Cory Easton is a tattoo artist working at Raw Ink. From the outside, he’s happy go lucky, known for being very talkative. On the inside, he struggles with the physical and emotional pain of the death of his boyfriend. He also has a habit of always falling for guys who are straight as an arrow. When he eyes the mysterious sexy skateboarder, he knows he is in trouble with a capital T.
Jude York is a relatively new arrival in town, but there are plenty of rumors speculating why he it there. Taking protection from the local motorcycle club, he spends his days working at the skateboard shop or riding at the park. For Jude, his past has taught him not to set down roots or get close to anyone, because everything is temporary. He hides away in his silence.
When Cory’s pup takes a liking to Jude, Cory barrels into Jude’s life. Jude comes into Raw Ink for a tattoo from Cory and finds that Cory starts breaking down those barriers he’s erected. As the barriers start falling, Cory wonders how much he really wants to know about Jude’s past, especially when Jude tells him it isn’t safe for him to know.
This book is a stand-alone story in Christina Lee’s Between Breaths series. Usually I am wary of reading something out of order in a series, but I didn’t feel as if I was missing anything by not having read the other books. I should note that the first four in the series are M/F, while this is a M/M romance. Don’t let that scare you off — the author does a fabulous job of crossing over into the M/M genre with this story.
I was hooked after the first chapter. A tattoo artist…a skateboarder with a British accent…two pups, one of which is an escape artist. Throw in a motorcycle gang and Jude’s mysterious past and you’ve got the makings of a great romantic suspense/intrigue.
The two protagonists are so similar, yet very different. Both lost their parents, both adore dogs, both love riding motorcycles, and both carry scars from their past. Yet, one talks to escape the silence while the other thrives on silence. It is really hard not to fall in love with Cory. He’s outgoing. He takes care of his grandma who raised him after his parents’ deaths. He took in his ex-short term boyfriend’s dog even though the dog really doesn’t like him all that much. The fact that Cory struggles to control his brain-to-mouth connection and has a habit of over talking made him all that much more adorable.
Jude, on the other hand, is a bit harder to like initially, mainly because he just doesn’t talk. Even simple questions, he wouldn’t answer. As he began opening up, I found myself liking him more and more. By the end of the book, I was as much in love with Jude as I was with Cory.
Jude knows the secret to getting Cory to stop talking! Seems Cory’s mouth forgets how to work when other parts of his anatomy are otherwise occupied. Oh yes, the sex scenes are smoking hot between these two.
The suspense/intrigue part of the story was a bit more difficult for me to buy into. The idea of a motorcycle gang teaming up with the feds by offering protection to Jude in exchange for them looking the other way on other things, seemed a bit forced given that most motorcycle gangs are anti-police to begin with. The author does manage to spin the tale to make it believable.
My biggest pet peeve about this book was that the cover of the book just doesn’t go with this story. I know, never judge a book by its cover… A glimpse of the cover leaves one thinking straight-laced college student, when in fact you have a tattoo artist and a skateboarder with dreads. I would have liked to have seen something close to what one, or both, of the main characters looked like.
Overall, I really enjoyed this story. I liked how the author grabbed my attention from the start and kept me interested as Cory began to draw Jude out. I loved seeing the two of them go from strangers to friends to lovers. I loved that the secondary characters played secondary roles, adding to the story but not taking the focus away from the growing romance between Cory and Jude. I would definitely be looking for this author to write more M/M romance in the future.