Author: Rhys Ford
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Summary: The hardest thing a rebel can do isn’t standing up for something — it’s standing up for himself.
Life takes delight in stabbing Gus Scott in the back when he least expects it. After years of running from his past, present and the dismal future every social worker predicted for him, Karma delivers the one thing Gus could never—would never—turn his back on; a son from a one-night stand he’d had after a devastating break-up three years ago.
Returning to San Francisco and to 415 Ink, his family’s tattoo shop, gave him the perfect shelter to battle his personal demons and get himself together… until the firefighter who’d broken him walked back into Gus’s life.
For Rey Montenegro, tattoo artist Gus Scott was an elusive brass ring, a glittering prize he hadn’t the strength or flexibility to hold onto. Severing his relationship with the mercurial tattoo artist hurt but Gus hadn’t wanted the kind of domestic life Rey craved, leaving Rey with an aching chasm in his soul.
When Gus’s life and world starts to unravel, Rey helps him pick up the pieces, and Gus wonders if that forever Rey wants is more than just a dream.
Review: I can’t believe Rhys Ford wrote this opening story in a new series; there isn’t a murder in sight! It is a departure from other series she’s penned, this first installment being a touching second chance, hurt/comfort romance, with a slow rekindling of love. Family is front and center, loving, bossy, irritating, never afraid to speak uncomfortable truths, even as they offer unquestioning support. Gus’s past is one of the worst and it’s influenced him in negative ways, but with his son becoming part of his life, he has to take a stand and face down his fears. He and Rey were together for quite a while but never managed to share important thoughts or expectations, made too many assumptions about each other and ultimately, Rey ended things, thinking they weren’t looking for the same relationship. After three years of avoidance and denial, both realize their love never ended but Gus has too much change happening in his life to deal with those feelings. It’s up to Rey to fix what he broke, if Gus will let him.
As always, Rhys’s narrative has its own unique rhythm, with distinct voices for each character, never missing a beat in the plot line. As in any series first novel, a good amount of page time is invested building the personalities to populate future novels. Those introductions flow seamlessly through the story, while steadily moving the action forward. Guy and Rey together create loads of UST, and I could feel the chemistry and longing, but not much intimacy occurs until later in the story. No one writes a love scene quite like Rhys though, just yummy. I’m making this review short and sweet, assuring everyone this is excellent, worth reading and I making sure I don’t spoil anything. You must experience this for yourself in all it’s rich detail. Also, order Chinese food before reading, including fried dumplings. Just sayin’.