ARC REVIEW: The Strongest Steel by Scarlett Cole (Second Circle Tattoos #1)


The Strongest Steel (Second Circle Tattoos #1)
Author: Scarlett Cole
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Suspense
Release Date: July 7th 2015
Published By: St. Martin’s Publishing


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.


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So it has taken me two full days after reading The Strongest Steel to get beyond sitting here, staring at my cursor flashing and just saying “Wow” to myself, every time I think of this book. I couldn’t even sum up appropriate descriptors to tell you how much I loved this book. Pretty sure I’ve found myself a new series, because I’m already over here wanting to jump on a couch like Tom Cruise in excitement for the next book.

Our hero and heroine could not be better matched. I feel they are perfect for each other. Not -perfect- themselves, but for each other. These two are far from it and have their own hangups and pasts to deal with. I’ve decided not to go into in depth descriptions of each character because I’d probably wax on about both of them for a good while. It’s rare for me to like both the hero and a heroine in a book equally, though… Trent and Harper do that for me. I definitely have to give props to Ms. Cole on that front, she has written some amazing characters. Not only our main two, but the whole cast and co-stars.

Harper has not had and easy four years and she’s basically walked through hell. I found my jaw dropping while reading this book and what she went through. She instantly won me over. Harper isn’t a character that is so into her self that she’ll annoy you, or goes overboard on the “I can’t be with you because of A. B. and C.”, she has her reasons and they are very well supported.

Trent is… can we insert a big sigh here? Please? Maybe a bucketful of them? What I loved most about him is that he accepts Harper for exactly who she is. He doesn’t look at her with sympathy or treat her like she’s broken because of her past. The best way I can think to put it is that he doesn’t try to “fix” her. Most heroes you read about, if something is wrong with the heroine, they go in and try to make everything perfect and better. Trent is more focused -on- Harper herself, then the situation that led her to him. He has his own past, of course, and things that have happened that make him leery of women in general, but he doesn’t let it stand in his way.

When Harper’s past comes back to try to bite her all over again, she and Trent make a united front. He doesn’t slink off when he finds out everything, or try to coddle her. She decides to take her life back, and fight. She’s put down roots and found a man she can love, she’s not about to let her ex take things from her again.

So, all in all, would I recommend this book? Yes, and yes again. When I went to rate it, I originally put it as a four star, then stopped myself and asked, “Why four?”. Well, why indeed. I went over every single thing in my head and for me The Strongest Steel is a five star book. The connections in this book  alone are magical and it was a joy to read it. I went through it so fast and was so engrossed that I didn’t even snag anything to use as quotes. I also poured over tons of photos to do a graphic and that wasn’t happening either, because nothing seems spot on for me. As I said before, I can’t wait for the next book in the series. When it finally comes out, I’ll probably run around my house screaming like my hair is on fire.  (I’m not exaggerating there either.)


NetGalley ARC post


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