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Review: Beautiful Scars by Shiloh Walker

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Beautiful Scars
Author: Shiloh Walker 
Release Date: Jan. 15, 2013
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic Romance
Format(s): e-book
Book Source: Purchased with my own funds

About the book:

     Some scars cut right to the heart.
     Three years after her divorce, Chaili Bennett is over her ex. Her only problem now? Of the few men she’s dated since, no one “gets” her. Not like Marc Archer—a man who’s never seen her as more than a friend.
     Marc Archer needs a date for a last-minute charity event, and he needs it fast. Not that women aren’t throwing themselves at his world-famous face and body, but sometimes it’s less messy—as in less personal—to use his sister Shera’s escort service.
     The last woman on earth Marc expects to see in his sister’s office is Chaili. There’s something different about her, but nothing pleases him more when Shera sets them up. That simple date quickly evolves into much more as they both discover the other fills a deep, secret need they’ve shared with no one else.
     Though Chaili insists one night is all she wants, Marc isn’t walking away now. Not until he discovers what put the shadows in her eyes. And the scars on her soul.
     Warning: This book involves soulful songs, soulful sex, a soulful singer and lots of heartbreak. But no worries, there’s a happy ever after.

What VampBards talking about:

     In the synopsis for Beautiful Scars, the reader is warned, “This book involves soulful songs, soulful sex, a soulful singer and lots of heartbreak…”  Thanks for the warning, but I still wasn’t ready for the emotionally-charged story into which I was plunged head-first.  When it feels like an author takes a peek into my soul, reaches for the strings of my heart, and plucks them like a skilled harpist, that’s exactly when I know that this is one of the titles that will be on my top list for 2013.
     The synopsis for Beautiful Scars gives us a concise overview of the plot.  There’s a lot that happens, but one of the most important over-arching themes in this title is that of meaningful relationships developing from truly knowing a person on the INSIDE.  I’m so sick of the porcelain doll, or even the reluctant butterfly, that is pure perfection snagging the rich, hottie.  We ALL have scars we bear.  In this day and age, we all carry baggage into our relationships.
     What ensnared me the most with Beautiful Scars is the way it seemed to speak to me.  It was almost like Ms. Walker picked my brain and wrote the book.  I am Marc.  Anyone that has been in a relationship that has ended with them being walked all over can surely agree that his behaviors, while eccentric, were totally warranted.  Marc, however, isn’t off-the-charts strange if you add in the fact that he is a gifted composer and lyricist.  Everyone has gifts and talents, and his happen to lie outside the conventions of acceptable, SIMPLE human communication.  Marc is able to communicate through song, and for me, this is a much more powerful medium than simply chatting up important people at a social event.  Marc seems to relax when he is playing piano or singing.  Typical for an artist.  We tend to find comfort and a ‘centering’ effect when we are able to additionally express ourselves through our chosen art form.  Here’s one of the first quotes I ran across that I felt embodied Marc’s feelings when he was allowing himself to just FEEL:  “He forgot about the people around him.  The only one who mattered was Chaili.  From the corner of his eye, he glanced her way and his heart banged against his ribs as he realized she was watching his hands.” (Kindle ed., Loc 562)  Besides feeling Marc’s emotions, this was an extremely hot passage for me.  Chaili is appreciating Marc’s music, and symbolically, watching his hands – the instrument of the music’s creation.
     When Marc found out about Chaili’s scars (spoiler-free!), my heart broke.  Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.  I’m glad Ms. Walker didn’t take this part of the storyline any further, because it’s something I think about every day.  I will admit, I had to put the story down for awhile after reading this section.  It was painful for me, and re-opened some feelings that I simply thought I had under control.  It’s good to know that I’m still working on them.  Also, Ms. Walker did a wonderful job handling this sensitive and emotional content.  Again, from Marc’s perspective, I thought that everything was quite realistic, and until and unless one has to deal with this or a similar topic, they have no idea how they’d handle it – from either perspective.
     Chaili is a fierce woman.  That’s my take.  She survived a couple terrible events in her life, and has come out the other side a bit weathered, but emotionally whole… eventually.   At least she learned from her mistakes!  So, Chaili married a jerk & got divorced.  Happens every day, right?  I’m pretty sure you’ll completely hate her d-bag of an ex-, much as I do, once you read Beautiful Scars.  I think that Chaili’s journey of self-discovery began before Marc returned to the scene, however.  To me, it felt like she’d been looking for herself at every turn.  Her former marriage didn’t provide anything to improve herself.  She continued to look for more, and her thoughts always seemed to return to Marc.  He truly ‘got’ her.  He saw her for who she was, and never tried to make her into something she wasn’t.  Even once they crossed into ‘relationship’ territory, he still saw her for who she was.  Here’s Chaili’s ‘turning point’ quote:  “She even felt … whole, in some ways.  Some part of her felt real again.  She felt wanted – she hadn’t felt that way in years.” (Kindle ed., Loc 817)  So, to me, this expresses the way Chaili had been working on herself, but never totally connected with the changes she was making.  They were superficial until she realized that being wanted was something that she needed in her life.  We ALL need to feel wanted.  The basic human need for acceptance can over-ride pretty much everything.  Additionally, Chaili does a lot of work from home; she doesn’t necessarily have to meet with her clients face-to-face as a web designer.  The positive feedback via phone/internet communication is no where near as satisfying, for most, as in-person positive feedback.  The need for positive reinforcement, positive experiences and interactions is a basic human need.
     Marc didn’t mind Chaili’s baggage, and was willing to work with her on her baggage.  That, in and of itself, is the big reason I think Marc and Chaili work for me.
     There’s some things that might bug some readers – like Marc’s perceived lack of knowledge of some events.  Totally possible when you’re in the public eye and have managers & handlers taking care of your affairs.  When one decides they need a break from reality for awhile.  Totally possible.  When one feels like they’ll simply f’up if they have contact with those they love.  Totally possible.  Very realistic representation of someone, although they’ve achieved professional excellence, who still struggles with the small things, such as maintaining close bonds with those that truly matter in their lives.  None of these things bothered me one iota.  I know they can happen.  Highly creative people oftentimes live IN THE MOMENT.  They are driven to complete projects and tasks so they can move on when the next muse strikes.  I know that compartmentalizing things is the only way that truly creative people can maintain their sanity, and I think Marc did that for himself.
     Beautiful Scars brings the reader some touching, emotionally-charged sex scenes.  They. Are. Hot.  Although, I think the emotional connection between the characters made it hotter for me.  Light BDSM, done in a tasteful and respectful manner, was an unexpected twist.  Worked well with the characters, and wasn’t over-done.
     If someone had told me that Beautiful Scars would make me laugh, cry, and reflect upon my own life, I would have shaken my head in disbelief.  After finishing this title, I’m glad I had the opportunity to look back and see how far I’ve come, and how glad I am that I’ve survived the adversity, much like Marc and Chaili.  Only the most gifted of authors can claim to authentically move people in a positive manner.  Today, I thank Shiloh Walker for nudging me toward the realization that ‘I got this’.

VampBards Rating:

Personal favorite – a must read (A+)
 
 
Purchase Info:
Beautiful Scars
  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14701924930702018352 Terri Rochenski

    That sounds like one packed-with-a-gut-punch book. Definitely going to add it to my to-read pile.

    Thanks for the awesome review!!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13881100658602441437 BookaholicCat

    This book sounds great, I’m adding it to my TBR.
    Awesome review.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16627780985218960080 Lexxie Lin

    I loved this book as well, so sensible, and still very hot in places. Both the main characters were very likeable too.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07785046046157000126 Shiloh Walker

    Thanks so much for the review. I’m glad you enjoyed it. :)

  • http://vampbard.livejournal.com/ vampbard

    @Terri, @Bookaholic: Plan to read in a day. I was totally enthralled, and if it hadn’t hit so close to home, I would have. @Lexxie: I thought the characters were realistic. Sure, I ended up rooting for them to be together…but I still think Marc needs some help in the social skills arena (much like most musicians, in all reality).

  • http://vampbard.livejournal.com/ vampbard

    @Shiloh: It’s easy to write reviews when I’ve got some awesome plot to put behind it!

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