Pretty Scars by C.D. Reiss
on June 4, 2019
Genres: Suspense, Romance, New Adult
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In Carrie Drazen’s diamond-studded world, beauty is everything: a blessing, a commodity, and a curse. Her beauty got her past the velvet ropes and into high society, but it ripped her away from the man she loved and chained her to an unbearable life.
Then, in a single night, a song played by a mysterious and secretive musician carries her back to a past ripe with possibilities, when love could open any door.
Who is this anonymous performer?How can a man she’s never met tell such a precise story of a boy she loved?
She needs to know. But sometimes masks exist for a reason, and this unveiling could scar them both.
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After four years at USC, I knew how to survive. I went to the University Village mall, where Earl the security guard liked to hear me play.
I needed to practice anyway.
“Play that Stravinsky thing, would you?” I’d educated Earl in the ways of classical composers and he turned out to have a great ear. He always had a request.
“You got it.”
“Gonna miss your playing after you graduate,” he said as I set up my case.
“I’ll miss the acoustics in here.”
“Where you going?” he asked.
“New York.” I drew the bow across the strings and made an adjustment.
“Big Apple. You got a job there?”
“Not yet. But that’s where the opportunities are.”
He shook his head not as a negation, but with a rueful look back at youth.
When I started playing the piece Earl liked, I wasn’t looking to fall in love. I wasn’t looking to get tied down. I hadn’t fallen in love since Babette, and that was fine. Making a name for myself as a musician would take up all my time.
The acoustics in the front hall of University Village were outstanding. My eyes were closed as I played, listening for off tones and missed notes. I was in perfect flow. My fingers acted before my mind could correct, so my ears made adjustments. The conversations, the clattering food trays, the dim Muzak in the speakers were miles away.
There was no reason for me to open my eyes, but I did, and that changed everything.
She changed everything.
Standing with her friend, red hair covering her face as she rooted around her bag, she looked up just as I saw her, as if my gaze had called out.
USC is full of the children of actors, models, and athletes. My friend Danny said you couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting something fuckable.
But she wasn’t fuckable.
She was more.
Calling her beautiful illustrated the inadequacy of language. She was a melody. A perfect symphony. The final crescendo in a masterpiece written by a genius. Taking my eyes off her would be impossible. All the air in the room bent in her direction and emanated from her as if she owned it.
And still, my fingers did their job, filling the room with music that had been written for her before she was born.
She was impossible. Eternal. Divine.
Nothing like her should exist anywhere but Olympus.
With a little smile, she dropped a bill in my case and walked out with her friend, getting momentarily lost in the afternoon sun.
I stopped playing to watch her go.
“You got a day’s worth out of her,” Earl said from behind his podium.
“Yeah,” I said, assuming he was talking about her looks.
“You gonna get greedy and keep playing?”
He pointed at my case with its dotting of loose change and a single, rolled up bill. I picked up the cash. Benjamin Franklin stared at me with a sly smile.
That couldn’t be right. Even if it was, I couldn’t take it. Not from another student. Not from anyone who wasn’t Bill Gates.
Looking out the glass doors, I saw her and her friend make their way to the crosswalk and wait for the light.
“You okay?” Earl asked with a knowing smile. “Or did that pretty thing shake you?”
“I’m shaken,” I said, grabbing the pen off his clipboard. I scrawled my number on the bill and handed back the pen. “Save my spot.”
I dropped my violin in the case and snapped it shut, losing a spray of pennies and dimes, grabbed my bag and case, and ran after her.
“When she smiled, the sun hit its highest point in the sky.”
When it comes to 2nd chance romance books, I’m pretty particular about the whole trope. It takes a lot for me to fall in love with two characters who need to fall in love again. This story was gritty and full of suspense and angst. C.D. Reiss is a master storyteller, there is never a time I haven’t enjoyed one of her books. Even with the “Romeo & Juliet” feel that this book had, there was just something that missed the mark for me. I enjoyed the story but there are a few things I need in a romance book to fully enjoy it. While there was romance in this book – it wasn’t romantic. I never swooned, I never fell in love with the characters, I never wanted to cheer for them to “get together”. I need these things in, and this one just didn’t have it, no matter how much I liked the storyline.