Violet Ugly – Review

img_8720“Sometimes, we live through traumas to show others how to do it. I believe we each have a walk of life, and sometimes, human decisions are made that affect us. But it’s how we come out of it, hopefully as better people.”

J. Lynn Bailey, yet again, made me fall in love, not only with her characters but with her phenomenal writing. With each book, she creeps further up my list of go-to authors. Her writing is hopeful and suspenseful, making me anxious to see what’s to come, page after page. I was eager to catch up on her Granite Harbor Series, featuring the quaint, fictional town of Granite Harbor, Maine – a place I wish I could visit in real life! Violet Ugly happened to be my final book of 2018 and thankfully, ended my year with a bang. I somehow loved this second book in the series even more than Peony Red.


Sixteen years ago, Merit Young left Granite Harbor, Maine, for California in search of a future that didn’t involve Ryan Taylor. He’d left her in pieces on her bedroom floor, delivering a blow she couldn’t have expected. But, now, at the request of her brother, Eli, she must return and confront the demons of her past—Ryan included. After the loss they both suffered, she isn’t prepared to face him—especially considering he’s the only one who’s always been able to see right through her. 

Ryan has lived his entire adult life in survival mode. Growing up with an abusive father has taught him to keep women at arm’s length, and that’s never been a problem. Until Merit—the only woman he’s ever loved—strides through his front door. He’s not sure how long she’s staying, but he knows it’ll be long enough to destroy what’s left of his heart.

To overcome their dark past, they’ll have to shed light on a reality that will most likely tear them apart. Merit has been hiding a heartbreaking decision from Ryan, and he’s been keeping lies of his own. 
Can two tortured souls heal after a lifetime of pain? Or will the hideous secrets of the past bury them both?

The main characters, Ryan and Merit, were perfectly flawed in the ways I enjoy reading about. Though they both shoved their problems to the backburner, they weren’t annoying in their imperfections. They were both made stronger by their weakness, which immediately endeared me to both. I honestly don’t know if I could choose a favorite character between Ryan or Merit.

Just like in Peony Red, I enjoyed the added suspense in this story. It was completely different than the first book but was still written with the same unique flair I’ve come to recognize wholly as J. Lynn Bailey, allowing me to tear through her books in no time at all. I couldn’t get enough of the alternating perspectives and looks into the past, granting the opportunity to understand the characters on a deeper level. Though there was a pretty big expanse of time covered, the story felt timeless. Merit and Ryan’s childhood struggles weren’t over simply because they had grown older, but instead grew and transformed with them as they aged. This is precisely why this book was so incredibly important to me. Often times, books are written as if characters are magically healed or completely overcome the different forms of grief they may face. While that is nice most of the time in books, it was more realistic to experience how things stay with us forever, like stamps on our souls. The characters weren’t attempting to fix one another, they were simply there, willing to love despite their messes.

The only downside about this book for me was the abundance of sexual situations. I’ve been called a prude many times in my life and I’ve come to terms with that label. Maybe I am a bit prudish, but I’m not a fan of more than a couple pages of sex. I skim those pages to get to the scenes I’m interested in, action without the action. 😉

Overall, I couldn’t get enough of this book and decided to settle on a four-star rating. I highly recommend Violet Ugly to readers of Romantic Suspense and lovers of character-driven novels, full of growth and deep meaning. There were moments of chuckling, tears, and even head-to-toe goosebumps as I read. I’m eagerly awaiting the release of the next book in this series, Magnolia Road, with greedy hands.

NOTE: The Granite Harbor Series is a standalone series, but I recommend reading the books in order.

Purchase on Amazon.


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