Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Pocket Star
Publication Date: 2/3/14
Rating: 4 stars
Tenley Page is looking for a new start: a new city, a new apartment, a new life. Her plan is to keep to herself and stay focused. But leaving her past behind and starting over isn’t as easy as she thought. And neither is maintaining her solitude. As Tenley settles into her new surroundings, she finds herself drawn to Inked Armor, the tattoo studio across the street. But it’s the gorgeous, dark-haired tattoo artist who captures her interest. There’s something about his severe beauty that captivates her—and not just in her waking hours.
Covered in the ink he inscribes on other people’s skin, Hayden Stryker has made a career out of being a tattooist. He’s got his own business and a tight circle of friends. As far as he’s concerned, that’s all he needs. At least until his aunt, who owns the antiques and used book store across from his tattoo studio, hires a new employee. At first his intrigue is based on physical appeal; hot chick equals something nice to look at. But as he begins to catch glimpses of the fiery personality under the fragile, feminine exterior, his fascination with Tenley grows. Annoyed by his inability to control his fixation, Hayden decides the best way to cure him of the new obsession is to get to know the girl under her skittish façade.
But like the ink he wears as armor, Tenley has the ability to get under his skin and stay there.
Cupcakes and Ink was an interesting little novella. It is a prequel to Clipped Wings, but barely. This story blends right into the next, and helps provide a bit of context to the emotional state of both Tenley and Hayden.
After having read both back-to-back, I would definitely say that it is important to read Clipped Wings first. It's not that there is anything of significance that occurs, but it is a good set-up to Clipped Wings. Without reading Cupcakes and Ink, I'm afraid that the connection at the beginning would seem a bit rushed.
I do like that Cupcakes and Ink is significant to the overall story, and I really liked it.
But denial was a funny thing. It allowed me to justify the images floating around in my head, not all of them lurid. They all contained Tenley, though. And if I was really honest with myself, which I rarely was, I didn't want the illusion to break. Because all of a sudden, my controlled, self-imposed exile didn't seem all that appealing. For the first time in years, I wanted...something. Anything. As long as it was real.
Series: Clipped Wings #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: 3/4/14
Rating: 5 stars
An emotional love story that follows the touch-and-go relationship of Hayden and Tenley; two young people who desperately want to love and be loved but are afraid to completely let go of their pasts.
As Hayden and Tenley navigate their newfound but slightly unstable relationship, they want to trust each other, but Hayden is hiding a dark and shameful past that he doesn't ever want Tenley to find out about. And Tenley has secrets of her own that could make Hayden run away forever. When Tenley asks Hayden to put a beautifully elaborate tattoo across her back, the two form what they thought was an unshakeable bond. But when Tenley's past shows up on her doorstep, will Hayden stand by her side...or run?
"Everyone has scars, Tenley. If we're lucky they're only on the outside."
I went into Clipped Wings with absolutely no expectations. Actually, that's not true. Based on the book description, I thought it might be exactly like a lot of the stories I've been finding lately: emotionally crippled bad boy seeks emotionally damaged girl for lots of angst and drama and sexy times that will heal both. Yeah, that's what I expected. I was hoping the writing would at least make up for the "sameness" that was coming. But, that is not what I got in Clipped Wings. What's delivered was an emotionally powerful story that, yes, had some of those elements, but due to the very thoughtful and in-depth angle, as well as the prose by the obviously talented Helena Hunting, was gorgeous.
Clipped Wings is very much a character-driven story. Tenley and Hayden, their secrets, their histories and their efforts to make a better future are the elements that move the story. As you can see in the description, both characters have a dark past. What has happened is not immediately revealed, but unfolds slowly throughout the story. I mean, I guessed it correctly - the clues are pretty strong- but the two play their cards so close to their chest and both refuse to reveal all their truths. To be completely honest would seem the obvious choice, I know. But Hunting did such a great job in giving the motivations for secrecy that I didn't even mind. Tenley feels blame and shame for what she's gone through (for those of you wondering, no, it is not sexual trauma of any sort), as does Hayden. These two truly believe that if the whole truth is known, the other will walk away. It's not completely logical from the outside looking in, but again, Hunting sold it well.
As I mentioned before, I think Helena Hunting did a terrific job with the story. I love the choices she made creatively, despite the fact they hurt me as a reader. I like that the relationship between Tenley and Hayden was very tentative, reluctant, and developed slowly. The character motivations made sense to me. It certainly felt more realistic than many stories I've come across with similar situations. Besides the story, I found Hunting's prose to be a true treat to read. It was full of emotional depth and feelings, but never read as too melodramatic.
Fair warning: Clipped Wings does end on a cliffhanger. I was so hurt at the ending, infuriated by one character in particular, and I sort of sagged out of exhaustion. You could say I had strong-frustrated, but still good- feelings. It took every bit of my resolve not to pick up my copy of Inked Armor and dive right back into the story. Call me a masochist, but I think I wanted to roll around in my feelings a bit. Draw it out. I enjoyed every single moment of Clipped Wings, even when it hurt. I think this series is definitely one to watch.
"Any kind of modification, whether it's to alter physical features, like cosmetic surgery or to decorate, like piercings and tattoos cause some degree of discomfort. But that's the point, isn't it? It's cathartic because it's the promise of change in some form or another. My tattoos give the memory related to the art a place to exist outside of my head, on my body."
I was starting to think of her as mine. For the first time in my life, I wanted someone for myself. And I would take her any way she came.
The Clipped Wings Series
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