Rating: 4.25 stars
Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance
Sean is trying to start his life over after being abused and almost killed by an ex lover, but he wears his past for all to see in the scars that crisscross his body and the limbs that no longer work as they once did. Sean’s scars are internalized as well, revealing themselves in his inability to trust and move forward in his life.
Riorden is both a tattoo artist and nurse who also is familiar with scars and life’s unwelcome surprises. Rio is drawn to the pain-filled man he sees waiting for the bus near the hospital, one glimpse and he is hooked although he can’t say why. An accidental meeting at a bar brings Sean and Rio together again, and while the sexual heat flares, trust remains elusive.
Sean too wants the gentle inked nurse, but can he overcome his painful past and issues of trust to move forward with his life and find the love he has always dreamed about? Only time will tell if Rio can save the beautiful disaster that is Sean.
This is not a love story for the light or faint hearted, but one that is dark, pain filled, and shows only glimpses of hope towards the end. Willa Okati delivers two memorable men, carrying traumatic scars of their past. One is a veritable canvas of scars from the event that cost him everything: his self image, his trust, and his greatest joy, the ability to draw. The other man’s scars are more easily hidden but no less dramatic. He too almost lost his life, but in a far different fashion, one that left his self image and future intact. But it is how each man has dealt with the trauma that pulls them together as each recognizes something about the other, a similarity that exists under the surface. Okati brings these outwardly disparate yet inwardly compatible men to life in these story of pain, hardship, and renewal.
Rio helps cover scars for his former patients with tattoos that help them recover. An article this week at MSNBC told the same story of a woman who rejected breast reconstruction and had a gorgeous full chest tattoo inked in their place. We get into his head and heart as Rio talks to and about his patients. And once we enter the tattoo shop and meet his best friend Jae, we better understand why he is so driven to pursue both careers at the same time. Sean’s mind is a tough one to connect with, dark, depressed, and in stasis, unable to move forward or back. All 136 pages chart his faltering progress to jumpstart his life, connect again with his art, and find his ability to love and trust once more.
For most of the book this is a bleak picture. But each time the story gets caught up in its depths, Okati offers the reader glimmers of light ahead. That glimpse of hope, plus the compelling characters of Sean and Rio, will serve to pull along those readers in search of a passionate love story. The rest of us will not hesitate to go where Okati leads which is to an ending both realistic and heartening. One that leaves the reader optimistic for Sean and Rio’s future and the healing they have found with each other.
Cover Review: The artist is Ginny Glass. I am not sold on this cover. There was so much within this story for a cover artist to draw from that I am at a loss to say what might have prompted the design on the cover. It doesn’t really speak to anything within the book, not even the tattoos described within that carry so much meaning. A complete misstep in design in my opinion.
Willa Okati and Loose Id post some very important links in the afterword about domestic abuse and organizations that deal with domestic violence. These are wonderful resources for those in need:
- National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
- Gay Men’s Domestic Violence Project
- Resources for Victims of Domestic Violence