposed; there were gasps, there were WTF moments, I was waiting, just waiting for the bomb to drop. I was itching for more of the journal and to find out how everything tied together and when I flipped to the epilogue, my heart sank. Because it was the beginning of the end of another Rachel Van Dyken story and the tears, they fell. God, I love Wes Michaels. And Gabe. And Tristan. Have I mentioned that enough?
Rachel is a genius when it comes to passion and angst. She redeems and saves characters when they are long past the point of no return and proves, in fact, that we can come back from anything. If the characters of the Ruin series can do it, so can the everyman and woman. There are no tricks, no games, no unrealistic plots. They are heartfelt, tear-jerking stories of real people and I can’t wait to dive into my next Rachel Van Dyken read.
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It was hard to explain the way he spoke to me; at times he was flirtatious and well… happy. Other times? It seemed like he was fighting another side of himself, one that was more reserved, uptight, controlled. And if you were to ask me which side scared me the most? I’d say both. Because both sides were dangerous to me — both pushed a person like me past the point of no return. His seriousness made me curious; his flirtation made me want more.
“Just dinner?” I asked. “Isn’t that against the rules?”
“Yeah, well…” He glanced down briefly before flashing a sensual smile, his eyes dilating. “…it seems to be an impulse I can’t really control around you.”
“Control’s overrated, you label-making fool.”
At that he laughed, a rich chuckle that had my entire body relaxing and heating at the same time. I took a step toward him and smiled. “So, rule-breaker, where are we going?”
He grabbed his messenger bag and keys. “You’ll see.”
“Cryptic.” My eyebrows arched as I crossed my arms over my chest. “This isn’t going to turn into one of those six o‘clock news things where the crazy professor takes the girl out then buries her in the woods, is it?” I tried to sound like I was joking, but the minute the words left my mouth, it was no longer funny. Suddenly, I realized how stupid it would be to go with him. I knew nothing about him, nothing at all!
He smiled, tilting his head toward me. “Why am I getting the sudden urge to pull out a list of character references?”
“Because I just scared myself,” I admitted out loud.
“You want my social security number?” He winked. “Credit score? First grade class photo? Oh, and by the way, in first grade I was nominated most likely to own a pet store… so, if you aren’t okay with that, we probably shouldn’t continue this.”
“Because you liked pets?”
“I wanted to own a lizard farm.”
I covered my mouth with my hands and nodded solemnly. “All little boys have dreams.”
“A bully crushed mine when he told me lizard farms don’t exist.” He shook his head. “In second grade I was voted least likely to succeed, on account that I didn’t speak for the entire year.”
“Why’s that?” I took another step toward him.
He took another step in my direction and shrugged. “It took me a while to get over the lizards.”
“So you stopped speaking?”
“It was more of me trying to make the public aware of my outrage.”
“Ah, like lizard strike.”
“I made shirts.”
“Tell me, professor, is that when the label-making started?”
“No.” He nodded toward the door and started walking. I followed, genuinely interested in what he was going to say and hating that it was possible he was stringing me along only to go all cold-crazy-psycho on me again. “That was an entirely different situation.” He pulled the door open.
“What? No more stories?” I asked.
“Dinner.” He shrugged, his eyes a stormy gray. “I’ll tell you at dinner.”
“My trump card. Label-maker stories. You know, I do actually know how to romance a woman.”
“Well…” I cleared my throat and broke eye contact. “…since I’m your student, I’ll just take your word for it.”
“Right,” he said quickly then repeated, “Right, shall we?”
“Lead the way.” I forced a smile and tried to remember that this was dinner, nothing romantic, just my very sexy professor once again apologizing for being a jackass during class.
About Rachel Van Dyken:
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