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Pretty Scars

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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.

290 pages, Paperback

First published May 30, 2019

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About the author

C.D. Reiss

111 books9,238 followers
CD Reiss is a New York Times bestselling author. She still has to chop wood and carry water, which was buried in the fine print. Her lawyer is working it out with God but in the meantime, if you call and she doesn't pick up she's at the well hauling buckets.

Born in New York City, she moved to Hollywood, California to get her master's degree in screenwriting from USC. In case you want to know, that went nowhere but it did give her a big enough ego to write novels.

She's frequently referred to as the Shakespeare of Smut which is flattering but hasn't ever gotten her out of chopping a single cord of wood.

If you meet her in person, you should call her Christine.


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Displaying 1 - 30 of 273 reviews
Profile Image for Alex ✰ Comets and Comments ✰.
173 reviews2,695 followers
June 11, 2019
“There are notes that go together. Play them alone and they’re fine, but play them together and it makes music. No matter the instrument or what part of the world you’re in, they’re linked by a chord. That’s us. We were waiting for the moment the world put us together. I can’t unhear us now.”



This multilayered book packed so many punches and heartbreaks...I prepared for a simple camping trip but I was hit by a fucking whirlwind.


The Story
This review has taken me a good five days to think over because I couldn't seem to come up with a rating or a cohesive string of thoughts that could help people before or after they pick this book up.

I think that's the true beauty of Pretty Scars... it's such a dark-veiled and gritty story that it's almost too real for comfort. But that uncomfortable feeling falling into a narrative that truthfully, has such little light magnifies how bright those little lights are. I wouldn't characterize this as a love story, fight me. This to me, was a story of hope.


Before you start second-guessing, yes there is romance! In fact, what drew me into the world at the start was the chemistry between Carrie and Gabriel. Carrie has what she calls pretty-girl-syndrome, wherein, her beauty is her power but also her curse. (Yes, this is a very materialistic and cliche plotline but stay with me.) Carrie is also a Drazen, a family that for all intents and purposes should make your blood crawl. Declan Drazen (the father) is somewhat a mogul for all the wrong reasons. We meet Gabriel and Carrie when they both attend USC, and the sparks fly almost immediately when Carrie listens to Gabriel playing his violin.

"When she smiled, the sun hit its highest point in the sky."

The story jumps from present to past and we see the mystery behind the love unfold in very cleverly constructed manner. The time jumps took a while to adapt to but once I got the hang of it, I really enjoyed watching the story come to life. There were scenes in this book that completely blew me away! The fear, longing, desire and everything in between was so heavily built that it felt like I was there with the character's themselves.

"Maybe Gabriel and I were linked in a way so small yet grand only music could activate it. His playing touched me, his presence shook me. He couldn’t stay away. The laws of physics demanded he call me."

Although this book teeters on a 3 -4 star rating, it truly lies somewhere in the middle for me. There was a lot that I loved but there were also some aspects that I didn't quite enjoy. One thing that I can say for sure though is C. D Reiss' writing is so elegantly beautiful and simple, that it completely stole the show.

"With him, I didn’t feel pretty. I felt complete."

The Characters

Here were some of the issues I faced;
Carrie's character fell flat during the beginning of the story. I felt like I wanted more from her in a deeper way to get me attached. She was really the only one I was rooting for, so I feel like it's safe for me to want more. Towards the end, I ended up sympathizing with her plight. It was so cleverly built that just as she lost herself in the past, we get to see her finding herself in the present.

Here's another little issue;

Did I like Gabriel? No
Did I like Carrie? Not really
Did I like Peter? N(and I can't stress this enough)O!!!

I'd like to imagine that the purpose of this book was to end up not liking both Peter and Gabriel, but that's just wishful thinking. Sure, Gabriel was hands-down a hero compared to Peter but something about him still didn't sit right with me. It was like having your favourite type of tea but still feeling the leafy residue in between your teeth afterwards. (Weird analogy, let's move on...)

I need something light after this book, there was so much to be unpacked and thought of that I really do hope this gets a lot of recognition. I will most definitely be reading more of this author in the future and after having done some research, I look forward to diving back into the Drazen world. There is definitely something to be said about a book that can make you both love and hate it all in the time-span of the 3 days it took me to complete it. It was mesmerizing and oh-so captivating. The story really cuts deeper than a knife and half the time, I didn't know if I wanted to put it down or never stop reading.

"Why was it so hard to walk away? It was as if there was a string between us, and every step pulled it tighter. How far could we go without snapping it?"
Profile Image for Natalie  ~ The Biblioholic.
2,502 reviews1,215 followers
June 11, 2019
⭐⭐ Check out the Blog Tour ⭐⭐

There is something about a hard-won second chance that speaks to me and I feel like with Pretty Scars, CD Reiss was speaking right to my soul. Gabriel was a truly remarkable and charismatic hero. He created beauty through his music, his words, and his deeds. And he was in utter awe of Carrie Drazen. He worshipped her, created compositions for her, he would die for her. It was impossible not to love sweet Gabe and I was thrilled with how much Carrie loved him too.


In the Drazen family, Declan Drazen ruled his world with an iron fist. In my opinion, Carrie allowed herself to be a pawn. She was blind to what was happening in her own life, ignoring all warnings, all while striving for some form of independence. She frustrated me in so many ways. But I loved her heart. I loved how she loved Gabe. I loved how time, distance and death didn't kill that love.

If you're looking for a story to tug on your heart strings... this is it.
If stories about freedom and redemption and the beauty that can be found if you just look are ones you adore... read this.
And if you love love as much as I do... you'll definitely want to add this story to your library.

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Profile Image for Mindy Lou's Book Review.
2,667 reviews625 followers
June 6, 2019
Pretty Scars is an alternate version of Romeo and Juliette. College rich girl with a powerful family name falls for college boy who can do nothing to further the Drazen name.

Carrie's father is a soulless SOB. He plays the people in his orbit like chess pieces. Your value is what you can do for him. His second oldest daughter, Carrie is the beauty of the family. That's her value and he isn't going to let her waste it on a violin player.

This book had me gritting my teeth for Carrie and Gabriel. Every manipulation against them, I hoped they'd beat and win. It had me angry, frustrated and completely invested in Carrie and Gabriel's life. I needed to see how they overcome the manipulations in their lives.

I'm happy the way this all ended but a very small part of me is left unsatisfied. I know this author has other books with the Drazen family. While you don't have to read the other books, this can stand on its own. I do wonder if that very small part that wasn't satisfied, if that is something that is left for one of the other books. I'm going to find out.
Profile Image for Alessandra Torre.
Author 45 books15.7k followers
June 10, 2019
My weekend binge was this novel. It's incredible.
I love CD Reiss's ability to tell a story. This one is twisted and unexpected and beautiful. It sets a new bar for storytelling and I loved every page of it. Six Stars!

AMAZON: https://cdreiss.com/2cq6
Profile Image for D.L. Howe.
Author 13 books376 followers
February 26, 2022
Honestly, my biggest question is this … would he still love her if their situations were reversed?

I always think I don’t like stories that go back and forth in time. But then I get sucked into the building tension and I realize why it was done. In Pretty Scars, it was done beautifully.

A few years ago I read Complete Submission and fell in love with Jonathan Drazen. So, it’s fun to learn about his sister Carrie. I knew their father Declan was horrible, but in this you really got a feel for just how big of a monster he is. Where’s the karma?!

But Declan wasn’t our leading villain, although he played a big enough part. In this it was Carrie’s misogynistic husband Peter. Man, that guy made me cringe and grit my teeth several times.

Overall this was a beautiful rollercoaster that left you guessing if Carrie would find her happily ever after.

Profile Image for Deanna❤Pink Lady❤️.
816 reviews838 followers
June 6, 2019
5 “Don’t Get Sold”Stars

The Drazen Family is not for the faint of heart. Their 8 children are at the mercy of their very controlling and diabolical father. So when a book comes out about one of the siblings, I know that my heart is going to get a workout.

Carrie Drazen is the second oldest. She’s graduating from USC, going to graduate school on the east coast and has no time to date anyone. But sometimes fate has a way of changing things when she meets Gabriel Marlowe, a violinist from the school of music. Their connection is like a ballad. It begins slow and methodical with accents and crescendos that all lead to a cadence of mesmerizing emotion.

What should be a story of new love with so much opportunity, it is also a story infused with sadness and hopelessness. Told in past and present tense, the reader sees how love develops, love is manipulated and how love is lost. Carrie’s controlling father is the root to all trials and tribulations and crushes her dreams and love and also maneuvers her into an unhappy marriage. But what her despair knows may not be true. And when a fateful night brings a cellist her direction, her heart knows what her mind is scared to hope. Do second chances exist? Can Carrie free herself and begin to live again?

The is a story of love, despair, hopelessness and hope. It’s abundantly emotional and heartbreaking and filled with pain, betrayal and regret. But it also soars with love, passion, conviction and hope. The author graces the story with words that are lyrical, poetic and emotionally heartfelt. This author always connects with my heart and makes me feel beyond my wildest thoughts. She is truly a gifted writer and storyteller. The Drazen Books are not to be missed and must reads.

*advanced copy provided by Social Butterfly PR in exchange for an honest review*
Profile Image for CC.
1,060 reviews628 followers
June 2, 2019

Carrie Drazen lived her life the way her wealthy and powerful parents have dictated. On the outside she is stunning, but most don’t look past the beauty and status. When Carrie decides she wants to pursue a certain path, circumstances continue to manipulate the situation.

“Men had called me beautiful and perfect more times than I could count, but this compliment – that I saw clearly and judged well – made me blush.”

Gabriel Marlowe is a talented violinist attending university on a music scholarship. Focused on his future, Gabriel works hard but becomes distracted by a redhead with a voice that calls to him.

“Her beauty lifted the soul to heaven, but her voice fixed it to the earth.”

Narrated between past and present, the plotline serves to show a beautiful budding romance juxtaposed with multiple levels of deceit, sacrifice and hope. Once lines are crossed, it all changes for Carrie and Gabriel, and the question remains as to what lengths each will take toward finding the truth.

“I’d been rejected like a warped bow. Unusable. Substandard. A mistake to be forgotten.”

Since the beginning of the Drazen world, Carrie has always been on the periphery, so it was good to finally get her story. Together, Gabriel and Carrie compliment each other, as he relearns that beauty is on the inside. Of course, the addition of Margie and Declan tremendously enrich this plot for me as they raise the stakes. Think everyone needs Margie as an older sister. Lol!

The infusion of music and passion is a key element throughout the story and it allows for lyricism and prose associated with CD Reiss. Though there were certain predictable elements, the layered twists and drama associated with the Drazens make up for it.

Pretty Scars is a second chance romance that will entice and appeal to romantics at heart.

Note: When are we going to get Declan’s book? 😉

*An ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review.*

For more reviews/reveals/giveaways visit:

June 9, 2019

Pretty Scars is classic CD REISS storytelling, I love her author voice, especially when she is spinning the tale of one of her Drazen characters. So when Carrie's story was being penned, I must admit, I was highly anticipating it and I wasn't disappointed.

In a world where beauty is everything Carrie faces her darkest hours in a dramatic, layered story of love and hope, one that is laced with a small perfectly formed element of mystery. The evocative narative toggles between two timelines, 1993 and 1995. The former showcasing bit by bit exactly how Carrie eneds up in her 1995 predicament. As the story gently unfolds expect the unexpected, be wowed with the dramatics and allow your heart to ache for Carrie as the chilling facts become crystal clear and the possibilities of her future emerge.

Pretty Scars for me as a standalone story, along with the depth of knowledge I have of this author’s other Drazen character stories, made this an absolutely brilliant read for me. Fans of CD Reiss will inhale Carrie's story and new readers will easily be able to enjoy this novel as a standalone whilst having their interest piqued about other books in the Drazen world.


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Advance copy provided
Profile Image for Olga therebelreader.
888 reviews680 followers
June 10, 2019
So this one was just okay for me. The chemistry between the hero and heroine is undeniable and the two of them sizzled together. Sure there was an element of mystery surrounding the hero, but this lacked the fast-paced heart-thumping suspense I was expecting. Overall, Pretty Scars was well written and delivered an interesting story that most readers will enjoy.

In short:
Hero 4/5 | Heroine 4/5 | Plot (Point, Originality) 4/5 | Writing Style 3/5 | Steam 4/5 | Romance 4/5 | Angst-Suspense 3/5 | Darkness 1/5 | Humor 0/5 | Secondary Characters 3/5 | Drama-Conflict 3/5 | Mystery 3/5 | Twists 3/5 | Pacing Steady | Action 3/5

*ARC kindly provided in exchange for an honest review.*
Profile Image for Shabby  -BookBistroBlog.
1,466 reviews780 followers
May 29, 2019
Standing ovation for CD for creating the Dreaded Dramatic Drazens
This family just keeps on giving. Princess is locked away in a castle and the fire breathing, all burning Dragon Drazen is playing Godfather.
"Having access to as much money as I wanted granted me just enough freedom to blind me to the fact that I was a captive to it. Legally, I was a grown woman. Realistically, I was a ward of the Drazen family. In particular, my father, who couldn’t have planned a more perfect way to delay the onset of mature self-determination."


Frustrating and tenacious, this story just wants to jump hurdles and bypass blockages in this thing called life..manages to get some respite too. But the puppet master destroys everything
Carrie is Princess Drazen, a family asset suffering from a Pretty Girl Syndrome
Only her Knight is violin playing Gabriel Marlowe.


But for every Prince to save the Princess he has to run through a gauntlet of fire...sometimes the Prince wins...sometimes the Dragon!.
“The truth is a weapon. It neutralizes whatever’s being held against you. Some people… a certain kind of person… they get vicious when disarmed. There’s no harm in protecting yourself.”
Reading a CD book is always a joy. She's a nuanced writer, acutely detailed storyteller. Unapologetic in narration and plot, she manages to engross readers with her mesmerising words, regardless of tropes. Gabriel and Carrie became mine from page one and I wasn't  letting them go of them so easily. So I persisted and persevered with them...for them.
One particular scene was outstanding.
The Library scene!


Her fingers playing on spines of books very aptly titled, his looking at door to escape. Three big steps and outstretched arms and the kiss.....omg the kiss!! And then he plays her like an instrument **le sigh**😍
It flows smoothly like a violin melody, touches heart like a cello tune.
Intoxicating tale of love set amongst dreadful violence and fiefdom politics it's jaw dropping good!
4.5 stars for Denunciations and Promises
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Profile Image for Karen.
1,342 reviews92 followers
September 21, 2019
If I was at a theatre or concert hall right now, I would be on my feet giving a standing ovation to a perfect symphony. This book is a masterpiece of writing. Stunningly beautiful and heart stopping. Mesmerising. When you hear a piece of classical music played as it should be at the right resonance it makes the blood vibrate in your body. This book was played like a Stradivarius in Carnegie Hall.

It felt so good and a little scary to be back in Drazen world. Carrie Drazen is the red head in question. She falls desperately for the man who levitates when he plays violin. She’s his Little Bird. This being a CD Reiss book, you know the path of true love will not run smoothly and the Drazens need to have lots of drama in their lives. AND OH THE DRAMA!

I’ve run my kindle out of charge because I couldn’t move to find a charger. Didn’t dare look away in case the plot moved on without me. I need to play some Dvorák to calm down my fast beating heart.

“Instincts are unconscious calculations of minute data acquired from learned experience. They’re your body telling you what your mind hasn’t consciously analysed.”

“Every time I breathe, every time I blink, I’ll be thinking of you.”

“How should I look at you?” He kissed my cheek with cautious tenderness. “I can only see the most beautiful woman in the world. “

“We met where our laughter mingled in the space between us, the places where our skin touched, the rhythm of our footsteps.”

“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.”

“Hope is the key signature the song of despair is built around. Without it, everything falls apart.”

“Walls crumbled and secrets were revealed. Truth had a way of following a man, hiding under the thick pads of snow until spring. Carrie was the warm sun, and I’d extended winter as long as I could.”

Just perfect.
Profile Image for Wendy'sThoughts.
2,652 reviews3,234 followers
October 23, 2019
4 Scars to Heal Stars
* * * * Spoiler Free
When C.D. Reiss puts pen to paper, or in this technical age, fingers to keyboard...you will be treated to tales which will cause you to think about more than is the main part of the story. She writes like those Russian Nesting Dolls...Where you see something and then if you look closer, there is another part just under the surface. Then if you really dive in, there is another element to shake you, shock you or just make you stop and gather everything you have thought you knew about these characters and be stunned or maybe pleased by a final reveal...Just like those Neverending Nesting Dolls.

I respect the craftmanship Ms. Reiss brings to everything she does. With Pretty Scars, we are in the present, see where our characters are right now, the dynamics, and the possible conflicts. It is like being in a restaurant watching from across the room where there is this couple who with body language and interaction, something is not quite right. The appearence is High Society and Sophisticated but the control the woman is showing isn't natural...it is methodical.

And then we are in the past...

We are given Carrie Drazen, one of the many children of Declan Drazen.
She is a beauty and has the childhood of the wealthy with the most controlling father. With the power, he welds, these children of his have created a bond separate from him, a way to be heard without judgment. These bonds transcend space and time... they are always there for each other.

Carrie is attending USC and crosses path with a very talented violinist. As he plays with the case open, Carries drops a bill in appreciation and walks away with her girlfriend. Gabriel is collecting his things and then looks at the bill. No, it must be a mistake and chases after Carrie. He catches up, stops her and gives it back. She is quite surprised, intrigued by this musician and does a little flirting with no real thought of following up.

Gabriel is a man who is extremely talented with an ambition to be a force in the music industry. He has been pushed, focused and single-minded in trying to make his way. But this beautiful young woman, talented in her own way, distracts...yet is so worth it to him.

These two connect and with young love, are consumed by it. Promises are made, sweet words and feeling shared. Nothing to scoff at...nothing insincere. It felt real to both and when it is recognized by others, barriers are mounted to cause doubt and pain.

As we have this taste of a couple who could have been, we are brought back to present. To the controlled dance which is Carrie's life...where the only true touchstone she has is her amazing sister Margie. We go through this necessary journey with hope in our heart.

C.D.Reiss creates stories which will capture your mind and heart. Nothing will be what you think because even in lovestories, everything has layers. It is the revealing of all the twists and turns which will keep you wanting and rooting for our HEA.

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Profile Image for Christine B.
502 reviews87 followers
July 22, 2019
Another Drazen being control by daddies money. Carrie was the 2nd oldest and they were determined she would not turn out like Margie who they royally screwed up with. Declan Drazen was controlling and Carrie was his pride & joy she was beautiful of course had the trade mark red hair. Pretty girl syndrome is what others had around her because of her beauty.

Carrie was sold off to the one man she settle for because the man she loved daddy would never let her have. Drazen's had an image to uphold and Declan Drazen would make sure each and every Drazen would play their part whether they want to or not. All the Drazen were interesting and haven great stories. Worth the read, I enjoy this one immensely.
Profile Image for Mali Mor ❤️ The Romantic Blogger.
422 reviews525 followers
June 9, 2019

"Every time I breathe, every time I blink, I'll be thinking about you."

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The beauty of 20-year-old Carrie Drazen is her curse. Men want her, women hate her - but only one man will do anything for her...
Gabriel Marlowe is a talented musician with big dreams who plays the violin. But when his gaze lands on the red-haired woman who puts a 100$ bill in his music bag, he is willing to do anything to be a part of her life.
But just like Romeo and Juliet, their love story is not simple...
Gabriel's mother will never accept her as part of his life - and for Carrie's father, her beauty is a way to gain power and he will never give his most important pawn in the game to a broke musician.
And so, even though they are not right for each other, the two fall in love and decide to do everything to be together...
But when Gabriel and Carrie are brutally torn apart, with no hope for a future, Carrie punishes herself by agreeing to be imprisoned in a life full of suffering and pain.
Until one day, a mysterious musician playing on cello With a face covered with a mask, makes her want things she had long forgotten she deserved.
But sometimes masks conceal deep and painful scars... because love is not always beautiful - sometimes it is UGLY.

I didn't know what to expect when I started, but this book surprised me. It's unlike any other book by CD Reiss I ever read. Romantic and tragic, beautiful and ugly, happy and sad... I was drawn into the plot from the first page and found myself looking for every free moment to read it!
And Gabriel? Oh God! His love is so strong and selfless that he conquered my heart and got his place in my BOOK BOYFRIENDS list.

The plot jumps between past and present, 1993 and 1995, which at first confused me - but it was necessary and logical.
I thought that the choice to write the plot in the 90's was a little strange, but after a conversation with the amazing Christine, I discovered that Carrie's little brother is Jonathan Dresden (from "songs of submission") so this book is written in the right chronological time.
The end was quite predictable ... But the special characters, great writing and exciting plot did the trick - so I guessed how the book ended, but I finished it with a huge smile!!!

It's a story about lies and secrets, punishment and redemption, scars - and of course... love!!! So if you love impossible love stories - get ready to fall in love with a broken but so romantic man that you'll start scolding your husband because of him!!!
Profile Image for Jean.
440 reviews40 followers
May 30, 2019
CD Reiss’ latest, Pretty Scars is not only an absolutely breathtaking standalone, it is the story of Carrie Drazen the second, and prettiest, of the Drazen daughters. But her beauty is a vulnerability – a commodity in Declan Drazen’s sundrenched, sinister LA, and a burden. She calls the unearned privileges it creates “Pretty Girl Syndrome”. But this isn’t CD Reiss’ version of “Mean Girls do LA”. It’s a story of a first, forbidden, forever love told through the eyes of a delicately wrought heroine standing on the brink of a life she’ll never have. It’s senior year of college and Carrie has done her family’s bidding, thinking that will earn her the right to pursue her dreams of graduate school. Until the day she crosses paths with Gabriel Marlowe, a violinist from the music school, busking on campus. He’s wild and sweet and beautiful and sees her true, soul deep beauty. He has the perfect bit of fairy tale prince while remaining this beautiful, dominant, thoroughly sexy, modern hero. His music enchants her and their connection is electric and permanent. Love that survives death permanent.

Her story slips between before and after – the tension of the time shifts magnifying Carrie’s struggles to find her way out of a loveless marriage of her father’s making as she becomes more and more obsessed with a mysterious cellist, Adam Brate. Will finding him pull her back to sanity or send her over the brink? Ms. Reiss' prose is at its most beguiling in Pretty Scars. Gabriel's music infuses her words, making them reverberate in your soul. This is a story that will haunt me in my dreams. Star crossed lovers. Tragedy. Venice. How could it not?

This story is the most captivating and cinematic Ms. Reiss has ever gifted us with. It read like a movie in my head - one with a big budget and a great director. Every bit of Drazen grit has a luster of stardust. It was sooo romantic and satisfying. Classic Drazen with a side of Phantom of the Opera and a Merchant-Ivory glaze. It was DELICIOUS and perfect .

I give it a shower of stars across a winter sky.

Profile Image for Kelly.
972 reviews
May 28, 2019
I FN LOVE the Drazens!! Of course, I will read ANY story that CD Reiss writes, but I have a special spot for any involving this family!! This book was written in one of my FAV ways! It jumped from the present to the past!! I LOVE that! It’s so suspenseful to me knowing where the story is at in the now, and watching it unfold going back to the past! Carrie’s story intrigued me, and her journey was written beautifully!! It captivated my attention from page 1 & made me FEEL so much! Parts of it broke my heart & then the story repaired it! It will be a definite re-read!!! HIGHLY recommend this book! Heartbreakingly beautiful!!! PS: Margie xo!

I was highlighting like crazy! A few fav quotes:

“Anyone who said the universe was a cold, insentient garble of atoms and energies was either blind or had never been in love.”

“Unless he suspected I was hiding the contents of my heart.”

“That says more about you than it does about me.”

“But factual truths took a backseat to emotional facts.”

“You take up space in my heart.”

“Calling her beautiful illustrated the inadequacy of language.”

“...she changed the shape of everything inside me.”

“Music tells us what we already believe.”

“Hope is the key signature the song of despair is built around.”

****ARC received from the author in exchange for an honest review****
May 27, 2019
Freaking CD Reiss has done it again the world of the Drazen family. She truly can take a character Carrie and torture them in the best way possible. Reiss takes the reader back in the 90s as we watch love develop between two people the world (their parents) do not want together. All the feeling in this can't put down book, with tons of twists.
Who will be Reiss next book in the Drazen family? All I know is I can't wait to read it.

Reviewed by: Alex L.
Profile Image for Aycan.
208 reviews178 followers
July 15, 2019
Bu nasıl saçma bir hikayeydi acaba? Bir konuya takılıp kalmış, yenilik düşünmeyen kafadan çıkan kitapta böyle olur anca. Bir 'Drazen' soyadıdır yazar tutturmuş gidiyor. Ya başka karakter oluşturma hakkını mı bitirdin bu aileyi kurarak?

Bu kitapta da Carrie Drazen, üniversitede tanıştığı keman çalan Gabriel'e aşık ama babası Peter'la evlendiriyor. Gabriel'le kurduğu tüm planları yıktırıyor, para verip uzaklaştırıyor çocuğu Carrie'den. Bizim bildiğimiz, tanıdığımız şeyler bunlar. Yabancı değiliz.

Carrie'de Gabriel'ı öldü biliyor onca zaman. Halbuki ölmemiş, adını değiştirmiş ve yüzünde izler var. Kendini saklıyor. Carrie beni görse de yüzüme bakamaz, kaçarak uzaklaşır diyor. Hiç bana göre bir kitap olmadığını daha ne kadar anlatabilirim bilmiyorum.

Benim bu kitabı sevebilmem için her iki erkeğin de çaba göstermesi, çok güzel sevmesi gerekiyordu. Ama ne Peter ne de Gabriel o performansı sergileyemedi. Zaten Carrie'de salaktı. Bu Drazen ailesi komple mal. C.D. Reiss severdim, bir yerden sonra koptu şu an hiçbir kitabını sevemiyorum. Ben değişmedim, kadın değişti. Yazabildiğin, yeteneğinin olduğu konularda yazsana kardeşim. Belki bu düz aşk hikayeleri senlik değildir? Bunu soruyor musun kendine? Yani Marriage Games nerdeeee, bu kapağı çok güzel olan ama içi saçmalık dolu kitap nerde...
Profile Image for Bookish Lauren.
Author 1 book176 followers
June 2, 2019
CD Reiss's books make you think and feel it all. Her writing is smart, and emotional, and she is so detail-oriented you can't help but reread to make sure you haven't missed anything.

Pretty Scars is no different. I was so excited when she announced this book because Carrie has been just a mere mention.

First, I love how much "in your face" consent there is in this book. Not that many stories are so brazen about hearing a partner voice that "yes". Carrie and Gabriel are young, college-aged adults who meet by chance and are separated by money and circumstance. This is nothing new for the Drazen children.

The story weaved here, with its twists and turns, is is in true CD Reiss fashion. The underlying message here: true, heart-filling love is beyond just the surface.
Profile Image for Jules.
1,379 reviews78 followers
June 5, 2019
Wow! This book. It’s like a chocolate truffle that you want to swirl around on your tongue as you savor each rich, dark, nuance.

It’s romantic, it’s suspenseful, and it is thrilling. Author C.D. Reiss beautifully tells the story of the elusive Drazen sibling, Carrie, in her latest novel, Pretty Scars.

The story is cleverly told in two time periods, the not so distant past of 1993 and the present, 1995. The story is broken up into two parts to allow both Carrie and Gabriel to tell their respective stories. There is some overlap, but once the critical fulcrum point is reached, their stories diverge dramatically. Through both their views, readers are forced to ask, “Is Declan Drazen a loving father or the devil incarnate?” Fans of the Submission series and the Drazen sibling spin-offs, already know the answer to that question!

I loved the reference to Hitchcock’s The Birds as well as the professor’s explanation of the movie being about a smart, beautiful woman upsetting the balance of nature as if a woman could only be smart or beautiful. However, it is really a nod to our heroine as the professor acknowledges that she is both smart and beautiful. It is, perhaps, a little foreshadowing of how Carrie's choices will upset the balance of her prescribed path. Not only does The Birds get a mention, but also Romeo and Juliette, which seems to be the inspiration for the story premise.

Both Carrie and Gabriel are highly empathetic characters. The forbidden love and longing, the naïve acceptance of parents’ lies and prejudices, and the tragic struggles make it easy to become embroiled in their love story. Equally delicious are the subtle tie-ins to the author’s prior Drazen clan stories.

I greatly appreciated that the author did not incorporate the scandal du jour—college application bribes. This beautiful story did not need a sensational current event. Ms. Reiss, has instead, given her readers a dramatic tale of second-chance love.


I received an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. For more reading recommendations, visit Book Junkie Reviews at www.abookjunkiereviews.wordpress.com
Profile Image for Happily Mary After.
1,013 reviews142 followers
June 5, 2019
C.D. Reiss is a hypnotic storyteller and evocative writer, and her twisty, emotional romances never fail to mesmerize me and, frankly, blow my mind. Pretty Scars is a second-chance romance that has everything – intrigue, angst, passion, suspense and breathtaking romance – and it’s absolutely unforgettable. Written with a timeline that alternates between present day and two years prior, it’s a tale of star-crossed lovers, who find their relationship and even their lives at the mercy of dangerous and powerful individuals. But true love never burned so bright, as these two lovers fight their way back to one another, and they will have you believing in the beauty and power of soulmates and hard-fought happily ever afters. You’ll love every page of this gripping, sensual and darkly romantic masterpiece.

Recommendation appeared on Frolic on June 5, 2019.
ARC provided, but this review was voluntarily and honestly written.
Profile Image for Kim BookJunkie ~ Editor & Proofreader.
1,914 reviews56 followers
July 7, 2019
**Review of the audiobook**

STORY: 4 Stars
OVERALL: 4.5 Stars

Another Drazen!!! Although Carrie isn’t quite as exciting or sexy as her siblings, Reiss never ceases to amaze me with her innovative storylines!! Pretty Scars is unexpected, unpredictable and unique!

I listened to the Audible audiobook narrated by Emma Wilder and Teddy Hamilton. Teddy Hamilton is one of my all-time favorite male narrators so I I knew he would do an amazing job, and he did! I have nothing but positive things to say about his performance. I had never listened to Ms. Wilder before this audiobook, and wow- have I been missing out! Not only does she deliver a flawless performance but she has an extremely believable male voice!! Both performers were amazing!!!
Profile Image for Nerdy Dirty & Flirty.
3,985 reviews319 followers
June 14, 2019

I have read some of the books in the Drazen world and this family is quite complex. Each child has their own story and demons and this time it was Carrie's turn.

Carrie is the "beautiful one" and has always wanted more than that. But being ruled by an iron fist has made that impossible. She once upon a time found something that she wanted more of only to lose it. Gabriel was the person who called to Carrie's soul. A talented musician with potential to really become something. This is that story; a story of loss, love, hard decisions and second-chances.

Told in a mix of past and present and it was like more than just one story unfolded. My heart broke a time or two, there was this mystery-type feel to it and of course the conniving and deceitfulness of the Drazen's. These are really stories you can't talk much about because I don't want to ruin it. The not knowing what is to come or where the story will go makes it so much better. The raw emotions you feel for the characters. The bits of the other sibling's lives that get mixed in. It's always a complicated journey and I love that I have been a part of it.
Profile Image for Marie Vasquez.
1,598 reviews73 followers
June 9, 2019
Carrie’s story reeled me in the moment I started reading. The connection she felt with the anonymous musician on stage was palpable. The feelings it brought forth in her...I felt.

This story was absolutely beautiful and exquisitely delivered.

It’s been ages since I’ve visited the Drazen world and oh how I’ve missed it so. For Pretty Scars, we get a story that took place way before Johnathan Drazen was old enough to captive hearts. His sister Carrie was as sweet as she was beautiful - VERY. Her beauty was truly her gift as well as her curse. People were captivated by her, but until she met a handsome and gifted musician on campus, she could never tell if anyone truly “saw” her. Were they there for her money, family’s power or her beauty.

Gabriel was charming and extremely talented and not only captivated by Carrie’s beauty but her big heart.

This story was so beautiful. The emotions their story evoked could sometimes appear in my mind as musical notes. Their love came across as a melody the sang to me. I don’t know how else to explain it.

I was blown away!
Profile Image for Ally Reads Romance.
598 reviews58 followers
June 6, 2019
I am a first-time reader of CD Reiss, and this is a remarkable book that will have me reading more! I hope her others are just as emotional and romantic!

For some reason, while thinking back on this eloquently written novel, I can't help but sing Taylor Swift's Love Story in my head.

"Romeo, take me somewhere we can be alone I'll be waiting, all that's left to do is run You'll be the prince and I'll be the princess It's a love story, baby just say yes."

But unlike the song, there is no "parentally sanctioned" happily-ever-after. Carrie and Gabriel are more like the original Romeo and Juliet. The world is against them. They are lovers who rise and fall. They meet tragedy, and yet have an epic love story that will last forever. When writing about Pretty Scars, I want to use rich poetic language, because this story deserves it. I don’t know that my words will do it justice.

I'm going to jump out of my complete adoration of CD Reiss's plot and writing style and move onto other elements! I was hooked from the very start. This story goes back and forth between 1993 and 1995, which I really liked and is critical to the story.

This is a rare book in that it tore me apart, I loved the romance, loved the heroine, but was not always that impressed by the hero, Gabriel. Hold the stones, I do love Gabe, but not when reading his perspective. I love Gabe through Carrie's eyes. He is suave, sexy, confident, and is smitten for Carrie once he meets her. Before her, he sounded like a complete manwhore. He's unapologetic about it, and never discusses his past with her, but knowing Carrie's innocence, inexperience, and views on sex, it seemed like a let down by comparison. It was meant to be light and funny, but still rubbed me the wrong way, at least when I first read about it! Yet, I am not going to let that take away from the rest of lush romance between Carrie & Gabriel.

There is so much I want to say, but...in my best (Doctor Who) Riversong voice *spoilers*

This is a New Adult Romance! Their relationship faces many of the same coming-of-age problems that go with being seniors in college in this genre. Carrie's situation is different in that she is entirely reliant and controlled by her family, the Drazens. This affects her greatly. Control, money, and power is what rules the Drazen's world. Gabriel is the opposite and mostly on his own.

Then there is Peter, Carrie's husband. I hate Peter, and it won't take more than 2 seconds for you to feel the same. So there is no spoiler there.

On the upside there is Carrie’s sister, Margie! I LOVED HER!! She has her own book duet that I cannot wait to read it!!

(Secret Sins Duet: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M14K4WS/...)

This story is full of twists, turns, surprises, jaw-dropping reveals, hard cries, laughs, sighs, and it will renew your faith in true love in the real world. I cannot wait to read more by CD Reiss.

*** Spoilers***

Trigger Warning

Be warned there are a variety of assaults and abuse in this book, including physical, mental, and even rape (which is not explicit). This made me cringe, and it hurt my heart and soul to read it, but I like how the author dealt with it, and how it was resolved.❤️
Profile Image for Maria Naydenova.
720 reviews54 followers
September 24, 2019
4.5 pretty scarred stars

What an intense and emotional story that was. I was wary to start this book since everyone was referring to the Drazens when it released and I still haven't read any of these books, but I decided to just jump and go from there. And I'm so glad I did. This was such a beautiful story, so angsty and heartfelt. The whole narration going from past to present was so well done. I love such stories that reveal the truth slowly, layer by layer and keep you guessing, keep you on the edge. This had some pretty emotional parts, some action-packed and nail-biting moments and definitely kept my interest from start to finish. And add to that the exceptional performance by Emma Wilder and Teddy Hamilton. They absolutely nailed these characters to perfection. It was really gut-wrenching to listen to some parts. They were so well-acted and heightened the experience for me. There were some unexpected twists and turns and some expected ones, but the intrigue was present the whole time and the story flowed nicely between past and present.

Carrie was a courageous woman who has lost track of her life goals for a while and had settled trying to please her family but she quickly found the right path back again. And Gabriel...well, he was just dreamy and whatever I'm going to say about him will not give him justice. I was in awe with his strength and the fierce way he loved. Definitely top BBF material.

If you are in the mood for some drama, second chance romance with a touch of suspense, then this would be a perfect choice. And make sure to pick the audio version because it was amazing.

The book was made as a stand-alone and everything referring to Carrie's family was explained. So you are good to go even if haven't read any of the other stories. I haven't and I didn't struggle with anything in this plot. The story flowed nicely and swallowed me from page 1. Beautiful story and exceptional audio performance.
Profile Image for Amy.
1,617 reviews165 followers
June 5, 2019
Carrie Drazen has always fascinated me. In CD Reiss’s previous Drazen books, Carrie is spoken of but only seen once. Vague, opaque references are made to her–why she isn’t with the rest of her family, why she won’t return home. Now, at last, CD Reiss tells you Carrie’s story, and it is worth the wait.

When we meet her, Carrie is a student at USC (that’s the one in southern California, not the one in South Carolina), majoring in psychology. She meets a violinist, and each immediately is intrigued with the other. CD Reiss does not make their romance an easy one, but she does make it passionate and tempestuous (as one does when you’re a Drazen or in love with one).

Reiss moves back and forth between Carrie’s present and her past. So you are aware of the outcome of her relationship with the violinist, which makes your reading experience all the more intense. Parts of this book take your breath away, parts seize your heart, and other parts make you squeeze your thighs together.

If you are not familiar with the Drazens, you will be fine. I jumped into this family not having read Songs of Submission, but then I read those books as soon as I could. So you can read this one with no prior Drazen knowledge. But then you will find yourself hooked, and you will race to read the other books in CD Reiss’s extraordinary series.

As for Pretty Scars, it will entangle itself in you, making you rip through its pages. There will be times when you want to hurtle your book at CD Reiss, but rest assured, dear readers, that when you turn the last page you will want to take her out for drinks and bask in her glory.


Profile Image for Avidez Literaria.
534 reviews21 followers
June 7, 2019
“Then she leapt forward and hugged me instead, and I forgot I was ugly and scarred. I was made of what I saw, and with her, all I knew was beauty.”

Carrie has all her future planned by her parents. Owner of a classic beauty and belonging to a family where the children are pawns controlled by the false morality of the patriarch, she will marry a suitable suitor, generate heirs and be the good trophy wife. A beautiful accessory in her father's business game.
Gabriel is a young musician, who faced a tragedy that ruined his family, the result of a scheme to harm his father. Music is the link that unites him to his father, and seeking to honor the moments that they have passed together, a career in that area is what he longs for.
Upon meeting a beautiful redhead who left a tip too generous, he had no idea that this encounter would unleash a strong passion, at the same time that old sorrows will surface and a future tragedy will cross the path of both.
Carrie and Gabriel will live a beautiful love story, but by running away to live that passion, Carrie will find many tears in a place that had everything to bring good memories. While Gabriel will never be the same again.
A few years later, Carrie's life boils down to a violent husband, an empty, purposeless life and dreams left behind. Until a sensation of music that goes by the name of Adam Brate will start a chain reaction, all because of a successful composition. A composition that Carrie knows very well, a gift from Gabriel to her muse.
On a journey to discover the mystery before them, past and present will merge, and perhaps what they thought to be true was no more than a grand frame.
Carrie and Gabriel suffered. A lot. She sank into guilt and was silent about her husband's maltreatment. He carries the physical marks of that fateful night, hiding in the shadows and giving up his love. The trajectory of the two is not beautiful, but it is lovely to accompany.
Declan is a heartless monster. His wickedness knows no limit, he interferes in the lives of all his children, harming them in the name of his egocentrism.
The ending is amazing. Again Margie is the voice of reason and the savior of her brothers.
Another great book starring one of the Drazen brothers.

*ARC provided in exchange for an honest Review *

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