The Eternal Balance #1
Paranormal New Adult
Source: e-ARC from publisher for review
THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Jax lost the genetic lottery. Descended from Cain, the world's first murderer, he's plagued by a curse that demands violence in exchange for his happiness. He left everything behind, including the girl he loved, but thriving on the pain of others is lonely… And it's killing him.
After a series of heartbreaking losses, Samantha put rubber to pavement and headed for college as fast as her clunker could carry her. But she can't outrun her problems. When an attack at school drives her back home, she's thrown into the path of a past—and a guy—she's been trying to forget.
Sam strains Jax's control over his darkness, but running isn't an option this time. Someone—or, something—followed her home from school: a ruthless monster with a twisted plan centuries in the making. Forced together to survive, and fighting an attraction that could destroy them both, Jax and Sam must stop a killer bent on revenge.
Ruined is a darkly captivating story, the characters’ demons – both literal and figurative – presented to us in various lights so we can see all their shades of gray, no pure white or solid black in sight despite the myriad of evil connotations the word demon initially brings forth. The history of Jax’s demonic possession and the presence of demons in our world is explained fairly simply and easily, no hugely complex backstory, keeping the focus on the characters themselves while giving us just enough information to feel as though we have our feet solidly on the ground. It does take a little time for some of our questions about Jax and his demonic counterpart to be answered given we’re immediately thrust into danger and heartbreak with him and Sam, but it's not too long before Ms. Accardo satisfies our curiosity, thus ensuring this story sinks its claws into us and doesn’t let go.
Thanks to the alternating perspective of both Jax and Sam, we get to know the two of them inside and out, sharing in their emotional turmoil as their painful past is resurrected and the depth of their hurt increased tenfold. Jax blows hot and cold in the beginning chapters, something that might seriously irritate us if not for the benefit of his point of view; a point of view that allows us to bear witness to the self-flagellation that follows each and every callous word aimed with unerring precision at the soft tissues of Sam’s heart. His reasons for wanting to stay away from Sam are both numerous and valid, the standard “I’m doing this for your own good” excuse taken to an entirely new level when we come to understand just how much of a struggle it is for Jax to assert any dominance over the demon within. One of the more interesting aspects of this story is how we come to know Jax’s demon, its presence in the beginning something we despise as he does for the pain it causes him and Sam, but as the story progresses the two of them become as inextricably linked emotionally for us as they are physically in Jax, and we find ourselves desperately wanting things to end well for them while fearing true happiness is forever from their shared grasp.
Aside from the gift of Jax’s point of view, Sam is the main reason Jax’s cruelty doesn’t have us shaking the book in the hope he’ll somehow magically feel our displeasure at his behavior. Though his words undoubtedly cut deep and she returns fire in self-defense, she’s quick to catch on to the reason why he lashes out, and once she understands that the hurtful game he’s playing has only losers and no winners, she stands her ground. She refuses to be cowed by his impressive bluster and his deliberate poking of her sore spots, instead assuming the role of his rock: immovable and always there for him to lean on when the exhaustion of his existence finally brings him to his knees. Once her decision is made early on, she never wavers, taking the truly terrifying things that are tossed her way as they come and simply bracing herself for the next impact.
The romance between the two of them (or three of them since Jax’s demon cannot be discounted), is one certainly categorized by a lot of push and pull as the reasons they cannot be together are legion, but instead of the angst and melodrama that usually accompanies such a relationship there is only raw emotion and the painful realization of just how high the odds against them are stacked. We’re left with a resolution to one of the main conflicts in place, but it’s also very clear that innumerable hurdles remain firmly in place, barring Jax and Sam’s path to happily every after with tooth, claw, and Tainted soul.
This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review.
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.