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.
I absolutely loved everything about The Strongest Steel, from how well the plot flowed to the well developed, and extremely likeable characters and couldn’t wait to get my hands on the next book and I found The Fractured Heart to be just as amazing, if not better than the first in series. Once I started I was totally hooked and had an extremely difficult time putting it down.
Cujo aka Brody had been the guy that interested me the most in The Strongest Steel, he was charming, sexy had a wicked sense of humor and a protective streak a mile wide and I loved seeing all that more in this book. Learning about his past and what made him tick had me wanting to give him a hug, even as I wanted to Gibbs smack him, because of the cage he’d put himself in. Were his issues warranted and heartbreaking? Yes, but after witnessing him with his nieces I could see the man he could be if only he let himself.
Drea, spunky, sassy, determined and, outside of Cujo, I swear has the patience of a saint. Going into this I knew her life was not all wine and roses, though the woman put on a great front, but good God what she goes through with her mother truly has me wanting to nominate her for sainthood because while she wished her life had turned out differently, she never whined about it outloud. There may have been a pity party or two going on in her head, but she kept it there and did what was necessary to make ends meet, even when the floor gave out from under her.
There was no denying that sparks would fly, sexual or otherwise, when Cujo and Drea occupied the same space, nor that they’d face quite a few bumps in the road considering that they had both put themselves in their own forms of purgatory, so to be able to witness them coming to terms with not only how they felt about each other, but themselves through the process, was a true delight. Each step, whether it be heartwrenchingly painful or sweet and sexy, proved that they are definitely better together.
As with the first book, I felt that the writing was engaging and flowed well and I loved how the characters, both main and secondary, came to life on the page. These are all people that you can believe are a tight knit group of friends, and family, and I want to spend time with them and get to know better as the series progresses, but what I think was actually done better in this book than in the first is the whole mystery/suspense aspect of it. The abduction of the woman from the cafe and the various twists and turns that came out of it were tighter and really added another layer to Cujo and Drea’s story, both to show the kind of people they are as well as help their relationship evolve, because they were intimately involved in it from the beginning. Now, I have to admit that I figure a few things out, but I loved the anticipation of waiting to see when everyone else would and what their reactions were going to be.
The Bottom Line: This series is just getting better with each book and I can’t wait to see what Ms. Cole has in store for Dred and Pixie!
~ ARC provided by St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review ~
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.