Rating: 2 stars
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Elijah left his large family in upstate New York for a small beach town in New Jersey when he was hired at Inkubus as a tattoo artist. He fell hard and fast for his boss, Jake, and for the last ten months, the two have had a friends-with-benefits thing going. Yet, Elijah wants so much more from Jake and each time he tells himself this will be the last time, yet he is unable to stay away.
Jake has always thought he would stay single. His business, his friends, and his brother and nephews have always been enough for him and he is all about the hook up. Eli gets under his skin like no other man, but Jake has absolutely no idea what to do about that and winds up pushing Eli away.
When a family tragedy alters Jake’s life, he is left completely out of his depth. With incredible responsibility placed on him, Jake has to find his way through his grief, but he can’t do it alone. Eli cannot bear to see Jake suffer and when he steps in to help Jake, Jake has to let Eli know how he feels or watch him walk out of his life forever.
This book…didn’t work for me from the first chapter. Eli and Jake have a hook-up relationship going on, but Eli knows he’s in love with Jake. The two men work together as Jake owns the tattoo shop, yet Jake barely speaks to Eli and doesn’t even treat him as a friend, so the dynamics were off for me from the start.
The writing overall, came off as simplistic and amateurish and read as a first draft as the story never came together for me. Jake has a family tragedy and through this tragedy he realizes how much he needs Eli, but I couldn’t really buy into that it was truly for his feelings for Eli and more that his life had changed so drastically. Also, for such a crisis, everything worked out fairly well.
The men are tattoo artists and really, they could have had any occupation as besides the fact that they were close with their co-workers, being tattoo artists added no significance to the story. Eli has a large family with many siblings and there are the friends from the tattoo shop, and random lines are added in for many characters, presumably as a set-up for future books, and they all seemed randomly placed and crammed into various scenes. Jake also has the stereotypical, caricature homophobic parents that came off as more of a tired plot device that wasn’t written well. When the men have to make changes to living conditions, they claim they are going to bag up any and all items that are even remotely feminine because they’re men, and why this had to be called out…I don’t know.
When Jake finally offers Eli what he has wanted all along, Jake worries that it’s too little too late for Eli and I thought so too. I didn’t truly believe in their relationship from the start and there wasn’t anything to convince me during the course of the book and this one was a huge miss for me.