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He Will Always Bear the Scars
Undercover cop Clay Navarro left the Sultans biker gang a changed man. Its ringleaders may be awaiting trial, but he wears the memory of every brutal act he was forced to commit tattooed across his skin. He doesn't have space in his messed-up life for anything gentle--not now, maybe not ever.
Dr. Georgette Hadley is drawn to the damaged stranger's pain, intimidated but intrigued by the warmth that lies beneath Clay's frightening exterior. But when the Sultans return looking for revenge, she finds herself drawn into the dirty underbelly of a life forged in violence...that not even her touch may be able to heal.
Dear god, she did it again. Adriana Anders had me glued to each page of By Her Touch. It's hard not to hang on to each and every word as she taps into something so deep and draws out each character's deepest desires.
Dr. Georgette Hadley aka George whom we met in the the first book is a dermatologist who offers a unique and sought-after service: she removes tattoos. The clients who normally seek her out for this are people who require a great deal of discretion, for example Uma in book 1 who escaped an abusive relationship that had left scars all over her body. She was a saviour to Uma as someone who helped her physically remove the remnants of a terrifying past so she could start afresh. This is what brings Clay Navarro to town. He was an undercover agent in a biker gang and things went horribly wrong when someone sold him out blowing his cover. He was ambushed by the gang and was mercilessly tattooed on his face and hands. After a stint at the hospital to recover from his injuries and surgery, he heads to Blackwood to seek out George's services. He needs those tattoos removed in order not to look so intimidating when he is called to testify in a few months. The added advantage of not being stared at and feared by any onlooker would be nice, too.
George and Clay are two loners living in their own heads. When Clay walks into her clinic demanding absolute secrecy, she agrees to do it off the books. She doesn't know his story but can tell he's been through hell and back. The gruesome evidence all over his body is evidence of that. Clay, who needs to keep his distance can't help but feel a strange pull towards her. They're two opposites clinging to their own pain and suffering. As strong as Clay is physically, he's a shattered soul on the inside with all the pressure of the world weighing him down. He worries more and more about his past catching up to him as he and George get more intimate. And speaking of the past, it's hers that's holding George back. Clay being in her life makes her question who she is living for and why she has purposefully stalled herself.
I read Under Her Skin in one day and I pretty much did the same with By Her Touch. I find Anders' descriptive writing makes her characters so accessible that I can sense their personalities. Getting to know George was something I was looking forward to. In the brief glimpses I had of her in Uma's story, she seemed strong and confident. Here, she is a contrast of sorts, seeming shy and indecisive every time she's around Clay. She couldn't even complete her sentences which kind of made me crazy. I enjoyed that Clay let down his guard and allowed himself to show affection. There's no denying the sizzling attraction between them. There's a scene in her office when she's rubbing cream on his back in preparation for the tattoo removal procedure that taps into their longing and need for assurance. The simple act of George touching his skin sends sparks through them both. The sensation is more than she expected. It's an astonishingly intimate and powerful moment that even I could tell that feeling human contact like this for the first time in a long time was too much for Clay's poor, mixed up senses to handle. The guy almost short-circuited! This is Anders' gift: that this moment that's not even a sex scene is that hypnotic and compelling. It only makes me excited about what lies ahead!
I'm only two books in and I can say with certainty that Adriana Anders has become one of my favourites. She knows how to write damaged souls and breathe new life into them. You want heat, drama and intimately sexy moments? Here's your book!