By Rhonda Helms
The most painful scars are the ones you never see.
In her DJ booth at a Cleveland dance club, Casey feels a sense of connection that’s the closest she ever gets to normal. On her college campus, she’s reserved, practical–all too aware of the disaster that can result when you trust the wrong person. But inexplicably, Daniel refuses to pay attention to the walls she’s put up. Like Casey, he’s a senior. In every other way, he’s her opposite.
Sexy, open, effortlessly charming, Daniel is willing to take chances and show his feelings. For some reason Casey can’t fathom, he’s intent on drawing her out of her bubble and back into a world that’s messy and unpredictable. He doesn’t know about the deep scars that pucker her stomach–or the deeper secret behind them. Since the violent night when everything changed, Casey has never let anyone get close enough to hurt her again. Now, she might be tempted to try.
He looked down at my mouth again, then back in my eyes, and his eyelids grew hooded. He leaned a fraction closer. “I have a confession.”
My pulse kicked up just a notch. “Why?”
“Why . . . what?”
I swallowed, fought every instinct to stare at his mouth. His full lips, now only six inches from mine. My body began to respond to his nearness, and I dragged in a ragged breath of his cologne. He smelled fresh, like a soft breeze on a spring day at the lake. I wanted to inch closer. No, stop it, I ordered myself. This was dangerous, to let myself even be this close to him.
“Um, why are you confessing something to me?” I finally asked him.
“You ask me the most unusual questions.” He gave a ghost of a smile. “Honestly, I don’t know. But I feel like I want to talk to you all night. Which is why I wanted to confess that I haven’t been able to get you off my mind.”
I swallowed, let his words sink in, then swallowed again. His honesty was disarming me, chipping piece by piece at the careful shield I had around myself.
“Casey,” he said on a soft breath. “You intrigue me.”
He opened his mouth to speak again, but before he could get out another word, I pushed my head forward, past the last few inches separating us, and pressed my lips to his. Daniel froze in surprise for just a moment, then slipped a hand to my forearm, stroking down until his fingers met mine.
With his other hand he cupped the back of my head and teased my mouth open with his tongue, tilting so he could deepen the kiss. He tasted like chocolate and Coke and something purely male, a combination that intoxicated me more than the beer.
My heart thrummed in a wild, erratic beat as he drank from my mouth. I opened wider, our tongues slipping and sliding, my breaths falling into his mouth in little pants. I moved closer, breasts brushing his lean and firm chest. His hand tangled deeper in my hair, and his body heat flooded through my thin shirt into my torso.
I was dizzy, drunk on him, aching with a surge of something intangible coursing through my veins. My core tightened; my belly fluttered.
He pulled back for a moment with a small gasp of air, eyes nearly black as he peered down at me. Then he gave me a crooked smile and kissed me again. Took my mouth in a sensual move that fluttered my lower belly.
I cupped his shoulders with both hands. His muscles bunched and flexed beneath my fingers. Heat poured off him, thickened the air around us.
His fingers stroked my scalp as he tasted me. The thumb on his right hand brushed against my thigh then moved up my leg, to the crease between my thigh and torso. The sensation of him so close to my stomach gave me a brief pause.
When his hand moved aside the bottom of my shirt and the very tip of his fingers brushed my bare stomach, I jerked away, pulling back to the other side of the car. It was like a bucket of ice water had been poured over my head. I tugged my shirt down as low as it could go, heart jackhammering against my rib cage.
Scratch by Rhonda Helms was a sweet and delightful new adult romance. We meet Casey, a young woman that secludes herself from others. She is haunted by a horrible event in her young childhood that affected her life. This horrific event is kept a mystery through most of the book and isn’t revealed until the end. Her only escape is her work as a DJ and the music. This is where she meets the charming Daniel.
Daniel is one those guys you can’t help but love. He is not a bad boy or a guy with a lot of issues. He is a truly nice guy. He sees more in Casey than she sees in herself. Through patience and love, Daniel finds a way into her heart.
It is a sweet love story, but the overall story focuses on Casey’s past. I would have liked to see a little more heat and grit in Daniel and Casey’s relationship.
Overall the book was well written and plot was well executed.
If you are looking for an angsty new adult book, go read Scratch by Rhonda Helms.
Rhonda Helms started writing several years ago. She has a Master’s degree in English and a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. She also edits for Carina Press (an imprint of Harlequin Publishing) and freelance edits.
When she isn’t writing, she likes to do amateur photography, dig her toes into the sand, read for hours at a time, and eat scads of cheese. WAY too much cheese.
Rhonda lives in Northeast Ohio with her family.
Music is a strong running element in SCRATCH, which even includes a playlist at the end. How has music factored in your own life?
I started in music when I was 9—I played clarinet. Stayed involved in band through high school and college. I sang in a jazz ensemble, was a singer in a cover band, and I even DJ’d for a while. In short, music was a huge part of my life for a long time. I miss performing and have even been considering getting involved in it again!
Where did you get the idea for SCRATCH?
Part of it came from a real-life incident I’d heard that had stuck with me for many years. I always wondered what had happened to the girl who’d gone through such a traumatic event. How did she cope? How did she move on to love and trust again? This book was my exploration of how a woman who’d gone through hell could move forward and find real happiness.
Which scene in SCRATCH was the hardest for you to write?
Oh, it had to be the scene where Casey confesses to Daniel about her past. Finally opens up and divulges the painful truth. I sobbed as I wrote it—her pain was so vivid to me that I couldn’t shake it off for a while afterward. That was actually one of the hardest scenes I’ve ever written in my whole publishing career.
What is the follow-up book to SCRATCH?
The sequel to SCRATCH is BREAK YOUR HEART, which is her roommate Megan’s story. I can’t wait for you guys to read it—this one’s a little sexier, a little scandalous. And Nick is so foxy. 😉 Coming end of July, 2015!
You write young adult novels too—what do you have coming out in teen romance?
Next year I have two teen romances coming out with Simon Pulse—SPARKS IN SCOTLAND, which is a Scotland-set story about a girl who falls for a local Scottish boy while on vacation, and PROMPOSAL, which follows a girl and her best guy friend as they navigate love and drama during prom season. You can go to rhondahelmsbooks.com to find out more about the other teen romances I have out, too!
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