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3.5 StarsThe Scars of Us
by Nikki Narvaez is a new adult novel that explores how traumatic events in our past can deeply scar us. Some scars are more profound than others. Some leave deep imbedded fears that are not easy to overlook and move past. Both Ryker and Kaiya have been wounded. They are broken and scarred. Will love be enough to save them?
Kaiya Marlow did not have things easy growing up. Her dark past has molded her into a young woman who trusts no one, keeps her distance and essentially leads an emotionally closed off life. For Kaiya this is the only coping mechanism she is familiar with. This is how she survives day to day life. Her carefully erected walls are what keeps her safe and sane. As Kaiya is slowly trying to move forward and overcome her traumatic past, the demons that haunt her threaten to strike once again. Kaiya decides to enroll in a self-defense class as the desire to learn how to protect herself becomes urgent. Kaiya had no way of knowing that her instructor would be someone that throws her off balance in more ways than one. She could not fathom that she would finally meet someone that would make her wants to break her own rules.
Ryker Campbell has a past that has also closed him off from deeply connecting with someone. He no longer does relationships and is happy being that guy who hooks up with a woman and then walks away. He is who he is and makes no apologies for it. Trust does not come easy for Ryker and he is not willing to ever open himself up again. By keeping things simple and only focused on sex with members of the opposite sex, there is no chance that he can get hurt again. When he meets Kaiya at the gym he works at, for the first time in a very long while Ryker finds himself wanting more than one hot night.
As Ryker and Kaiya begin to see each other in and out of the self-defense classroom and gym, the more the pair have a hard time ignoring the sizzling attraction they seem to have for one another. Ryker’s advances soon wear Kaiya down and they begin a tentative relationship slowly working their way into a delicate trust. As both Kaiya and Ryker get more immersed with one another, their walls start to dissolve leaving them both vulnerable and open. When Kaiya’s past come barreling forward pushing its way into her present life, can either Ryker or Kaiya unchain themselves from old scars long enough to stand strong. Or, will the fragile relationship that they have built be engulfed in the fire and become nothing but embers?
All in all, The Scars of Us
was an enjoyable book. Despite the fact that the “wow” factor was missing for me, I still remained engrossed in the book and wanted to see Kaiya and Ryker get their happy forever. This is a book about how two individuals face their fears, something that is not easy to do as it leaves you exposed and vulnerable. As much as I loved how Ryker was so committed to helping Kaiya overcome her demons while also facing his own, that deep emotional connection that I was hoping to feel for both characters was somehow lacking on my part. While this book is good, there was nothing that truly made it stand apart from other NA novels that I have read. Do I recommend this book? Yes, I think many who read this one will enjoy it. I did. Just because that powerful punch was missing for me does not mean that it won’t be a book that deeply touches you.***An advanced reading copy of The Scars of Us by Nikki Narvaez was generously provided to me in exchange for an honest review.