Part of a series? Yes.
Category/Genre: Contemporary Romance, Adult, Suspense Romance.
Publisher: St Martin’s
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 received this book via Netgalley for an honest review.
This is the second book in the Second Circle Tattoos series. The first book, The Strongest Steel, is probably one of my favorite books read in 2015 so obviously I was eager to get the second book this time featuring Brody “Cujo” and Drea. Now, it’s time for me to debrief a little with you.
I don’t know if it’s because I had such high expectations or if I’m still recovering from the end of the year celebrations, but this book doesn’t do it for me. I enjoyed reading it to a certain extent, but it’s nowhere near how I have felt while reading The Strongest Steel.
If you ask me, this book is more of a “suspense” book than a contemporary romance and while it could have been a thrill, I’m left feeling a bit uncertain as to the execution…
Believe me, I’m surprised I feel this way and it’s hard to explain without giving away spoilers so I’ll do my best.
You see, I really love Cujo and Drea so I think it saved this story for me otherwise I’d have had a hard time finishing it. Cujo has a lot going on in this book between his building feelings for Drea, his hangups regarding some events from his past and a “thing” from his past coming back suddenly. I understand that and I understand this character but… I felt nothing while reading! He is feeling a lot of things and it’s not developed. The same goes for Drea. I’m afraid that the whole suspense aspect of the plot takes up all the space.
Speaking of the suspense, while I see the nice tropes that could have been used to keep me on the edge, the whole thing is rather wonky. Drea is ALWAYS at the right place and the right time to see something or someone and get things rolling. I can buy it once, but several times? I’m sorry, but that’s when I can’t suspend disbelief anymore. And the same goes for the whole thing near the end! In the end, nothing much happens. And I didn’t fear for Drea or Cujo. (Even when I should).
Now, let me go back to the romance between Drea and Cujo. Considering what we know of them two going in, I expected them to be a bit more like cat and mouse in the beginning. The opening chapter is a blast, but then I find that they both get close easily. I’m not saying they jump on each other immediately, but they do a 180 rather quickly. I would have loved a slower burn, a real romance instead of all this suspense thrown in every few pages, pushing to the background the characterization at times, but also the whole issues Drea and Cujo have to overcome to be together.
For example, I find that Cujo easily pushes away Drea a couple of times and while it’s understandable why considering what he’s going through and what he went through at one time, but we don’t see him working things through in his head, we don’t see him struggle. We’re told.
Basically, I find the story stilted and without much emotions for me to feel. There are everything to make this novel unforgettable, but unfortunately it’s a bit of a miss for me contrary to the first book.
But, I will read the next installment and maybe with less expectations which should prevent me from being disappointed.
Don’t let my opinion stop you from reading this book because I’m pretty sure many of you will enjoy this novel. There are things to enjoy and some littles things that make you want to read the next chapter. I just wish The Fractured Heart had the same impact on me as the first book.