“Everyone has scars, Tenley. If we’re lucky, they’re only on the outside.”
I loved this book so much!!
It was one of those ones I’d had on my TBR since the day it came out but for some reason, I just didn’t get around to reading it until now and I’m SO glad I finally did because this is going on my favorites list!!
First thing, this is a contemporary romance (not paranormal in any way). I know a few of you were asking about this, but I promise it’s all real-world. It’s also the first book of a complete 2-book series so there’s no waiting between books!! (*squee*). And it’s somewhere between New Adult and Adult in terms of steam.
This is a stories about two broken people falling in love. Yes, you can say that that type of story has been done before, but the way this author wrote this story gave it a unique spin that really made it standout in my eyes. It felt fresh, the story was engaging, and I really didn’t want to put it down.
The hero, Hayden, was a tall, dark, mysterious guy covered in tattoos that told the story of his painful past. He ran a tattoo parlor and was intrigued when the girl from across the street who he couldn’t stop thinking about showed him a hauntingly beautiful, intricate tattoo design that she wanted him to ink onto her.
“You need to be careful with her. She’s broken.”
“Worse than me?”
“I don’t know. Maybe… She has a lot of scars.”
He was attracted to her, felt protective of her her, and they had this connection he couldn’t ignore. He wanted to get to know her more, and could sense that the tattoo was a representation of her pain…
“The darkness in it told me there was a story I should know.”
She knew he was keeping secrets about his past but she also sensed that he understood her pain on a deeper level. They were drawn to each other and just couldn’t stay away. And so this is their love story.
“I wanted my mouth on her skin. I wanted to kiss, lick, suck, bite. And not necessarily in that order. It was like my body knew what it needed and my brain was working to catch up.”
This was a nice long book with a really great balance of all the feels. Overall, I’d call it edgy. It was sexy and steamy, but it also had a darker angsty side that gave it deeper emotional depth, and at the same time, there were so many scenes were just light-hearted and sweet to break everything up.
“She wants a tattoo, you know.”
“Have you seen the design?” I asked.
“No. But I almost convinced her to bring it by so you could have a look. Then you ruined it when you got all up in her space and tried to dry hump her.”
“I didn’t try to dry hump her.”
“You would have if there hadn’t been witnesses present… I don’t even know why I bother with you. It’s like herding a cat.”
And now throw in a dash of forbidden romance into this mix too because Hayden had a strict rule never to sleep with clients and the girl he was falling for had just asked him to tattoo her. He couldn’t stay away, but also didn’t want to give up the chance to ink her with the design she’d entrusted him with.
“I thought you said just one time.” Her hands slid under my shirt…
“I meant one night.”
“You’re changing the rule?”
“Didn’t I tell you about the fine print?” I asked, working a knew between her thighs.
“Mm-hmm.” My lips moved over her cheek to her ear. “Rules are subject to change.”
Honestly though, the first thing that struck me when I started reading was just how strong the writing was. I absolutely adored this author’s style. The story came alive so vividly in my mind. I felt the horror of her nightmares, the strength of their feelings for each other. I felt their pain and the intensity of their connection. My heart raced, I laughed out loud, I just was completely drawn in from the very beginning.
“His armor of ink and steel protected him; it kept most [emotions] at a distance. Getting to know the man underneath would never be easy. And yet here he was, letting me in, hoping I would do the same… Under all the armour he wore, Hayden was in pieces like me. It made him safe. He understood what I’d been through.”
WARNING: have cupcakes on hand before you start this book. You will crave them when you read. Hayden has a heart-meltingly adorable obsession with them and trust me, you’ll develop one too. 😉
“Do you really think you can order me around?” He crossed his arms over his chest in a show of dominance.”
“I have more cupcakes in my apartment…”
“Are you trying to bribe me?”
“Is it working?”
I really just loved this story. Yes, I’ve read many books about ‘broken characters falling in love’, so that part wasn’t new, but what was different was the way the author chose to build the story. This felt unique. It felt different than anything else I’d read even though it shared a similar base. I loved Tenley and Hayden, I was intrigued by their stories, invested in their relationship, rooting for their future. I loved the writing — so much of my book is highlighted — and overall this just really worked for me. Yes, there’s kind of a cliffhanger, but the sequel (and conclusion to their story) is out already so I’ll be starting that ASAP!!
Rating: 4.5 stars. First book of a complete 2-book series. Dual POV.
Contemporary romance (NOT paranormal).
Note: this is a complete 2-book series (full length books). There are other related novellas available, but you can just read these 2 books alone to get the full story. *** The third book is a spin-off STANDALONE set in the same world. Click covers to purchase!