Format: E-Galley, 368 pages
Release Date: May 3, 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
A revenge that will consume her. A love that will ruin her.
Emelina Flores has nothing. Her home in Ruina has been ravaged by war. She lacks the powers of her fellow Ruined. Worst of all, she witnessed her parents’ brutal murders and watched helplessly as her sister, Olivia, was kidnapped.
But because Em has nothing, she has nothing to lose. Driven by a blind desire for revenge, Em sets off on a dangerous journey to the enemy kingdom of Lera. Somewhere within Lera’s borders, Em hopes to find Olivia. But in order to find her, Em must infiltrate the royal family.
In a brilliant, elaborate plan of deception and murder, Em marries Prince Casimir, next in line to take Lera’s throne. If anyone in Lera discovers Em is not Casimir’s true betrothed, Em will be executed on the spot. But it’s the only way to salvage Em’s kingdom and what is left of her family.
Em is determined to succeed, but the closer she gets to the prince, the more she questions her mission. Em’s rage-filled heart begins to soften. But with her life—and her family—on the line, love could be Em’s deadliest mistake.
"No one feared Emelina Flores, the useless daughter of the most powerful queen Ruina had ever known. But they would."
Ruined, by author Amy Tintera, is the first installment in the Ruined Trilogy. Tintera spins a story about romance, revenge, and heartbreak. The story features Emelina "Em" Flores of Ruina, and Prince Casimir "Cas" Gallegos of Lera. While the story does alternative narratives between the two characters, let's begin with Emelina first since nearly everything rests on her shoulders. Emelina is the eldest daughter of the murdered King and Queen of Ruina. On the day that her parents were murdered, her sister Olivia (who may be even more powerful than her mother) was taken by the invaders from Vallos.
Emelina, along with her friends Aren, Damian, and Iria of Olso, design a plot of revenge against the Lera Royal family. The revenge starts with Em, and her friends Aren and Damian killing Princess Mary from Vallos and her entourage. The next step is passing herself off as Mary who is supposed to marry Crown Prince Casimir. The third part is a full on invasion of Lera with Olso warriors and Ruined to dispose of the Royal family. Em, who has trained all her life to lead men and women into battle, knows that she can't make any mistakes or her people, the Ruined, will be systematically hunted down and killed like rabid dogs.
Em's only hope of finding out where her sister is, is by ingraining herself into the day to day operations of the royal family. To get close to them, and find out where Olivia is being kept. If she can save her sister, and unite Ruina with the Kingdom of Olso, then there may be hope for her people. Em's allies are really far and few, especially since they consider her useless. Her revenge plan wasn't revealed to the rest of the Ruined, and that's perfectly fine with her. But, Em isn't a wilted flower that will weep at the first sign of trouble. She really knows what's she doing with a sword, and is the kind of leader people can follow.
The first part of Ruined is about Emelina's desire for revenge, connecting with Cas, and making plans to see the King and Queen destroyed like they did to her home and her family. The second part is Em, who is bent on revenge, and a desire for bloodshed, learning about her husband and finding out that he's actually caring, kind, thoughtful, and reasonable for a son of butchers. Here we come to learn about Cas, as I will call him. Cas is kind of a boring character which isn't necessarily all that bad. He's been told that he has no choice but to marry a woman who he has never met. The daughter who's own kingdom no longer belongs to her, but Lera.
In the beginning, even though he has no feelings for Mary, he is impressed with her ability to wield a sword. Especially when "Mary" battles Jovita, his cousin and second in line as heir. He knows nothing about Mary, but there is something about her that he finds intriguing. She isn't afraid of expressing herself, and that leads to him stepping out from his own shadows and speaking out against murdering the Ruined. From a son who is told what to do and when, comes a moth that turns into a butterfly with his own thoughts, his own desires, and his ability to look at his mother and cousin and disagree with them without feeling emotionally bereft.
The second and third parts of this story are probably the most entertaining although the ending was brutal and and cruel. I have avoided the negative reviewers for this book like the plague. I don't need to read about why they hated this story so much or why anyone feels that using vulgarities is cute, or necessary. I'm going against the grain by saying that I loved this story! I loved Emelina, and yes even Cas after they put away their hostilities and their anger. Aren made my likable list as well, and so did Iria.
Then you get to the ending and everything changed for me. But, not in a way that leaves me declining to read the next book in the series. I really don't much care for Olivia. I understand that she had a rough patch, but she's a little too evil for me to hope we will see any changes in the sequel. I am hopeful that the slow burning romance that developed will not be forgotten thanks to the events of the ending.