Title & Link: Secrets And Ink (Secrets #1)
Author: Lou Harper
Cover Artist: Angela Waters
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Buy Link: Buy Link Secrets and Ink
Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance
Rating: 5+ stars
Review Summary: Simply one of the most outstanding novels of 2013.
Blurb: When Karma writes you a ticket, pay up or else…
If life was like the movies, Jem Mitchell’s wouldn’t be such a mess. In LA’s glittering world of dreams, he works an unglamorous job at a gourmet grocery store. His past is so deep and dark, the details are lost even to him. All he knows is he was once cursed by a meter maid, and ever since, his love life has sucked.
When Detective Nick Davies becomes a regular at the store, Jem dares to hope he’s un-hexed at last. He should have known that sex with a remarkably normal guy, devoid of weird fetishes and fatal personality flaws, was too good to be true.
During a post-encounter cuddle, Nick recognizes the tattoo on Jem’s back—and remembers him as a young hustler he arrested nine years past.
As Jem’s memories come crashing back, he flees from Nick, but fate contrives to keep pushing them back together. And when Jem’s old partner in crime is found murdered, the stakes are raised for life, for love, and a dangerous drama with no guarantee of a Hollywood ending.
Review: I really appreciate when an author decides to make their story just a little different. I love when they approach the reader with the thought in mind that we want something intelligent, a story that we cannot figure out half way through because we have seen that formula before, that overused trope yet again. I value the author who infuses a romance with interesting subplots and fascinating minor characters that they then use to reveal more about the way their main characters think. I search for stories that treat me as someone whom they wish to entertain rather than someone who is just searching for the next hot piece of m/m erotica. When I find an author who can hit even just one or two of these components I consider myself lucky. When I find an author who embraces all these elements and makes them into a rich and fascinating story that bursts off the page with wit and humor and, above all, a really sound storyline, well, then I give it a 5+ rating and tell you that it is a story that is going on my re-read shelf immediately.
Lou Harper is an imaginative, smart and immensely talented author who gives us an impeccable story with richly drawn characters and a delicious love affair between a “cursed” former bad boy and a slightly kinky cop. Secrets And Ink is the must read novel of the year. It joins ranks with other novels that are by far the cream of the crop in the m/m genre and it well deserves its place of honor. I cannot say enough about how much I enjoyed this novel.
The characters of Nick and Jem just made me smile. Jem with his belief that a woman at the DMV had cursed him after he yelled at her for impounding his car, leads a life filled with one disaster after another. A life that included a building falling on top of him. The accident left him with an erstwhile cat (named Pancake–oh the delicious irony) he had been trying to rescue when the building collapsed and a wonky memory that means he barely remembers people’s names even while still talking to them. One day on the way to work, Jem catches sight of a very hot cop at a film site on the streets of Hollywood and life takes an immediate right hand turn for him He likes Nick the cop–a lot. But Jem has a past that is far from stellar and a present that is rife with forgetfulness and loneliness and he is not sure that Nick will have any interest in staying around long enough for the two of them to find out if they even have a chance of making things work.
The dynamic between these two men was slow to evolve and yet intense from the very beginning. The way in which their scenes together were written gave you this sense of being immediately involved and invested in their lives. Small nuances like Jem taking groceries and checking in on his elderly neighbor lent an air of tenderness to his persona that made him instantly accessible and likeable. The interesting bit of kink that Officer Nick had going and shared with Jem was so erotic and yet so personal and intimate that I am fairly certain that is when I fell in love with the character. Both men, in their own way, unsure of their own appeal and uncertain if they could make it last, stumble along together and embrace each other with a tenderness that almost breaks your heart. Such outstanding writing.
I highly recommend Secrets And Ink by Lou Harper. Again, it bears saying this one stands out and joins the ranks of this year’s finest in the m/m genre.