Rating: 4.5 stars
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Poe Montgomery is 23, still living at home with his dad, and doesn’t have much ambition beyond becoming known for his graffiti street art, along with his best friend Blue. When Poe is arrested for graffiti, he manages to escape jail, but does find himself owing his dad money for bailing him out and getting a lawyer. When his father’s best friend, Jericho McAslan, offers Poe a job working the front desk of his tattoo shop with the chance for some training as a tattoo artist, Poe agrees, if only for the money.
Jericho remembers his own troubled youth and how someone taking an interest and helping guide him to a better path made all the difference in his life. Now he sees his friend Landon’s son heading in a bad direction and offers to help the kid out with a job and some guidance. He knows Poe is a talented artist, even as Jericho doesn’t approve of the graffiti, and he hopes Poe can channel that skill into a paying career as a tattooist.
At first Poe continues to be surly, difficult, and not show much effort at all. But slowly he begins to come around, especially when Jericho begins to mentor him, taking him on as an official apprentice. Poe begins to see that there is a way to take the art he loves and turn it into a career. What’s more, the chemistry between the men begins to grow. Jericho feels it, but he is wary of getting involved with a man 17 years younger, especially his best friend’s son. Jericho tries to fight his feelings, but his attraction to Poe wins out, and the guys start a hot affair, spiced with some daddy kink that makes both men crazy.
Slowly the sexual relationship between the men grows into a romantic one. And Poe begins to really thrive in his role as Jericho’s apprentice. The guys have to work a bit to navigate the tricky age dynamic, combined with the mentor/apprentice relationship, but things seem to be working. But not everyone is thrilled that Poe has found another passion beyond the graffiti, and the troubles he causes may ruin the chance for Jericho and Poe to have a future together.
Permanent Ink is the first book in Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn’s new Art & Soul series and I think is off to a great start. I’ll admit, this one pushes so many of my buttons, with the age gap, daddy kink, and the dating your best friend’s son. But I appreciated that although this story is super hot and sexy, there is also a nice depth to these characters and some great growth over the course of the book.
Poe starts out the book as kind of a surly brat. He is a grown man, but he is petulant and difficult and doesn’t have much of a sense of responsibility. His sole commitment is to his best friend and their street art. I liked the way we see Poe grow and change as he finds his direction and his passion. Poe doesn’t totally become a different person, but he gets a focus and a sense of responsibility that is boosted by his connection to Jericho.
I really enjoyed the dynamic between the two men. As many of you know, I love an age gap story and the 17 years between these guys is notable. Throw in the daddy kink and these guys are super hot together. They have sex early and often and if that dynamic is your thing, this is definitely the book for you. But I appreciate that the authors really explore some other interesting aspects of their relationship. On top of their sexual connection, these guys are boss/employee, and even more, mentor and apprentice. So there is a lot to navigate in terms of finding the balance between the guidance and direction Jericho would naturally give to Poe at work, and having a partnership in terms of their relationship outside of that. Adding on to that is the fact that Jericho is best friends with Poe’s dad. Again, the authors do a nice job taking this beyond the sexy taboo to look at this in a more nuanced way. In this case, Poe has been a rough kid, and while his dad clearly loves him, raising him hasn’t been easy and he has shared those challenges with Jericho as his best friend. So as they are dating, there is part of Jericho that still knows Poe as the exasperating son of his friend and it too plays a role in their dynamic.
I will admit that I did struggle a little bit with their relationship in terms of how they fit together beyond work and the bedroom. At one point Poe’s dad expresses curiosity as to what Jericho would see in this 23-year-old kid who lives at home and seems pretty aimless. Jericho struggles a bit to really answer clearly, and later in the book is finally able to articulate it. But honestly, to me it seemed more about the fact that Poe was young and therefore had a different perspective on life than about Poe specifically. I think I would have had a better sense of them as a balanced partnership if we saw them more doing everyday couple things. Most of their scenes are either sex where it is lust and passion, or at work, where the dynamic is still shifted with Jericho as the mentor and the one giving guidance. I wished we had seen these guys hanging out, or on a date, or sharing some casual time where we saw them on equal footing beyond sex. Or even better, saw Poe providing support or guidance or something to Jericho when he needed it. So as much as I really liked these guys and loved their dynamic, I did find myself still slightly skeptical of them as real partners even by the end.
That said, I truly enjoyed this story and was completely caught up in it. I loved Poe and Jericho and think the authors did a great job taking a super sexy story and really elevating it to something with real depth and character development. I am super excited that this is to be a new series and our hints of what is to come are quite tempting. So if you like hot older men paired with bratty but redeemable guys, with a bit of daddy kink and some nice character growth, I can definitely recommend Permanent Ink.
P.S. I just LOVE this cover. Hello daddy indeed.
Thanks for this review, Jay, it’s spot on. Like you, I really enjoyed the book, and like you I had the same reservations about Jericho and Poe as a couple. It’s like the authors had these two awesome characters, but didn’t quite know how to fuse them together. I’ll read the next book in the series for sure. The authors seemed to be setting up Callum and Blue, but I’m more intrigued by Landon.
Thanks for your thoughts. And yes? Landon is an interesting guy. I am definitely looking forward Ron more in the series!