Title: The Scars I Bare
Author: J.L. Berg
Series: By the Bay #2
Release Date: March 12, 2018
Every scar tells a story…
Some are etched on the skin, for the whole world to see.
Others are buried deep, so deep, only the heart can truly find them.
Dean Sutherland was the quintessential guy next door. Strong and dependable, with a heart of gold, he knew exactly where his life was headed. Until one fateful night at sea ripped away everything. Now he’s adrift, a man without a purpose.
Cora Carpenter thought she had the perfect life. A successful career, an affectionate husband and a daughter who adores her. But soon that perfect world is crashing down around her, and she’s in need of a fresh start. Moving to a remote town on the coast of North Carolina seems like the perfect plan. That is until she finds herself face to face with a kindred soul from her past.
Dean and Cora have more in common than either are willing to admit. Both deeply rooted in their pain, they can’t help but find hope in each other’s eyes and passion entwined with every touch. But can two broken hearts make a whole?
Will the scars they’ve bared to one another poison their happily ever after, or can love truly heal all?
J.L. Berg delivers a sweet, heart-wrenching romance with Dean and Cora’s story in The Scars I Bare. After meeting this couple in The Choices I’ve Made, I had been anxious to hear their story. Dean deserved a happily ever after and J.L. Berg certainly serves up all the feels for this broken hero. Dean and Cora’s chemistry was palpable and I loved the push and pull between this damaged duo. They made me laugh and swoon and sigh. I was captivated by their journey and fell head over heels alongside them as they healed one another and rediscovered what it meant to live and love. The secondary characters brought this book to life and served up some much-needed levity. I adored seeing Jake and Molly settled into their own happily ever after and Lizzie stole the show more times than I could count.
“I used to know what that felt like. A sense of belonging. But, now, I felt like driftwood lost to the sea. Just coasting from one day to the next until I faded into oblivion.”
After all, Dean had been through in The Choice I’ve Made, I knew this book would break my heart a few times before all was said and done. J.L. Berg did just that, unraveling this character thoroughly before piecing him back together. I adored Dean’s personal transformation, watching him rediscover the world in the wake of tragedy. Cora’s evolution was equally satisfying. Her courage and selflessness left its mark on me and I couldn’t help but root for her to find the kind of happiness she so deserved. Together, Dean and Cora found the strength to face their fears, shed their insecurities, and move forward in love and life. These two definitely made my heart falter and flutter along the way, but their journey was worth every moment of heartache.
“And, if there’s one thing I’ve learned along the way, it’s that the best heroes are made in the face of tragedy.”
The one thing I felt was missing from this book was flashbacks to Dean and Cora’s time in the hospital together. There are fleeting and brief feelings and impressions captured in Dean’s journal and Cora’s blog, but readers don’t get to experience their initial connection and relationship for themselves. Without a real understanding of their foundation of friendship, it left things feeling very fast, especially considering Cora’s recent relationship history. Otherwise, I loved the progression of Dean and Cora’s relationship, how they grew together in an organic and sometimes beautifully imperfect way. J.L. Berg’s writing continues to wow me. This story was the perfect balance of heartfelt emotion, witty dialogue, and electric chemistry. The Scars I Bare is another phenomenal romance from this talented author and I can’t wait for more of this incredible series!
By the time I arrived at the inn for dinner, I was a goddamn mess. Sweat was running down my back from the heat, even after changing my shirt twice. I’d changed my mind three times on whether to bring flowers for Cora, doubling back to the house at the last minute to grab them after I firmly decided to leave them at home.
When I finally arrived, I was a solid twenty minutes late and probably looked like a psychopath from all the sweat and the mangled flowers in my hand.
But all of this was forgotten the moment the door opened, and Cora greeted me.
“Jesus,” I cursed, giving her a once-over before she even had the chance to say hi. “You look insane.”
“Insane is good?” she asked, pink staining her cheeks.
I’d never seen her in anything beyond scrubs and shorts. Granted, this woman could wear a paper bag and be the hottest woman in the room. Tonight though, she’d dressed up, wearing a short, strappy number with tiny pink flowers dotting the fabric.
“Insane is really good,” I clarified.
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Don’t miss the rest of the series:
The Choices I’ve Made (By the Bay #1)
The Lies I’ve Told (By the Bay #3)
I’m a California native, who lives in the South – Virginia to be exact. I still prefer sushi to fried chicken, avocados to okra, and I absolutely loathe humidity. I do love watching the seasons change though. My husband and I have been here for over a decade, and I still get giddy like a school girl every time it snows. It’s magical!
I’m married to my high school sweetheart, and we’ve been blessed with two beautiful daughters and two rescue pups I like to call my “coworkers”. I’m obsessed with chocolate, minions, anything Harry Potter and I love to watch re-runs of Friends and Gilmore Girls!