Series: 415 Ink #1
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Reece Notley
Publication Date: December 29, 2017
Length: 220 pages
Reviewed by Erin
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.
It comes as a surprise to exactly no one that I love Rhys Ford. She's one of my all-time, very favorite authors. Her way of writing, of capturing a scene, of using sights and smells and sounds like no other is unparalleled. There is no one that writes as evocatively, as deeply quite like she does. Within a few pages of any of her books, be it urban fantasy, paranormal, or contemporary, you absolutely know you're reading something Rhys has written because her style is so one of a kind. So, with all this being said, I can't even begin to tell you how excited I was to learn about her new contemporary romance series, 415 Ink. Set in San Francisco, Rebel is the first book of the series about a found family of brothers (some blood, some not) whose love of each other and tattoos has brought them together.
Gus Scott has returned home, battered and bruised, after having his heart broken by Rey Montenegro three years ago. He's made his share of mistakes and has a past that no matter how hard he tries, he can't run from. He's also returned home with a son from a one night stand he had while trying to get over Rey. In short, Gus is a bit of a mess and it's with his brothers that he hopes to get his life back on track. Growing up, home wasn't the safe space it is now and as Gus tries to reconcile his past with his present, he finds himself drawn back to Rey, no matter how much he tries to resist. Gus and Rey have known each other for years and years, ever since Gus and his family rescued Rey and his mother from a fire deliberately set by Rey's father. From that first moment, they have been drawn to one another, and now that Gus is back, that connection is still there. Their break-up wasn't pretty and neither handled it well, and now that Gus is back, old wounds have resurfaced ... as well as the need and love they've both tried to deny. Gus is busy trying to be the father he never had while maneuvering through a system that's been anything but awful toward him, and the last thing he needs is Rey making things more difficult, no matter how much he still loves Rey.
Rebel isn't a particularly easy read. There is some heavy duty trauma Gus has lived through and is still dealing with. Rey's life hasn't been awash in sunshine either, and there is quite a bit of angst. But oh man, it's the kind that just draws you deeper and deeper wanting to know everything. The motley band of brothers with Bear as the defacto head is fascinating. Much like Rhys's Sinners Gin series, each book will focus on a different brother and I am absolutely salivating to know more about each and every one. They're all SO different--from Bear's strength to Ivo's almost manicness to Mace's brash personality to Luke's calming presence, they each bring something different. And can I say that after reading Rebel, Luke is the one I'm dying to get to know better!
But back to Rebel. The slow burn going on between older and wiser Rey and Gus is so intense, so smoldering that it's almost more than when these two finally let their feelings rule their bodies. I'm a HUGE fan of UST and this book has it in spades. For me, the tension shows the connection, the emotional vulnerability, and the soul deep need Rey and Gus have for one another. I really liked the growth of both characters. We only see glimpses of what Rey and Gus were like before the start of Rebel, but it's enough to let you know that what you see now is two men who have learned from their mistakes. And they made plenty, and still do, but they're older now, they know what they could have together, and they're willing to do what it takes to be together. Of course first and foremost for Gus is his son, Chris. I loved this kid, and I really loved the protective instincts he brings out in Gus. Rhys does such an incredible job of making Gus perfectly imperfect. I also really liked Jules, Chris's mom, and her parents. They lend a stability that Gus very much needs .
All in all, Rebel is a fantastic start to what I have no doubt will be another favorite series from Rhys Ford. The characters are so interesting that I can't wait to know more. The romance, while not front and center, is still definitely present and done in a way only Rhys can do. There's humor, pain, healing, redemption, and most importantly, family. And there's love. So much love. I can't recommend this book enough, people, so be sure to check it out. You won't be sorry if you do!
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