Series: Second Circle Tattoos #2
Published by Swerve on January 5th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction, Romance
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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.
Drea is a beautiful, loving, feisty, hardworking girl whose biggest attribute is her heart. She will and does do anything she can for those that she loves. She’s been the one forced me make decisions since she was seventeen and is always prepared to fight for whatever she needs to do to make it. I enjoyed how sincere she was and her dedication to whatever cause she put her mind to. With that being said, her biggest downfall was her pride; not willing to accept help from anyone and always determined to go the distance alone.
“I don’t need—” She stopped.
“You don’t need what.” He walked toward her. “This, me, us? Let me tell you something. I want to stay away from you. But I can’t. I just can’t fucking do it, Drea.”
I get this is because she never had someone to count on in the past but it still hurt to read. With the help of Cujo, Trent, Harper and the rest of the gang, Drea’s character growth was phenomenal.
Cujo is all in all a great guy. Whether it’s for Trent, Drea or Harper, he is protective almost to a fault. He loves those closest to him and will do absolutely anything to help anyone. He’s tall, built, blond, has tattoos and an even bigger heart. And how he acts with his nieces and when Drea needs him? SWOON! Knight in shining armour, here to save the day type guy, all while looking like a bad ass.
“Cujo hopped on one foot, trying to get his boot off. He had the body of a Chippendale dancer, the looks of a male model, and the grace of a drunken hippopotamus. All six and a half feet of him making a complete fool of himself all for her.”
One of my favourite parts of the main character’s relationship is when they grow from friends to lovers. Between the flirty moments and stolen smiles, I would’ve liked to see this drawn out with Drea and Cujo. Yes they met during The Strongest Steel, but we only had small glimpses of them and some of it was hostile. Then at the beginning of is story, their relationship changes quickly and we didn’t get as much of this stage.
I loved the playful banter between our hero and heroine, and enjoyed how it carried through the novel. It was consistent, believable and funny. It was also refreshing to have both the main characters completely misjudge the other. They had met through their best friends but had never spent much time together, and just started to assume things about the other and their life. Having each come to this realization was enlightening and I think it was the push to really see the other in a different light, that ultimately began the relationship.
“When she stopped being mad at the world and him, when she let herself be vulnerable for a moment, he found it hard to stand by his decision to stay away. There was something addictive about her. While apart, he’d found himself thinking about her. Thinking about how good it might be.”
There were times during the book where Drea made some rather questionable decisions and at the time I didn’t really understand why. Reflecting back in it a few days later, it makes complete sense to me! She’s been so lost for ten years that she has no idea who she is. She made these decisions based on having no idea what to do, other than follow her intuition. Sure some of them may not have been great but when you don’t know who to count on, you always have to trust yourself. Even if it ends up being the wrong decision in the future, if you can’t trust yourself, you can’t trust anyone.
The part of this book that I didn’t like had to do with the environmental storyline. Don’t get me wrong, I really liked the concept, but I feel like if you don’t have a knowledge base in this matter is can become a grey area. I understood most of if but I have researched some of these topics in the past. I think to someone else it can become confusing and they may not care as much to read about this while intertwined into a romance novel. Just a thought. With this storyline, there were also several other characters introduced and to be honest I had a hard time keeping track of everyone and separating them in my mind. I think there were too many additional characters added just for this concept to fit, and it became confusing and slightly frustrating at times.
There were a lot of different events all jam packed into this story. Drea’s dealing with Rosa, Cujo dealing with Lynn, and then all of the environmental storyline on top of that seemed to become a little too much. I think I would have enjoyed it more if it was the first two vs the last, or just something a bit less to give time to the other two; then developed that idea for The Fractured Heart. The big ending all seemed to happen in the last chapter. I’m glad it was dealt with, but before I started it I couldn’t figure out how things were going to all tie up in one chapter. I still do have one unresolved question from the ending, but at this point I think it was left open for interpretation. After all of this, the epilogue was the perfect bow on top to finish the story! Cute, fun and heart warming, I really enjoyed the ending to their story and beginning of their future.
In the same fashion to The Strongest Steel, The Fractured Heart is written in third person as a dual POV. The written is fresh and full of emotion and depth. I cannot get over how much I love her style! Anything that you could ever want, she’ll produce. It’s enjoyable to read, concise and stays true to the characters every time.
“Because your hair smells of strawberries, because I won the jackpot the day I met you, because you’re addictive, and every day I count my lucky stars I got the chance to love you.… If only for a little while.”
Overall I enjoy the concept of the story and feel a few small things could have been changed to have a different impact. As a part of The Sisterhood of The Travelling Book Boyfriends, it’s no secret we like to focus on the hero and his relationship with the heroine. Here, it worked. I loved Cujo and Drea together, the stories they shared and the life they built. This is a great series with fantastic characters and even better writing, now we just need to wait for Pixie’s book! Can’t wait to hear her story.