Title: Tattoos and Teacups
Author: Anna Martin
Cover Artist: Shobana Appavu
Buy Link: Amazon
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: Novel (244 pages)
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
A Guest Review by jeayci
Review Summary: Sweet, slow-building love story between two seemingly opposites who turn out to be very alike and complementary.
Blurb: As a teenager, Robert McKinnon left his native Scotland and moved to America. That was sixteen years ago, and Professor McKinnon has never quite settled in his new home or found his place this side of the pond. He might be prematurely old, but he has his cat, and his books, and that’s all he needs.
Then Chris Ford explodes into Robert’s life with a crash of cymbals. The younger man is the polar opposite of Robert’s calm civility. Bright tattoos cover his skin, and he wears his hair in a Mohawk and plays drums for a rock band. But he’s a shot of color in Robert’s black-and-white world, and Robert turns out to be the one thing Chris can count on. Despite all the reasons it shouldn’t work, somehow it does.
Even if Robert wasn’t looking for love—especially not with someone nearly ten years his junior—he can’t deny being with Chris is fun. But sometimes Chris’s free-spirited nature leaves Robert feeling vulnerable. If they can’t find a balance between tattoos and teacups, their relationship won’t survive—and neither will Robert’s newfound lust for life.
At first blush this story is about opposites attracting, but appearance can be deceptive. Robert and Chris are far more similar in the ways that matter than is immediately obvious. As Robert explains to Chris on one of their first dates, talking about the rhythms of speech and poetry:
“But here’s where our worlds collide. I spend hours poring over poetry, finding the stressed and unstressed beats, working out the rhythms and how that changes things, how it affects the music of the poem.”
They also develop a surprisingly equal relationship, comprised of two strong individuals who complement each other. It turns out Robert isn’t quite as staid at heart as he is on the surface, and Chris helps bring his inner-rockstar out to play. And Robert provides Chris with the home and stability he craves. I loved how clearly that was something they each saw and appreciated as well. There were a few moments that I thought Chris acted obnoxiously young and Robert correspondingly condescending, but that’s not necessarily unrealistic. And overall, they were very compatible.
The story was a sweet, slow build told in past tense for the first part. It relates how they met and started dating, and lasts until a crisis that seemed inevitable from the beginning; the tragic flaw of the relationship. After that, it switches to present tense. That took me by surprise, but I decided almost immediately that I loved it. I also loved the ways they took care of themselves while unhappy. It made the ultimate resolution all the more believable and satisfying for me.
There were a few odd word choices and typos, and some plot inconsistencies. Had I found the story less compelling, I’m sure they would have bothered me more. It’s a shame, because with better editing I think this could have been a five-star book.
There’s not a lot of action or drama, definitely not the sort of book to pick up if you’re in the mood for high-speed chases, mystery, or angst. But if you want a quietly humorous book depicting a relationship between two interesting and unique individuals who take time to get to know each other, this is the book for you.