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Under Her Skin (Blank Canvas Book 1) Kindle Edition
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|Length: 386 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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The premise of an abuse survival finding there way back to life/themselves is not something new but the particular abuse described here was something I had never heard of before. I was taken aback by the cruelty of it, yet I came to admire the heroine for finding a way to cope and overcome it. The authors gives us a heroine who is a survivor and a fighter and a hero with a lot of anger and violence in himself. They seem unlikely pair the start but they turned out to be a perfect fit by the end of the story. There is a mild kink play which I found fitting to the characters and really working for them as a couple.
Uma was amazing, I really liked the way she was portrayed as an abuse survivor with flashbacks to how she got to where she was, how blind she was at the beginning of her relationship with her abuser, how easy it is sometime to end up a violent relationship and how difficult it is to get out of one.
I liked her determination, her tenaciousness, her desire to get her life back to herself, to reclaim her body, her sexual desire. And here comes Ive, a giant of a man, a blacksmith with a temper and anger issues of his own. On the surface they didn't appear to be suitable for each other. She should have been afraid of his violent past (his anger flares up even now). Yet, the author shows us he has another side as well, he is caring and kind and there for her. Their sex games of her dominating him came as a surprise for them but actually worked for both Uma and Ive. I saw this a her reclaiming her desire/freedom/power and for him it was an unexpected turn on which quickly accepted as an element of his desire. Maybe it was also a way for his own violent/aggressive nature to take a step back. He was a man of action, led by his own principle of justice and duty, one who always takes charge, is responsible, provides for the others. Letting her run the show in the bedroom was a change from his usual modus operandi, a side of himself he never knew existed because his past lovers have never given him to chance to be anything but aggressive and domineering. Nobody expected submission from him because all they saw in him was a big, scary brute.
The writing was solid, the whole plot was neat and had an easy natural flow to it. My only complaint is that Uma's constant comparisons between Ive and Joey were too much and distracted me from her budding new relationship. I see their point and place in the beginning of the story but they became annoying and overused as her relationship with Ive progressed. It felt joey was always there in the back of her mind, even when she was Ive and it bothered me making me feel it was not fair to Ive.
Apart from this minor issues, I really liked the story. The dark of her horrific abuse was balanced by her growing relationship with Ive, the growth both of them underwent and the overall feeling of hope for the future. I can strongly recommend this book and can't wait to read the next in the series.
Uma's life was once all about color and light as a photographer, but the moment she met Joey her life suddenly took a dark and sinister turn. He took over her life, trapping her in a nightmare of doubts and eroding her self-confidence, until one night when the nightmare turned to hell. With her body permanently marked and her soul bruised she ran until she found an unlikely haven with a bitter old woman and a gentle, yet gruff, giant. These two individuals become her saviors, giving her the strength to find herself once again. Being with Ms. Lloyd gives her her first taste of standing up for herself as well as a confidant who understands her fears. Being with Ivan shows her that strong men don't need to be cruel. He makes her feel desirable despite the marks on her body though it was a slow journey towards acceptance for her. When Uma first came to town she was scared of her own shadow. Her transformation out of her shell was full of baby steps that had me cheering her on as each step saw a palpable weight lifting off her. Everything Uma went through was vividly depicted which drew me to her as each of her aches became mine. By the end of the story I felt a bond with her and was happy for the new life she made for herself.
Ivan's lived in Blackwood all his life. His childhood was tough as his family was poor and his mother walked out after the birth of his sister. This and an undiagnosed learning disability led to lots of anger issues that ultimately landed him in prison for almost killing the man who abused his sister. Since getting out he's worked on his rage issues, become caretaker to every stray in town, and tries to keep to himself. The town sees him as a mystery, a man you don't want to cross but who's loyal to those he calls friend and family. To the women in town they see him as a sexy beast, which I wholeheartedly agree with! The moment he and Uma meet is a life-altering experience for them both and takes them on a journey that empowers her and teaches him the power in letting go to another. In subtle ways Ivan shows he cares for Uma, from shedding his caveman looks to helping her find her self-worth through his longing glances. He proves time and again that he'd do anything to make her happy and keep her safe, but a chance to avenge Uma may put their HEA in doubt in a pulse-pounding conclusion that wrapped up a bit to easily. Ivan may look like a beast but he has a heart of gold. He let Uma take charge in moments where she felt weakest and I adored him for it. His care of Ms. Lloyd also endeared him to me as he could easily charm her bitter heart. His care of the unwanted town strays made my heart ache even more and sealed his nomination to my list of book boyfriends.
From start to finish I found myself fully immersed in this powerful romance. The main characters were larger-than-life with pasts that left an indelible mark on them both and bound them together in an ultimately uplifting connection. Their romance was sweet yet scorching at times, empowering as Uma was given control during their erotically-charged encounters. Throughout the story Ms. Anders vividly depicted the past of both of the main characters which helped me understand the feelings they were going through in the healing process. The town of Blackwood was also brought alive as a haven for Uma with its majestic mountains and warm countryside courtesy of Ms. Anders talents. The colorful denizens of this small town further enhanced the narrative, relating past secrets that changed my views on characters as well as introducing me to complex and intriguing secondary characters. British bartender Rory's antagonistic banter with Ivan's sister, Jessie, especially has me intrigued as it's full of sexual tension that I hope to see play out in the next installment in this series. On a whole this was an unforgettable story, with characters I quickly came to care for, and I highly recommend it to readers looking for a powerful romance of survival and acceptance.