REVIEW – Beautifully Damaged by L.A. Fiore

Title: Beautifully Damaged
Author: L.A. Fiore
Series: Beautifully Damaged #1
Release Date: March 25, 2014

Ember Walsh is a trusting soul with the quiet beauty of her late mother, who perished in a mysterious car crash when Ember was three. A little tomboyish from being raised by her father, Ember packs a punch when a stranger gets pushy with her in a bar, catching the steely blue eyes of a tall, gorgeous tattooed man—Trace Montgomery. Still damaged from her last disastrous relationship and warned off the bad boy by friends, Ember fights the smoldering heat that Trace sparks in her when he begins shadowing her like a dark angel.

Burdened by a lifetime of horror and heartbreak, amateur fighter Trace doesn’t want to want Ember. His deep self-loathing keeps him from having any meaningful relationships, but Ember is an itch he can’t scratch. The two push and pull, slowly crumbling their walls, seemingly brought together by fate, because the turmoil that haunts their pasts is interlinked in undeniable ways. But can these two fighters finally lay down their arms?

L.A. Fiore has written a heartbreakingly beautiful tale of self-discovery, self-acceptance and forgiveness with Beautifully Damaged. Trace and Ember’s journey was emotionally charged and full of surprises – the kind of story that makes you think and demands to be felt. L.A. Fiore didn’t pull any punches when it came to this couple. Trace and Ember have both endured more than their share of heartache, but it was their undeniable chemistry and deeply significant connection that made their pain so utterly worth it. I absolutely adored this couple’s shared stubbornness and the resultant push and pull between them. Their easy banter made me grin while their bold flirtations left me blushing. My heart fluttered with each delightfully sweet moment they shared only to falter with every instance of gut wrenching honesty. L.A. Fiore has definitely created something truly unique with this memorable couple.

“He’ll never love anyone enough to move past those demons. It’s just how he’s made.”

From the very beginning I knew I would love Ember. I connected with this character instantly, recognizing pieces of myself in her moments of insecurity. She had low self-esteem and was incredibly vulnerable, particularly in her relationship with Lena. In fact, I found myself aching to punch Lena in the face on several occasions – a true measure of L.A. Fiore’s ability to make me react in a visceral way to what was happening in the story. However, as the story progressed, Ember grew in tremendous ways. Initially shy, guarded and inexperienced, Ember totally blossomed in her relationship with Trace. I loved how easily he unraveled her, challenging her to stand up for herself and be the woman she was always ready to be. I fell hard for the smart, sassy and incredibly strong woman that Ember revealed herself to be. Not only was she lovable and relatable, but Ember also proved to be the kind of heroine that was easy to root for.

“No one ever has, or ever will, know me the way you do. You’re inside me.”

Trace left my head spinning on several occasions. As far as heroes go, this one was utterly swoon-worthy but he definitely had to come a long way to earn it. While I appreciated his outstanding surface qualities and obvious protective instincts, Trace’s hot and cold games with Ember had me riding an emotional rollercoaster. He was frustrating and at times incredibly infuriating but something deeper tugged at me. Once Ember got Trace to open up I was a goner for sure. The reality of what this man had been through, the guilt he carried and the ghosts that haunted him, made my heart ache in ways I couldn’t have imagined. As L.A. Fiore brought Trace’s past to light I found myself feeling for him, wanting to heal him and falling head over heels for the broken bad boy who so desperately deserved love. I definitely enjoyed digging deeper with Trace, even though so much of what I found broke my heart. His relationship with Ember proved to be the perfect catalyst for healing and the source of so much light in an otherwise dark journey.

“Life works in mysterious ways, Ember, and the secret is to not think too hard on the why or how of it, and to not mourn what is no longer, but live: live hard and love hard.”

While I enjoyed the various puzzle pieces that Trace and Ember were tasked with putting together, there were times when it felt like there was too much concurrent conflict happening for one novel. Between Trace and Ember’s family dramas, Ember’s devolving friendship with Lena, Todd and Dane’s mysterious motives, and Heidi’s bipolar behavior and undefined role in Trace’s life, I found myself a little detached by the constant turmoil. Plus, we never saw sufficient resolution in regards to Lena, Todd, Dane or Heidi so in retrospect they left me more frustrated than anything else. Despite the madness, I could definitely appreciate the tangled web of pain and deceit that L.A. Fiore weaved with these characters. She certainly kept me enthralled, not to mention totally invested in Trace and Ember’s happily ever after. I enjoyed the ease with which this author voiced the story. L.A. Fiore’s writing style was comfortable and overflowing with genuine emotion. Getting lost in her words and the colorful world she crafted was absolutely effortless. Beautifully Damaged is a heartfelt, gut-wrenching read and the beginning to what I’m sure will be an unforgettable series.

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Don’t miss the rest of the series:

Beautifully Forgotten (Beautifully Damaged #2)

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Buy on Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon AU

Beautifully Decadent (Beautifully Damaged #3)

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Buy on Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | B & N | Kobo

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