Tuesday, February 28, 2017


Jordan Steele’s life began when he was ten. When he was taken from his parents and a house that was never a home. When he met his brothers, the other lost and abandoned boys in his group home. When he learned what friendship and family and love looked like.

Now he’s made good, touring the world with the band he and his brothers formed in that crowded group home. No one but his found family really knows the man under the fame and fortune, the scars he hides behind the rockstar lifestyle. Until he sees her through the windows of the National Ballet, dancing, and suddenly the world doesn’t seem so dark.

Aleksandra Artemov ticks all the ballet boxes. Father a legendary Kirov dancer. Check. Prepping since birth for classical ballet. Check. Compulsive control over the food she eats. Check. Principal dancer at The National Ballet of Canada. Check. But what she craves is freedom.

She craves Jordan.

Everything about him should terrify her. His size, his tattoos, his edge. But he doesn’t. He stirs her very soul. Jordan has nothing but himself to offer her, and he's never been good enough for anyone. Can he figure out how to face his own demons before he loses his light for good?

Release Date: February 28, 2017
Preload Series #1
Contemporary Romance
Review copy provided by publisher

Nikki’s Review:

Sometimes a book comes along that just wrecks you. It pulls all your heartstrings, and drags every emotion from the depths of your soul. And sometimes you aren't sure you can get through it. You want to because the writing and story are brilliant, but the wreckage is almost too much to handle. This was one of those books for me.

I first "met" Jordan in, The Second Circle Tattoos series. From the moment he showed up on the page I knew he was special. I also knew that he was hurting...a lot. I was desperate to know his past and what his secrets were. Alas, I had to wait for his book, but I thought of him each time I read a Second Circle book. 

Jordan has been to hell and back. And in some sense he still exists in that hell. He is rocked and dragged down by his memories on daily basis. I've read some pretty heavy books where the characters are survivors of child abuse, but this shredded my heart. I won't go into details because I think you should learn those from Jordan. It's his story to tell after all. 

The moment Jordan spots Lexi dancing through a studio window he is transfixed by her beauty and grace. I could sense his curiosity of this almost ethereal creature. It was like a little of the heavy burden on his shoulders was lifted...just a little.

Lexi is a dedicated ballet dancer, a Principal Dancer for a prestigious Canadian company. She's pulled in many directions. Her heart yearns for something different in her career, but her sense of responsibility to her father and his idea of what her career should be is a constant battle. 

I talk about chemistry between characters a lot in my reviews. It's an important component that I need in romance novels. But I think chemistry is too simple a word to describe what happens between Lexi and Jordan. Maybe it was fate. But even that seems inadequate. Whatever it was, it was beautiful to witness. 

The path to their happiness is long and arduous. While I typically love a book that throws the characters into the sack very quickly, I loved watching the romance build. I loved watching Jordan pull at all his layers and discover things about himself that were buried deep. Jordan had to, in a sense, grow up. He was robbed of so many years and experiences. I had a huge smile on my face when he decided he needed a cell phone. It should have been a simple decision, but it wasn't. And the moment itself is pivotal in his healing. Not to mention the scene that followed his epiphany was hilarious!

Scarlett Cole wrote Lexi in such a way that I felt I could really see into the mind of a dancer. Her struggles with food and her weight felt real to me. I believed that she was a real person with these struggles. And you know what? She was! So many professional dancers, and ordinary everyday people, struggle with eating disorders and body image issues. So maybe Lexi isn't real, but there are people just like her in the world. 

These two are struggling to find their footing in a relationship when their internal battles are eating them alive. It seemed like a recipe for disaster. I adored their strength. The determination to grab life by the balls was admirable. 

The love scenes were, at times, heartbreaking. Jordan needed the physical connection to know that something in his life was good and beautiful. Don't get me wrong, Jordan is crazy hot and sexy in bed! It's just that the love scenes were something more. More than Pleasure. Does that make sense? It was a testament to survival.

The supporting characters in this book are so interesting. They leave me curious about their pasts. You get a wee glimpse of their stories, enough to make me hunger for more...Scarlett's good at that!
I know I'm going to be torn up by each of their books, too. These brothers by choice grew up in the foster care system. And we've all heard the horror stories of what growing up in the system can be like. Not everyone is lucky to end up in a home with caring adults...far from it. I can hardly wait to walk along on their journeys.

This book was dark. No doubt about it. But there's always an underlying feel of hope. One of my favourite things about this book was watching Lexi and Jordan blossom. It was exciting to see them really embrace life and fight for the happiness they wanted and so rightly deserved. 

I have to have a happily ever after in my romance novels. It's a requirement or I feel cheated and left hanging. Jordan and Lexi definitely get that, but everything wasn't tied up in a neat bow. You know they're going to be together, that's a given. But I loved that there was room and a need for more growth, and most importantly, more healing. 

I feel like these words I have written aren't enough. But until you go on this journey with Lexi and Jordan, you won't understand the struggle. They're love was beautiful, and that may sound hokey, but it was. It was a real privilege to read this book and I hope you'll give it a chance. I hope you'll let Jordan teach you what it's like to really live after a life in darkness. 

Rating: 5 Stars (A+)

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