Review: The Strongest Steel by Scarlett Cole

Review: The Strongest Steel by Scarlett ColeThe Strongest Steel by Scarlett Cole
on July 7, 2015
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Series: Second Circle Tattoos #1
Published by St. Martin's
Source: NetGalley

Copy for review provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


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.

This book completely surprised me right from the get go. This is a debut and everyone knows that these can be a total roll of the dice. You never know if you’re going to hit the jackpot or go completely belly up. I’m happy to say I hit the jackpot with this one. I was barely 40 pages into this and I was already messaging Mandy and Maria because I was so excited that it was already so good.

It’s hard for me to put my finger on exactly what it was about this book that struck a chord with me. It was a really well-written story. The author made me feel everything the characters were feeling and she did it in such a subtle way. Harper is running from her ex. She has completely changed her location, her name and her profession to stay hidden away. She doesn’t have relationships and she doesn’t trust anyone. Trent is a tattoo artist who built his business from the ground up with his best friend Cujo. He struggles with feeling like he’s “enough” and therefore he doesn’t do relationships either.

From the very beginning, the development of their relationship was just so different because of Harper’s past. Their first real interaction when she goes into Trent’s tattoo parlor looking for help just killed me. Trent could see right away that Harper was different and he was going to need to tread cautiously. He was just so careful with her and so in tune and sensitive to her situation and needs that it made it even better. Their dance around each other created a huge buildup that just really worked for me. Every simple touch or glance meant a lot and carried the relationship to another level.

I loved how Harper slowly comes out of her shell and realizes that she deserves to live a full life and that she can have that with Trent. She really comes to realize that there’s more than meets the eye with Trent and a lot of her preconceived notions from her old life are blown away when she gets to know him. The supporting characters were great too. I loved the interaction between Cujo and Harper’s friend Drea. I’m glad to see they are getting a book. I also feel like there’s some mystery surrounding Harper’s brother. I really hope that we see what happens with him in the future.

There’s so much more that I don’t even want to go into too much detail for fear of totally spoiling the little nuances that made this such a great book. I highly recommend checking it out for yourself and  I really look forward to reading more from Scarlett Cole.






About Scarlett Cole

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, will be 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.