I had high hopes for Ruthless. The blurb had me enraptured. Being a big fan of twisty, romantic suspense titles, this revenge-based plot turned into love held much appeal for me. Unfortunately, while I enjoyed the underlying story of corporate espionage, the “ruthless” tactics for both taking over and taking back a company, and the suspense around a mysterious fourth person involved in the murder plot, I just didn’t feel the romance. In particular, I felt like it held too much of an insta-love feel for me. How a man, and later his brothers, who had lived their whole lives to seek their revenge for their parents’ death (and the takeover of their business), could do a 180 so quickly, and actually become the champions and protectors of their parents’ killers’ daughter, just didn’t convince me. Additionally, while the narration was decent, it also didn’t particularly make me feel the emotion of the story. All that said, I recognize that this story has been a hit for many others, so it just may be a case of the wrong time for me to have listened to this story as it came on the heels of another audiobook that was absolutely splendid in its slow reveal and development of the romantic relationship between the hero and heroine, and where I really could feel the connection laid between the hero and heroine before the pronouncements of undying love.
Riley, Drew, Brandon, and Mia Lawless (yes, that’s actually their last name!) have been waiting for twenty years to exact their revenge on the people who ordered their parents’ deaths in order to steal their ownership of a company that was built on a software program that their father developed. Following their parents’ deaths, they were forced to live in foster homes and orphanages (some better than others), and their lives completely changed. But the siblings persevered and today Riley (our hero) is a corporate lawyer and Drew, the oldest brother, is a well-known business titan. The Lawless siblings plan to use their hard-earned success primarily for one goal: to avenge their parents’ deaths and regain control of the company that is rightfully theirs.
Drew’s part in the revenge plot is to enamor Ellie Stratton, the daughter of their father’s former business partner who they suspect to have led the murder plot, and also the current leader of Stratcast, the company that was stolen from their family. His goal is to seek entry into her business world and bed by acting as her attorney to handle the sale of stock of the business to Ellie from another business partner who was also involved in the murder plot. Then he will use his influence over her to carry off the Lawless sibling revenge plot. Of course, as you can imagine, ultimately Drew is captivated by Ellie’s good spirit. And when it becomes clear that Ellie is in danger of falling prey to the same forces that stole the company from their parents, Drew, and his brothers, are forced to decide what is more important: protecting Ellie or seeking their long-sought revenge?
This was my first narration experience with Alexandra Shawnee. Sometimes it takes more than one book to get used to or to thoroughly enjoy a narration by a new narrator. That may be the case here, only time will tell, but I felt that while Ms. Shawnee was adept in a number of the areas that I look for in a good narrator, she also didn’t particularly bring the story to life for me. In a romance, I think it is vital that you feel the emotion and connection with the characters. In this case, I have no doubt that part of that failing is likely due to my failure to connect with the romance between the hero and heroine. However, I also felt that Ms. Shawnee’s performance seemed flat and more like a reading rather than an enactment of a scene, which is what I have become accustomed to in romance narration. This was particularly the case in the romantic or intimate scenes. However, I do think her narration style would be better for a suspense novel.
Nonetheless, Ms. Shawnee did do a good job of delivering a performance that I could readily understand. She also gave the female and males distinguishable voices, so that it was easy to differentiate the hero from the heroine. It was a little more difficult to differentiate the Lawless brothers based solely on Ms. Shawnee’s intonation for each character, so I did have to rely on dialogue tags in the scenes where several of the brothers appeared together.
All in all, Ruthless was a decent romantic suspense title. Nothing over the top or too overly surprising but entertaining nonetheless. if you’re looking for a romantic suspense title with a bit of heat, but don’t mind a quick connection between the hero and heroine in the romance department, then Ruthless might be worth a listen.
Book Content: B-
Steam Factor: Glad I had my earbuds in
Violence Rating: Minimal
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Recorded Books
Ruthless was provided to AudioGals by Recorded Books for a review.