THE PUREST HOOK – Scarlett Cole
Second Circle Tattoos , Book 3
St. Martin's Press
ISBN-13:  978-1-466-88669-8
May 2016
Romantic Suspense

Miami, Florida - Present Day

Sarah Jane Travers left her previous life seven years ago and is now working for Second Circle Tattoo Parlor.  The owners, Trent and Cujo, found her huddled by their front door, sent her into rehab, and gave her a job as their receptionist.  Now known as “Pixie,” she is finally beginning to accept her life for what it is.  Her friends have tried in vain to also teach her to do tattoos, but her joy in life is making fancy party dresses for little girls as bugs, insects, or animals.  The days of her stepfather drugging her mother and tying Pixie to a chair and doing indescribable things to her is over, and she bravely tries to move ahead with her new life.  The only person who upsets her life is Dred, lead singer of the heavy metal band, Preload, and a fellow judge with Trent on the reality TV show  Inked .  For some reason every time she meets Dred he asks her on a date.  Her excuses are usually far-fetched, “when it snows in the Sahara”.  He always makes her laugh.  Darn her stepfather for making a simple date with a man impossible.

Dred Zander and his four friends started their band when they were teenagers, all living together in a group home.  They each suffered mental and physical abuse from their families and still live together.  One of them still suffers temptation from drugs, and one cannot live or be by himself.  Even though they have one of the hottest bands around, their agent keeps pushing and pushing them to do things that have little to do with their music, hoping to “get them more exposure”.  Dred goes to Second Circle Tattoos for all his tattoos, and works with Trent on  Inked .  He has been trying to date Pixie for months, but so far she has resisted his best moves.

Things start to fall apart for both Pixie and Dred; Arnie, Pixie's stepfather, finds her and returns threatening her and requesting money, and Dred is being sued for paternity over the birth of a baby.  They each try to deal with their troubles apart, but soon Pixie is entering into dangerous territory.

Scarlett Cole has several different sub-plots going on in THE PUREST HOOK.  Drugs have had something to do with either each of their lives or their parents' lives.  Dred and his friends still have not overcome the horrors of their childhoods, and the only good thing that happened was when they were all put together in their group home.  Pixie's mother was kept high by her stepfather, and never tried to stop the abuse from him.  Whether her mother is alive or not Pixie dare not wonder; she left that life behind and just barely survived.

Secondary characters are Trent and Cujo, who saved her life that long ago day, and their girlfriends.  Dred's friends and band members are Nikan, Lennon, Jordan and Elliot.  Each of them deals with the trauma in their lives in different ways every day.  Sam is the group's manager, and seems to be charting a career for them that none of them want.  Why does he do that?  Then there's Arnie, Pixie's stepfather, who is determined to step into her life and ruin everything she's accomplished in the past seven years.

THE PUREST HOOK is a story of abuse, mistreatment, and getting the strength to persevere.  There are questions at what is happening between Dred and Pixie and they must each deal with the trauma of their earlier lives and how it is starting to destroy their present lives.  Heart stopping action and damp eyes will grab you as you see the strength of Dred and Pixie and how they overcome what has happened to them.  Through it all, love grows between Dred and Pixie and is all the more precious.  An intricate web of characters will bring you to a satisfying conclusion at the end of THE PUREST HOOK.

Carolyn Crisher