Author: Drew Elyse
Series: Sailor’s Grave #1
Release Date: May 17, 2018
“MOVING ON” IS JUST ABOUT ACTING THE PART.
I would never say as much to the people I love, but it’s the truth.
They want to see me doing better.
They want to see me living for more than just my son.
So I let them.
Everyday is about putting on a face,
pretending to get over the loss of my husband.
And every day is a lie.
UNTIL MOVING ON IS A TEMPTATION THAT CAN’T BE DENIED.
I’m not about to claim I’m a genius,
unless we’re talking with a tattoo gun or woman in my hands,
but I’m smart enough to know the beauty serving up my cupcake fix is off limits.
Really, I know.
Too bad the lure of putting a real smile on Kate’s face is so strong.
When she visits Sailor’s Grave Tattoo Parlor,
I can’t help but want to leave my mark.
Drew Elyse introduces readers to the Sailor’s Grave series with Liam and Kate’s heart-wrenching story. Marked is raw, painful, and wonderfully real as these two seemingly opposite personalities find common ground and an unexpected understanding of one another’s pain. Liam and Kate shared an easy friendship with an electric undercurrent of attraction that drew me in. This couple’s sometimes awkward, but always sweet encounters left me wanting more, and I quickly became invested in their developing feelings. Liam and Kate made me laugh and swoon and cry. Marked delivers plenty of angst and breathtaking vulnerability with just the right amount of sizzle in this emotionally intense story.
“He’d left a mark that went way beyond the skin.”
Both Liam and Kate exhibited significant personal growth over the course of this novel. I absolutely adored the way Drew Elyse used Kate and Liam’s budding relationship to push both characters to move forward, work through their pain, and let go of the hurt. Kate, in particular, had me in tears as I felt her grief and sorrow down to my bones. My deep understanding of this character had me celebrating every victory and rooting for her to find her happily ever after. The secondary characters really helped to round out this story, and they played a significant role in revealing the true nature of our hero and heroine. I found myself quickly getting attached to the peripheral personalities in the Sailor’s Grave world, and I look forward to hearing their stories in future books.
“It’s taking everything I have not to kiss you right now. Just once, I keep telling myself. Just one more taste. But it’s bullshit. Once more won’t be enough.”
I wish we could have seen more of Liam and Kate’s past together, specifically their first meeting and the ensuing moments of awkward flirtation and mounting sexual tension. Without this basic foundation, even in the form of flashbacks throughout the story, it felt as if the reader was diving into a relationship already in motion. However, since we didn’t get to experience it personally, I had a hard time connecting to their established familiarity and understanding how quickly it progressed into more. I did appreciate the uncertainty and fear that plagued Kate and Liam’s relationship. The “will they won’t they” aspect of this story felt genuine to where Kate was at in her life, and it gave the overall journey an emotional authenticity.
“You can remember, and grieve, and hurt, but you also live.”
The pacing of the story is consistent and Marked was an easy read. Drew Elyse’s writing is vibrant and imaginative, and I always feel transported into the story. Marked hits the heart a little harder than some of her previous novels, but Drew balances the intense emotion with just enough sweet and sexy fun. Overflowing with sparkling chemistry, witty banter, and inked book boyfriend perfection, Marked will leave you begging for more of this new and colorful world from Drew Elyse. A spinoff of the Disciples Daughters MC series, Marked features some familiar faces that will make you grin. These cameos gave Liam and Kate’s story a feeling of family that had me instantly hooked. Drew Elyse serves up sass, sizzle, and some serious feels – Liam and Kate’s story is sure to leave you Marked!
I have been with Drew Elyse from the very beginning, and I’m happy to report that she does nothing but improve with time! Marked is a spin-off to her MC series and I absolutely adored getting to see a sweeter, more nurturing side to her characters. Kate and Liam navigated their relationship through sweet encounters and a bit of back and forth rawness. The resulting feeling left me deeply invested in the outcome of their partnership as well as a desire for more from these two personalities.
“It wasn’t just about controlling myself. It wasn’t about not getting in too deep. It was all about leaving my mark in whatever way I could.”
There was a definite authenticity and rawness to Kate. Rather than coming off as flighty and indecisive, her inability to commit was completely understood given her past and what she had been through. Though I certainly couldn’t relate, my heart ached for her and I grieved right alongside her. The journey she was attempting to make endeared me to her, and left me rooting for all the good in the world to come to her. Furthermore, I could not have come up with a better counterpart for her than Liam. He was gentle and patient, completely understanding of Kate’s situation. Plus, he was absolutely incredible with her son – which is always a stack of plusses in the book boyfriend category! There was a certain level of push and pull to their relationship, but it was through those moments of back and forth, ups and downs, that I got a feel for how much these two truly cared for one another. Even when they weren’t good at finding the right words, their inner thoughts and actions filled me with butterflies and left me giddy for the moments when they were together.
“I can’t promise I won’t have bad days. I can’t promise I won’t backslide into the grief from time to time, but I swear that I know what I want.”
Having Kate be so closely tied with the MC was definitely a bittersweet feeling for me. At times, I was frustrated because this was supposed to be a new series. However, it also warmed my heart to see a couple of the characters that I have already come to know and love. I’m desperately anxious to get my hands on more books in the Sailor’s Grave series though. Drew Elyse does an amazing job piquing your interest on the secondary characters while never overshadowing the storyline between Kate and Liam. Elyse has set the bar high with the Marked being the first book and I can’t wait to see where she goes next!
Christ, I really needed to stop doing this to myself.
Not give up the desserts, because fuck that, but stop torturing myself with the gorgeous woman that served them.
I knew the deal. She was a single mom, widowed a couple years back. She was under the protection of the club because Daz was her late husband’s brother. I also knew that despite conversations I’d overheard about her doing better, about her starting to move on, that she was nowhere near that place.
Maybe it was because I’d been old enough to understand everything as it happened when we’d lost Dad and after. I recognized what the people in her life couldn’t: that she wasn’t moving past a goddamn thing.
It was achingly familiar, seeing that fake smile. It was even more so to see the one she gave her son, knowing that if I were seeing it closer, there would be that lingering sadness behind her eyes that I saw in my mom’s for too long.
And that whole thought process made it sound like I had some fucked Oedipus complex.
There was a cinnamon braid left. That never happened. Sugar’s Dream was more of a dessert place than full-service bakery. The few things Avery made that worked for breakfast were usually snatched up before I ever got there in the afternoons. The cinnamon braid specifically was a favorite at Sailor’s Grave—it was the reason we had an actual kitchen knife in the back after we’d all fallen on one and had to rip off pieces by hand.
“Gotta take that back to the shop,” I told her, pointing to it.
Unable to hide the fact that she was relieved to have a task that involved moving farther away from me to prep a box for it, she jumped right to it. I wasn’t enough of a gentleman to not glance up from considering what else to get in order to take a look while she had her back to me. Kate looked fucking incredible coming and going. I liked a woman with curves, and she was far from lacking in that department. She had light brown hair that danced around her shoulders when she wore it down, porcelain skin that looked like silk, and amber eyes that usually looked brown, but stood out when there was enough light to see them properly.
She was easily the most delicious thing in this goddamn bakery.
She was also the only thing in the place I was sure I wasn’t getting a taste of.
A minute later, she came back with the tied up box, setting it on the counter by the register.
“Anything else?” She tried to avoid my eyes but ended up looking right at my mouth. My cock took notice, fixing to fight for attention.
I was so fucking tempted to answer with something like “a taste test” just to get a rise out of her, but I bit my tongue.
“Two of the lemon cupcakes, one raspberry chocolate, and” —I peeked around her— “are those the mocha ones you’re working on?”
She glanced over her shoulder like she wasn’t sure what she’d been doing when I walked in. “Um…yes.”
“Can I get one of those?”
Again, it was full hustle to get away from me. I got it. If I were a better man, I might stop coming in. Of course, I’d probably lose it if I tried going cold turkey from my preferred sugar fix, but I could at least talk someone else into coming for me. Jess would probably do it if I bankrolled her own cupcake habit.
Turns out, I wasn’t that good of a person. I wouldn’t push her, but I couldn’t deny myself at least getting to see her beyond just the Disciples’ parties. These little visits were like a fucking drug.
“How’s your boy?” I asked, grasping at anything to get her to talk to me.
“He’s good. He’s telling everyone at his daycare that he’s going to be a biker when he grows up.” It was impossible to miss the love and pride in her voice.
“Probably not a stretch. I wouldn’t be surprised if the brothers had him on his own bike the minute he’s old enough.”
“His dad had a bike, too. Owen’s been around them since he was born.”
I watched as what she’d said registered. I saw her freeze, every inch of her tightening up. She was still facing away, keeping her expression hidden, but I didn’t doubt it was a mix of shock and devastation. I hadn’t known what a minefield the topic was, though I couldn’t be sure I’d have avoided it if it was. Mom told me time and again as she got better that talking about Dad helped, even as much as it hurt.
“I’m sorry. I know that doesn’t help at all. I know it still hurts and all the sympathy in the world doesn’t touch that, but it’s true.”
For a long moment, she didn’t move. I didn’t even see her breathing from my vantage point. Then, she turned around with the box of cupcakes in her hands. She didn’t adopt that benign smile she always had at work, but that didn’t mean she was giving me any glimpse of the real grief.
No, Kate’s face was fucking blank.
It wasn’t my fucking place to try to “help,” especially not while she was at work. Suddenly, if I could take the words back, if I could undo even the reminder of her husband, I’d do it in a heartbeat.
Before I could dig my foot out of my mouth and figure something out to say, she went over to the register and started ringing up my order. “That’ll be $17.56.”
Even her voice was flat, lifeless.
Rather than push and make a bigger ass of myself, I pulled out my card and paid without a word. I kept my mouth shut as she wordlessly handed it back with my receipt, and then slid the boxes toward me.
Only when I had them in hand did she say, again in that dead voice, “Have a nice day.”
I’d fucked up. Royally.
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Drew Elyse spends her days trying to convince the world that she is, in fact, a Disney Princess, and her nights writing tear-jerking and sexy romance novels.
When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found analyzing every line of a book, binge watching shows on Netflix, doing strange vocal warm ups before singing in a variety of musical styles, or screaming at the TV during Chicago Blackhawks games.
A graduate of Loyola University Chicago, she still lives outside Chicago, IL, where she was born and raised, with her boyfriend and her fur babies Lola and Duncan.