If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all. - Oscar Wilde
We shouldn't teach great books; we should teach a love of reading. - B. F. Skinner
No entertainment is so cheap as reading, nor any pleasure so lasting. - Mary Wortley Montagu

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Review: Hidden Scars by Amanda K. Byrne / @AmandaKByrne

Title: Hidden Scars
Series: Hidden Scars, Book 1
Author: Amanda K. Byrne
Publisher: Radiodemon Publishing
Release Date: September 22, 2015
Genre: Contemporary, Romance

Sometimes the past won’t stay where it belongs.

Sara’s number one rule of dating: closed off, secretive men need not apply. Years of therapy helped her move past the damage done by her emotionally abusive boyfriend, and she’s ready to date again. Someone funny, laid back, and easy to talk to. All things her coworker Taylor isn’t.

Taylor’s quiet. Too quiet. He operates in permanent stealth mode, and he hides his secrets as well as Sara does. She doesn’t want to be attracted to him, but after a night spent in a hotel room together, trapped by a blizzard, she can’t deny there’s a fire-hot connection between them, waiting to ignite. Their working relationship inches closer and closer to friendship, until one day she gathers her courage and kisses him.

It’s the match Taylor was waiting for.

What starts as a sweet, fumbling friendship quickly becomes a passionate and intense affair. Just when Sara’s starting to feel safe in Taylor’s arms, his secrets come out, and she wonders if she’ll ever be able to stop looking over her shoulder.

"Not all scars are visible." (Sara, ARC, Kindle, Loc 895)
Sara is the kind of woman I want to read about but am wary about getting to know. She's wound so tight because of her past yet she didn't strike me as paranoid. Just...cautious, careful. Her need to always feel safe is evident through most of this story though, I should stress, she isn't all about protecting only herself physically. The years spent under her ex's thumb left her heart firmly encased behind layers of stone and steel that seem damn near impenetrable.

Thank God for patient men though, right?

Patience is definitely Taylor's strong suit. A skill that made him useful to The Pretty Boys gang back home, it now serves him in getting to know Sara without intruding in her life much. He observes her, takes and files away mental notes about what he learns. He uses those to his advantage as he slowly, carefully, becomes a permanent fixture in Sara's life. And though his past is still just a phone call away, his resolve not to be that man again and to be the man Sara needs makes him strong enough to face it.

Taylor and Sara's relationship doesn't start off with a bang. There isn't an ounce of insta-love to be found in this book. Their relationship builds through dates and conversations, honest barings of their souls to one another as they work toward a future they want to have together. The road is rocky, littered with bumps and potholes and road blocks that, I think, would've sent a lesser man running. Sara is who Taylor wants and he refuses to give up, showing her every chance he has that he is not the ex who hurt her and that he will cherish what another man so easily abused. Taylor is who Sara craves and not just physically. His quiet presence soothes and comforts her while giving her the strength to trust and love him unconditionally.

This isn't like anything I've read lately. The amount of internal dialogue reminded me of Stay for Me by Carlene Love Flores. It's a substantial amount yet it doesn't resemble info dumping at all. The narrative gave incredible insight into what Taylor and Sara were thinking and feeling. With pasts such as theirs, the narrative was very much appreciated by this reader.

Taylor and Sara are two very well developed characters who are easy to like and love. Their story is paced slowly, their lives melding together over time. This is a great beginning to this series and I can't wait to read the books that will follow.

When she’s not plotting ways to sneak her latest shoe purchase past her partner, Amanda writes sexy, snarky romance and urban fantasy. She likes her heroines smart and unafraid to make mistakes, and her heroes strong enough to take them on.

If she’s not writing, she’s reading, drinking hot chocolate, and trying not to destroy her house with her newest DIY project. She lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, and no, it really doesn’t rain that much.

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