(I received a copy for review consideration.)
Impulsive, YES. Irresponsible, SURE. Necessary, PROBABLY. Going to end badly, most likely. Does any of that matter to me, no. I decided that I can't please everyone so this week my only goal is to please me. I'm a selfish cow but I can't seem to help it. I'm Clara Lord. I own Bloodline's Tattoo Parlor, have a filthy mouth, no filter and a really strong objection to bossy idiots, pet names and wealthy men.
You will hate me, love me or love to hate me but either way it doesn't matter. Everything I touch turns to crap and it's all my fault. See, I lived through hell. Then I escaped hell and carefully spent the next eight years crafting a perfect little life until Dominic Napoli screwed it all up. Now nothings right. Everything's wrong and all my secrets are coming out.
Oh, I had such high hopes for this book - I absolutely loved the intro before Chapter 1:
I'm Clara Lord. I own Bloodlines Tattoo Parlor, have a filthy mouth, no filter, and a really strong objection to bossy idiots, pet names and wealthy men. You will hate me, love me or love to hate me but either way it doesn't matter. Everything I touch turns to crap and it's all my own fault.
Doesn't she sound fun? Tough, insightful, and pessimistic, with an independent streak a mile wide. But that impression was gone in the first few pages, and replaced with a whiny, self-centered hypocrite who uses men for personal gain, creates drama and hurts people just because she has a painful secret. Add to that the fact that Clara doesn't speak, say, talk, mention, exclaim or explain - she "growls", "snarks", "smirks" and "snits" her sentences, which came off as an affectation rather than a descriptive tool.
Clara is one of the most unlikeable heroines I've ever read (and I've read some great books with not so likeable heroines, like Sarah Gran's Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead - that was a gritty, tough, well-written book with a heroine with zero Kardashian/stripper-culture tones). Clara is selfish, childish, emotionally immature, and a slutty-manipulative brat. The book starts with Clara spending a weekend with her girlfriends in Boston. They're slamming drinks and declaring sisterhood, while dancing and barhopping. Clara is apparently so magnetic, sexy and gorgeous that the most eligible billionaire in the country sees her dancing and comes up to her and starts grinding and coming on to her. Clara HATES rich people and even though her friends ooh and ahh over Dominic, the girls leave the club to avoid him, and, undeterred by their blatant and insulting rejection, he follows them (creepy stalker vibes starting to manifest here). Soon after, Clara's friends desert her on the street (drunk and ready to puke and pass out), letting Dominic take Clara home. Great friends, huh? And this is just the first few pages.
After this delightful weekend, Clara heads home to Virginia where we learn she has an 8 year old daughter and lives with a great guy named Sawyer who's in love with her (but she doesn't love him - they have a complicated past which basically means she uses Sawyer for rent, parenting and business). They're raising her daughter together, and own/operate a tattoo parlor together as well. Clara stays because it's comfortable and easy and they have great sex 4 times a year. Sawyer is steady, loving, kind and a good man, so it was kind of hard to believe he loved Clara as much as he does,
Dominic soon shows up in Clara's small town (more creepy stalker vibes), because after she told him off (again) in Boston they still have undeniable, obsessive attraction for each other. Which just feeds in to Clara's incredible confidence in her attractiveness. We know this because she doesn't walk, she "struts" and "prowls". And this is when we learn that suave gazillionaire Dominic loves tattoos! What a coincidence. Soon there's a lot of posturing and growling between Dom and Sawyer, and Clara continues to fret about her hatred of rich folks, her freakishly incredible chemistry with Dom, and her relationship with Sawyer.
Pretty soon Clara's hypocritical side comes out again. She keeps saying she hates rich people (she had a wealthy fiance who wanted to mold her into his perfect arm-candy/Stepford wife) and the need to look and behave a certain way in their company, but when Dom buys her clothes and invites her to accompany him to a swanky society function, she happily accepts his lavish gifts and goes (but she wears her cowboy boots with the gown in a pathetic and immature attempt to be a rebel and prove she's not "one of them"). So why did she accept his gifts? Clara wants it both ways - she keeps the expensive presents but refuses to be gracious or appreciative. Rather, she acts belligerently to prove he hasn't bought her with his expensive gifts. She happily takes advantage of Dom's generosity like she takes advantage of Sawyer's emotional support. She's a user and an embarrassment to women. When did this kind of behavior become an acceptable manifestation of emotional pain, rather than the straight-up greedy, self-centered grasping materialism that it is?
While I appreciated the painful background Clara is running from, and it did explain the origin (but not the extent) of some of her behaviors, her actions didn't make sense. Especially since she's now 32 years old. She acts like a spoiled, self-centered jerk with her mindless need to rebel, her lies and secrets, her manipulative behavior and her overt sexuality. Which is bad enough, but apparently she's also so sexy, so magnetic, and so amazing she attracts the devoted love and protection of a good man, and the sexual obsession of a kajillionaire. Her 8 year old daughter is more mature and stable than Clara.
Soon this powder keg of WTF blows up, and Clara's secrets are exposed. She's got to do some deep soul-searching, grow up and earn her HEA. But without possessing any real redemptive qualities, it was hard to believe and I just didn't care.
About the Author:
K. Larsen is an avid reader, coffee drinker, and chocolate eater who loves writing. She received her B.A.from Simmons College- a while ago. She currently lives and works in Maine. She writes steamy romantic suspense novels when no one's looking.
Available through all major book retailers, all six of her books can be purchased in paperback or for any e-reader. She can be found on Facebook, Goodreads and Twitter should you want to stalk her.
Currently working on her seventh novel, she's published Saving Caroline, 30 Days, Committed, Dating Delaney and Tug of War. Objective will be out Spring 2014.
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