Release Reviews: The Fractured Heart: Scarlett Cole

The Fractured Heart (Second Circle Tattoos #2)
Scarlett Cole
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Expected January 5, 2015

All things, when placed under pressure, eventually break or leave a mark.

Tattoo artist Brody "Cujo" Matthews knows how to keep things simple. In life and in love. Abandoned as a child by a mother who refused to stick around to raise three boys she didn't want, he's intent on staying clear of complicated women. The only things complicated in Cujo’s life are the killer tattoos he designs and inks. That all changes when he’s asked to help organize his best friend Trent's engagement party, which means working with Trent's fiancée's best friend, Drea, the definition of high maintenance and sizzling curves. And the one woman he doesn’t want to walk away from.

Andrea "Drea" Caron is broke and tired. After years of caring for her ailing mom, she's at the end of her rope trying to manage the piling medical bills, two jobs, and a life placed on hold. She certainly doesn’t need the added frustration of a sexy playboy tattoo artist messing up her best friend’s engagement party or her carefully balanced life. But when Drea witnesses the abduction of a woman from the café she works at, she can’t help but turn to Cujo who’s determined to prove to Drea that he’s someone she can count on forever…but as they attempt to bring the truth to light, someone is working to bring that forever to a sudden, deadly halt.
Brody "Cujo" Matthews and Drea Caron have been thrust together in order to plan their best friends' Trent and Harper's engagement party. Unfortunately, they did not start off on the right foot and their interactions are adversarial at best. They are opposites. Cujo is a tatted, unfiltered playboy. He does not do relationships. He's got deep hurts from his past and issues holding him back from trusting or opening up to anyone. Drea is beat down, overworked, angry, and in over her head. She works tirelessly to care for her ailing mom and works too much. She's puts on a facade that is defensive, fiery, and in control, but she is just about to break. So they begin their feisty banter and head butting, but it is obvious that there is also underlying attraction and chemistry.

When Drea finds herself suddenly in danger, Cujo is there for her. Soon they are embroiled in a suspicious plot that puts them both is harm's way. And at the same time they are both dealing with family issues. Drea has a lot going on with her mom's medical issues and their dysfunctional dynamics. And Cujo finds himself facing a family situation that he never expected opening up old wounds and creating some new ones.

So there is a lot going on in this book: personal issues, family issues, and a dangerous suspenseful sub plot that they are mixed up in. So Cujo and Drea are not only dealing with their increasing closeness and trying to figure out how to have a relationship when neither of them have really had the opportunity before while also dealing in chaos swirling around them. Cujo also has a secret that could have a big impact on whether they try to navigate a future together. They both have personal demons to face, decisions to make, and to figure out what they really want and need out of life. And they both make some impulsive decisions and mistakes along the way. 

Harper and Trent (The Strongest Steel) are back since they are their best friends, but they are side characters and do not take away from Cujo and Drea's story. Both of their family dynamics were a big part of the book. We also got to spend some time with  the Second Circle crew Pixie, Lia, Eric, and the rock star Dred. And the coffee house crowd with Jose and Joanie. We even have some hot cops mixed in.

I liked the characters and the dual points of view. I liked the banter, chemistry, and their personal and family story lines. I felt that the sub plot with the mystery and danger overtook their story at times. I found some of it confusing or disjointed. And I felt some pieces were not clearly explained and that it wrapped up too easily without me even really understanding the entire significance. It basically just provided some added suspense to the story and interesting connections. But the real heart of this story was Cujo and Drea and how they dealt with the wounds from their pasts in order to grow and try to move on. 

I am looking forward to more in this series. Pixie and Dred were teased a bit in this one and will be the subject of the next book The Purest Hook.

ARC provided by author/publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

Brody “Cujo” Mathews lives his life haunted by the memory of his mother, who abandoned the family when Brody was young. He keeps his heart locked up tight so as not to feel the loss of someone so close again. His tattoos are where he expends his energy.

Planning his best friend’s engagement party isn’t top on Cujo’s list of things to do, but he loves Trent and wants the party to be a success. The challenge comes with working with Drea, the bride’s best friend. Drea and Cujo have a contentious relationship. They don’t see eye to eye on anything, and even the simplest decisions often end up with tempers flaring.

Andrea “Drea” Caron has no free time to speak of. Between caring for her mother and working as many hours as she can at her coffee shop job, the bills are barely being met let alone leaving time for college or dreams or a life of her own. When a late night at work lands her in danger, she has little choice but to turn to Cujo for help.

I liked watching these two interact. From their initial conflict filled meetings about the party, to Cujo’s insistence that Drea lean on him for protection (despite the fact that their peace was still fragile), these two had a lot going on. The worry over how things would change if they got together and then things went bad was always in the back of their heads because of the relationship between their best friends.

There was a lot going on in this storyline. Beyond the couple’s interactions and relationship, there was a mystery/suspense storyline that took up a lot of the characters’ attentions and at times became the primary plot. I liked trying to figure out where the danger was coming from and how all the pieces were connected, though I will admit that I had some major mysteries solved long before the characters.

There were times Drea’s actions had me crying out in frustration. Things that seemed common sense were neglected in favor of convenience. The story would not have had the same flow had she remembered to share certain information in a timely manner, but I was still pulling my hair out at her lack of concern at times.
Trent and Harper appear in the background as best friends of both main characters, as do the other members of the Second Circle Tattoo family. Pixie and Dred have the makings of their own story teased in the background. 
ARC provided by author/publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Strongest Steel (Second Circle Tattoos #1)
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Our 4.5 star reviews

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.


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.


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