Maggie & Haden #1
Release Date: August 18, 2013
Genre: New Adult
Source: I received an ecopy of the book from the author in exchange for an honest review
Rating: 3 Worms
Can one summer change your life?
Maggie Simpson has one summer left before college starts. And the last place she wants to spend it is in Green Falls, TX with her mother's family. She was annoyed when her mother announced the change of plans at the last moment, but as she reconnects with her cousin Sarah, she realizes a summer away might be exactly what she needs.
Maggie decides to find a summer job to keep herself occupied, and to help pay for college. She is ecstatic when Scottie gives her a job at a local watering hole, The Hill Country Saloon, to find a band to headline the annual Battle of the Bands competition.
One night, Maggie meets sexy and mysterious Haden, and he agrees to help her find a band for the competition. As Maggie and Haden work side by side, secrets are unleashed that make Maggie question everything she thought she knew about Haden, and the reason for her summer in Green Falls.
Secrets, so powerful, that her life may never be the same.
(New Adult Contemporary) **Mature Content** Recommended for ages 17+ due to sexual situations and language.
Warning: Ruined By You is the first book of a two part series. It ends on a cliffhanger.
I enjoyed Ruined by You overall. I had some issues with the pacing and some of the plot devices didn't play into the story smoothly. But Maggie and Haden's story reeled me in, nonetheless.
Maggie Simpson has come to the Texas Hill Country to visit family for the summer. She doesn't know exactly why her mom decided to come home, but Maggie plans on enjoying her last summer before starting college catching up with her family. Once she's arrived in Green Falls, she decides a summer job would be a good idea as well. She's soon offered a job in which she and Haden, a mysterious, tattooed hunk, will be searching for a hot band to headline a Battle of the Bands concert. As Haden tries to get closer to Maggie, we learn she has some baggage where the opposite sex is concerned.
Ruined by You starts off pretty well. I was interested in figuring out why Maggie was adamantly opposed to dating. I was also intrigued with the whys behind Maggie being offered this job when she had no prior experience, and the bar owner didn't really know her. And, of course, I was curious as to whether or not Haden, with his myriad secrets, would win Maggie's heart. Unfortunately, it takes a long time for the story to get going. It moved slowly but there was still something about it that compelled me to continue turning the pages.
Maggie behaves, by turns as a smart and slightly self-assured young woman and an insecure, if smart, somewhat neurotic young woman. However, since Maggie's dad left, her mom has kept her close. She's not been allowed to date and her mom is even dictating to her about which college to attend, even though she's not paying for it. I felt her family life contributed to her behavior.
Haden is an enigma. His being in town is a mystery. And he seems to avoid answering many personal questions. He is steady in his pursuit of Maggie. He's confident but not arrogant. I liked him except for his unwillingness to be completely open with Maggie - especially when he's telling her she can trust him.
The supporting characters aren't well fleshed out, but I like what I know about Sarah, Huck, and Scottie. I wasn't so fond of Maggie's mom though. She's very controlling of Maggie and tries to keep all decision-making power away from her. It's no wonder Maggie is so unsure of herself.
Once the story got going, I did get some answers eventually. However, I felt things between Maggie and Haden moved too quickly once they were set in motion. I do understand that this is Maggie's first romance, so perhaps that's realistic. Also, I was confused by the fact that there were references to things like Maggie and Haden having similar bright, green eyes, leading me to believe there might be a paranormal element. There wasn't. And the reveal of secrets - both Maggie's and Haden's - didn't feel as momentous as they were built up to be. Of course, we haven't yet learned all of Haden's secrets.
This is categorized as New Adult, but I think it reads as more of a mature Young Adult. The situations and dialog felt a bit less sophisticated than New Adult, in my opinion.
Despite the unevenness of the story, I did like Ruined by You. I plan on reading the next book, Saved by You because I need to see Maggie and Haden's story to fruition. I do hope to see Maggie blossom into the confident young woman that's hiding beneath her insecure and scared facade. And I'm really hoping Haden redeems himself.