I am so happy to be bringing you Inked Armor! I have a review and two great giveaways. Thanks for stopping by!
Series: Clipped Wings #2
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: 5/13/14
Rating: 4.5 stars
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In this follow-up to Clipped Wings, the emotional love story continues between Hayden and Tenley; two young people who desperately want to love and be loved but are afraid to completely let go of their pasts.
In the wake of losing Tenley Page, tattooist Hayden Stryker's tumultuous past is haunting him. Plagued by nightmares about the murder of his parents, Hayden reaches out again to Tenley. Having run from the man she doesn't believe she deserves, Tenley finally lays her guilt to rest. Despite their intense physical attraction, Hayden and Tenley struggle to repair their fragile emotional connection. As Hayden gets closer to the truth, he must find a way to reconcile his guilt over his parents' death in order to keep the woman who finally cracked his armor, and found her way into his heart.
Clipped Wings was a big surprise for me. I went into it with absolutely no expectations, and came away with a heartfelt story with gorgeous writing and intense characters. And that ending? I was not happy! In a good way, I promise. I was so desperate to read Inked Armor, but also nervous. Would I pick this book up and get a fulfilling conclusion to Hayden and Tenley's story? I sure hoped so. I began Inked Armor with high expectations and a sense of hopefulness. I'll also admit that I mentally prepared myself for a let-down. Once I dug into the story, though, I quickly realized the doubts were not necessary.
Inked Armor takes up immediately after Clipped Wings, and as you know if you've read CW, things are not good for Hayden and Tenley. Tenley was taken to Arden Hills by her deceased fiancé's brother, Trey, in an effort to gain control of the family estate. What a miserable bastard he is! Trey preyed on Tenley's guilt and fears, ambushed her physically and emotionally, and put her in a bad place, emotionally. Part of my worry for Inked Armor was my fear that the story would have Tenley and Hayden separated throughout; fortunately that was not the case. It would have been very easy for Hunting to rely on this effective yet extremely frustrating technique to keep tension alive in the plot. I'm glad the story went in a different direction because honestly? I couldn't handle poor Hayden without Tenley.
Lemme tell you, Hayden is distraught. Hayden begins the story heartbroken and withdrawn over what he feels is Tenley's rejection. After losing so much, he was slow to trust that he was worthy of relationship with Tenley. Knowing that the two would never have been together without the devastation that destroyed her world messes with Hayden's head, causes him to feel inferior. His nightmares are back, but now include Tenley dying. He's so very vulnerable, and that sense of...smallness, is heartbreaking. His vulnerability was so raw, palpable, like an open wound. I found myself repeatedly getting teary eyed as his residual terror overwhelmed him. I was pleasantly surprised when I realized his parents' unsolved murder does play a big part in this story. It serves as a huge source of tension and upheaval on his part, but also gives an enormous sense of satisfaction.
At this point it might be redundant to say that Inked Armor is an emotional heavy-hitter. But I'm obviously hung up on that. Hayden and Tenley's secrets are all finally out and now the relationship needs to be rebuilt. There's an awkwardness and strain that can't just be brushed over. They must figure out how to deal with all the baggage they each bring to the table. Both have been wracked with guilt, especially Tenley, though her perspective is changing a bit. She was initially focused on her decisions and what happened to her family and friends as a result. Now that she's accepting that she doesn't need to hold that blame, she feels guilt for her happiness. How can she be so happy with Hayden when she knows that if she hadn't lost everyone, she'd have never met him? Acceptance needs to be embraced so they can be happy together. I admire Hunting for going that route and forcing Tenley and Hayden to take the harder path. I would imagine that writing a smooth reunion would have been easier, caused less frustration. I think putting the two through their paces results in a much bigger payoff.
Inked Armor was an excellent continuation of Clipped Wings. Once again, Hunting brings readers an extremely insightful, emotional turbulent story. I like that while the story has some extremely dramatic elements, she never veered into melodrama and super-angst. I mean, yes, this series is angsty, but in a way that kept me flying through the pages, not ready to bang my head against the wall. With this series, I've gotten characters who were bent, not broken, who both experienced great character growth. I adored Hayden and Tenley and all their friends. I got a big, emotional story that had me thoroughly engaged and invested in the outcome. It was very satisfying in all ways. I was excited to see that Chris and Sarah (Hayden and Tenley's friends) are getting a novella this summer, and that has me very excited. I highly recommend the Clipped Wings series, and will eagerly read whatever Helena Hunting brings next.
"I couldn't get to you. You were dying and I couldn't--the bleeding, there was so much blood and you were, and you were--" He started to hyperventilate. "I was so fucking empty without you. I'm so empty."
"Sometimes I feel guilty for having you," I whispered.
"I get that. And I wish I could make that feeling go away for you. You know your family wouldn't want you to be alone, right? They'd want you to have people in your life to love you and take care of you. I don't know that they would have chosen me to be that person, but I want to be if you'll let me."
Hayden's arms tightened around me. "I just don't want you to leave me again. I can't do this without you anymore."
His expression made my heart hurt. "Hayden, you everything I could ever want. You are the place I want to be."
Clipped Wings Series
(covers lead to GoodReads page)
Must be 18+ years of age; US only
- 2 copies of Inked Armor
- 2 Grand Prizes - Clipped Wings/Inked Armor
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