Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Darkest Link by Scarlett Cole

When her car breaks down off the side of a lonely highway far from her sunny Miami home, tattoo artist Lia never expected her very own white knight to ride up on the back of a barely street-legal motorcycle...and she never expected to fall for her dark savior. After a string of failed relationships and a bruised heart, Lia is not looking for forever, and the hot mechanic, with his sexy scruff and shaggy hair, is simply impossible to resist and the perfect candidate for a mind-blowingly-perfect, no-strings-attached one night stand.

Reid left his life in Chicago far behind him and hasn't been back, but he's never been able to escape the guilt he feels about his own painful role in inviting a monster into his baby sister's life. A monster who almost destroyed her. Being with Lia is an unexpected gift, one he doesn't feel he deserves, and their one night together has him wanting more than he should. When he surprises her at her tattoo studio, Second Circle Tattoos, in Miami, he's in for a shock - and a fist to the face - when his past and present collide.

With secrets coming to the surface, Reid and Lia are thrown into a world of betray and lies that threatens to pull them under, and the last link to his former life, may be the darkest of them all.

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Book 4
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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Reid and Lia’s story is a perfect conclusion to a fantastic series. With Harper’s brother’s book, the series ends with the story we’ve all been waiting for from the first book. Reid, a troubled blue collar mechanic, is a perfect but unlikely match for reluctant society girl, Lia, with her famous father, family money, and retro pinup beauty.

Lia is one of the most original leading ladies I’ve read in a very long time. The debutante turned tattoo artist is both classy and fierce. With every description of her car, her outfits, and her makeup, I developed a growing girl crush. Every time she opened her mouth, I fell a little more in love.

Reid is possibly not quite as memorable as Lia, but who can’t resist a strong brooding hero running from his past and making amends by working with troubled youth? Together these two are all fire and I thoroughly enjoyed their interactions.

My only reservations about this story lay with the suspense elements of the plot and Lia’s interactions with her family. At times I felt these parts of the story were more dramatic than believable and actually detracted from the wonderfully original romance.

As the concluding book in the series, all of the characters are present and all loose ends are tied up. The author also offers a teaser from the first book in a spinoff series that had me very excited. I read this series back to back while on holiday and I absolutely loved it. I can’t recommend these books highly enough.

Book #4 in the series of Second Circle Tattoo and this one is Lia's book. Really enjoying this series, we have lots of intertwined stories here and it's pretty cool to have it unfold book by book. Lia is a politician's daughter and she's everything her daddy wishes she wasn't, including surviving birth instead of her twin brother. But mostly, someone her father can't control. Her tattoos, job at Second Circle, and Bettie Page style are not conducive to her father's political aspirations. Lia just wants to be who she is and not get caught up in her family's issues.

While Lia is en route to a tattoo convention to give a speech on her specialty style tattoo, American Traditional a la Sailor Jerry, her classic Pontiac breaks down on the on the highway.

Reid is heading home from a long day at the garage and sees Lia and her Cherry (her Pontiac) on the side of the highway and decides to help a damsel in distress. Sparks fly between the two and Lia hopes the hot biker, mechanic is just what she needs to take the edge off and have some fun.

I thought Reid and Lia made a great couple and really enjoyed their funny banter. Reid calling her "babe" cracked me up. My reading group has a long time issue with the overuse of the term and I thought it was funny how Lia hated the endearment but Reid loved to use it on her. Lia's crazy father proves himself quite the bad guy and a twist brings back into play Harper's attacker, Reid's old best friend. Perfect full circle on that storyline.

Wow! This book packs a punch. The previous three books in the series have been excellent, no doubts at all...but this somehow tied up a number of links, gave us a new seedy mystery, and another wonderful romance. My review is based on the assumption that you have read the previous books, if not, then you should go and remedy that straight away!

I love that we get to see all the members of the Second Circle and how times have moved on for them – and the final scenes are perfect. Although I knew that we had to address Harper's issues with her brother for her to fully heal, I almost wished I hadn't known who Reid was from the blurb, as I was worried for Lia and the impact on her. It wasn't too long to wait, thankfully, and there were plenty of other issues to deal with instead! I love the level of tension that Ms. Cole can create, and the way that her characters deal with disaster.

So amidst a lot of heart searching for problems that life had thrown them already, these two manage to change an amazing one night with no strings, into something pretty amazing, and delicious. Lucky readers!

Cannot wait to see what the future holds for the gang.

As the final book in the series, The Darkest Link should not be read as a standalone as it brings the series full circle in its conclusion. If you have read all of the previous books in the Second Circle Tattoos series, you’ll realize the full implications of this about 25% into the book. At least that’s when I did, and it was an “Oh, shhhhiii…” moment, which is probably a milder thought compared to Reid’s when he receives the fist to the face that is referenced in the blurb. But that’s merely the beginning of the suspense elements in the book, and after the connection has been made between Reid and Lia, repeatedly. Yum!

Cole has done a wonderful job balancing the romance and suspense in this series, and even as she revs up the suspense in the final installment, she doesn’t neglect the romance between Reid and Lia at all. I will admit to being a bit thrown by the first few pages of the book. I couldn’t figure out who Julianna was or why we would be interested in someone throwing their hat into the ring for governor – which, as a Florida resident, I know can become an ugly race, especially as the Republican candidates try to prove just how conservative they can be. As I put the pieces together, I knew I was in for a wild ride, and that was before Lia even met Reid. What a mess that was. Even as I felt Lia’s pain when her car died, stranding her on the side of the road under the Florida sun (kudos on the umbrella as shade maneuver – I’ve done that a time or twenty), I’m kind of miffed that my rescuers have never been a hot as heck motorcycle man. Lia is a lucky girl, at least in that respect, which is good because having Reid by her side goes a long way in helping her make it through everything that is thrown at her. And there is a LOT. But Reid has his own ugly past to deal with and when it gets too close, he, like every other bullheaded alpha male in this series, tries to push Lia away to keep her safe. Thank goodness she’s seen her pals go through the same kind of protective malarkey, so she doesn’t hold it against him, too much.

I suspect there will those who say that some of the events in the novel are unrealistic, but politics is a nasty business (look up hanging chad) and people have committed far worse atrocities for positions of less power than the one that is up for grabs in The Darkest Link. Even knowing this, I was still surprised by the way things played out – not because they were unbelievable, but because it wasn’t at all what I expected was occurring. I loved how Cole tied all the books together in this installment and provided answers to questions I had forgotten were still unanswered from the beginning. It gives the series a sense of closure that is realistic without being oversimplified or all tied up with an implausibly perfect bow. While there are a few unanswered questions from this installment, they’re the kind that make it clear that life goes on for the characters – who will get married next, where is this couple going to call home, what does the future hold for Lia’s career. Not cliffhanger questions, just questions that leave you wondering what the future has in store for characters you’ve come to love and hold dear. I can only hope that we might get an occasional tidbit of news or cameos in Cole’s spinoff series, Preload. After all, with Dred comes Pixie and Inked, so surely there will be some crossover. Either way, I’m already looking forward to getting my grabby hands on Jordan Reclaimed because if the Preload series is half as good as Second Circle Tattoos has been, it’s gonna be a blast!

Also Available in the Second Circle Tattoos Series

Book 1
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca

For reviews & more info, check out The Strongest Steel post.

Book 2
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca

For reviews & more info, check out The Fractured Heart post.

Book 3
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca

For reviews & more info, check out The Purest Hook post.

Born in England, SCARLETT COLE traveled the world for business and pleasure, living in the United States before settling in Canada where she met her own personal hero. Now a proud Canadian and British citizen, home is wherever her husband and two children are. When she isn’t writing, Scarlett can be found working out to offset a legendary candy habit, searching for the perfect pair of shoes, and promising her family that she will get around to cooking dinner in a minute.

Connect with Scarlett

Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Website  ~  Goodreads


Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of The Darkest Link (Second Circle Tattoos #4) by Scarlett Cole to read and review.

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