Review: The Strongest Steel

Title:  The Strongest Steel
Author: Scarlett Cole
Published: July 7, 2015, St Martin's Press
Genre: Contemporary

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.

I picked up this book after Goodreads had this author up for best new author in 2015.  The synopsis looked good and I hoped the writing held up to the hype.  What I got is this wonderful story was a great deal of romance missed in with some suspense and some teary eyed pain for the characters.  So happy to have taken a chance on this author!

The story is written in alternating POV often times within the same chapter.  The author identified the switch with a break in the copy so it was not difficult to follow.  Trent and Harper come together over a heart breaking tragedy.  Slowly, Trent builds Harper’s trust and their relationship blossoms because of it.  Harper’s character development over the course of the story was inspiring.  She went from someone afraid of her shadow, to a woman very confident in her surroundings. 

I enjoyed the secondary characters in the story. The group of friends from both the tattoo shop and the coffee shop were entertaining in their own right.  It looks as though more of the gang may be hooking up in future books. I was intrigued with Harper’s brother’s story and I hope we get to meet him at some point. 

Overall, great first publication for this author.  Looking forward to what she brings us next.  

Scarlett Cole is a contemporary romantic suspense / contemporary romance author (represented by Beth Phelan at The Bent Agency). Her debut novel, THE STRONGEST STEEL, book one in the Second Circle Tattoos series, was published by St. Martin's Press on 07/07/15.

When Scarlett isn't writing, she spends her time reading, hoarding mason jars, and working out to off-set an epic sour candy habit. 

Having travelled the world for work and fun, Scarlett is a citizen of both Britain and Canada. A true city-dweller, she considers Toronto and Manchester home and likes to set her books in vibrant locations such as Miami and Los Angeles.

If you want to know more about Scarlett's books, visit her at:


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