Rating: 4 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novel

 

Rhys O’Connell’s father harbors barely contained rage at being unable to control every aspect of his son’s life. Because of him, Rhys cannot hold a job, make friends, or partake of any of the normal socializing a twenty-something young man typically enjoys. Rhys learned early on that expressing himself quickly earned him a beating and he’s got the scars to prove it. When his father finds out Rhys has been secretly exploring patently non-heterosexual identities online, the man loses it. That’s the last straw for Rhys. He knows that if he doesn’t get out now, he never will. Armed with his late mother’s guitar, the clothes on his back, and pure determination to never be his father’s victim again, Rhys runs away from home.

Simon Johansen runs a tattoo parlor in Tewsbury. He’s known where his tastes lie for a while, namely to be a Daddy figure to a Little. But ever since his last boyfriend broke his trust, Simon has been wary of opening his heart. Instead, he makes do with one-off encounters at a club that specializes in this type of age play. One day, Simon notices an attractive busker in town who makes his Daddy radar ping like crazy. Simon is determined to be just a friendly face in the crowd—more heartache is the last thing he wants. One night, however, a group of inebriated troublemakers attack the busker. Simon doesn’t witness the beating, but he does see Rhys’ fear about calling law enforcement or going to a hospital. Unwilling to let Rhys sleep rough after the beating, Simon takes him home. He never expected bringing a stranger to his home to feel so right, but it does. Even better, Simon gets inklings that Rhys might be open to the kind of age play that Simon wants. Before long, Rhys and Simon are exploring a relationship together; just when things begin to feel comfortable, a blast from Rhys past threatens to destroy everything, starting with Rhys.

Viking Ink is the first book in the Tewsbury Daddies series. I picked this book because I had never really seen anything with this kind of age play before and I was curious. In the story, Simon is a Daddy and Rhys is a little. Like some other kinks, whether or not this dynamic extends beyond the bedroom is up to the people in this relationship. For Simon and Rhys, they sort of naturally gravitate towards a whole lifestyle Daddy/little relationship. Rhys enjoys and takes comfort in activities typically considered “childish,” like coloring, playing with Legos and stuffed animals, and often behaving like a child would (there is a scene where they discover Rhys is open to spankings when Rhys has an actual temper tantrum). Simon acts as the authority figure, dictating the schedule for the day and maintaining a routine. He also is mindful of Rhys’ physical needs, like nutrition and sleep. Simon enjoys being allowed to have this level of control over Rhys; eventually and with clear communication, they experiment with these roles in a sexual nature as well. 

Overall, it was really sweet to see these two characters fall in love…after a lot of soul searching. Simon is obviously gun shy since his last boyfriend utterly played him for a fool. Of course, the first hurdle is seeing Rhys as someone he even can pursue. Simon is very conscious of the fact Rhys is homeless and that some drunks beat the shit out of him. The last thing Simon wants is to make Rhys feel like he owes Simon something. In counterpoint to all that, Rhys knows he wants a real, romantic relationship. In fact, the catalyst that finally gave Rhys the courage to leave home was the way his father flipped out when he caught Rhys using the internet to explore Daddy/little relationships. Even after his very cursory exploration, the lifestyle appeals to Rhys, but he’s afraid of a hot man like Simon rejecting him. As a result, we get to watch these two sort of subconsciously flirt with their Daddy/little roles until they finally work up the courage to come clean to one another. Once they realize they want the same thing, the exploration begins in earnest. They keep clear lines of communication open and are able to discuss what they want out of this kind of relationship, how far to regress, and other elements of kink like diaper play. 

Ultimately, I don’t think this kind of dynamic was my cup of tea. I tried to keep an open mind, but I felt like Rhys’s mental health was never really addressed—not even after the full extent of Rhys’ father’s persistent physical and mental abuse became clear. Maybe Rhys would always have wanted to be a little, but the backstory we’re given and the way no one seems to realize that kind of trauma should probably be addressed by a professional just left me with questions. On the plus side, I appreciated how well these characters fit together and that Rhys and Simon took their time working things out with words.

Apart from the romance, Rhys was also just trying to get his life back together. After having been under the rigid control of his homophobic, religious zealot of a father for his entire life, he was basically learning how to be an adult. That included getting his own ID, bank account, job, and the whole nine yards. Through Rhys, we learn that Tewsbury is a pretty tight-knit community. It seems like Simon is very much not the only one in the town with an age play kink. These supporting characters provided a sense of character growth for Rhys; he’s earning his own money and getting along despite his father’s warnings. Since these characters are all part of Simon’s circle, they also help build a sense of belonging. This community building turned out to be critically important later in the story. 

Viking Ink is a great read for people who want something that represents a lifestyle age play kink. I am no kink expert, but I thought this was a sweet couple to explore a new-to-me kind of sexual expression. There’s some angst, but that creates opportunities for hurt-comfort scenes for two two guys who are mind blowingly attuned to one another.