Saturday, April 4, 2015

Book Review: Risking Ruin by Mae Wood

I was given this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

I don't often do this, but I'm going to start with the blurb from Goodreads:
Marisa Tanner's most important client, multi-billion dollar family-owned Brannon Company, has been sued by nine of its employees for sexual harassment. Marisa is a pro at handling sexual harassment allegations, but will she be able to handle the CEO's prodigal son as well as she can handle the lawsuits?
Clients are off-limits and Marisa could lose her law license and livelihood, but Memphis playboy Trip keeps making strong plays for her. Their attraction is undeniable and chemistry electric. Can she have her career and Trip, too, or will she have to choose?
A steamy debut novel by Mae Wood, "Risking Ruin" is a standalone novel that blends the styles of chick-lit and steamy contemporary romance to create a world filled with strong characters in the lush environment of Memphis, Tennessee.
Risking Ruin by Mae Wood was a great, fun read and it was one of the books that got me out of my reading slump. The characters have real personality and this isn't just one of those books where the main character can't love her man because reasons. There is a real worry in their relationship and it avoids all of the major pitfalls of modern romance novels.

I love the cover (obviously, since it is my favorite color) and I am usually not a fan of drawn covers. This one was well done and relates to the story line of the book. It isn't just two generic people holding onto each other or almost kissing like every Nicholas Sparks book written. It's cute and eye catching to me.

Marisa is a strong woman who stands on her own two feet, running her law firm, and being very good at it.
She loves her job and loves being the boss but when her biggest client's representative retires, she finds her world shaken up. Marisa strives to be professional and respected, keeping her clients at an appropriate distance. It's amazing how one man can change all of that.

Trip Brannon is one hell of a man, after all, and he is hard to put in the box that the rest of her clients reside in. He won't let her put him in that box and he is not shy about his affections. Marisa sees him as an entitled playboy with no real focus in life. He seems to drift around and the only reason he is working at his new position is that he will one day inherit the company.
Trip isn't some aggressive dominant alpha male, which was awesome. Don't get me wrong, I love my cavemen but it was refreshing to encounter a male lead who isn't shoving his love interest up against the wall and claiming her as his property. He is respectful and charming like all properly raised Southern men should be. He is a gentleman with a naughty side. He is the man you take home to meet your mother and grandmother who will stay after to help you with the dishes. He is your dinner party guest. He is your plus one at your friend's wedding. Trip is the gentleman in the streets but a freak in the sheets. 

Do you know how rare that is? Yes, Southern men have a reputation for all of this but for them to actually achieve this is beyond rare. He isn't a perfect man but he is genuine and that's what makes him a compelling character.

I know this is a weird thing to fixate on, but I have to mention it. In so many books, especially romance novels, the main characters are fit beyond imagination but you never actually witness them maintaining their shape. I loved that both Marisa and Trip were active. You want to stay healthy? Good. Work for it. Marisa is a runner. Trip is a cyclist. 

Thank you, Mae Wood, for making realistic characters that know the meaning of hard work and the benefits of staying active. They aren't staying in shape by shagging all hours of the night and that's wonderful. Nobody just *gets* a six pack. Those are earned and it sucks getting there.

But onto the story, now that I've gone on about the characters.

Being a lawyer is tough and it can only be made tougher by having a ridiculously hot client. Client/Lawyer relationships are off limits though and Marisa doesn't want to lose a client over a pretty face. There is real danger here to her career. What would the professional world think about her dropping a multi-million dollar client just so she can go at it with the CEO's son? It could potentially ruin her. Especially with the case she is dealing with.

The company has been hit with a string of sexual harassment cases over the past few months and with a big company, that's not all that uncommon. What is strange is the man who is the latest of being accused. Sure, he's a bit of a flirt but nothing as extreme as the case is alleging. Marisa's radar is up and with the help of her assistant, she finds out that this case is a lot bigger than she imagined. It goes a lot further than sexual harassment cases at work. I certainly didn't expect the outcome!

I loved that Marisa didn't do everything on her own. She asks for help from her friends and family and gets it. She knows that she isn't all powerful and she can't do it all so she relies on others. This isn't a rogue lawyer that don't need no stinking assistance. This is a big deal and she is overwhelmingly professional. She keeps the personal drama out of her work life which is where it belongs. There was more to this book than just romance and I was just as eager to find out about the lawsuits as I was to learn more about Trip and Marisa.

Their relationship, while it seems a bit like insta-love at the beginning, takes some time to develop. Trip is definitely the pursuer but Marisa doesn't let him push her around. He gives her the space she needs to think it over but he also doesn't let her forget him. Trip makes sure that he is at the front of her mind and is very successful at it. I loved the restaurant scenes. So incredibly hot. I'd be freaking out if my man did that to me and nowhere near as composed as Marisa was. I mean, hot damn.

I even liked the fights that the characters had. They are incredibly realistic. I can see how some people would think Marisa is overreacting in some situations but you know what? I'd probably do the same thing. I'd react the exact same way except probably hold onto my anger for longer. Marisa has the right to be upset and confused in these situations and Trip doesn't just get out scot free.

So overall, a good romantic story and well written as well! The characters are realistic and you find yourself cheering for them.
There are emotions, conflict, attraction, lust (definitely) and consequences. There is a real story to go with a charming romance and I loved that it was set in Memphis which can be a fun city. The landmarks and descriptions were great and I could definitely picture myself there although I was somewhat disappointed that there was no mention of Central Barbecue. I mean...come on. That place is effing magical. And Gus's. Those two are just as iconic as the Rendezvous.

Anyways...4/5 stars. I enjoyed it thoroughly. :-)

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