Review: Breaking Skin

Title: Breaking Skin
Author: Debra Doxer
Genre: Standalone Contemporary Romance 
 Release Date: June 20, 2016


“Deep down, we all want a no-matter-what kind of love.”

Dancing is like magic. It makes me disappear. When I dance I’m not a sister or a daughter, not a lover or a friend. I exist in the moment, onstage, where I turn pain into art and pretend the illusion is real. My past is an abomination and my future is unwritten, but my present is pure, fluid, and focused. I’m content, or at least I think I am, until the night I meet a man who makes me want more.

He’s broken, just like me, but in different ways. He’s older and nothing like the men I’m used to. Compared to him, they’re all boys, immature and insipid, while he’s a force of nature, confident and virile. Virile is a word I’ve never used before, and I only use it now because he embodies it so completely.

At first, he fights the attraction between us almost as hard as I do. But when words like destiny and soulmate whisper through my thoughts, how can I ignore them? He can have any girl he wants, but he looks at me as if I’m the girl he’s waited for his whole life. How can I tell him I’m not that girl?

I wish I were enough for him, wish I were whole. But beneath my facade, I’ve been falling to pieces for a long time, and I don’t know if I’m strong enough to resist the downward momentum.

TeriLyn's Thoughts: 4 stars

**Breaking Skin generously provided in exchange for an honest review.**

Debra Doxer rocked this romantic contemporary suspense about two broken people finding each other during an unlikely time and never losing the feeling they get when together. I read this book in a day thanks to the lovely and compelling story telling of Doxer. She so easily allows the reader to naturally feel the gambit of emotions her characters feel.

Breaking Skin runs an emotional toll as Doxer weaves a story from the first person points of view of both heroine and hero, Nikki and Cole. As I don't want to spoil story I'm not going to give specifics about these two. The overall mood of their story is somber and mysterious, their coupling happening by chance after a series of unfortunate events. There's great build up to their situation, a friends to lovers type deal with a twist. Both characters have charm and a certain charisma in their melancholy that pulls you in from their very first encounter. You root for them even through the upheaval happening around them. 

Some instances gave me pause in the story where I wished things could have been different in reference to a specific secondary character but nothing to detract from my enjoyment of the tale Doxer wove. While the development and changes in both characters are light, there's an element of poignancy throughout the whole book. The story wouldn't be the same without the pain and for that and the risks Doxer took in her story telling I found it more compelling. It delves into a dark side of humanity but only minutely to clarify the hang ups of the characters. Secondary characters provide additional reinforcement to the story throughout even when I found one particularly out of sync. The story surrounding our heroine and her sister, said secondary character, had a few loose ends and things that didn't sit well with me. 

I really enjoyed reading Breaking Skin. Cole and Nikki are characters I felt connected to from beginning to end. I'd love to read a novella or extended epilogue about these two thanks to that connection. It's a great contemporary with an air of suspense. 

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“What can I do to help?” he asks.

“You can kiss me.”

Cole goes still.

Wide-eyed, I gaze up at him. I can’t believe I just said that. God knows I want to kiss him.

“It doesn’t have to be anything more,” I say when he doesn’t move. “Just a simple kiss to relieve the tension, because we want to, because it will feel good. It doesn’t have to be a complication.”

Surprise flickers in his eyes as they search mine. He licks his lips but still he hesitates, and I want to scream in frustration. Where’s the Cole I met two years ago, the one who homed in on me like a laser at Blackburn’s? The one who in his own quiet way made it impossible to refuse him.

Before I can think better of it, I push up onto my toes and wrap my arms around Cole’s neck, pushing my body flush against his.

“Please,” I whisper, ashamed that I have to beg but willing to do it anyway.

His jaw flexes and thoughts war behind his eyes, but finally his arms come around me as his lips slant over mine. He pulls me closer, and when his hand fists in my hair and gently tugs my head back to deepen the kiss, I’m lost to him.

Cole takes control and there’s no slow buildup, no gradual descent. Passion consumes us, and it wouldn’t matter if a tornado came tearing through the yard. I wouldn’t notice. But somehow Cole keeps his wits about him. He drags his mouth from mine.

“Langley,” he says, his gaze focused above my head toward the slider into the kitchen. Thinking quickly, he moves us to the side, out of view.

“Did she see?” My heartbeat is frantic, my body strung tight.

“I don’t think so.”

We stand there and catch our breaths together. He rests his chin on my head because neither of us have relaxed our arms. We still have them wrapped around each other.

“A kiss between us is complicated, Nikki. Let’s not fool ourselves.”

Slowly, I unwind my arms from his neck. “Why? Because of Renee?”

He leans back to look at me. “Because of us. Because of how this feels.”

This feels incredible, but I can already sense him pulling away. He’s shutting down again, and my racing heart beats even faster because I’m going to ask the question that hangs between us. The one reason I’m most afraid is the source of his hesitation.

Author Bio

Debra Doxer was born in Boston, and other than a few lost years in the California sunshine, she has always resided in the Boston area. She writes fiction, technical software documents, illegible scribbles on sticky notes, and texts that get mangled by AutoCorrect. She writes for a living, and she writes for fun. When her daughter asks when she’ll run out of words, her response always is, “When I run out of time.”

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