The Strongest Steel by Scarlett Cole
Series: Second Circle Tattoos #1
Also in this series: The Fractured Heart, The Purest Hook, The Darkest Link
Published by St. Martin's Paperbacks
Publication Date: July 7th 2015
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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.
Harper is a woman who lives in Miami but tries to hide herself from everyone. She doesn’t like to be touched and wears baggy clothes to mask her body even though she’s fit and toned. She was hurt horribly by an old boyfriend and wants to get a tattoo to cover her scars. She finally gets up the nerve to talk to Trent Andrews, owner of Second Circle tattoos, and from the moment her life begins again.
Trent is very understanding about Harper and her issues and little by little he gets her to open up about what happened to cause the scarring on her back. The more Trent gets to know about Harper the more he likes her but he’s not sure that the woman he’s falling in love with is emotionally ready to fall in love with him.
So…I received an eARC of the fourth book in this series, The Darkest Link, and started reading it. Right off the bat I liked the writing and the characters and decided to put TDL down and start the series from book one. I’m really happy I did as I really liked all of the books in this series.
This is the book that introduces most of the characters in future books but it mostly focuses on Trent and Harper and their love story. I really liked how the author blended that story in with Trent’s shop, friends and eventually his TV Show. The romance blossomed little by little and the trust grew between the two slowly but steadily. I was quite happy that Cole didn’t try to rush things as Harper had been hurt so badly both physically and emotionally by her ex-boyfriend that she really couldn’t have handled it.
Harper was an incredibly strong woman. Sure she seemed meek and mild but when you really looked under the façade she created you could see her strength. Everything she’d been through, and was still going through, made her see herself differently but Trent made her realize that while she may be different from her previous self she was better for it. She was 27 years old but she really seemed a lot younger. At times I was a little annoyed by it but when I thought about it, I got it. Because of the horror she’d lived through she really hadn’t grown since she’d been with her ex-boyfriend. When I remembered that her personality seemed on par.
Trent was amazing and from the description, gorgeous. He was talented with his tattoo artistry, a good businessman and a good friend. He did pull one asshole move during the story but it was easily forgiven.
Overall I really liked the book and can’t wait to read the next one in the series.
Rating: 4 out of 5