Mason Crawford had a horrible childhood, barely escaping with his life from an abusive father and ending up in foster care. Mace was lucky enough to ultimately become part of a family of five men who all had similar, horrible childhoods and the men have become brothers to one another. Now, Mace is a fire fighter, working to help save others the way he was saved himself. His past still haunts him, but he is doing his best to move forward.
Along with his brothers, Mace co-owns the 415 Ink tattoo shop. Rob Claussen is a new tattoo artist at the shop, and he can’t understand why Mace seems to hate him. As it turns out, Mace doesn’t so much dislike Rob as want to do all the sexy things to him, but that is a bad idea so he is trying to keep his distance. The brothers have a firm rule about dating employees, not to mention that with Mace’s past, he doesn’t really do relationships. But the attraction between the men is fierce and the men ultimately give in to their desires. While they each assume it will be some fun and then over, it turns out there is a much bigger spark between them than they expected.
However, Mace’s past isn’t staying hidden and when danger surfaces, suddenly his demons are right back in the forefront. Mace has always relied on his brothers, but he fears their rejection when they learn more about his past. But Rob is determined to be there for Mason, to listen and to provide support any way he can. Now Mace has to decide if he is willing to open up to Rob and his family and trust in their love and support to get him through the trouble.
Savior is the second book in Rhys Ford’s 415 Ink series, focusing on a group of five men who are combination of blood and found family. They have all experienced horrible childhoods and the men have bonded over their shared experiences and their determination to support and love one another. These are gritty stories, this one even more than the first, in that we learn about each of their pasts and it is not pretty. In Mace’s case, we get some details of intense child abuse and some other horrific incidents. So while the story is generally uplifting, especially as we see Mace find a way to move forward from his past, this definitely has some intense moments.
This book is a combination of the romance between Mace and Rob, and learning more about Mace’s past as it returns to haunt him. I did find that the early parts of the story moved a little slowly for me as there was a lot of set up to catch us up with Mace’s past and what he had overcome. So it takes a while before the relationship takes a major focus and I felt once it did, things moved rather quickly. Not in the sense that they fell in love too fast, but more that Rob becomes this solid presence in Mace’s life and a confidant pretty fast and I wish we got more of a feel for why this connection is so strongly so quickly. But I did like these guys together and there is a steadiness to Rob that really helps ground Mace and get him through the horrible situation he is facing.
The real focus here is Mace and we learn all about his background, as well as see him confront his past and his demons. I appreciated that Ford doesn’t take the easy and obvious story path here in terms of how things resolve. I figured I knew exactly how the final conflict would arrive and it turns out that the story went in a different direction, which I really liked. We see enough progress for Mace that I felt like he was on the way to recovery, but not so much as to be unrealistic given his past and all the things that he had to work through. For me, this is really Mace’s story and I think Rob gets a little shortchanged. We get hints of his backstory as we are told about family conflicts and him changing his career path, but none of that ever gets addressed beyond a few tidbits dropped so I felt like that should have been developed more, or at least explained. But as I said, this is really Mace’s journey, and it’s a good one.
While these books stand alone well, what really makes this series shine for me is the connection among the five brothers. I love a found family story and the bond between these men is fierce, even as they fight and bicker. Ford gives us some glimpses here into more of the stories for the brothers still to come and I am really excited to see where things go from here. So this is another great installment in the 415 Ink series and I am looking forward to more.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.