Author: Scarlett Cole
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: July 7th, 2015
Harper Connelly never expected to find herself outside of a tattoo parlor at one in the morning, summoning the nerve to take back her past. She’s determined to forget her old life and is looking for an artist who can tattoo over the scars on her back.
Trent Andrews, local legend and owner of the Second Circle tattoo studio, has his own reasons for specializing in inking over scars. And in spite of her mysterious past and the difficult road ahead, he quickly realizes that Harper is funny, smart, and–under her ridiculously oversized clothing and SPF 100 sunscreen–totally hot. He’s happy to take on the challenge of designing a meaningful and deadly full-back tattoo for her.
But when cryptic messages start appearing on Harper’s phone, strange deliveries arrive at her door, and Second Circle is vandalized, Harper is convinced that her ex-boyfriend has tracked her down, and worse, that he knows about Trent. Running was the only thing that saved her last time, but now that she’s started to put down roots in Miami, she’ll have to decide if she can finally fight back instead.
Shit, it was still cool at night. Trent pulled the hood of his sweatshirt up over the top of his baseball hat. So what if he looked more thug and less upstanding citizen? It would keep people out of his path, getting him to his bed sooner.
He took one last look around the studio, and turned off the main lights, leaving the design on the huge front window illuminated by a couple of can lights in the ceiling. The alarm panel beeped as he keyed in the code before turning to leave. One o’clock in the morning in a city that was still wide awake. A cacophony of sound roared around him. Pulsating beats from the hotels, bars, and nightclubs that peppered the strip reverberated through the air. Drivers revved their engines as they cruised up and down the street, seeking attention.
The lock was temperamental and he jiggled the key with a finesse born of necessity until it turned.
“Can you tattoo over extensive scars?”
A soft voice, thoroughly unexpected, came from behind him. He looked over his shoulder, his fingers still on the key. In the shadows of the giant palm tree that dominated the sidewalk, a lone figure stood. She stepped toward him.
It took only a moment to recognize her—the girl from this afternoon. Wow. She’d changed clothes, tucked her clearly tight body into skinny jeans and an ivory top that looked like it was made out of, well, clouds or something. Her hair was down now, lying in soft curls on her shoulders, accentuating the most perfectly smooth skin he’d ever seen. Her arms were pulled tightly against her.
Trent paused with the key in the lock, never taking his eyes off her.
“Depends on what kind of scar. How deep, how big, where, et cetera?”
She stared at the pavement like the cigarette butt by her foot was the most fascinating thing ever. Her hands clenched into fists and just as quickly she released them, over and over, as if wanting to do something but not knowing what.
“Are we talking about for you or someone else?”
The fingers were still twitching. She lifted her chin. The look in her eyes, which were an incredible shade of green, like sea glass, told him she was scared shitless.
“Me,” she said quietly.
He was exhausted. And the whole thing felt weird. He should just tell her to come back tomorrow—or better still, call and book an appointment. But if he turned her away now, she wouldn’t come back. He knew it for sure—he felt it. She needed something, and it would kill him not to know what he might have been able to do for her.
“Want to come in and let me take a look? The place is closed, so no one else will be around . . . if you’re cool with that . . . I’m a good guy, I promise.”
Why was she even here at one in the morning, alone and looking terrified? And not the I’m-scared-of-needles-will-it-hurt variety of terror. Girls nearly always came in with someone. Friends. Boyfriends. Same way they always went to the bathroom in pairs. Why wasn’t anybody with her? He had a bad feeling this wasn’t going to be your everyday scar.
“Well, Harper,” he said, opening the door he’d just closed, “welcome to Second Circle.”
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Ah, tattoos..What do you think, yay or nay? I personally think yay, though I never had one done before. But damn if I’m not intrigued. Can one crave to get a tattoo after reading a book? I’ve had cravings for chocolate and cake and all sorts of sweet delicacies before but never a tattoo. Guess there’s a first in everything. But believe me, once you read how passionate these people are with the business, you will be intrigued too.
Though the plot was interesting and promising, I gotta say, I found much more once inside the book. Sure, the characters were relatable, sure, the guys were ripped and tattooed and the women were gorgeous and independent, but every detail also had a backstory which I enjoyed very much. You have to love a story with substance. Trent had his own past, his own reasons for doing what he did now, from his tattoo studio to his personal choices, and Harper, well, she was the story. Don’t get me wrong, they were equally represented in the book, but what brought them together was Harper’s past and her courage, plus her emotional journey was more challenging. I’d love for you to find that out yourself while reading, and once you do, you’ll agree with me. I admire a woman who’s made of stronger stuff on the inside, and I love a good story about recreating yourself.
Now, remember I talked about tattoos? Since the setting for the book is a tattoo studio, a bit of ink action was expected, but I was glad to see the author took it one step forward and actually guided us through the whole process as much as she could. I really like it when that happens. It helps me get more involved with the story.
Apart from strong characters and a fun and interesting setting, I loved the sexy and so very sweet romance as well. Trent was a very considerate guy, thoughtful and understanding, and very patient when it came to someone he liked and wanted. But I still think the biggest hero was Harper here. Her background was one I don’t wish on anyone, but she came out as stronger, better and definitely the winner in the end. Her courage was outstanding after what she’s been through, and her change was clear in the end. I loved the fact that there were so many people who supported her and had her back. She did most of the work herself, but I can’t deny Trent’s contribution in her recovery. He really was pretty perfect.
There was a hint of a mystery and some action going on as well that appealed to the good ol’ me. I can never say no to a little bit of suspense, and I enjoyed those parts and found myself wondering how it was going to end.
A fun read that might tempt you to get your own ink to show off in the summer, I recommend this book. Those who love a sexy romance will surely enjoy this. Besides, you can never go wrong with thoughtful heroes and strong heroines anyway. However, January, the publication date for the second book in the series, seems too far away now. Time to distract myself with more cooking and reading.
I’m adding four spoonfuls of this story into my hodgepodge. Now, leave me be so I can look up some tattoo pictures on the internet.
Having travelled the world for work and fun, Scarlett is a citizen of both Britain and Canada. A true city-dweller, she considers Toronto and Manchester home and likes to set her books in vibrant locations such as Miami and Los Angeles.
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