The Strongest Steel

cover65404-mediumAuthor: Scarlett Cole

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Rating: 4 stars

Buy Links: Macmillan and Amazon

Type: Novel in Series

Provided by Publisher

 

Blurb: 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.

 

Review: Even with minor issues in flow, I found this fascinating novel about damaged people on their path to recovery a thoughtful, riveting read. The MCs were finely wrought, evolving through the plot line slowly and carefully, described in vivid detail. At the end, I felt uplifted and at the same time really happy for the couple–best way to finish a romance ever.

Harper had something horrific happen to her. Something that changes the way you look at life forever. She’s moved and changed her name, hoping to escape from the hovering danger of her past, but she still carries with her the memories and the sensory issues from the traumatic event. It’s hard to have anyone near her or have anyone touch her. Unable to use her degree, she’s working in a coffee shop, making enough money to get by. She’s intrigued by the handsome owner of the tatoo place near where she works, and she wonders if her dream of covering up her scars could happen there.

Trent was taken in by a talented tatoo artist years before and mentored. He’s very grateful for the success he’s achieved and things are really looking up. Having been burned by love in the past, though, his romantic life has been filled with meaningless hook-ups; but when a gorgeous, shy woman catches his eye, something tells him that may be about to change.

When Harper gets up the nerve to approach Trent about her scars, it opens up the world to possibilities for her that weren’t there before. A new outlook and a new freedom from pain and heartbreak. For Trent–there’s now the possibility of a new love, free from the pain of the past. Will they take the chance? Or will the danger that Harper fears, the one that made her run in the first place, find her again and ruin this new chance for a fresh start…

I really enjoyed the depth and breadth of this novel from Scarlett Cole and I’m excited to read the next one in the series. She’s not afraid to take hard subjects and describe them with great compassion and soul, reaching into the character’s hearts and minds and telling their story in intimate detail so that you really feel you know them at the end. Thanks again for the great read!

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