Cupcakes and Ink by Helena Hunting
The prequel to Clipped Wings, this emotional tale follows Hayden and Tenley as they struggle to let go of their pasts and maintain an emotionally safe distance from each other.
Tenley Page is looking for a new start: a new city, a new apartment, a new life. Her plan is to keep to herself and stay focused. But leaving her past behind and starting over isn’t as easy as she thought. And neither is maintaining her solitude. As Tenley settles into her new surroundings, she finds herself drawn to Inked Armor, the tattoo studio across the street. But it’s the gorgeous, dark-haired tattoo artist who captures her interest. There’s something about his severe beauty that captivates her—and not just in her waking hours.
Covered in the ink he inscribes on other people’s skin, Hayden Stryker has made a career out of being a tattooist. He’s got his own business and a tight circle of friends. As far as he’s concerned, that’s all he needs. At least until his aunt, who owns the antiques and used book store across from his tattoo studio, hires a new employee. At first his intrigue is based on physical appeal; hot chick equals something nice to look at. But as he begins to catch glimpses of the fiery personality under the fragile, feminine exterior, his fascination with Tenley grows. Annoyed by his inability to control his fixation, Hayden decides the best way to cure him of the new obsession is to get to know the girl under her skittish façade.
But like the ink he wears as armor, Tenley has the ability to get under his skin and stay there.
Like the summary implies, we are getting just a glimpse of these amazing characters that Helena has created. Don’t let the fact that this book is a prequel, give you the thought that this might be an unnecessary read.
I loved the visual images that these characters are, and immediately felt a connection to them. Living in Chicago, where this story is based, I could totally picture where this neighborhood is. I wanted to stand at my window like Tenley, and look across the street to admire the view. When I moved to Chicago, I felt what she felt. Wanting to start fresh and leave my past behind, but also long for the familiarity of my home.
I glanced at the boxes beside the bookshelves. I’d been avoiding a few of them on purpose. The box of photo albums had been relegated to the closet in my bedroom. Inside the albums were snapshots of my life and all the people who had passed through it. I wasn’t ready to give them a home on the shelf, though. Instead I filled the shelves with books; texts from my undergrad studies, novels I loved. Books my mom had given me over the years.
When I was done, I stared at the empty space where the albums would go. Eventually I’d muster the courage to put them where they belonged. My whole apartment seemed to reflect that sense of vacancy, no matter how much stuff I filled it with. It made me anxious. I was alone here, with nothing and no one, which was how I’d thought I wanted it to be. But the ache inside was so overwhelming, it scared me sometimes. I had so much to miss, yet back in Arden Hills, the constant reminders had been a kind of torture.
The object of her admiration is Hayden, and Tenley describes him perfectly I think.
He was painfully gorgeous in a severe, atypical way. Just like I imagined he’d be. And that was just his face.
This story is not just told in Tenley’s point of view, we get a chance to be in Hayden’s head too. His thoughts of his life and how Tenley seems to keep showing up in it, is quite an interesting read. He is so intelligent and sensitive about what he does. He’s an artist first, before just applying tattoos.
That I knew her schedule should’ve been a tip-off that my plan was flawed. But denial was a funny thing. It allowed me to justify the images floating around in my head, not all of them lurid. They all contained Tenley, though. And if I was really honest with myself, which I rarely was, I didn’t want the illusion to break.
Because all of the sudden, my controlled, self-imposed exile didn’t seem all that appealing. For the first time in years, I wanted….something.
Anything. As long as it was real.
We also a get glimpse of the secondary characters that notice the growing attraction between Tenley and Hayden. I can’t wait to read more about what they will bring to the story.
Good news!! Next week, Feb 3rd, you can get your hands on or fill your e-readers with this incredible story. It’s available to pre-order here. It is the perfect taste into the world of Clipped Wings, which is coming out at the beginning of March. That is also available to pre-order here.
Tamie will be posting her review of Clipped Wings closer to publication. I can’t wait to hear her thoughts on this series. The third book Inked Armor is coming out in May 2014, and also available for pre-order here.
I give this book 5 severely beautiful stars, and put it on my “books-that-own-me” shelf on Goodreads. The first book this year I added to this shelf!
***I was given a copy of this book in advance from Netgalley for an honest review. The excerpts are from that copy.****