A tattooed, reformed bad-boy and a brilliant but shy girl who has horrible scars and dark secrets; two broken people who can’t help but fall for each other. Sign me up! I’ve always found new adult romances that take place in tattoo parlors have an added level of depth and heartache. Most tattoos (the good one at least), have a deeper meaning or story behind them–something has to be really important for you to get it permanently marked on your body. When Tenley walks into Hayden’s tattoo parlor, Inked Armour, he knows the exquisite and dark drawing of battered wings she wants tattooed on her back has a story, a story that has forever changed Tenley’s life, while leaving both physical and emotional scars. He feels a both a surge of protectiveness he can’t understand, and a desire to understand Tenley and her scars. Tenley, in turn, is intrigued by the network of tattoos on Hayden’s body. She knows each one holds a painful memory, and she desperately wants so understand this beautiful, broken man, and the story of his painful past.
“You need to be careful with her. She’s broken.”
“Worse than me?”
“I don’t know. Maybe… She has a lot of scars.”
Tenley is one of my favorite characters in new adult fiction. She went through a trauma that resulted in a loss most of us can’t comprehend, or even imagine surviving. It leaves her incredibly emotionally unstable, and as a result she is incredibly hesitant around Hayden at first. It’s not until she recognizes that he carries his own fair share of pain that she begins to open up.
“His armor of ink and steel protected him; it kept most at a distance. Getting to know the man underneath would never be easy.”
Hayden’s past was riddled with drugs, alcohol, and promiscuity. Now, however, he’s turned his life around. His dark past is now detailed in the ink on his body, and he’s started fresh. He’s the owner of Inked Armour, and across the street is Serendipity, a quaint coffee shop where the girl he can’t stop thinking of works. When Hayden feels an immediate connection with Tenley, and when sees the tattoo she wants, he feels a possessive need to be the one who translates it onto her back. While the synopsis tries to depict Hayden as a bad-boy, he’s really not. Instead, he’s kind, empathetic, hard-working, respectful of women, and stays far, far away from drugs. Oh, and he has an unhealthy obsession with cupcakes. Really the only “bad boy” quality he has are the multiple piercings and tattoos, but instead of being a “fuck you” to the world like some tattoos are, they tell his story, and in a way are his armour. What I especially liked about Hayden was his refusal to conform to society and its standards. All too often, people are focused on fitting into all the boxes and making sure everyone approves of them. Not Hayden though, and I really admired that.
“And yet here he was, letting me in, hoping I would do the same… Under all the armour he wore, Hayden was in pieces like me. It made him safe. He understood what I’d been through.”
The relationship between Tenley and Hayden went deeper than most. Each harbored incredibly deep and painful emotional scars, and on some instinctual level they both realized that the other recognized and understood their pain. That’s what made the trust between these two possible. These are two people that probably shouldn’t be together, and shouldn’t work, but they do. Hayden is an OCD tattoo artist still plagued and broken by his messed-up past, and Tenley is one of the most closed-off, skittish, and emotionally unstable characters I have ever encountered. Yet, its their individual brokenness that creates a beautiful love. Their broken pieces form a whole, and a relationship that can save them from the nightmares.
Like I said before, I absolutely loved the setting of this story. Whenever I see a New Adult book that is set in a tattoo parlor, I can’t help but pick it up. The backgrounds of the tattoo artists, and the relationship between artist and client, even if it is platonic, is fascinating. Having something inked onto your skin permanently is already an emotional experience, but when you have the added depth of a story behind the design, the story goes from emotional to heart-wrenching, as is the case in Clipped Wings. I know I personally have wanted a tattoo for years, and have a design in mind…I just need to get over my pesky fear of needles first. For now, I’ll just have to satisfy myself with reading books about tattoo parlors, with quirky and lovable employees, and clients who hold dark secrets they want to reveal through artwork. The author flawlessly employed the dual POV use, and each chapter definitively differed in tone, and I didn’t feel like I was reading different characters who were exactly the same, which often happens in dual POVs. This approach also added to the emotional impact of the story. While this was defnitely and edgier story, thanks to the dark themes of loss and death, there was still comic relief in the witty banter between Hayden and Tenley. I never felt overwhelmed by the sadness in this book, as the comical banter and emotional punches were pretty evenly spaced and distributed. I applaud Helena Hunting for creating the emotional masterpiece that she did. I give Clipped Wings 5/5 stars (despite that incredibly painful cliffhanger ending), and I’ve already got Inked Armour in the mail and on it’s way to me.