BEST DEBUT GOODREADS AUTHOR 2015 FINALIST

"An incredible story about healing, pain, and trust...you don't want to miss this one!" --New York Times bestselling author Jen McLaughlin

Harper Connelly never expected to find herself outside of a tattoo parlor at one in the morning. The scars that decorate her back are just one more reminder of things she'd rather forget, the past she wants to leave far behind her, but before she can move on she needs him.

Trent Andrews has his own reasons for specializing in inking over scars. And there's no way in hell he's going to turn Harper away. Not when a swirling mix of tenderness and desire slams into him every time her sees her. Being with Harper is like going 10 rounds in the ring-exhilarating, powerful, and dangerous. She stirs feeling in him he thought were long gone... if he can only get past her carefully constructed defenses.

Running was the only thing that saved Harper last time, but each session at Second Circle Tattoos brings her closer and closer to Trent. His lingering touches seduce her, making her believe in a life without fear, where she can be happy, whole, in love. But when cryptic messages start appearing on Harper's phone, strange deliveries arrive at her door, and Second Circle is vandalized, Harper is convinced that her ex-boyfriend has tracked her down, and worse, that he knows about Trent. She ran from her past once before, this time will she have the strength to fight back?


PRAISE FOR THE STRONGEST STEEL

"This book gave me so many feels! Angst, passion, and love all set in Miami, my favorite city. I can't wait for more from this author and I can't recommend this book enough." - Sidney Halston,USA Today bestselling author of Against the Cage

"Cole delivers a thrilling tale of new beginnings. Readers will feel for Harper as she tries to overcome the damage left by her twisted ex. Cole has also skillfully created an equally multifaceted hero. The chemistry the pair shares is as electric as the villain is creepy. This fast-paced read will leave you eager for the rest of the series. ~ RT Book Reviews

"Cole has a winner in this debut novel and series opener. Harper and Trent are engaging characters, as are their group of friends. Steamy romance, body art, and a little intrigue will keep readers up well past their bedtime." ~ Library Journal

"For her debut title, Ms. Cole has mastered suspense and complicated characters that you pray get that HEA. Well done!" ~ Violetta Rand, author of the Devil's Den series.

"Poignant and intriguing. Scarlett Cole wrote a wonderful story full of emotion, mystery, and second chances. Make room for this keeper on your shelf."~ Sarah Grimm, author of the Black Phoenix series.

"The characters in this story are real winners—Trent a tough but nurturing hero and Harper a gutsy female protagonist who grows considerably more empowered over the course of the story as she learns intimacy again, and how to hand an attacker his ass on a plate." ~ Rhyll Biest, author 

"I couldn’t even sum up appropriate descriptors to tell you how good much I loved this book. Pretty sure I’ve found myself a new series, because I’m already over here wanting to jump on a couch like Tom Cruise in excitement for the next book." ~ Read the rest of this review over at Wild Heart Reviews

"I AM IN LOVE!!!! That is all I can say about The Strongest Steel by Scarlett Cole. I am in love with Trent Andrews. I am in love with Harper Connelly. I am in love with this book. I am already in love with this series and this is only the first book released and I am in love with this author." ~ Read the rest of this review over at Everything Books by Heather

"For a debut book, Cole hit this one out of the park. She has had created characters that are addictive. I want to read more about them. She took a sensitive concept and created a wonderful story." ~ Read the rest of this review over at Avid Reader Amy's Reviews

"I am not even including a “What I didn’t love section” because honestly, I have nothing to say!" ~ Read the rest of this review over at Book Disciple


EXCERPT:
The blue envelope from the United States Penitentiary in Marion, Illinois, still sealed, weighed heavily on Harper Connelly’s mind. It sat in her purse, where it had been since she’d collected her mail the day before. Out of sight, but not out of mind. Until she opened the envelope, she could continue to pretend that she was safe. Once her finger slid under the seal, she’d no longer be able to ignore the decisions she’d have to make.

Standing at a crosswalk, waiting for the lights on Collins Avenue to change, she shoved the letter deeper into her purse and watched as the young couple standing across the street from her kissed each other deeply, his hand gently cupping her face as his thumb ran softly across her cheekbone. Harper looked away, trying hard to ignore the empty feeling in her chest. Could she even remember that feeling of first love? It had been so long since she’d experienced those heady moments of wanting to be with another person all the time. Of being unable to stop touching each other, like magnets drawn together.

Finally the light changed, and Harper almost sighed with relief before hiking her bag farther onto her shoulder and crossing the street, not sparing the young couple a second glance. She just had to get through work today without turning into a nervous wreck. Then she could fall apart with the envelope in her bag.

Lost in her own thoughts, she felt someone push into her on the sidewalk. Harper jumped in her own skin. A loud buzzing filled her head, and a cold trickle of fear snaked its way down her spine. Her heart tried to pound its way out of her chest while her shaking hands struggled to hold her purse.

She reeled around. A white-haired gentleman with the tiniest dog that looked like a rat on a leash murmured a distracted apology for nudging her. Willing her heart to slow down, Harper tried to reply in kind, but her mouth was so dry that she couldn’t respond. She prayed the weak smile she gave him sufficed as forgiveness.

It was just an old man and a little dog, she told herself, leaning against the nearest light post and counting each breath in for five, then out for five, trying to slow her racing pulse. Nothing to do with the letter burning a hole through her purse and thoughts. Or a prisoner a thousand miles away. Harper watched his stooped frame continue down the palm tree–lined street until he reached the sandy side road that would take him to the boardwalk that ran the length of Miami Beach.

A cold chill gripped her despite the hazy heat. She still wasn’t used to the weather—somehow she couldn’t believe it after all this time. It would be a good twenty degrees cooler back home. She shivered harder and looked down at her hand, watching her own fingers flare in and out in panic without her permission.

The couple she’d been watching earlier walked by, reaching for each other, entwining their hands.

Harper looked on longingly. That simple intimacy was unthinkable for her. She didn’t need a brush with a stranger to prove it. The sender of the letter had made sure of it. Even after all these years, she couldnt stand the touch of another human being, not even for a second.