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 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. Especially since she doesn’t know the truth about his past. However, when he finds Lia’s bracelet in his bed, he has the perfect excuse to drive down and surprise her at her tattoo studio, Second Circle Tattoos, in Miami. He’s in for an even bigger shock – and a fist to the face – when his past and present collide in the humid Miami weather when he runs into the last person he’d ever expect to see in a tattoo studio: Harper, the sister he betrayed, and the last link to his former life.
Lia has been quite the curiosity for me since I read the first book in the Second Circle Tattoos series. She’s been a friend and confident to nearly every other character in the series so it’s about time Lia got her own book.
At nearly 30 years old, Lia has a beautiful home that she owns outright, plenty of money thanks to an inheritance from her grandmother, and a growing reputation as one of Miami’s premiere tattoo artist. In fact, it’s the growth of her reputation that has Lia on the road out of Miami for a conference when her beloved classic car, affectionately known as Cherry fails her and leaves her stranded on the side of the road. There are few things in the world Lia loves more than Cherry but a hot man on a motorcycle coming to her rescue might just edge out Cherry J
When Reid sees the sexy as hell tatted up pin up girl stranded along the side of the road, well, what else could a gentleman who owns a garage do but stop and offer his assistance? It’s immediately clear to Reid that Lia’s engine isn’t going to spark to life but the spark of attraction between the two of them is at risk of setting the surrounding area on fire. Over the next couple of days, Lia and Reid grow far closer to one another than either would have thought possible in such a short amount of time. As their time together grows shorter and Lia has to return to Miami, she and Reid both find they don’t really want to be away from one another.
Meanwhile, back in Miami . . . .
Lia’s life is in Miami but it’s not where she was born and raised. Oh, no, Lia’s family is from an incredibly affluent community owing to their incredible wealth. But, money doesn’t by happiness as Lia well know. Her mother is disconnected and fragile at best and her father is a sadistic tyrant in private with political aspirations that force him to wear a far different persona in public. Lia’s father has long made his displeasure in her well-known but with his political career taking off, he’s interested in bringing her back into the fold. All she has to do is have every one of her tattoos surgically removed, stop dressing like a pin up girl, and keep her opinions to herself. In other words, if Lia wants her family, she’ll have to deny everything she is. Needless to say, being with Reid who not only accepts her as she is but celebrates who she is, is the strength she needs to fight her father and stand on her own.
Reid isn’t just scared of his feelings for Lia, he is scared for her safety when she is near him. Reid has a past that has finally, finally caught up to him and though he desperately wants to be with Lia, he doesn’t want her hurt because of his mistakes. As the stakes keep getting higher and higher both Reid and Lia have to make some hard decisions about their respective futures. It’s only when they both figure out they are stronger together than apart that they are able to deal with their issues and get on with their HEA.
The Bottom Line: As I mentioned in the beginning, Lia has been a point of curiosity for me from the very beginning and I am so damn glad her story is so engrossing. Lia’s personality, her bearing, her determination, her confidence, and her full on sexy are so well-developed which makes Lia a very full, very real character. Reid is a wonderful balance to Lia. Where she is light, he is dark, where she is outgoing, he is more reserved and it is these differences that make them so good together. Reid and Lia are two somewhat older individuals (compared to the rest of the cast and crew) and I liked this level of maturity. Both have been around the relationship but still open to the possibility of love even if it comes at lightning speed. The naughty bits are quite excellent and there is more than enough drama and awful in this read to balance the light and sexy. In this way, the plot very much mirrors the characters which certainly enhanced the read. Though I can see places where this series might continue, I would also be totally and completely satisfied if it were to end here, with The Darkest Link!
Excerpt from The Darkest Link (Book #4: Second Circle Tattoo Series):
“What is this?” she asked, running her hand over the elongated hood.
“A 1958 Ford Thunderbird. It was a shell when I bought it. Was found in an unused barn with a bunch of other old classics.”
The wheels were black with white faces, and the soft top was a creamy white. Reflections from the chrome cast light onto the white walls.
“I love it,” she said, excited to sit inside.
“Hood up or down?” Kenny asked, slipping her cases into the trunk.
“Oh, most definitely down,” Lia said. Screw the victory rolls, she could always put her hair into a high ponytail and add the red ribbon she had in her purse if her scarf failed. She reached into her bag to find it and tied it around her head.
“I like this,” Kenny said, fingering the knot under her chin gently. The way his eyes crinkled at the corners made her feel all kinds of gooey inside. Perhaps it was a good thing they lived a long drive away from each other. His very presence made it difficult to remember why she was taking some time off from men. But a little harmless flirtation was adding to the adventure of a few days off work. There couldn’t be any harm in that.
Once inside the car, Kenny took her hotel details and plugged them into his phone. “There are few downsides to the classics, but lack of sat-nav has to be one,” he said, turning the radio on. “Ready?”
“I feel like Thelma and Louise about to drive over the edge of the cliff,” she said with a laugh.
“Close. That was a 1966 Ford Thunderbird, eight years younger than this baby. Does that make me J.D.?”
“That depends. Are you planning on driving me to a motel, having your wicked way with me on the dresser, then stealing my life savings?”
“I know a motel, don’t know if they have a dresser, but more than willing to do a drive-by to find out.”
Lia laughed. “I was joking.”
“I wasn’t. Say the word, Red.”
He revved the engine several times, the low growl sexy as all hell, and grinned as he roared out onto the street. Lia watched his hand as he shifted the stick. He caressed the gear stick. The more she stared, the more turned on she became until she had to cross her legs and look out of the window.
Damn him for getting her so hot and bothered. She spared a glance back toward him, just as he turned to face her. And he winked. Because he knew.
And that just turned her on even more.