Reviewed by Jenny & Gitte
G&J: 3.5 Stars
Gitte: I was so excited to get to Nico’s story as I loved what little we knew of this amazing and dark man who brings the light back for damaged and abused women. I’d heard it was dark, gripping and emotional and because I love the previous two books in this series as well as this Authors style of writing I couldn’t wait.
Now, I really did enjoy the story of Nico; I loved where this heroic man came from, the work he does and I loved the fact that he was a mature bloke who had real passion, intensity and humility. At times I read with tears in my eyes at the beauty of his poignant childhood moments as well as his empathy and the hope he brought to women who’d been dealt a real tough hand in life.
“When I was seven, I met this little girl. She gave me a sort of peace I haven’t found since. I can’t explain it – “
I did have a few issues with him though, I found that his inner monologue was a perfect balance of alpha, beauty, realness and sensitivity despite his sometimes arsehole behaviour, which I kind of understood. Yet, once in a relationship he begins to speak in clipped sentences where every other word is babe, to the point where this sentiment loses all meaning. I was gutted, because I really fell in love with Nico and once he embarks on a relationship with Lark it was as if he became two people instead of the original much loved character. He was a complex character with so much to give, wanting to settle down with the one who takes his breath away and gives it back. He was astute and quite brilliant yet I felt his character was let down because Nico was so much more than just….babe!
‘Seeing that beaten and bloodied woman led me to my destiny of helping women, but also brought new nightmares to my life. For whatever reason, abuse in all its forms, grief from what was or what wasn’t…I gave those women tattoos to help them heal.’
It almost seems a contradiction in terms, so I guess what I’m trying to say is that the premise of Nico’s story was great but the execution just wasn’t there for me. At times it felt like the story was confused on what it wanted to be. It felt forced in some parts and rushed in others. I don’t know Jenny, do you not think it seems as though something’s changed with the writing compared to the previous two books? I guess it doesn’t help that I just didn’t connect with Lark’s character either, maybe. I have to mention though that I’m glad this story had some real humorous scenes to balance out the emotional ones, I loved the shark who stole boxers. I also loved spending some time with Inky, Cole and the gang too. It’s always nice to catch up with much loved characters!
“If you can find something or someone that gives you peace when everything else around you is chaos, never let go, baby.”
Jenny: I absolutely loved the premise of this story Gitte and like you, I was so intrigued by this mysterious tattooist who featured in Inky’s life and was an integral part of her healing and her story. Who was this man who seemed to take the pain, the hurt and the sorrow from these damaged and broken women and release them from their inner demons and tragic pasts?
“You can’t always be perfect, Nico. It’s okay.”
I adored this author’s style in Inky and Cole, two books that really did consume me when we read them last year and I jumped in to reading Nico with gusto.
“I can’t have relationships because I have nothing else left to give. I can’t do it.”
I have to say, I’m conflicted in my feelings about Nico the story and Nico the man. Whilst on the one hand I did enjoy Nico’s story, I have to say that my feelings do mirror yours in that Nico felt as if he became someone else in this instalment. Or more to the fact, it was as if he had a split personality, or maybe as you say, the writing has changed. I’m not so sure, but something felt as if it changed with Nico. On the one hand, we had Nico the beautiful, tortured and eloquent man he was when in his own headspace, and the man he later became….someone quite different, very alpha, complete with the clipped sentences you mentioned and yes, I wholeheartedly agree that when a term of endearment is used to the point of exhaustion it does lose its meaning as “babe” did for me in this book.
The insights into the broken and damaged characters Nico assisted were quite emotional and these damaged women really did cling to the hope that Nico was in some way their saviour. My heart soared when Nico found Lark. Even though he felt he had nothing to offer in terms of his heart, here was a woman who would take on Nico’s troubles and doubts and be the thread that held our tortured hero together.
G&J: So, whilst we enjoyed Nico we did have a few issues which meant that we didn’t experience the love we did with Inky and Cole. It’s with a heavy heart that we say that because this author really does have a beautiful way of telling her stories.
Nico is a great character, he’s one of those you find yourself falling in love with for so many reasons and you want him to have his happy ending and to get in return what he so clearly gives to others. There were some real beauty in this story that shone like a beacon. Yet there were also moments where we thought the writing suffered, consequently influencing our connection to characters and the storyline.
We have to say the way the J B Hartnett brought this story to its conclusion was beautifully done and the last part of Nico’s story absolutely filled our hearts, as did the bond between Lark and Nico. Overall we do love The Leaves series and despite our feelings not exacting those we felt in the first two books, we would not hesitate in recommending this series.
ARC supplied by author in exchange for an honest review
Check out The Leaves Series here:
Please note that Nico can be read as a standalone