Sunday, July 12, 2015

review || THE STRONGEST STEEL { blog tour } by Scarlett Cole


St. Martin's Press | July 7, 2015 | Contemporary Romance
Second Circle Tattoos, book 1


Harper Connelly never expected to find herself outside of a tattoo parlor at one in the morning. The scars that decorate her back are just one more reminder of things she'd rather forget, the past she wants to leave far behind her, but before she can move on she needs him.

Trent Andrews has his own reasons for specializing in inking over scars. And there's no way in hell he's going to turn Harper away. Not when a swirling mix of tenderness and desire slams into him every time her sees her. Being with Harper is like going 10 rounds in the ring-exhilarating, powerful, and dangerous. She stirs feeling in him he thought were long gone... if he can only get past her carefully constructed defenses.

Running was the only thing that saved Harper last time, but each session at Second Circle Tattoos brings her closer and closer to Trent. His lingering touches seduce her, making her believe in a life without fear, where she can be happy, whole, in love. 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. She ran from her past once before, this time will she have the strength to fight back?

{ about scarlett cole } .

Scarlett Cole
Scarlett Cole is a contemporary romantic suspense / contemporary romance author (represented by Beth Phelan at The Bent Agency). Her debut novel, THE STRONGEST STEEL, book one in the Second Circle Tattoos series, will be published by St. Martin's Press on 07/07/15.

When Scarlett isn't writing, she spends her time reading, hoarding mason jars, and working out to off-set an epic sour candy habit.

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.

{ review } .

This book...

It was definitely what I needed to come off of the emotional devastation that was ELUDE -- because nearly twenty hours after finishing that book, I was still crying. And while this wasn't the most lighthearted of books, it definitely sucked me in and kept me there until the end.

There were so many things done right with this book. So many.

Harper has been on the run and she's finally found a place that she finds herself comfortable. 

...well, as comfortable as she can be. 

We start out with her watching a couple on the side of the street kissing, his hand caressing her face, and Harper feels a ping of envy -- but she doesn't expect to ever welcome a person's touch again. She avoids social situations and has few friends, and only one who knows of her past. At least pieces of it.

In Miami is one of the most talented tattoo artists Harper has heard of; he can allegedly cover scars and while she's not shown anyone hers, she feels that by covering them she may be able to move on. Granted, a letter in the mail has the ability to hold her back.

Trent is crazy talented. Discovered as a teen spray-painting the back of the shop, he began an apprenticeship with the shops owner. He has his reasons for learning how to cover scars, and he became damn good at it.

Harper was very much the character who was trying to grow, but continuously held herself back. On a whim, she ended up at the tattoo shop one night at one in the morning. Just as she's allowing Trent to look at her back, she freaks and tries to run. On more than one occasion, this is how she acts. She takes a few steps forward, only to think about it and want to run. And Trent, good man that he is, recognizes it and wants nothing more than to help her through everything. He's gentle with her and works with her boundaries, allowing her to steer the relationship that slowly starts as friends and moves to so much more.

Trent can get women. So it confuses him a little that he's so incredibly drawn to the woman who flinches when touched. But he decides fairly quickly that she's a woman he wants to get to know.

It might not be an easy path, but it was the one he was on and he could only hope there'd be signposts.

I very much enjoyed these two. Trent was cautious with her but didn't baby her. He made her confront her issues and was there to hold her hand when needed. However, due to his own past, he ends up keeping a secret from her that he had a feeling would backfire on him...

When I started the story, I figured that the title would have to do with the man male character. It just made sense to me. But really, it has everything to do with Harper and her ability to move on -- and Trent is exactly the person to help her do just that. Harper's mantra has been "The strongest steel is forged in the hottest fire" and when she tells this to Trent, his respect for her, his awe for her, skyrockets.

While I very much enjoyed the relationship that grew between Trent and Harper, I loved Trent and Cujo's friendship. These two had been friends since they were itty bitties. They shared everything -- something that Cujo wasn't shy to point out when Trent starts keeping his relationship with Harper from him. With Harper, Trent takes on a very mature, grown-up stance and keeps their milestones to himself. 

Cujo and Trent's relationship read extremely true to me. They play fought, they flipped birds, they swore at each other -- I suppose part of it would be the setting, but sometimes when I read male friendships with guys in their late twenties, the men lose a bit of that playfulness. Heck, girls do it too, so to read it in Cujo and Trent's friendship was welcoming and appreciated.

And then there's Cujo and Harper's friend, Drea. Oh my goodness, I loved their interactions from the moment they met. Cujo is very much that boy who teases the girl he likes -- Drea swears she doesn't like Cujo and besides, he's an ass to her. All of their interactions made me laugh and smile, including the whole "she loves him a little bit more"/hold her back scene.

The only thing that I initially had a problem with was what felt like unnecessary scenes. There were things that happened that made me squint and ask, what in the world is this doing here? Totally not needed... But as the story progressed, I grew to appreciate the way Scarlett wrote THE STRONGEST STEEL -- she writes the story with every part of Trent and Harper's lives, including the separate parts. It could have been Trent's story merged with Harper's story. When writing, an author needs to remember to put in those little nuances of a person's life. If you wake up and immediately brush your teeth, be sure that your characters do that too. If people you know took fifty ways before crossing the street, make sure your characters do too. It makes your characters real, and if there's one thing that Trent and Harper were, it was real.

I'm super excited to see where Scarlett Cole brings this series. This is definitely a series to stay on my radar.

No comments:

Post a Comment