📖Empire of Ruin (Dirty Broken Savages) By Eva Ashwood

I was a good girl once, but now I’ve got bloody hands and a broken heart.

When Julian Maduro and his wretched sister breathed their last, I thought that would be the end of it. But I should’ve remembered the brutal truth that’s been beaten into me over and over again…

People like me don’t get happily ever afters.

Alec Beckham forced me to do the unthinkable, shredding my heart with the squeeze of a trigger. And he’s not done with me yet.

The man who was responsible for the worst torment of my life has decided he wants me as a member of his secret society, a permanent player in his game of manipulation and power.

Fine, you sadistic f*ck. You want me to play? I’ll play. But I won’t do it by your rules, and I’ll do whatever it takes to win.

Because people like me don’t fall in love either. They don’t find their soulmates.

But I did. I fell for the Kings of Chaos, and now I have something to fight for besides just vengeance.

I’m fighting for them.

For us.

Unlike the first 3 books in this series, it was hard going to get into this finale book. And I mean really hard going! I think the predictability of book 3’s ending disconnected me from the series. So, going into this last book I wasn’t filled with the same sense of intrigue and adrenaline.

I’m at 37% currently and I think it’s a shame because the series has been so good at keeping the plot strong and encompassing the characters and the reverse harem aspect intwined within the plot structure. There are so many places that book 4 could have taken us to and I guess I’m still a little bummed that the route taken was so obvious.

OK, so I’m now at 50% and pleased to say that the book has picked up pace and become more enjoyable. I’m now more invested in what is happening. There has been a good amount of smut in this book which has helped the level of enjoyment.

One thing I’ve appreciated in this series is the evolution of the dynamics between the characters. They went from hate and anger, to lust and want, to family and dedication. Their journey has been delightful to watch because it was just so effortless, and the characters never gave more than they had.

At the point where the plot moved into a more dangerous territory, I felt like I was playing a high stakes game of Monopoly. Like I wanted to dominate the board but knew I needed to play the long game to get there.

The sense of urgency in this book has changed drastically from books 1-3. In those, the adrenaline was pumping high, and the action was always waiting around the corner. Here, its been such a slow incline that its lost some of its momentum. At 63% I can feel the urgency, but the plot is still moving slowly.

OK, so at 75% now and finally on the home stretch. I haven’t written a review in stages like this is so long because I usually devour books. For those of you looking for the smut sex, there is a lot more ‘moresome’ in this book than the other three and if you don’t know what that means – google it!

The passion between the MC River and the 4 Kings of Chaos has always been a driving point in the series, even when the characters were full of mistrust and anger. Having Gage pulled back from the frontline could have been a boring and dull consequence, but Ashwood has written him superbly, giving him enough rope to forge a new destination for him, without compromising the character.

There are more players in this book than the entire series combined, and it can get a little tricky remembering who is who. I think also because these characters are new to this book, and we haven’t been introduced to them before – it makes for uneven footing while reading. These new characters are both essential to the plot but also unessential. The plot would work fine without them but with them it heightens the activity and makes that part of the plot more fleshed out.

The main part of what I would say was the ‘action climax’ was actually pretty good. If the rest of the plot could have had that intensity, I would have got into it with no problem. The action climax happened in a way that was justifiable by the characters and also in a way that made sense to who they were. While I knew the mechanics of what was going to happen, reading it play out was still an experience.

There are two ‘epilogues’ to this book and both neatly tie up the remainder of the book. The characters of River, Knox, Gage, Ash, and Priest have come a long way since the beginning of the series, and I was pleased by the character development of each over the course of the books. The magic of this book for me – and the series in general – is how well incorporated the two strands of plot were. I got to enjoy the steamy reverse harem/smutty romance side of the book and still have the driving force of a good base plot to keep everything tied together.

The developments between the characters were well thought out and took time. It wasn’t an instant shift between the characters and the journey to get them as one unit was rewarding to read. I think had it been different, had the characters not had that development journey together, the series wouldn’t have worked half as well as it should.

While this book itself just misses out on the full 5 stars, the series as a whole was a fantastic read and encompasses many genres into one seamless story.

I give this book: ✨✨✨✨

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