Donna Reads: The Purest Hook (Second Circle Tattoos #3)

hookThe Blurb: Can a love built on secrets survive?

Rugged, hot, and rock hard, Dred Zander is exactly the type of man that normally sends Pixie running. Not dreaming about running her hands down his washboard abs…and lower. The lead singer and guitarist for the band Preload embodies trouble behind his quick smile and guarded eyes, and Pixie left trouble behind her years ago along with the name Sarah Jane Travers and the pathetic trailer her mom called home. With her abusive past in her past, she has a new life, a new family at Second Circle, and a dream of opening her own business. She needs capital and time. What she doesn’t need is a tempting long-haired rocker or the paparazzi that follow him around.

But Dred has other ideas. Pixie’s sweet hazel eyes, purple hair and kaleidoscopic tattoo of exotic flowers that swirl up her arm haunt his dreams, and he knows she wants him too. He just has to convince her. But as a juicy exposé threatens to expose their pasts, and a blackmailer terrorizes their present, Pixie and Dred have to decide what really matters and fight like hell to keep it.

I think I’ll put Scarlett Cole and her books aside for a while. I really didn’t care for this one. After the teasers about Dred in the first two books, I wanted something different for his story. Pixie I didn’t really care one way or another about. After reading this book, I think her character deserved better, too.

I don’t think it’s possible for Ms. Cole to write a book without adding a lot of unnecessary drama to the story. In this one we had child abuse, drug addiction and overdose deaths, drug addicted babies born out of wedlock, stalking, blackmail, physical abuse, and a whole bunch of messed up characters walking around pretending to be normal people. Seriously? It isn’t possible or even remotely realistic that people would be this messed up. Not all of them. All the main characters in her books have issues galore. Reading her books just makes me angry. I skim and can’t wait to get past the nonsense parts of the plot. There are glimmers of good sprinkled here and there, but they are too few and far between.

I know I’m in the minority – lots of people love her books. I think I’ll skip the fourth and final book in the series. I just don’t care enough to bother. Ms. Cole’s next planned series of books will be about Dred’s band and his bandmates. The way I feel after finishing this one, I think I’ll skip those, too. It’s time for me to read something by a different author that doesn’t annoy me this much.

Image and blurb from Goodreads

Donna Reads: The Fractured Heart (Second Circle Tattoos #2)

heartThe Blurb: 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 struggled through the first book in the series, but I liked Drea and Brody (the best friends in the first book) enough to want to see how their story would play out. I flew through this one and couldn’t put it down. I really, really, really liked Brody. He was a hero who was real and memorable (not like Trent in book #1). And the cover? While hot, the guy does not look like Brody. Brody had blond hair and only his right arm was tattooed. He added one to the right bicep late in the story. Drea’s character was okay, but she did a lot of very stupid (and dangerous) things. I do think Brody was too good for her. There also wasn’t a lot of mystery to this one for me. I figured who the abducted woman was by 60% of the way through. Parts of this book were far-fetched and silly. Brody jokingly called Drea ‘Velma’ a couple of times – a Scoobie Doo reference. That wasn’t so far off of the mark. Some of her actions were that ridiculous.

What bothered me the most about this one was the needless grammatical errors and timeline mistakes. Did anyone proofread this book? I’d have given it an excellent rating if someone had. Characters would start talking, and it wasn’t obvious who was speaking. I had to re-read passages several times sometimes when I guessed wrong and it made no sense. The missing woman is referred to as ‘L.A.’ and then is suddenly called ‘Lynn Alexander’ with no explanation. Then several pages later someone calls to tell them her name is ‘Lynn Alexander’ and to say she works for him, as if he was revealing the name for the very first time. There were also things left hanging at the end. The missing woman’s boss was on a plane on his way, it’s hinted at that he can’t be trusted, but he never shows up. Instead of shooting Drea, one of the bad guys lets her go at the last minute and says it was because he had a daughter born on the same date as her. Let me guess. He’s going to turn out to be her long-lost, missing father. (Facepalm).

Image and blurb from Goodreads

Donna Reads: The Strongest Steel (Second Circle Tattoos #1)

steelThe Blurb: 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.

This is the first book I’ve read by Scarlett Cole. I believe it was also her first novel. I had a hard time getting through this one. It was so slow. I actually put it aside and read two other (faster paced) more interesting books before I could sit and finish this one. I liked the story although I didn’t care for the stalker aspect at all. I would’ve been happier if it had just been about the love story and Harper learning to trust again. I also had a hard time liking the hero. I wanted him to be different somehow. At times he seemed wimpy to me even though he did MMA training in a cage. He didn’t seem tough enough for that. I didn’t like the second person voice; it was lacking in description at times. Thinking back now, I couldn’t even tell you what Trent looked like other than extremely tall, dark and handsome. What color were his eyes? I don’t know. It didn’t stick with me. Since this story was so slowly told, it seemed at times like it would never end. When the story finally limped to its conclusion, Harper is the one who gets the bad guy. I kind-of wanted Trent to do that for her. I wanted him to do something other than love her and create an awesome tattoo. If he was that much man, he seemed a little wasted here. Harper spent three-quarters of the story worrying about his safety. Who was the guy here?

Image and blurb from Goodreads