An emotional love story that follows the touch-and-go relationship of Hayden and Tenley; two young people who desperately want to love and be loved but are afraid to completely let go of their pasts.
As Hayden and Tenley navigate their newfound but slightly unstable relationship, they want to trust each other, but Hayden is hiding a dark and shameful past that he doesn’t ever want Tenley to find out about. And Tenley has secrets of her own that could make Hayden run away forever. When Tenley asks Hayden to put a beautifully elaborate tattoo across her back, the two form what they thought was an unshakeable bond. But when Tenley’s past shows up on her doorstep, will Hayden stand by her side…or run?
I fell in love with these characters when I read the prequel, Cupcakes and Ink. Check out my review here. There was just something about this story that had me feel for them and stay up late reading about them. Let me say first that I don’t have any tattoos, or piercings, outside of my ears. I held off reading the unpublished version for awhile because I didn’t think I could relate or want to picture the characters in my head, especially the male character. This story changed my perception. I noticed in this version, that Hayden’s tattoos and especially his piercings weren’t described the same way, or maybe it was that it wasn’t put in my face in every scene. All I know is that I see him as an artist first and an intense, inked man second.
As for Tenley Page, she has this vulnerability that I could relate to, but then I saw her hidden strength and thought wow, she could really get better and get past all her pain and guilt. She is also very smart, getting your master’s degree is not an easy thing to do, and what she chose to study is very cool. I did feel like she was using Hayden in the beginning though.
That’s the thing about this story that surprised me, both times even. The power of love and a connection that heals. In the beginning, Tenley holds out on herself. Distancing herself from Hayden, because in her mind, why would he want her? Hayden sees through her vulnerability and wants to help her be the woman that she is meant to become.
“But there’s still gratification in the pain, yeah?”
I nodded, even if I couldn’t be sure how I agreed with that statement. Hayden must have pick up on my certainty.
“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 in some form or another. My tattoos give the memory related to the art, a place to exist outside of my head, on my body. At least that’s my interpretation, but not everyone feels the same way I do.”
Expelling pain by giving in to it held quite the allure. The reasons I wanted to put my own art on my skin were difficult to reconcile. I swiped at the inked droplet of blood, almost expecting to feel wetness against my fingertip.
Hayden Stryker will be a serious contender for the top spot on my favorite book boyfriend this year. I just love his thought processes when it comes to Tenley and his past. His history is dark let me tell you. He is intense, and feels things when he is with her, that he can’t ignore. He won’t back down and he’s not scared of fighting for her. That, my friend, is what I love about him, not necessarily his physical attributes, though I can’t ignore them anymore than Tenley can. I mean, he is beautiful.
“Everyone has scars, Tenley. If we’re lucky, they’re only on the outside.”
Helena definitely knows how to write chemistry. You can feel it in the beginning when they are just getting to know each other. The UST is off the charts. Hayden wants to see Tenley’s tattoo design, but every time he interacts with her, she becomes more elusive.
“Have you seen the design?” I asked.
“No. But I almost convinced her to bring it by so you could have a look. Then you ruined it when you got all up in her space and tried to dry hump her.”
“I didn’t try to dry hump her.”
“You would have if there hadn’t been witnesses present.” It was hard to argue, given my current issue. “I wasn’t intentionally a dick.”
“I’ll see Tenley tomorrow and do damage control. If I can get her to agree to bring the design over, you have to promise you’ll keep your hands to yourself.”
“You do realize that won’t be possible if I’m putting ink on her, right?”
“So am I.”
Lisa shook her head. “I don’t know why I even bother with you. It’s like herding a cat.”
I laughed. She wasn’t wrong. When it came to walking the line, I didn’t have much patience. People stuck to social codes because they worried about what other people might think. I didn’t give a shit. Mostly. There were a select few whose opinion impacted my decisions. Cassie’s was one and Lisa’s was another. For that reason, I would try to be on my best behavior where Tenley was concerned, but I couldn’t guarantee I’d be successful.
In spite the story being told from both Tenley and Hayden’s point of view, the secondary characters are definitely not window dressing. They all have value and are writing in a way that made me paid attention to them in every scene.
It’s Jamie, Lisa and Chris that try to get Hayden to have some control when it comes to Tenley. There are rules about getting involved with a client. Hayden understands the whys, but Tenley knows that when she connects with Hayden, there is no going back. She is the one that pushes the boundaries, and she was right. The heat that came off my Kindle when they finally do come together was CRAZY. I loved it!
I can’t wait to read Inked Armor because I have invested my heart and mind into these people and I want to see what is going to happen next. There’s no going back now…
**I was given an ARC of this book for an honest review from Netgalley. The excerpts are from that copy.**
I give this book 5 colorful stars and put it on my favorites and top-shelf-fantastic reads on Goodreads.
Tamie will be reviewing on Monday for the blog tour, and we’ll have a few other surprises to celebrate the release of Clipped Wings!