Release Date: March 4, 2014
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
This is Book One of Two
(See below for Reading Order)
*There is a prequel, Cupcakes & Ink, but it is not necessary to read that first. But, I did find it helpful to read it before starting this book. It is about 50 pages.*
Rating: 4 – 4.5 stars
“I want you, only you, all of you, for as long as I can have you.”
Tattoos. Piercings. And a hot boy. Oh My. I really, really liked this book. I loved the story, I enjoyed the writing and I became thoroughly invested in these characters. Tortured tattooed hero with a bad boy past and a case of OCD – check. Intense sexual chemistry and tension between the two main characters – check. Addictive story that draws you in – check.
However, I did have a hard time with the beginning of this book. It took a good 100 pages to really connect with the story. Tenley spent most of this time avoiding Hayden like the black plague and even though I had an inkling as to why (and I read the prequel), it was very frustrating for me. I almost felt like the beginning of the book and the rest of the story were a bit disconnected. BUT, once Hayden and Tenley started spending time together, holy crap I became addicted to this book!
There is a prequel, Cupcakes & Ink, that I did read before reading this one. It gave a really great introduction to who Tenley and Hayden are as people. Is it necessary to read that before reading this book? No. However, I feel like by doing so, I went into this story with a very good idea of who they were. So no, it wasn’t necessary, but it made understanding the characters’ personality quirks a bit easier.
What I loved the most about this book was that Helena made the tattoos and piercings in this book a character in the story. In many of the books out there set in a tattoo parlor, the tattoos and/or piercings are just an accessory or something to make a character different or stand out. But in this book, the tattoos, or more importantly, the tattoo Hayden is putting on Tenley, is an integral part of the story. Even the act of getting tattooed played a role and I it was probably my favorite part of the story.
“Any kind of modification, whether it’s to alter physical features, like cosmetic surgery, or to decorate, like piercings and tattoos, cause some degree of discomfort. But that’s the point, isn’t it? It’s cathartic because it’s the promise of change I some form or another.”
Tenley and Hayden BOTH have tragic pasts, which have shaped who they are and how they live their lives. They’ve chosen to handle their pasts in different ways so that when they meet they are both cautious with one another. Hayden, who has lived his life burying his pain in tattoos, drugs and women, has found that what used to work for him before doesn’t do anything for him anymore. But after about a year of clean living, he’s looking for something else, something more. Little did he know he would find that in the timid girl who moved in across the street.
“Maybe that was where the connection came from: we were linked through the pain of loss.”
Hayden was such a tortured soul, but one I instantly wanted to comfort. I loved him. And because this book is told in alternating POV between Hayden and Tenley, I completely understood him. Although he may appear like the bad boy, man whore that I am used to reading about, he is actually really tame when the book starts. Yes, he has a past that lives up to his exterior (tattoos and facial piercings), but he’s different. And when he meets Tenley, he is instantly drawn to her and it goes beyond the physical attraction he feels towards her. I may love him, but he is far from perfect. He keeps his past in a little box tucked away and he almost refuses to acknowledge it even as it starts creeping back up into his present.
Tenley is very different than Hayden. Where Hayden has had years to deal with his pain, Tenley’s scars are still very fresh and she really doesn’t know what to do with her guilt. So she’s been avoiding living. That all changes when Hayden walks into the shop she works in. She tries so hard to avoid the gorgeous man with piercings and tattoos on display, but he is shameless in his pursuits.
“From a single glance it was clear that he was fearless, unchained and unfettered by the confines of what society deemed acceptable; Hayden embodied everything I wasn’t but wanted to be. I spent my entire life trying to color inside the lines, only to wind up restrained by them. Hayden obliterated social constructs. His presence alone made a statement. I found him mesmerizing, which was why I attempted to keep a safe distance.”
Tenley started off as a character I really didn’t understand. I understood her pain. I understood her fears and sadness. However, I just didn’t understand her reluctance to live her life. She literally went through the motions of her life without participating. And even after she meets Hayden, she is so stand-offish with him. At first, I totally got that, but it was very evident she had an attraction, fascination and pull towards him. It made it hard to connect to her for a while, thereby making it a little hard to get into the book.
BUT THEN, she finally let Hayden in and it was like she became a new person. She was confident, strong, compassionate, sexy. I LOVED who she became. I don’t think it is any coincidence that it was at this point where the story really started taking off for me and where I became sucked into the story. So my recommendation is that if you start it and it’s a bit slow at first, KEEP READING!!! It does pick up and everything starts falling into place.
“He wasn’t looking at me, but through me, inside, straight into my soul. And I felt like I was just as much inside him as he was inside me, intertwined and inextricable.”
“I thought I understood physical attraction, but in the wake of the unbound longing Hayden inspired in one kiss, I began to see how naïve I’d been.”
After the story started progressing, it got AMAZING. Like cannot put the book down amazing. Hayden and Tenley were working to have a functional relationship and it was pure heaven to see. I kept thinking FINALLY! But then, by the end of this book, I felt like Tenley regressed, leaving me with a slightly bitter taste in my mouth when it comes to her – yes there was a bit of a relationship cliffhanger in this book. But, before I go on, I will say that there is a sequel to this book, so I completely and 100% understand why the author had this character do this. In fact, I do see that it was necessary for Tenley to do this. It just hurt like a bitch and made me so sad for Hayden.
I fully support this book and whole heartedly recommend this book and series. Hayden and Tenley are such a unique, yet endearing couple that you just cannot help but love them. I have such a crush on Hayden – he is definite book boyfriend material! I am so excited to read the sequel which will be released in the coming months so that they, fingers crossed, get the Happily Ever After I know they deserve.
As for rating, I give the beginning of this book a 3.5, but the rest of the book was a solid 4.5 – leaving me with the rating of 4 – 4.5 stars because I really did LOVE this book. It was just a bumpy start for me. And as far as the ending, I’m just being nit picky about it and protective of Hayden so I can overlook my annoyance 🙂
*ARC received from publisher in exchange for an honest review*
CUPCAKES AND INK (#0.5)
Purchase for Kindle ← ONLY $0.99
CLIPPED WINGS (#1)
INKED ARMOR (#2)
(May 13, 2014)
CRACKS IN ARMOR (#2.5)
(June 23, 2014)
Pre-Order for Kindle ← ONLY $0.99