INKED ARMOR: Beauty and the Past


INKED ARMORCupcakes and Ink #3
by Helena Hunting
Gallery Books /Simon and Schuster
Paperback | e-book | Audio 368 pages
May  13, 2014
Galley provided by publisher.  No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.

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. Simon and Schuster



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square "my take"In the third novel in this series, Hayden and Tenley have to grow and change.  First Hayden seems to become whiny, needy, childish and clingy. In fact he is suffering from PTSD as his uncertainty about Tenley and his misplaced guilt brings out his need for some serious professional help.

Tenly seems to grow up by leaps and bounds even as she is menaced by her almost brother-in-law. I occasionally rolled my eyes at the two-dimensionality of Trey’s character.  He’s all huff and not blow. The other one sided villains here are also a little two-dimensional: Sirena, Tenely’s professor, and the cop who has it out for Hayden.

What works in the story is the relationship between Tenley and Hayden, and how far they are willing to go for each other.  It paints a picture of loyalty we don’t often see portrayed for younger people with ink and piercings. That Hayden is actually articulate and well-read is a great thing to include.

Something people my age, me included, don’t realize is that the kids you see with piercings and tattoos are not so strange, don’t have a large bong collection or sit around drinking and playing video games.  I’m sure there are those who do slot nicely into the “type” I just sketched,  but I believe that there are plenty who are just a “normal” as anyone else.  That we find the look off-putting and make assumptions based upon it says more about us than them.  And it’s proof that we never really remember our own counter culture youths.

And I really like how accessible Hunting makes it to understand that.  I don’t get the whole pierce and ink thing; Tenley is researching it so there must be something more to it than peer pressure.  But I see how it is my notions that make it scary or even noticeable.

Another point that Hunting develops and returns to  is that if X and Y had not happened she would never have met Hayden who she feels more for than the guy she was going to marry. Having friends who have lost someone and remarried, I have always wondered how that must feel. I hope I never find out.

Hunting makes you care about the characters, and that along with solving the mystery of Hayden’s parents’ murder is what keeps you reading the book.  It is pretty “new adult,”  except it is filled with unusual circumstances and characters.  I enjoyed reading it and it held my attention with well-done alternating first person accounts and moving between well-choreographed sexy times and interesting plot twists. Highly recommended.


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