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"It's how we deal with things that hurt us the most that define us"


One thing I particularly love about the Marked Men series is that with each new Marked Man comes a new all consuming story that wraps you up in an intense love story that is anything but straightforward. Jack London once said , "Show me a man with a tattoo, and I'll show you a man with an interesting past" with the ink Nashville Donovan is sporting he most definitely has an interesting past. A running theme throughout Crownover's work is her fixation with the past and why do we let the past determine our future and if we do why does it have to be that way? I revel in the way Crownover allows her characters to be both defined by their pasts and tattoos in an monumental tale of Love-Lust-Faith-Dreams {slight Thirty Seconds to Mars reference} that absolutely leaves a mark on you.

Nash Donovan had a rocky start to life, abandoned by his father, pretty much disowned by his step father and made to feel worthless by his own mother and to top it all off his mentor/surrogate father/biological father {spoiler alert} is dying from cancer. So you'd be right in assuming his world is pretty much collapsing around him as he battles with dealing with the fact the man he thought abandoned him had been there for him his whole life but just as he comes to this realisation the man he loves most in the world is slowly slipping away from him. Despite his rather intense appearance with flames tattooed on his skull and a whole body dragon tattoo Nash is inherently a good guy who wears his heart on his sleeves, which makes him quite the lovable rogue.

Saint Ford on the other hand I have less love for. That seems to be a running theme with myself and the ladies who end up with my Marked Men. Saint is a shy woman with a lot of baggage from her adolescent years, the most distressing fact of all was that I could actually connect with her even though she was being such a girl about things. Nash was her first love, who was not only oblivious to this fact but also a teenage boy. So Saint fell harder and harder for Nash and he was none the wiser because "a crush is a crush and it can run away from you pretty fast" and one day she heard teenage Nash running his mouth and assumed he was talking about her and this catastrophic misinterpretation of words changed the way she looked at the opposite sex. That coupled with her mother's eccentricity due to her father's unfaithfulness made her build a wall; a wall that said "people could only hurt you and disappoint you if you let them. They only had the power to hurt you if you thought they were were special and above that". Saint is such a guarded character that there were many times when I just wanted to scream at her that self preservation is stupid, sometimes you just have to allow yourself to take a chance a risk getting hurt, because hurting is how you know it's real - otherwise your life is merely a meaningless existence, in my opinion. That's a huge part of the reason why I couldn't connect with Saint off the bat, yes she's gone through a lot: her broken heart and now her broken family but her detached workaholic persona made it hard for anyone to get close to her, let alone a reader. As the novel progressed Saint  found a way to let go of the walls she had built 

The notion of the Yin and Yang had never been more appropriate for a Marked Man novel. In Chinese culture Yin and Yang are opposite in nature but a part of nature, they rely on each other and they can't exist without each other, can anyone else hear bells ringing or see light bulbs flashing? I think in order for Nash and Saint to be fully functioning persons {thank you Maslow and my Psychology teacher} they really do need each other and Crownover does a fantastic job at depicting that aspect of their relationship.

As much I enjoyed the plot overall, I found the beginning to be quite static purely because of the way Saint didn't allow anyone to get close to her, but that could be overlooked by the quirky and unorthodox character names Royal, Nash's sassy cop neighbour, Salem, the new girl on the block ready to cause as stir in Marked Men #5 and Saint who lives up to it.

Something truly amazing Jay Crownover  wrote in the introduction of Nash that pretty much sold the story to before I had even read one word was ...

  "Trying to love yourself, to know your own value and worth, is something I think a lot of young girls struggle with and that can definitely flow into adulthood. We all have things that set us apart, make us special, make us who we are, and I would love to see those things celebrated and enjoyed across the board. Let that freak flag fly! (Or whatever you have.)

  I think on the journey to finding the love we crave, the love we truly deserve, the first stop has to be the love we have for ourselves. That's a love that can never be lost and can only grow and get stronger the more it is fostered and developed. Appreciate who you are. Love what makes you different. Tell your story your way. Embrace the things that make you beautiful inside and out, and know that once you do, no one else can ignore those traits. Revel in that quirks that simply make you you, and do it with pride."


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