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‘He’s got the soul of an artist, but the exterior of a convict. Must be hard to walk through life like that. You look like a badass, but underneath it all, you just want people to see the real you.’

323 Tender Way by Mila Crawford and Aria Cole was such a sweet, fun, saucy and easy to read romance. We whizzed through this standalone in one sitting and it was just the perfect Sunday afternoon read on the sofa. This is the second book we have read by this author duo, and they really do write flawlessly together as one. We really have no idea where one begins and the other ends. 323 Tender Way packs a lot into a short amount of time with witty banter, sombre emotional moments, and flirty fun. Both Duke and Madison are lovable characters in their own respective ways. Both having overcome personal struggles which have led to their personal paths crossing across the counter in a busy coffee shop.

‘Madison was less afraid of my demons than I was.’

Tattooed reformed bad boy, Duke Miller has spent a decade fixing everything that went wrong in his life and now works as a tattoo artist. We loved his story and how he came to be where he is when he meets Madison. He’s a beautiful soul who carries a lot of guilt and self-blame. Madison is a firecracker of energy and talks a mile a minute. She was the energy to Duke’s laidback nature. One needing the other to ground them and centre their energy. The romance was a bit insta, yet it didn’t feel unbelievable nor rushed, as whilst this was a novella size read for us, it felt quite complete. We must give props to these Authors as there was one scene that literally ignited the pages. It involves a tattoo parlour, a sparrow tattoo and a first time in a tattoo chair. Holy smoking pages, it came out of nowhere and we know exactly how Madison felt, the tattoo endorphins are REAL! This book is one of the better novella sized romances we have read in a while. A wonderful story to slip into when you just want to shut the world out and experience a low angst romance with a brooding hero and a quirky heroine.

‘I was recovered. She was worth it. I Was worth it.’
Life and love were both equal doses of pleasure and pain.’

Synopsis

Duke Miller has a past he has been trying to outrun for ten years. His secret has forced him to keep his distance and never let anyone too close. When Duke unexpectedly becomes a barista for a day at the local coffee shop, he meets a woman who makes him question if keeping it all bottled up is worth the hurt. Maybe trusting the right person with his burden is all he needs to let go.

Madison Stephans always had a plan: work hard and live her dream, never let anything stand in her way, including her own two left feet or her notorious motor mouth. If she could just focus, keep her eye on the prize, she’ll make it happen, she swears. But what comes into focus is a tall, tattooed man offering to put it all on the line. Madison never wanted to get distracted, but some diversions are worth the risk they take.

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