The Scars of Us by Nikki Narvaez
Kaiya Marlow has always been cautious, precise in every decision she makes. When her dark past threatens to resurface, she decides to take precautions to protect herself by enrolling in self-defense classes at her gym.
Her instructor, Ryker Campbell, is the tattooed womanizer everyone warns about. Kaiya attempts to resist Ryker's advances, but the more time they spend training together, the harder it is for Kaiya to resist him.Ryker's view on relationships is simple: strictly sex, nothing more.
Haunted by demons from his past, he never allows himself to become attached to any woman. No attachment means no weakness, no vulnerability, no pain. He doesn't realize that his whole world is about to be turned upside down when Kaiya enters his self-defense class. Determined to have her, at least for one night, Ryker sets a plan into motion that will change both of their lives forever.
Will love be able to heal their scars, or are they too deep to overcome?
Kelly - 4 Crowns
Well, this book was a very pleasant surprise! I really enjoyed Kaiya and Ryker's story, so much in-fact that I read it in only two sittings.
The Scars of Us depicts the devastating after effects of sexual abuse. Kaiya, from a young age was a victim, her abuser someone she should have been able to love and trust, instead he destroyed, leaving behind a nothing but a broken shell. Now, a young woman still wrapped in the confines of her past nightmares, unable to put any semblance of trust in another - continually struggling to move forward, even eight years after the final 'incident' that institutionalised her attacker.
Ryker is a personal trainer / gym instructor who is renowned for his womanising man-whore ways. He too harbours a deep bitterness, still lingering in the pain of the past that has moulded him into the man he is today.
With the impending release of her abuser, Kaiya is terrified that he will come back to finish the job he started. With the help of her eldest Brother, Kamden, Kaiya enrols into a new gym, and takes up self-defense lessons in the form of kickboxing.
Ryker is intrigued by the new girl and makes it his mission to befriend her, knowing the outcome will be her underneath him, in his bed - simple really... he's never been turned down before, but this girl is different, and this little warrior is about to give him the challenge of a lifetime...
And wow, this girl here love a challenge, yes, I'm talking about me. I loved Ryker immediately, such a book slut I know... But he never made excuses for his behaviour; a real bad boy with a hard exterior that we all love, yet cut through those layers and you just know there is a warm squishy middle, and I love squishy. He made my heart melt!
Kaiya's character is more complex, she is our damaged heroine, who finally meets her hero, but it took time and kudos to her, she made him work for it! Stripping those layers and learning to trust and love another was found on a mat, in a gym, practicing life saving techniques to ward off another attack. The idea of fear from events in the past, opening a new door to something beautiful in the future is a warming notion and the author did a great job in portraying that.
This is well written, well paced story that will appeal to fans of the damsel in distress finding comfort in the arms of an unlikely saviour. Fans of fighter/gym/boxing heroes should read this, as I believe Ryker will certainly scratch an itch or two... ;)