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New Book Blitz and Giveaways: RUINED by Marian Cheatham (Stratford High #1)

Why didn’t we have YA romances based on Shakespeare back when I was in school, dang it?


by Marian Cheatham
Publication date: Summer 2014
Genres: Romance, Young Adult



When your life has been ruined by lies, do you seek justice … or revenge?

Blythe Messina spends her senior year focused on her studies and college, and not on her ex, Stratford High’s lacrosse star, DB Whitmore. At least, that’s what Blythe keeps telling herself. But her younger cousin, Bonni, knows otherwise. Same goes for DB, who professes to be over Blythe and their breakup, but his teammates aren’t fooled.

When scandalous photos of Bonni and the lacrosse captain are texted around Stratford, Bonni’s virtuous reputation is ruined. She pleads innocence, but no one believes her. No one, except Blythe and DB, who come together to uncover the truth. But, will they stay together?

Ruined is a modern twist on a classic Shakespearean romance.

“Deceit, loyalty, honor, and romance–Ruined has it all! A teen version of Much Ado  About Nothing that Shakespeare aficionados are sure to savor!”
Kym Brunner, Author of Wanted: Dead or in Love & One Smart Cookie



I’d been bitchy and on edge ever since that blasted luau last Saturday. Seeing DB, talking to him, being near him again, had taken my life off course. For days now, I’d been ordering my brain to STOP THINKING ABOUT HIM. We were ancient history, two people doomed from the start, like Antony and Cleopatra or Marie Antoinette and King Louis. So why couldn’t I regain control of my world? I snatched up my backpack and my Coach crossbody bag, and did a quick once-over in my bedroom mirror. The hair was tied back in a no-fuss ponytail. The jeans were clean, well, relatively. This faded ASPCA tee was past its expiration date, but good enough for school. I turned off my bedroom light and went in search of Bonni.

She wasn’t in her room or downstairs in the kitchen. So I grabbed a frosted Pop-Up and headed into the garage, where I was blinded by piercing sunlight. Someone had left the outer door open, and my new hybrid was nowhere to be found. I shaded my eyes and peered outside.

Halfway down our long driveway, I spied Bonni and Uncle Leo with their backs to me, their heads together under the opened hood of my car. They were talking, but in this quiet morning air, their voices carried. Even from this distance, I could hear fragments of their conversation. And if I heard them, so could our neighbors. I was hurrying toward the hybrid, anxious to warn my cousin and uncle to keep it down, when I heard something that stopped me in mid-stride.

“… believe what Cory told me … DB and Blythe …”

Had Bonni just mentioned DB and me in the same sentence?

I ducked behind the six-foot-tall hedges lining the drive.

“What else did Cory say?” Uncle Leo asked.

“According to DB, he and Blythe had a decent conversation at our party.”

“Decent? That doesn’t sound too promising.”

“Oh no, Daddy. It is promising.”

I needed to hear more. And better. I parted the branches and leaned out.

“Seems DB wants to try and work things out. Maybe get back together.”

“A reconciliation? That would be wonderful!”

I fell back on my butt, releasing the branches, but not before some prickly stems slashed across my left cheek. I screeched in pain, my hand flying to cover my big mouth.

“What was that?” Bonni asked.

Oh, hell. She’d heard.

I peeked through the hedge. Bonni’s head had popped up and she was glancing around the front yard. She laughed—at what I didn’t know—and then bent back under the hood. I sighed in relief until I remembered that DB wanted to work things out.

An image flashed through my mind. DB at the party, an awe-struck look on his face. He’d said I’d looked hot in leather. Had I started something with that new skirt?

No! Lust didn’t equal love.

“According to Cory,” Bonni was saying. I sat up. “Blythe has to make the next move.”

Move? What move? I didn’t have any moves. I didn’t want any moves. I wanted my life back to normal. I wanted to forget I’d ever known someone named DB Whitmore.

But still, us, back together? If DB was willing …

We were over! End of story. I took some tissue from my crossbody and wiped the bloody scratches on my cheek. I stuffed the soiled tissues into my pocket, dusted off my jeans, and stepped onto the driveway.

“What’s up with you guys this morning?” I tried sounding like my same old self, not like someone who had overheard something weird and unnerving. “What’re you doing with my hybrid?”

“Daddy’s showing me the environmentally friendly engine—Hey! What happened to your face?”

My hand shot to my cheek. “It’s nothing. I-I …”

“Don’t tell me you cut yourself shaving this morning.” Uncle Leo looked at Bonni, and they both buckled in half, laughing.

“Cut it out you two. Let’s get going, Bon.” She hopped into the passenger seat, still giggling.

Uncle Leo tossed me the keys. “Carpe diem, girls.”

“I’ll seize the day.” And shake it until it makes sense. I got behind the wheel. The hybrid cleared the driveway, and we hit the street. “So, Bon, you and Cory getting serious?”

“Totally.” She pressed back and put her pink Keds up on the dashboard.

“I guess I have to get used to having him around?”

“You’d better.”

“So you guys are close? Then you probably share secrets with each other?”

She stared at me. “What kind of secrets?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Maybe some juicy gossip?”

“Since when are you interested in gossip?”

“Just making conversation.” The light at the corner turned from yellow to red, catching me off-guard. I slammed on the brakes.

“Take it easy!” Bonni dropped her feet and grabbed the dashboard. “You trying to kill us?” We were a good ten feet into the intersection. I checked behind me, saw it was clear, and backed up. She released her grip. “What’s your problem today, cuz?” She turned and looked out her window. And smiled.

“What’s so funny?” The light changed. I stepped on the gas, but with a bit more caution this time.

“You. And the way you drive.”

“Sorry, I’m a bit out of sorts this morning.”

“Why? Looks like a perfectly beautiful day to me.” Bonni flipped down the sun visor.

“That’s because you’re in love.”

“Like you should be.”

I turned the hybrid into Stratford’s parking lot and got caught up in the slow-moving line to find a prime spot. Students were so lazy. They couldn’t park at the rear of the lot and walk. No, they had to play chicken with one another to see who could park nearest the door.

“Listen, Bon. I don’t have a love life because I don’t want one. I need to focus on graduation and college. Not guys.”

“Suit yourself. But you don’t know what you’re missing.”

Oh, but I did know. And it wasn’t some right-wing attackman.








Marian Cheatham was born in Chicago, Illinois. A graduate of Northern Illinois University, Marian taught special education in Cicero, Illinois for several years before becoming a full-time writer.

Currently, I’m writing a new young adult novel series, Stratford High; contemporary retellings of Shakespeare’s plays set in the fictional high school. Ruined, book one in the series, due out spring 2014, is inspired by Much Ado About Nothing. Book two, due out fall 2014, is based on The Merchant of Venice. Book three is due out winter 2015.

On my Facebook author page,, I write a weekly post called the Everyday Eastland with facts and stories, both historical and current, about Chicago’s greatest loss-of-life disaster. I lecture on the Eastland at schools, libraries, and on Haunted Chicago coach tours. I’m an active member of a Barnes & Noble critique group. I blog at

I live in a suburb of Chicago with my family and our menagerie of pets.


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