Monday, March 19, 2018

Review - 'Beneath the Skin' by Zara West


Ex-Olympic wrestler and reclusive billionaire artist Aristides Stavros has one mission—to rescue his sister, a popular tattoo artist from the old enemy who has kidnapped her. But at every turn, he is confronted by anthropologist Melissa Dermot. Is she just an innocent girl in over her head, or is she working for the international crime boss holding his sister?

Only one thing is certain--when Ari holds the beautiful Asian-American in his arms, questions of guilt and innocence fade against an undeniable fiery attraction. But can their wild passionate love survive the tangled web of long-buried secrets, intentional deceit, and murderous revenge that lie just beneath the surface?


In the first book in the Skin Quartet series, grad student Melissa Dermont is writing a dissertation on why people choose to get tattooed. When Bella, the tattoo artist she’s supposed to be interviewing, goes missing, Melissa is determined to find her.
Wealthy artist Ari Stravos flies to New York City to search for his sister, Sirena. Her ex-lover, Vernon, has kidnapped her, and he demands that Ari sign over the deed to his home and private island to get her back. As Ari searches for Sirena, he meets Melissa. Though there’s an instant attraction between them, he thinks she’s involved in his sister’s disappearance, and Melissa thinks he kidnapped her tattoo artist friend, who just happens to be his sister. Ari has a dark past, and with all the scars on his face, he can’t escape derision and the stereotype that he’s a criminal.
Ari and Melissa are interesting characters. He’s definitely a tortured bad boy with pain and self-hatred burning deep inside him. Melissa looks for the good in most people, but she’s torn between seeing Ari as a monster and looking past his scars for the good man beneath. For the first half of the book, there’s a lot of sexual tension between the H/h, but they don’t spend a lot of time on page together. In the second half, the romance and lust grows like wildfire, but the H/h’s secrets are constantly wedging between them.
There are a lot of secondary characters, both good guys and bad. El Toro and T-Crew are awesome and proved excellent friends to Ari, but even they have their secrets.
I really enjoyed the story, but sometimes found it confusing. (I’m not sure why Ari complied with Vernon’s demands after he found out Vernon and Sirena/Bella were in love. I also don’t understand why Bella was estranged from Ari for so long since she agreed with him that Vernon was bad news.) 
I love the author’s fun, snarky writing style. She puts a lot of emotion and depth into her characters. It’s a great book, and I’m definitely looking forward to reading the next one in the series.
5 Stars

Disclaimer – I volunteered to read and review this book. Thank you, Zara West, for sending me an ebook copy. I am not paid or compensated in any way, shape, or form for this review. I will not change or alter this review for any reason unless at my discretion.

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