Title: Rebel (415 Ink #1)
Author: Rhys Ford
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: December 29, 2017
Genre(s): Gay Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 220 Pages
Reviewed by: ColinJ
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
The hardest thing a rebel can do isn’t standing up for something — it’s standing up for himself.
Life takes delight in stabbing Gus Scott in the back when he least expects it. After years of running from his past, present and the dismal future every social worker predicted for him, Karma delivers the one thing Gus could never—would never—turn his back on; a son from a one-night stand he’d had after a devastating break-up three years ago.
Returning to San Francisco and to 415 Ink, his family’s tattoo shop, gave him the perfect shelter to battle his personal demons and get himself together… until the firefighter who’d broken him walked back into Gus’s life.
For Rey Montenegro, tattoo artist Gus Scott was an elusive brass ring, a glittering prize he hadn’t the strength or flexibility to hold onto. Severing his relationship with the mercurial tattoo artist hurt but Gus hadn’t wanted the kind of domestic life Rey craved, leaving Rey with an aching chasm in his soul.
When Gus’s life and world starts to unravel, Rey helps him pick up the pieces, and Gus wonders if that forever Rey wants is more than just a dream.
I struggled to make sense of the early chapters in this book. I think the reason for this is that a number of characters are introduced at the same time and the story evolves from different points of view. As such, until the reader becomes familiar with each of the personalities it can be confusing as to whose mind we are in now and which name goes with which storyline. Consequently at the point at which the reader should be forming an empathic attachment to the core individuals this is undermined by confusion. As a result, whilst the characters are well rounded I gained no real affinity. Perhaps another reader who can juggle characters better than I will get more from the story. Certainly this author is strong on characterisation and contextualisation and this is certainly present in the book. As ever, the author tells a good story and there is an interesting richness to the histories of central characters and how they are brought together.
The central characters are obviously the most fleshed out and their relationship forms the heart of the story. It is clear that they are passionate about one another but circumstances conspire to place obstacles in the way. There is personal growth built into this relationship but this could have been handled in more depth. The passion when it occurs is well handled, however it is at points of personal revelation that the relationship is at its most poignant.
The book doesn’t really get into its stride until a number of chapters in due to the development of the characters and their opening gambits. Nevertheless once this has been achieved there is a clear progression through the different themes of the book and each is articulated well and hold the reader’s attention.
As one would expect, each of the threads to the story are resolved at the end. There are clear teasers towards the end that suggest further stories are to follow in the series. This was a good read overall but not the author’s best in my opinion. Given that the context is now set I would hope that subsequent books would be more rewarding.