Nikolai Alexei Young was born with a special gift…one he’d do anything to lose. The heart and soul of every person he comes into contact with is an open book to his heightened senses. Colorful emotions, whispers of thoughts, the sour tastes of old memories…He feels them all. The sci-fi books would call him an empath. For Nikolai, his ability has made him an exile. He roams the U.S. alone, avoiding the glut of life in big cities, and using his innate talents to win money in underground poker games. Just enough to keep going, one town to the next. He has no hope that his life can be anything else, until he meets her…

At nineteen, Fiona Starling was trapped in an ugly, desperate situation until she freed herself the only way she knew how. Now three years later, living outside Savannah, Georgia, she is rebuilding her life on her own terms; seizing every moment and saving every penny so that she might fulfill her dream of moving to the raw wilderness of Costa Rica. But behind her carefree smile beats the heart of a lonely young woman haunted by her past, until a chance encounter with a tattooed stranger changes everything…

Fiona takes Nikolai under her roof for three sultry nights, waiting out the rain of a summer storm. She grows more and more fascinated by this brooding stranger with whom she shares an intense physical connection—a connection so strong, she wonders if there is something between them beyond lust and passion. Nikolai is shocked to discover that Fiona calms the raging turmoil in his heart. She alone silences the din of other people’s lives, and envelops him in the sweet beauty of her inner self. Every moment he’s with her—every touch of her skin—brings him closer to the peace that’s been eluding him his entire life.

But Fiona harbors secrets that she is too terrified to reveal. After Nikolai confesses his unique ability, she is caught between wanting to believe him and fearing he’ll eventually unearth her own dark past. When the unthinkable happens, Fiona’s plans come crashing down, and Nikolai discovers his hated ability might be the only thing that can save the woman he loves.

Sugar & Gold is a STANDALONE new adult romance with shades of the paranormal. Intended for readers 18 and up.

*Note:  This book was provided to The Book Hookup by the Publisher via Net Galley but that did no in any way influence this review!

This is a story about two very tortured souls.  It’s about finding that special place to call home and that person who brings you peace and helps you take control of your life.  This book brought all the emotions – some serious highs and lows.  So, for me, it wasn’t a quick read.  It was heavy and took me a while to get through.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing but it is different than the last few books I’ve read.

Nikolai can feel and see the emotions of others.  The world is not a quiet place for him and is only silenced when he’s feeling pain – which he accomplishes through many tattoo sessions…so many that he’s running out of bare patches of skin.  Fiona is running from a relationship that stole her confidence, from a man who used mental abuse to bring her down.  But, when these two meet, the connection is instant and is very different than anything they’ve felt before.  These two were sweet together.  I liked that we learned a lot about Nik and Fiona’s back stories and that we were able to see their growth.  Where I struggled a bit with this story was with the twist.  It felt a bit random to me and the decisions that were made afterwards by Fiona also perplexed me.  It doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the book but the twist did take me away from the story for just a bit and affected my connection with it.  On the other hand, this story had some great secondary characters and two sweet epilogues that I enjoyed.

Overall this was a good read with interesting characters.  The writing was great and the plot was definitely unique.  If you’re looking for a romance with a little complexity and lots of emotion, this may just be the book for you!

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