Publisher : Nixon House
Genre : Adult | Romance
Page Count: 211
Synopsis : There’s a beast inside of me. I keep it caged. You drive it wild.”
Cash Evans has come a long way since his troubled childhood, but all the wealth he’s earned as a tattoo artist can’t fix the hole in his heart. He knows that the sweet barista who haunts his dreams is off-limits… But life doesn’t always go to plan.
”There isn’t a man on earth who could ruin me.”
Bailey Cooper is determined to learn from her mother’s mistakes. She’s seen how cruel love can be, and she’s not about to sacrifice her self-respect for a relationship. But when a bad boy with a heart of gold comes to her rescue, she finds herself wondering if this beast might just be her Prince Charming.
Will these two lost souls find a happy ending under the tree this Christmas?
Or is their love doomed to wither with the mistletoe? (from Goodreads)
CW: intrusive thoughts, homeless side character, explicit sexual content, talk about domestic abuse
Everytime I think to myself “THIS is the month I will go back and read a couple of Talia Hibbert’s backlist books” she comes out with a new one and I READ THE NEW ONE INSTEAD. I’m incorrigible. Good news is I’ve loved every single one of them, Merry Inkmas is no exception to that rule. I read it all in one sitting, which is something I rarely do anymore, I can count the times I’ve done that in the last few years on one hand.
Now that I’m thinking about raving about the writing, I realize I pretty much gushed and used up all my adequate vocabulary in my reviews for the author’s previous works haha. The two POVs have similar voices, because both characters have similar thought processes even if they are for completely different reasons, but there are some distinctive nuances and just small details that help you immediately know what character’s perspective you’re reading from. And that’s the mindboggling thing to me about Talia Hibbert’s writing, no matter what’s happening or how similar her characters are, she puts so much care and detail into each one of them that they are very distinct no matter what, and her emotion-filled writing style is perfect for the job.
Bailey is one heck of a relatable character. She’s a sassy and confident fat black woman who needs no man. No but literally. She’s so jaded that she refuses to spend enough time around any one man to fall for him. And her rough exterior doesn’t even come from her own bad experiences but from her late mom’s, who fell for man after man after man and they all ended up breaking her heart bad. I’m a huge fan of hers, not gonna lie, probably one of my favourite Talia Hibbert heroines so far, right up there with Hannah Kabbah, she’s a near sighter nerd (LIKE ME) who’s in turn an awkward fool and a flirtatious goddess, and damn when she’s the latter, she’s so GOOD, confident, straighforward and teasing.
Cash is…interesting. He’s gruff and has secrets and a lot of guilt weighting on him related to his past. He can be somewhat of an ass at times to keep people, and especially Bailey, at arm’s length because he deals with some pretty tough intrusive thoughts and that’s what they tell him yo do. But he’s such a softie who cares so much about the people around him, being friends, family and even strangers at times. When he lets his guard down and the mask slips though, he’s so embarassed he acts like a vexxed toddler, it’s kind of hilarious to read.
Our hero deal with a lot, A LOT of trauma from his childhood, having an abusive dad, and I mean A L O T. And this was so close to being a 5 stars read for me if only that side of the story was explored a bit. It bugged me that it was only grazed in surface because it’s such a big part of him so I wish we saw at least the start of his recovery instead of just a heart to heart with Bailey and then a jump to a few years later when he’s obviously not cured but his a hundred times better. With trauma having been such a consuming part of his life and how little trauma is explored in books, I was really hoping for that. For most of the book, it was all only hinted to and once it was all revealed in detail, the rest was skipped over and I think that’s a shame.
That being said, I had an absolute blast reading this romance. The attraction between Cash and Bailey is undeniable, you couldn’t doubt their chemistry even for one second, especially since both of them try so bad (and fail) resisting their feelings, trying to convince themselves that it’s all physical and that there’s so real romantic bond there. They pulled at my heart strings not gonna lie, emotionally fucked up people always speak to my soul (being one and all) so I tend to get invested in their fates even more than I usually do reading romance. Their banter is so fun and cute, the sarcasm is great and they keep teasing each other but they also show how much they care and THE CUTENESS DROVE ME UP THE WALL.
I loved the family aspect of this as well, with how much Cash adores his family and how he’d literally do anything for them. They’re so tight-knitted, the way they care so boundlessly about each other warmed my heart and you can see it in the way he describes them and talks about them, almost with reverence. Another character who’s worth mentioning is John, he’s a friend of Bailey’s who lived in homelessness at the start of the book but with help from both her and Cash was able to get back on his feet. He’s such a witty and supportive friend, with a lot of wisdom to offer especially when it comes to meddling between our two lovers.
Merry Inkmas was another proof of how amazing of a romance writer Talia Hibbert is, I’ll even go as far as to say that she’s one of the best out there, it only takes me a few pages to completely invest myself in her characters, their lives and their relationships.
That’s it until next time.
Did you read Merry Inkmas? If so, what did you think?
Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.