Review: Under Her Skin by Adriana Anders

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Title: Under Her Skin (Oxford #3)
Author: Adriana Anders
Date of publication: 7 Feb 2017
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Past abuse, Mild kink

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My rating: 4 stars


Blurb

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.


Review

This is the debut novel of Adriana Anders and found it following a recommendation by Molly O'Keefe, a favourite author of mine. I was worried about it being too dark for me but I'm glad I took a chance on it. It's not an easy read but it was absolutely worth it.

The premise of an abuse survival finding there way back to life/themselves is not something new but the particular abuse described here was something I had never heard of before. I was taken aback by the cruelty of it, yet I came to admire the heroine for finding a way to cope and overcome it. The authors gives us a heroine who is a survivor and a fighter and a hero with a lot of anger and violence in himself. They seem unlikely pair the start but they turned out to be a perfect fit by the end of the story. There is a mild kink play which I found fitting to the characters and really working for them as a couple.

Uma was amazing, I really liked the way she was portrayed as an abuse survivor with flashbacks to how she got to where she was, how blind she was at the beginning of her relationship with her abuser, how easy it is sometime to end up a violent relationship and how difficult it is to get out of one.

I liked her determination, her tenaciousness, her desire to get her life back to herself, to reclaim her body, her sexual desire. And here comes Ive, a giant of a man, a blacksmith with a temper and anger issues of his own. On the surface they didn't appear to be suitable for each other. She should have been afraid of his violent past (his anger flares up even now). Yet, the author shows us he has another side as well, he is caring and kind and there for her. Their sex games of her dominating him came as a surprise for them but actually worked for both Uma and Ive. I saw this a her reclaiming her desire/freedom/power and for him it was an unexpected turn on which quickly accepted as an element of his desire. Maybe it was also a way for his own violent/aggressive nature to take a step back. He was a man of action, led by his own principle of justice and duty, one who always takes charge, is responsible, provides for the others. Letting her run the show in the bedroom was a change from his usual modus operandi, a side of himself he never knew existed because his past lovers have never given him to chance to be anything but aggressive and domineering. Nobody expected submission from him because all they saw in him was a big, scary brute.

The writing was solid, the whole plot was neat and had an easy natural flow to it. My only complaint is that Uma's constant comparisons between Ive and Joey were too much and distracted me from her budding new relationship. I see their point and place in the beginning of the story but they became annoying and overused as her relationship with Ive progressed. It felt joey was always there in the back of her mind, even when she was Ive and it bothered me making me feel it was not fair to Ive.

Apart from this minor issues, I really liked the story. The dark of her horrific abuse was balanced by her growing relationship with Ive, the growth both of them underwent and the overall feeling of hope for the future. I can strongly recommend this book and can't wait to read the next in the series.

Purchase links: Amazon / B&N

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