High Contrast (Kristin’s Review)

High Contrast

Title: High Contrast (Evolution Ink #1)
Author: Tess Bowery
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Release Date: May 3, 2016
Genre(s): Contemporary
Page Count: 226
Reviewed by: Kristin
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

The deepest scars aren’t the ones that show.

Jacob Shain is your average member of Generation Screwed. He has a boring internship, no cash flow, and a tiny NYC apartment he has to share with Ethan, his much-cooler, tattoo-artist twin brother. Not to mention his love life is DOA. At least, until his brother’s shop hires on a new piercer, and Jacob’s humdrum life takes a turn for the weird.

Cody Turner is gorgeous, funny and kind—everything Jacob wants in a boyfriend. Except for the way he refuses to talk about his past, or where he lives, or anything about his personal life.

When Ethan is arrested while on a mission of mercy, the reason Cody is so tight lipped comes to light. And while Jacob and Cody fight to understand the depth of their feelings for one another, the police dogs catch their scent. So does the local mob.

Now Jacob has to make the hardest choice of his life: stay safe like a good boy, or dive headfirst into a world he barely understands…and hope Cody is there to break his fall.

Warning: Contains a good boy who wants to be bad, a bad boy who longs to be good, bodies that are canvases for living art and high-speed chases with police dogs.

This is an enjoyable, feel-good, kick back and tune out the world read. There are no Big Misunderstandings, no Dramaz, no huge Angst Issues that lead to Big Misunderstandings. The plot and characters are quirky and fun.

High Contrast is, simply, a sweet romance.

Jacob is your classic geek working some kind of soul-sucking unpaid internship. His bestie is the CEO’s daughter Andi who can do no wrong. Ethan is Jacob’s twin who co-owns Evolution Ink with Turner and Val. Cody is Evolution Ink’s new piercer and Priya is the front counter gal. Then we have the landlord, the land lords dog, the ex-boyfriend and the work tormentor.

Got all that? The character download was my small complaint with the book at the beginning. It was a bit like being introduced to the 12 dwarves at the start of the Lord of the Rings. Who was who again? It got better as the story progressed, but I would have like to have been introduced to the characters a bit more gradually.

My other concern was with Andi’s attorney friend and his participation in some of the climatic conclusion activities. The group is participating in some semi-questionable activities and he was participating, and that seemed a bit implausible.

For the number of tattoo themed books I’ve read, the piercing aspect was an appreciated change of pace. That the author brought in suspension and scarring elevated the background info beyond the usual tongue, ear, nipples, and Prince Albert’s. Nice touch, that.

I also liked Jacob’s doggedness in pursuing Cody, but he wasn’t overly pushy about it. Yes, Jacob’s feelings were up and down, a bit of He loves me! He loves me not! Jacob was finding his way as much as Cody was trying to find some solid ground. It was nice to know that Jacob gave Cody space, but at the same time was able to step up and say, “I’m here for you.”.

That being said, Jacob and Cody’s relationship flirted with that boundary of “insta-love”, but with how the ending played out I believe it avoided falling completely over that line and left room for the characters to grow.

As I noted at the start, this is sweet romance. I liked the romantic tug and pull between Cody and Jacob, the cast of characters was quirky without being too clichéd, the piercing was different enough to be engaging, and the plot avoided being over the top.

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Advance Review Copy

Galley copy of High Contrast provided by Samhain Publishing in exchange of an honest review.


I have been a voracious reader from the time I learned how to read. My Motto: "Never leave home without a book (or two or three)." Though once I learned how to knit that became "Never leave home without a book (or two or three) AND a knitting project." A long-time fan of science fiction, I've since discovered mystery/suspense/thrillers and m/m romance. I love stories that span the universe, paranormal, urban fantasy, mystery, comedy; stories with veterinarian's (yay! animals!) or a men in uniform, a splash of BDSM or a threesome can be fun, and of course, happy ever afters. IF that's not a run-on sentence, I don't know what is... I'm not a fan of historical, horror, sports, plots with children, and New Adult/Young Adult. Thanks for reading my reviews! No two persons ever read the same book Edmund Wilson