Dana reviews Rebel (415 Ink Book 1) by Rhys Ford (Published by Dreamspinner Press, December 29, 2017, 220 pages) A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
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 Gus spends years 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 breakup a few 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 on to. 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.
What can I say about Rhys Ford other than that she is a fantastic writer? She writes with a gritty realness. Her characters are never perfect but they are relatable. This author is an autobuy for me and when offered the chance to review this book, you can bet I jumped at the chance.
Family always plays a big part in Rhys’ books, for good and for bad. Some characters have loving, sometimes big, families who support them through thick and thin. Some characters have families that are absentee or abusive. Then there are the families that are formed outside of circumstances of birth, chosen loved ones. The family dynamics are strong in this authors work and definitely so in this book.
Gus’s family is made up of his real brother Ivo, his cousin Bear (Barrett), and former foster brothers Mason and Luke. Each character lived through something twisted in their pasts. From what I know about this band of brothers, I can’t say that any of them had it easier than the others, but each one’s living hell was unique to them. The guys become close and rally around each other and would die for one another even though their relationships with each other are turbulent at times. Listening to Gus’s past was difficult for sure. The loss of his mom and other brother Puck fill him with lots of mixed emotions. I know it will be the same with each of these guys stories – the pain and fear and doubt that carry into the future.. I think I am most interested in what made Ivo who he is, but I will devour all of their stories in the future.
Rey’s family was not perfect either. The reason he even meets Gus and his brothers is when his father left him and his mother to die in a burning house. Rey is immediately drawn to the makeshift family and has an instant attraction to Gus. Though Rey’s family situation does get better in the future, his attempted relationship with Gus crashes and burns when youth and stubbornness prevents them from working things through.
Fast forward a few years later and the two men meet again but Gus has a new responsibility. For all the toughness and aloofness that makes up Gus, my heart breaks for him and I want to erase his past and help him build his trust. I hold him accountable for his own part in his original break up with Rey. He isn’t perfect but he is redeemable and I could only hope he would both forgive Rey for his part and work on fixing his own errors. The attraction is strong with them, but the pace in which they act on it is almost a slow burn. Hopefully with age and actual discussion they can avoid repeating history.
415 Ink and tattoos play an important in the story. Tattoos can mean so much to the wearer. Where the tattoos are placed on the body can be significant. Inking is what Gus, Ivo, and Bear do for a living. It’s an art for them and it means something to them to create. Inking doesn’t really have that much to do with the relationship between Gus and Rey but the shop is almost a supporting character in its own way and it will be a central place for the characters to meet.
I already said that the author is an autobuy and this book wouldn’t change my mind. It looks to be a very promising series. I can’t wait to read about the other brothers’ stories. Even though they both had to go through a lot, the families Rey and Gus end up with make up a fantastic cast of supporting characters. I would most definitely recommend reading this book as well as any others the author has written if you haven’t already yet.
9.5/10 Pots of Gold (95% Recommended) – Compares to 4.75/5 Stars
Rhys Ford is an award-winning author with several long-running LGBT+ mystery, thriller, paranormal, and urban fantasy series and was a 2016 LAMBDA finalist with her novel, Murder and Mayhem. She is published by Dreamspinner Press and DSP Publications.
She’s also quite skeptical about bios without a dash of something personal and really, who doesn’t mention their cats, dog and cars in a bio? She shares the house with Yoshi, a grumpy tuxedo cat and Tam, a diabetic black pygmy panther, as well as a ginger cairn terrorist named Gus. Rhys is also enslaved to the upkeep a 1979 Pontiac Firebird and enjoys murdering make-believe people.
Rhys Ford: http://rhysford.com