The Scars I Bare by JL Berg ~ Sarah A’s Review

Every scar tells a story…
Some are etched on the skin, for the whole world to see.
Others are buried deep, so deep, only the heart can truly find them.

Dean Sutherland was the quintessential guy next door. Strong and dependable, with a heart of gold, he knew exactly where his life was headed. Until one fateful night at sea ripped away everything. Now he’s adrift, a man without a purpose.

Cora Carpenter thought she had the perfect life. A successful career, an affectionate husband and a daughter who adores her. But soon that perfect world is crashing down around her, and she’s in need of a fresh start. Moving to a remote town on the coast of North Carolina seems like the perfect plan. That is, until she finds herself face to face with a kindred soul from her past.

Dean and Cora have more in common than either are willing to admit. Both deeply rooted in their pain, they can’t help but find hope in each other’s eyes and passion entwined with every touch. But can two broken hearts make a whole?
Will the scars they bare haunt them forever, or can love truly heal all?

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The Scars I Bare wasn’t what I expected.  I’d hoped for a hugely emotional saga about two people healing and learning how to live again, and that’s not what I got.  It was still a fun story, especially with the addition of Lizzie, but just not as poignant as I’d hoped for.

The Scars I Bare is the second book in JL Berg’s By the Bay series.  Each novel in the series focuses on a different couple so that they could be read as standalones, but Dean had a large part in the first book, The Choices I’ve Made, so reading it would help in the overall understanding of this book.  The Scars I Bare is written in dual first-person perspective, narrated by Cora and Dean.

Lizzie, Cora’s daughter, was hands down the best part of this book.  She was precocious and quick-witted and did not allow anyone to let their guard down for a second.  I appreciated her thirst for knowledge was endearing.  The way she orchestrated so many things to result in the outcome she wanted was impressive.

I liked how Dean was with Cora, how he let her guide their relationship, how he respected what her past had done to her, how he anticipated her needs and did his best to provide for them.  However, I’m not sure I felt their chemistry.  It seemed to me, the story was so focused on Cora and Dean respecting one another’s past traumas, it didn’t develop the overwhelming desire for one another I’ve come to expect in a romance novel.

My wish for the Scars I Bare is the same as it was for its predecessor, I wish we could have seen more of the healing the characters experienced on page.  It felt like they were both struggling deeply then, all of a sudden, after one interaction they were all whole and healed.  It lacked the emotional depth I was hoping for.  I also wish Ms. Berg would have really gone there in regards to Cora’s ex, sure he got his ass kicked, but since she went halfway there, I would have loved to have seen her go all in with that situation.

I’ve read a few JL Berg novels, and I always find myself appreciating her ability to write about characters with uncommon struggles.  While this isn’t the first book I’ve read about an amputee, it is the first about someone who lost an arm; which does affect everyday life in an entirely different and seemingly more consuming way than losing a leg.  She also does it in a way that makes those struggles part of their story and not their entire story, which is wonderful.  I hope she continues to choose these interesting and varied character traits; they make her books unique.

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I’m a California native, who lives in the South – Virginia to be exact. I still prefer sushi to fried chicken, avocados to okra, and I absolutely loathe humidity. I do love watching the seasons change though. My husband and I have been here for over a decade, and I still get giddy like a school girl every time it snows. It’s magical!

I’m married to my high school sweetheart, and we’ve been blessed with two beautiful daughters and two rescue pups I like to call my “coworkers”. I’m obsessed with chocolate, minions, anything Harry Potter and I love to watch re-runs of Friends and Gilmore Girls!

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