Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Tasman Gibb
Raised by a gambling-addicted father, dog trainer Lulah Wallis yearns for some security in her life. And everything’s looking good with a job promotion at Dog Haven Sanctuary in her sights, plus the opportunity to buy the modest cabin she calls home. Adding a hot, reliable boyfriend to the mix would see her totally fulfilled.
Combat PTSD from two tours in Afghanistan has left Vince Marr with a failed marriage and blocked access to his precious daughter. Crippled by flashbacks of the war that came home with him, he’s keeping his head down to prevent anyone stateside becoming a victim of his inner battle Finding a kindred spirit in Calliope, a rescued pit bull, he lets Lulah talk him into training her, together, as his service dog.
As Lulah and Vince work together, their connection unintentionally deepens. Vince isn’t the rock Lulah hoped for, but she sees enough hope to persuade him to seek help for his condition. For Vince, having someone see the better man he could be is just what he needs to make the effort. Growing friendship ignites a passion neither can resist, but the doubts cast by their deep scars grow along with it—and old wounds are slow to heal. For both of them love is unsafe, and trust is a terrible risk. This time, it might be worth it.
Soul Scars Excerpt
“We could have discussed it.”
His breathing was ragged. The t-shirt she wore was filthy from cleaning out the trailer and her cut-off denim shorts had a fresh rip on the outside seam of the left leg. He stood, continuing with a measured voice. “You’re not hearing me. You would never have agreed.”
As he stepped towards her she backed away, her eyes volcanic. “I haven’t finished—”
He took a firm hold of each side of her face. “Neither have I.”
His kiss was filled with the hunger of days of denial and when she met it, releasing her pent-up fury, heat roared through his veins like an accelerant ignited. Lulah’s tongue sparred with his, as if it was the only way to express her anger and he stayed with her, holding her head firmly to give her something to fight. She was like a boxer, a flyweight he kept on her toes, her small fist pummeling his shoulder as she released all of the frustration of the past week. Finally she broke the kiss, a fast withdrawal before she caught his lip with a piercing bite.
Holy hell, he’d really made her mad.
Lulah tried to duck her head. He knew that move, where she’d put her forehead on his chest, to his heart, using it as a method to calm him, her connection to slow things down. Well fuck that. After what he’d admitted he wasn’t cutting out now. He put his mouth hard against her cheekbone, close to her ear. His breath came harsh and hot, the blood from where she’d bitten him coppery in his mouth. “Let it out, imp, all of it.”
She remained a coil of wire, tightly strung and barbed in his arms, and Vince kept his head against hers as she struggled against him to pull herself free. To hold her was easy and if he released her now, she’d dive for composure and surface fine. Most times he’d be happy for her to do that, but not today. “Come on, all of it out.”
“No.” Her sob filled with anger.
“You can’t hurt me, keep going.” It was bullshit. Of course she could hurt him, but not with her fist.
“No, no, no.” Each cry spilled with her mantra of denial.
“There’s more, Lulah, give me all of it. Out.”
Just as quickly, her pounding fist stilled. Through Lulah’s chest came a shuddering breath and she gripped his shirt, twisting it in her hand. “You can’t love me.”
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About the Author:
New Zealand-born, Tasman Gibb loves to write contemporary romance that very often features emotionally flawed heroines and heroes. She lives in Auckland, New Zealand, but spends as much time as possible on the Coromandel Peninsula. She shares a home with Mr Scott and rescue dog Skipper. She battles an obsession with collecting antique dog photos and drooling over Victorian taxidermy, but refuses to admit that she’s losing that battle!
You can find Tasman here:
Check out the first book in the Dog Haven Sanctuary series:
Having read Saving Justice, I was somewhat prepared to head into the story of Lulu and Vince. The reason I say somewhat is because I was unprepared for the depth of Lulu. Her characterization in Saving Justice is spot on, meaning, she kept everyone at arm’s length. Meeting her again in Soul Scars allowed me to see past the facade that she put up to keep herself safe.
For me, Lulu was a little harder to like than Marlo (Saving Justice), but I’m not entirely sure why. She wants to help Vince deal with his issues so that he eventually lives a happier life. Her desire to help isn’t entirely selfless because she resists a relationship with him, but the only way she will let her guard down enough is if he becomes the reliable man she needs. As a man who will drop anything he’s doing to take off when things get rough, he’s anything but reliable. Lulu also has her share of daddy issues, which is why she can’t deal with having a guy like Vince in her life in a romantic way. It’s too close to a life she’s lived in her past.
When we meet Vince in Saving Justice, we already know he is troubled and that’s putting it mildly. His frequent timeouts are a source of irritation for Lulu, despite her willingness to make accommodations for Vince’s need to get away. His struggles with his estranged wife to his attempt to fight against his burgeoning feelings for Lulu are all exacerbated by his PTSD. The only bright spot he seems to have is Calliope, his dog, who Lulu is trying to train as a service dog. Of course Vince is resistant to change and wants nothing more than to disappear when things get too hard. Unfortunately, it seems that the more he avoids or runs from his problems the worse they get.
Overall, I think their relationship developed organically. There were plenty of issues for each of them to overcome, but something was missing from their relationship that I got from Marlo and Adam. I think the heat level is dialed down. They are a sweet couple, but in some places it almost comes off platonic, which considering the level of resistance on both parts may make sense. I wish the heat level would have picked up more in the end.
In the end, I liked the book and would gladly recommend to someone looking for good, quick read.
This novel was provided to me in exchange for an honest review.