Type: Contemporary Romance
My Copy: NetGalley
A darkly possessive relationship has left Uma alone and on the run. Beneath her drab clothing, she hides a terrible secret—proof of her abuse, tattooed onto her skin in a lurid reminder of everything she’s survived.
Caught between a brutal past and an uncertain future, Uma’s reluctant to bare herself to anyone…much less a rough ex-con whose rage drives him in ways she will never understand. But beneath his frightening exterior, Ivan is gentle. Warm. Compassionate. And just as determined to heal Uma’s broken heart as he is to destroy the monster who left his mark scrawled across the delicate tapestry of her skin.
When I downloaded this book I had no idea it was a debut effort by Adriana Anders. Now that I’ve finished it, I still can’t believe it was a debut effort. This book grabbed me from the first page and I was sucked into the story the entire time. Anders’ writing is excellent and she delivers a gritty, emotional, heart-warming romance between two people who deserve a happy ending more than any characters I’ve read this year.
The book opens with Uma, broke and broken, answering an ad for a live-in helper. On the run from her abusive ex with nowhere to go, she hopes a job that provides a roof over her head while being able to stay under the radar is the answer to her prayers. Uma carries so many scars, both physical and emotional, and she is determined to keep her secrets to herself. A panic attack almost sends her running before she even gets hired, and her rescuer arrives in the form of big, burly, gruff next door neighbor Ivan and his dog.
Ive doesn’t know what to make of the pretty woman cowering beside his neighbor’s house. Her demeanor and the stark fear in her eyes call to the protector in him and he instantly tries to put her at ease. He knows she is hiding something, but with his own troubled past, he has no issues with Uma keeping her secrets. She needs a friend more than anyone he’s ever known, and his quiet and steady patience wear her down enough that she eventually opens herself up to the possibility of him becoming more.
Ivan is everything that is strong, steady and safe, and Uma wants nothing more than to burrow into his arms and let the world melt away. Unfortunately her past is still hanging over her, and trusting Ivan means revealing her deepest, darkest secret. The last thing she wants is to send him running, but the desperate need to open up to Ivan forces her to lay her burden at his feet and show him the proof of the abuse she suffered.
Although Ivan is an ex-con with a history of violence, he is nothing but a gentle giant with Uma. He cares for her almost immediately, and wishes he could be her knight in shining armor. When he finally discovers what Uma has been hiding, the rage constantly simmering beneath the surface explodes into a white hot fury that almost takes him away from her. The proof that someone damaged this beautiful woman so badly eats away at him until he’s forced to make a decision that could ruin their future.
The emotional pull between Ive and Uma was portrayed so beautifully, and the romantic scenes were so sexy they were borderline erotic. Anders has a way of building intensity and passion without being extremely explicit or crude. Even though Ive and Uma’s romance happened quickly, the pacing of the book was perfect. Ive is a protector by nature and Uma showing up in his life gives him someone to focus on and care for. Uma needs a calm port in her storm, and she finds that with Ivan. While the subject of abuse is dark and scary, this book was full of sweet emotion and gave them a perfect happy ending.
I give Under Her Skin by Adriana Anders 5 stars!