After catching his husband of ten years cheating on him, Nate Chandler is now in the midst of divorce. He just wants the whole thing to be over and to put his marriage behind him, and that includes covering up the tattoo that he got to match Caleb’s. So Nate heads to Skin Deep to see Lucas, a tattoo artist who specializes in cover up work.
When Nate and Lucas meet, it is lust at first sight. Nate has had pretty much zero libido since the divorce proceedings started, nor has he ever been a guy for random hookups, but he takes one look at Lucas and that all changes. With Nate recently off his breakup and Lucas having some failed relationships of his own, the guys decide that some no strings sex is the best bet. So they share a night together, and that one night leads to more.
As the men spend time together, they realize that their relationship has turned from one that was just sex to a connection where emotions are involved. They both would like it to turn into a real romantic relationship and it seems like things are heading that way. But Nate still hasn’t dealt with his feelings about the end of his marriage, and Lucas doesn’t just want to be a rebound. Now Nate must figure out if he can focus on his feelings about his marriage and move forward if he wants to have a chance for something real with Lucas.
Cover Up is the third book in L.A. Witt’s Skin Deep, Inc series. We meet both men in Pounding Skin, as Nate is Jon’s military partner and Lucas works at the tattoo shop. In that previous book, we see Nate’s discovery that Caleb is cheating on him and witness the dissolution of his marriage. So we are set up there for Nate’s story and I was really looking forward to seeing it play out.
I have to say that while I liked this one, it didn’t quite meet my hopes for the story. I liked both Nate and Lucas and even with the copious amounts of sex, I still felt like we got to see a nice development of their relationship. The men accept and support one another, and I particularly liked that even though things start off casual, neither man balks when he realizes that it is turning into more (this is particularly nice since that was the conflict in both prior books). The guys both have baggage, but they are also both open to the new connection they are forming. I also continue to like the tattoo aspects of the story, particularly how Lucas does his cover up work. I found it really interesting and I liked learning about the process.
I think I struggled here because once again, this story is very sex heavy with not enough else happening plotwise for most of the book. Now my regular readers know I enjoy sex in my books, but this series seems to use the sex as the major plot device, rather than to enhance the story. There is just not enough else going on to really hold things together for me. The guys meet, they hook up, they keep hooking up, they start to fall for each other, and then there is a conflict at the very end to close things out. I would have loved to see more exploration of Lucas’ insecurities about being ready to move on from being a tattoo apprentice, for example. There is much made of this issue, but it never really gets addressed head on or resolved. Or how Lucas’ past two divorces affected him. Or just something else to help carry the story.
The source of conflict here ultimately comes late in the game as Lucas gets concerned that Nate hasn’t really processed or dealt with the emotions from his divorce. This doesn’t necessarily come out of nowhere as I think Witt does do a nice job here planting these seeds. I noticed while reading how little his divorce seems to come up. So I think it was likely intentional on Witt’s part to show that Nate doesn’t really talk about it, but at the same time, it left a hole in the story for me. We see Nate’s discovery of the cheating in the last book, along with the end of the marriage, but then here it is barely addressed and it felt like a big missing piece. Not to mention his lack of emotions regarding the end of his marriage aren’t an issue for anyone until suddenly it is the breaking point between them. I also have to say that the conflict seems to come late in the story and then is resolved in such a blink as to be almost absurd. Lucas’ problem is that Nate hasn’t dealt with his emotions or feelings about the end of his marriage, and it is less than a day before Nate is suddenly all better and the conflict is over. It felt kind of ridiculous that this is a huge, break up level conflict, yet Nate is done working through all his issues within a day and things are all better.
So overall I found this book not quite as strong as other in the series. But I did still enjoy the story and seeing the resolution to Nate’s journey that starts in Pounding Skin. The series as a whole is pretty heavy on the sex and light on the plot, but if you are looking for some steamy fun between tattoo artists and military men, this is a fun series to check out.