darkest-link

I recently discovered Scarlett Cole and her Second Circle Tattoos series and became an instant fan. The Darkest Link is the fourth book in the series and they are all stand-alone novels. You do not need to read the previous books to fully enjoy this one, but you should because they are great.All four books center around the owners and employees of the Second Circle tattoo parlor in Miami. The Darkest Link features tattoo artist Julianna (Lia) Carlisle. She is the daughter of a wealthy, famous Miami lawyer who is looking to run for political office. Her father wants to polish his image for the election and pressures Lia to conform to his conservative standards. Her tattoos and 50’s pin-up girl look does not work for him and his public perception. Lia is passionate about her profession and her personal style; therefore, she refuses to fit into her father’s mold. Luckily, she has thirty years of experience disagreeing with him and is able to hold her own against him.

While traveling to Orlando to speak at a tattoo convention, Lia’s 1958 Plymouth Fury breaks down and leaves her stranded along the road. Garage owner Reid Kennedy passes Lia on his motorcycle, stops to help and is immediately smitten. She feels the same. Reid offers to help her with her car and the two quickly decide to have dinner together. Both discover they would like to spend more time together even though they live in different towns. They fall into a relationship but both try to categorize it as just casual sex. When Reid visits Lia at home in Miami, they realize that Lia is very close friends with Reid’s sister who he has not seen or talked to in several years. He did not even know she lived in Miami. Their reunion causes some problems for Lia and Reid as Reid struggles to reconnect with his sister and justify why he lost contact with her and the rest of his family.

I enjoyed The Darkest Link although it is my least favorite of the four books in the series. I always love Ms. Cole’s heroes and Reid is no exception. I love a man who can freely admit he loves a woman. Reid falls in love with Lia fairly quickly and accepts his feelings even though they developed quickly. Lia was adorable in her commitment to her 1950’s hair and makeup. She is a strong woman as she stands up to her father and his expectations of her.The coincidence of Reid meeting his estranged sister’s best friend along the side of the road was hard to ever swallow as believable. I can suspend belief, but Reid and his sister are from Illinois and neither knew the other was in Florida. It is too far fetched to imagine a chance meeting could have ever happened. It did not destroy the story for me but it did sort of pull me out it as a reader. Also, Lia and Reid’s families end up being connected through an adversary of Reid’s sister. It was all a little too convenient.

I am still a big fan of Ms. Cole and the Second Circle Tattoos series. The Darkest Link is wonderfully written and has some lovely characters. I just wish Lia and Reid’s story was a little more believable.