You can find my full review at Sinfully Sexy.
5 BEAUTIFUL STARS!
"Loss is loss. It's not a contest about who's been hurt more. We all have our own battles to fight."
Masquerade is book three in Nyrae Dawn's The Games series. I absolutely love this author. With each eloquently written and character driven book I read, I fall deeper under her spell. Masquerade was no exception, proving to me that this Ms. Dawn truly writes no wrong. This is a gripping tale about a broken and confused tattoo artist and her deeply burdened tattoo apprentice. Both hold tight to their deep-rooted and guarded secrets and hide behind carefully erected walls. As their lives intertwine and all their pretenses are shed, can they withstand what's on the other side of being so open and honest?
We get to know Maddox Cross in book two of the series, Façade. He is this tough guy determined to care for his sister. He is also someone who is deeply burdened by all the guilt he seems to carry. Guilt for not saying anything about his father's indiscretions. Guilt for not being there for his mother. Guilt for not being a better brother to his sister. The loss and devastation that Maddox has experienced has molded and changed him. The boy who once wanted to become a football star is now a young man with new aspirations of becoming a tattoo artist but who is afraid to really reach for the stars. Does a guy like him even deserve to have new dreams and goals?
Bee Malone is new to the town of Brenton. She chose the small town to open up her new tattoo shop, Masquerade. Bee's past is as heart-breaking as it is intriguing. She was kidnapped as a young girl and this has forever shaped her views about family, trust and love. She sees herself as emotionally broken and is unable to allow anyone to get close and get to know the real her. Bee hides behind her sassy, feisty and no-holds barred type of attitude hoping to keep people at bay. However, underneath the façade is a young girl who is deeply confused by the world and who is dealing with feelings of unworthiness. She ignores her family and scares people off with her attitude all the while the inner "girl" inside her is screaming for acceptance.
Bee and Maddox meet and there is a slow progression as to how we see their connection build and become more profound. What starts off with a lust-filled encounter then moves to a professional relationship and a shared love for the art of tattooing, to a careful friendship, and finally to something deeper and of the heart. As their lives become more interwoven, both begin to realize how similar they are in their loss and pain. They are so closed off from life and have such huge trust issues that allowing anyone into their private thoughts and secret depths is something they both admit to being unable to do. I loved watching them fall for each other and slowly begin to trust. It was like watching two people who were living in darkness slowly awaken and come into the light to not only find love but to discover who they truly are. This was powerful and intensely moving.
“Reality. It’s not living a lie like so many of the people we know have done. It's not treating life like a game of charades or living behind any type of facade. Life is fucked up, it hurts, and it’s not always pretty, but damned if it can’t be beautiful too.”
Nyrae Dawn's books are acutely intelligent, penetrating and perceptive. I relate to her characters on so many levels. In many ways we have all felt broken and lost at times with many of us experiencing loss. We are defined and made stronger by the hard experiences that we endure. How we push forward and deal with the heart-ache can change who we are, essentially make or break us. This is why I connect with this author's characters and Bee and Maddox were no exception. Their plights were real and tragic. Their connection built around their love for the art of tattooing was beautifully written. How they overcame and relied on the strength the other provided was powerfully moving. A love story I am not soon to forget.
A series that will stay with me for quite some time.
***An advanced reading copy of Masquerade by Nyrae Dawn was provided to me in exchange for an honest review.