Title: Under Her Skin
Her Body is His Canvas
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.
Author: Adriana Anders
Series: Blank Canvas
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca Source: Publisher
Published: February 7th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
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If you have ever been in an abusive relationship and HAVE NOT healed, there may be some triggers in this one. So proceed with caution.
Wow! This was completely unexpected. In fact, as a reviewer, I didn’t even ask to read this (sorry, just being honest). But it fell in to my lap and I have to honestly say that I’m very pleased that it did. I’ve never read this author before. And from the looks of it, this could be her first one? If that’s the case, then bravo. Very well done.
Uma is running. She’s running from a very abusive relationship, has nothing including zero money to her name and finds herself answering a help ad. At least the position keeps her off the streets and away from being found, right? The hiring lady is an “old hag” who’s afraid to go outside and is basically in need of some serious companionship. Once Uma gets the hang of the hag, things become a bit easier for her. You know what’s not that easy though? The feelings she’s having toward the next door neighbor. And those feelings aren’t exactly the bad kind.
Ivan (Ive) is the next door neighbor. Over the years, he’s taken in many strays. Stray dogs, cats, even a mini pony. But it’s the look that Uma gives him that make him want to take care of her too. The only problem is that he doesn’t want to scare her in the process. After all, he’s got a little bit of a past that he’s sure she won’t like too much.
I REALLY don’t want to give any of this away. Writing this review is becoming hard with every word. When you start reading this story, you might start thinking that it’s moving pretty slow. But I’d have to disagree. I think that the pace of this was absolutely perfect. Especially considering the healing going on individually for both Uma and Ive. Not to mention the fact that they both help each other with the healing as well. Ive was the perfect gentle giant to Uma’s fragile feminine psyche. Like I stated earlier, everything was perfectly timed (timeline) for me to truly appreciate everything about the story. And OMG, when the poo hits the fan………lets just say that you’ll find yourself flipping the pages quicker. LOL….damn that old hag…in the end, loving that lady.
P.S – I had NO IDEA that this was the first in a series. So imagine me doing a happy dance when I found out that this is a trilogy!!! I’m hoping that Uma makes an appearance in the next one because I read the blurb on the next one…..EEEEKKKKK….I’m in!!!!!
Adriana Anders has acted and sung, slung cocktails and corrected copy. She’s worked for start-ups, multinationals and small nonprofits, but it wasn’t until she returned to her first love—writing romance—that she finally felt like she’d come home. Today, she resides with her tall French husband, two small children and fat French cat in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, where she writes the dark, gritty, steamy love stories of her heart.
He was bent low over the anvil, hammering a piece of bright-red, burning metal with a mallet. Sparks flew like some kind of crazy fairy dust. He looked magical and mythical and so very…right. Powerful back and arms and hands worked in concert to hammer order into iron, and an errant thought escaped: images of him working her over the same way. Shaping and molding her into something strong and lasting. She trembled.
When Uma glanced up, Ivan was watching her. Only he no longer looked like the same man. This Ivan was a whole new creature, transformed. Intimidating in an entirely different way. He looked pleased to see Uma, but insecure, awaiting a verdict.
“Oh,” she stammered out. “Wow, you’re… Just wow.”
And what a verdict it was. Gone was the beast she’d had a grudging connection with two nights before. This man was breathtakingly handsome.
“You shaved. And you cut your hair and… It’s…
Wow. Amazing.” The shock of the change was solid in the pit of her stomach. Attraction, she thought, skittering away from the notion.
Ivan got a pleased, self-conscious look on his face. A kid given a compliment he didn’t know what to do with. It was adorable.
“Come on in and have a seat,” he said a little too loudly, like maybe the beard had muffled his voice as well as his looks. As Uma walked past him, he leaned over his table, grabbed an earmuff-like thing off a hook, and handed it to her. “Put this on. I just need to finish up.”
She pulled the ear protectors over her head and moved to her armchair in the corner while he returned to his hammering.
He worked and she watched, transfixed. Each strike of cold metal to hot was precisely aimed. The vibra¬tions hummed through every cell of her body—the same rhythm she’d come to depend on nightly. Only this time, she felt it from the inside out.
Sparks blossomed in showers of bright gold, a halo for Ivan’s body. He was an alchemist, a god creating worlds.
And his face. Oh, the man’s face. Dark brows drawn low over eyes half-closed against the light, mouth tight, chin and jaw rigid, clamped in stern concentration. Uma couldn’t help but imagine that expression focused on her, that hard body thrumming with excitement above hers. She crossed her legs to alleviate the pressure grow¬ing between them.
Why, oh why, did he have to shave it off? She’d been okay before. Puzzled at the faint stirrings of attraction, yes, but willing to put it down to the feelings of coziness and safety he engendered in her.
“You got more of that moonshine?” she asked, too antsy to just sit there staring.
He didn’t look up when he said, “Yep. Right over on that shelf. You’ll have to rinse your mug from the other night. Pump’s outside. Sorry. No runnin’ water out here.” No running water? Uma’s eyebrows rose at that, but she shrugged. “Got beers in the cooler, too, if you’d rather.”
Instead of going for the beer—the easy option—in kind of a show-offy move, which she’d surely regret, she went for the moonshine. As if to show how little she cared about germs and stuff, Uma filled her mug without rinsing it. “You want some?”
“Hell no.” He shook his shoulders in a kind of exag¬gerated shudder of disgust. “Can’t stand the stuff.”
“Hey!” she laughingly yelled, her voice shakier than she expected.
“I’d take a beer, though.”
She found the cooler and pulled out a bottle but couldn’t find anything to open it with.
“Leave it there. I’ll get it when I’m done.”
With a shrug, Uma left it on the shelf and took her mug back to the armchair, where she curled up and spent several moments trying to relax, looking everywhere but at him. A nearly impossible feat, when he was so big, so very there. She finally gave up and let herself watch the show, imagining throwing open those big, wooden doors and taking shots of him while he worked, day or night. Light or dark. Hot or cold. Opposites, just like those funky eyes of his. She wanted to capture it all.
It was easy to let the ambiance he created form a sur¬real cushion around her, calming her and nearly wiping the stupid ad from her mind. She dipped her lips in the drink and kept her eyes on him, sinking heavily into it, the clanging of metal syncopating with her heartbeat, insulating them from the world outside. It was warm and dark, the light orange and intimate.
She was no longer in modern-day Blackwood, shying from the horrors of her life, but caught in some alter¬nate reality, some other time, some place medieval. She pictured him half-naked, chest gleaming in the firelight, muscles bunching with each slam of the hammer, his skin beaded with sweat, pebbled with goose bumps.
Uma came out of her trance to find his hammer still, his eyes on her. Their intensity was palpable even from across the room.
He picked up his beer, popped the top on the edge of a worktable, and came toward her, his nearness strum¬ming her nerves. The crate creaked under his weight just like the last time she’d been there, and she flashed back to that moment, thinking how much could change in so little time. She took another sip and let it relax her further, remembering how she’d been wrung out when he’d rescued her from her car. He, the scary, untouch¬able next-door neighbor, inviting her in for a slightly weird midnight drink.
Tonight, now…he was a timeless magician whose body bent iron and sparked fire. Or was that the moon¬shine talking? Maybe, she swore he was the handsom¬est man she’d ever seen: hard and sweet looking at the same time.
Tonight, although he’d unveiled another piece of his puzzle, he sat before her a mystery she desperately wanted to solve.