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Hidden Ink by Carrie Ann Ryan
Genres: Contemporary Romance
The Montgomery Ink series continues with the long-awaited romance between the café owner next door and the tattoo artist who’s loved her from afar.
Hailey Monroe knows the world isn’t always fair, but she’s picked herself up from the ashes once before and if she needs to, she’ll do it again. It’s been years since she first spotted the tattoo artist with a scowl that made her heart skip a beat, but now she’s finally gained the courage to approach him. Only it won’t be about what their future could bring, but how to finish healing the scars from her past.
Sloane Gordon lived through the worst kinds of hell yet the temptation next door sends him to another level. He’s kept his distance because he knows what kind of man he is versus what kind of man Hailey needs. When she comes to him with a proposition that sends his mind whirling and his soul shattering, he’ll do everything in his power to protect the woman he cares for and the secrets he’s been forced to keep.
I have been waiting for Hailey and Sloane to get their story and what a story it is! They have been circling around each other for a while. So Hailey decides that it is finally time to stop and move on. She decides she has pined for the quiet tattoo artist long enough. However the minute Hailey begins to flirt with a guy Sloane realizes just how close to losing Hailey he is and he hasn’t even had her.
These two characters both have some very serious issues to overcome and the path they take isn’t an easy one. This was of course a quick read but very enjoyable. I love that we still got to see some of the other Montgomery Ink people and how much both Hailey and Sloane truly mean to all of them. As always Carrie Ann Ryan did a magnificent job of bringing two damaged souls out into the open so they could heal.
Behind Maya’s work area sat another station.
All six-foot-four, two hundred something pounds of muscle covered in ink, his light brown skin accented perfectly by the designs. The man was sex. All sex. Sloane had shaved his head years ago. She was convinced he kept it shaved just to turn her on. He kept his beard trimmed, but that and the bald head apparently jump-started a new kink in her.
He was a decade older than Hailey, and though he didn’t speak of it, she knew he’d been through war, battle, and heartbreak.
And she loved him.
Only he didn’t see her. He never took a step toward her. He also looked as if he were ready to growl at her presence most of the time.
Much like he did now.
“Thought you’d forgotten me,” he said, his voice low and gruff.
She shook her head then raised her chin. “No, I have yours here.” After she had handed him his drink and pastry, careful not to brush her fingers along his, she glanced down at his client, who was in the middle of getting his back done.
While Sloane looked dangerous and battle worn, this guy looked gentler, but not soft in the slightest. His hair was longer on top and flopped down over his forehead and into his eyes, but the sides had been clipped short. He had a short beard and a smile that looked as if it came easily. His green eyes sparkled, and Hailey could only smile back.
“Hello there,” he drawled.
Oh, my. A southern accent—just a hint of drawl but not too much. If she hadn’t been in the presence of the one man her body and soul had chosen for her, she might have gone weak in the knees at the sound of it.
“Hi,” she said back, well aware that Sloane was staring daggers at her.
“What’s your name?” the stranger asked. “I’m Brody.”
“Hi, Brody. I’m Hailey. I own Taboo next door.”
His smile widened, showing a bit of dimple. “I’ve walked by there a few times, but now I know I need to go inside.”
She shook her head on a laugh. “I see. You scent my baked goods and now you’ll come inside.”
“It wasn’t your baked goods that made me want to step inside.”
What was she doing? Flirting with another man in front of Sloane like this? And why did she care? He wasn’t hers. He never would be. She would never have Sloane Gordon in her life beyond a few curt words and grunts of thanks. She was young, healthy, and alive. She should be able to flirt whenever she wanted.