This is the first domestic, romantic thriller with alternating timelines that I’ve read in a very long time. In “From Fame to Ruin” we follow two characters, Ricardo and Carol, from when they meet at an airport terminal nearly 4 years in the past, to their current predicament in the present, where Carol’s son has been kidnapped, and her and Ricardo are thrust back together once again. Together, they try to uncover who would do such a thing, and why, all while the reader is given clues as to who it might be based on their past together. It’s a really interesting way to present the information, and the author does a great job of making sure the reader doesn’t get lost between past and present with clearly labeled chapter headings. Unfortunately, seeing how Ricardo and Carol are together in the present negated a lot of the sweetness that I otherwise may have felt from their romantic week together in the past. Which is where the book spends almost half of its time.
Reviews like this are hard to write because you have to be so, so careful not to say something that may spoil the ending. I will say I guessed some key elements very early on in the book, which is my fault because then it made me want to speed the story along just to see if I was right (I was, mostly). But that’s all I’ll say about that. However, whenever you have an alternating timeline that shows that two characters have not just drifted apart, but actively dislike each other, and then flash back to them falling in love, some of the magic is automatically lost to me. And, sadly, I had a hard time liking Carol for big chunks of the book because of how the timelines jumped. Eventually, you understand why she and her friends treat Ricardo the way they do (though I don’t really agree with the secrets Ricardo’s own father kept from him), but those revelations come a bit late. But hey! At least this book really had me feeling something! And while I liked Ricardo and thought he got a raw deal from most people who refused, blatantly, to see or understand the situation he was coming from, my real favorite character was Otto. He was such a refreshing voice of reason between these two romantic leads!
The plot was well thought out, as evidenced by how many characters and smaller plotlines the author is able to weave into the bigger, inciting incident that reunites our main characters. Even though there are a lot of characters, I never really felt like I couldn’t remember who was who, even if I would have liked some characters to have more page time so I could get a better sense of them. Still, writing it this way allowed for the author to place really compelling red herrings throughout the novel to help add to the mystery around who actually threatened Carol and her family. I must say I enjoyed the present chapters more just because the pacing was much faster, but having that languid, easy pace of the past chapters so the reader can really see how far these characters have come in a short time gave a nice dichotomy to the book that eases the reader into a lot of tension. Personally, that set up kept me always wanting to read “one more chapter” so I could get back to the present faster.
All in all, I enjoyed the book! I’ve read several of this authors’ works now and she always does a great job with pacing and character development. Each of her stories and the voices she gives her characters are unique, and this book is no different. And while things like the miscommunication tropes for tension purposes are not my personal favorite, and even with how much I was annoyed by Carol at times (which is why this is getting 4 stars from me), I still enjoyed this novel and am happy with how the story ended. I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys romantic thrillers, and thanks to the author for sending me a copy for an honest review!
Click the book images to see them on Amazon!