November 11, 2016

REVIEW: The Strongest Steel (Second Circle Tattoos #1)

The Strongest Steel (Second Circle Tattoos #1), by Scarlett Cole
Publish Date:
July 7, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin's
Format: e-ARC, provided by the publisher via Netgalley
Genre: adult contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Rating: 4 STARS

(Synopsis) 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.

I'm a sucker for the tattoo shop romances. You know - the brooding hero wears his life on his body in the form of colorful artwork, yet he's too emotionally unavailable to commit to any one girl. Until the perfect one walks right into his tattoo shop, and his world is turned upside down. So, when I saw the name of this book, I didn't even have to read the description to know it would be one I would love. 

Trent is unbelievably awesome. He specializes in tattooing over scars, which is just the coolest thing ever. He owns his tattoo shop - Second Circle Tattoos (named after the Second Circle of Hell in Dante's Inferno, which is lust - and how amazing is that?) - with his best friend Cujo, and he's something of a local celebrity in Miami. He's definitely loved by the ladies. But, on the night when Harper walks into his shop asking for a tattoo, something changes for him.

I think Harper's story affected him on a pretty big level. Trent seems to be a big protector, so when he learns of Harper's attack that left her scarred over her entire back and terrified of everything - including the touch of another human being - he can't help but want to help her. It doesn't hurt that she's beautiful too.  

Speaking of Harper's attack - wow. It was absolutely horrific, and I totally get why Harper ran away, changed her name, and lives in fear. But, it's still so sad that she's living this way. I loved that she faced her fears enough to get her tattoo. And I loved that it was Trent who helped her with that. 

Luckily, things with Trent and Harper progressed a little slowly. Harper's phobias and fears caused Trent to handle her with care, which only made me love him more. But, once he earns her trust, their relationship heats up. They were super hot together, and had lots of awesome chemistry. 

This was my first book by Scarlett Cole, and I really loved it. I also really loved the first book in this series, so suffice to say it won't be my last.

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