Review: Four By Tia Fielding, Love By Numbers 2

Tia Fielding Four
Cover by © 2019 Garrett Leigh http://www.blackjazzdesign.com/

I would rate this 3.5 stars

Although this is book two in the series there are (thankfully) brief recaps. You could read this on its own just fine, but it would have more emotional impact if read them in order. This one focuses on “Doc” Padraig Donovan the town veterinarian. He’s introduced in book one when helping Makai with a pregnant stray cat but other than knowing he’s a widower, and gay, there hasn’t been much character development. At the end of book one, Kaos, Makai’s genderqueer friend from prison, has arranged to come visit. He spent two years inside with Makai before he was released from prison after serving his four years. His life on the outside with an abusive boyfriend has been traumatic.

Since Marcus’s death, Padraig has buried himself in work. After seeing Makai and Emil get together, he starts tentatively moving forward with his life by using the space where his husband’s clinic used to be and getting in touch with mutual friends again like Marcus’s best friend Francis. They all went to college together and when Francis comes for a visit, it’s clear he will feature prominently in the next book. With Makai’s and Emil’s house being too small, Kaos moves in with Padraig while Francis’s character works as a buffer to allow a slow burn as both Padraig and Kaos work out their issues as individuals and as the couple they are becoming. Kaos’s issues revolve around his PTSD and exploring their gender identity in a safe environment whilst Padraig is having to deal with his grief and guilt, being honest rather than nostalgic about his marriage, and exploring his attraction to someone more feminine.

These books are about people with real issues that work at dealing with them in a mature way and actually communicate with each other, support each other, and treat other with respect. While they discuss their trauma, in order to understand each other, they aren’t bonding over their traumas. They bond spending time together. Their age gap doesn’t come into play except in relation to their experiences within the gay community. Everything is going so well but, triggers are triggering, so there are things to work out. There is more time spent with Kaos than Padraig, but I was grateful as seeing Padraig’s POV in dealing with hurt or abused animals would have been difficult for me. This book is focused more on the little things, the joys and annoyances of daily living, than the first book, but also has more steamy love scenes.

Although Padraig moved back to the area because of his family, neither his sister Mairead (or Mary) nor his dad are fleshed out. All the locals pop up, but there isn’t much done to expand them as characters. Sherriff Kalle is more sympathetic, more willing support Kaos since he already did his time. Kaos’s boss Christa at the tattoo shop and one of his clients are thrown into the story, but are not fully realized. Athena, as Padraig’s employee studying to be a vet tech is also underutilized. Having been established as homophobic in book one, the sheriff’s deputy Mark has a turnaround here that didn’t ring true without any foundation for how it happened–I expected more here, especially since it’s obviously a setup for him being paired off with Francis in the next book. There were some missed opportunities for more depth here but, I want to see Mark’s POV so I’ll read the next one.

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** This book was previously published by Dreamspinner Press and has now been self-published. It is currently exclusive to Amazon.

Review: Hellion (415 Ink #3) by Rhys Ford

Rating:3.75 stars out of 5

This is the third book in the series featuring five brothers who own a tattoo shop together. The whole series has a strong theme of survival and friends as family, so they would have the best emotional impact if read in order, but there is so much recapping that it’s not necessary. This opposites attract story revolves around SFPD Detective Ruan Nicholls and tattoo artist Ivo Rogers. I have to admit I was looking forward to this pairing, so I enjoyed seeing how they first met. It’s not what happens plot wise that is the draw so much as exploring what happens when people put aside their learned behaviors of defense mechanisms and judgment.

While I like both of these characters, most of the words were spent re-weaving a world that was already built. A novel without a lot of plot could have really delved into getting to know Ruan’s partner Maite, or his friend and landlord Cranson, or his boss.

The prose is always beautiful and focused on observations: “There was a simple beauty in an older woman—a purity of the soul having settled down through life, a river-tumbled gemstone run smooth from its journey through the waters and over unforgiving rocks.” Yet, no one is explored with much depth, nor are any of the words used to layer in more information about the other brothers and move their story forward.

About 50% of the way in, it gets real as Ruan and Ivo connect, talking about their professions, which are their lives. Then it grabbed me by the throat and ripped my heart out. While this scene is powerfully emotional, it is a standout. Also, it is way too much, too early, for a couple barely dating who have seen each other a few times. It works because it’s what damaged people do: throw it all out there to see if the other person runs away. Ivo definitely gives Ruan one hell of a test when he shows up at the police station. My complaint is that Ruan don’t seem to lay himself bare as much as Ivo does, which means the reader doesn’t get to know him in the same way. Yes, the books are about the brotherhood, but the person each picks–their person–needs to be as fleshed out as they are. It gives you glimpses of Ivo’s and Ruan’s daily life and how they start to mesh them into one, but I didn’t live and breathe it.

To be fair, I have been really thinking hard about why I’m a little disappointed because I know fans of this series will love this. While I don’t like to compare books, it’s difficult when I just read Ramen Assassin by the same author and it’s just so much more entertaining. This gives a nice, romantic ending that I think will please everyone. There is a bit at the end dealing with James, so the audience knows whose romance is up next.

The cover art is by Reece Notley (reece@vitaenoir.com). The covers of the series are eye-catching with great models and have a unified look. This isn’t quite how I picture Ivo because of the hair.

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details: ebook, First, 240 pages
Expected publication: September 17th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781644056301
Edition Language: English
Series: 415 Ink

via A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Hellion (415 Ink #3) by Rhys Ford — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Release Day Review: Savior (415 Ink #2) by Rhys Ford

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

This is the second book in a series about five men who have forged a family and own a tattoo business. I would recommend reading these in order. Mace, a firefighter, has made himself Bear’s right hand man in helping raise the family, but it’s time he got some help, whether he asks for it or not.

We start by seeing 10 year old Mason, abandoned and locked in a closet by his father, being rescued by a firefighter. We understand why Mace becomes a firefighter, and why he always checks the closets while on the job and our hearts are already broken. It’s that crack that allows Rob, a tattoo artist at 415 Ink, to see a part of the real Mace. Being bossy, a tad controlling, and concentrating on the brothers’ personal lives is a way to keep the wolves at bay and maybe prove he deserves to be in this family. He still seems unsure, unable to ask for what he needs–afraid of what the answer will be. It’s ok though, because his brothers know and they have his back.

Rob’s best friend is Lilith, but we don’t get to see a lot of her. As with the first book, the tattoos are lovingly described. I can’t help but feel a little bit of a missed opportunity to learn more about tattoing since we get Rob’s POV as he’s learning while doing. In fact, I wish we knew a little bit more about everything. We get a little slice of Chinatown and the culture there. We get a slice of Rob’s disagreement with his father and his relationship with his family. We get slices of Ivo, but not with as much depth as our slice of Luke in the first book and that’s still just a slice. In the first book we see how close Luke and Gus are. Here we get that dynamic with Mace and Ivo, except Mace didn’t share with Ivo about, well, anything–not his father, not Rob, not his past. Actually, I am really starting to like Luke and he occupied all of two pages. The next book will likely be about Ivo and the cop he meets in the aftermath of Mace’s injuries.

There is more action in this one, although you would expect that due to his problems being in the present (which I won’t tell you about because of spoilers) rather than just past wounds, although those are also shown. You know that thing that should happen when you crack yourself open and show someone your scars? That actually happens here. That’s the best thing about this book: that moment you find your person. We get to see Rob and Mace fit together and weave their families together. And if it happens a little too easily, that Rob’s wealthy family just slot into Mace’s rough and tumble one, we need that after the horrors going on here because the abuse and violence don’t get glossed over. Mace certainly deserves some happiness and we do too.

There is a little nod to the Sinner’s series at a party that is nothing to worry about if you’ve not read them. Overall, this is a solid follow-up to the first book and I enjoyed it. I hope the author continues to layer in more depth to the world and all the characters with each new book.

The cover by Reece Notley is gorgeous, but this is not quite how I pictured Mace since he has some scars from childhood, as well as some minor gouges and burns from firefighting, however the abs are as described.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 220 pages
Expected publication: September 18th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781640808614
Edition Language: English
Series: 415 Ink

via A Chaos Moondrawn Release Day Review: Savior (415 Ink #2) by Rhys Ford — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words