Title: Savior (415 Ink #2)
Author: Rhys Ford
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: September 18, 2018
Page Count: 220 Pages
Reviewed by: ColinJ
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
415 Ink: Book Two
A savior lies in the heart of every good man, but sometimes only love can awaken the man inside the savior.
The world’s had it out for San Francisco firefighter Mace Crawford from the moment he was born. Rescued from a horrific home life and dragged through an uncaring foster system, he’s dedicated his life to saving people, including the men he calls his brothers. As second-in-command of their knitted-together clan, Mace guides his younger siblings, helps out at 415 Ink, the family tattoo shop, and most of all, makes sure the brothers don’t discover his darkest secrets.
It’s a lonely life with one big problem—he’s sworn off love, and Rob Claussen, one of 415 Ink’s tattoo artists, has gotten under his skin in the worst way possible.
Mace’s world is too tight, too controlled to let Rob into his life, much less his heart, but the brash Filipino inker is there every time Mace turns around. He can’t let Rob in without shaking the foundations of the life he’s built, but when an evil from his past resurfaces, Mace is forced to choose between protecting his lies and saving the man he’s too scared to love.
The second book in the series focuses on Mace, the grumpy, pushy, self-opinionated character from the first book. In that book, he was not pleasant and really acted as a counter-balance to the other more positive characters. Clearly to have the second book focussed on this individual would have spelled disaster had the author not used it as a vehicle to explore his past. The person presented in the second book does not show any of the characteristics he showed before. This is disappointing because there is no real transition to the vulnerable person presented here. The romantic focus could have been used better to chip away at the hardened exterior. Instead, barriers fall without very much effort. Yes, the character had a really unpleasant upbringing that shaped who he became but strangely, apart from the guilt he seems a very well rounded individual. Characterisation remains strong in the writing and each individual has identifiable characteristics that make him or her realistic within the context of the plot. The environment is familiar form the previous book but new locations are introduced to support the story. These are described with enough detail for the reader to visualise what is happening.
This is a story dominated by the past and there are flashbacks throughout that counterbalance their later description. There is a real sense of childhood fear and lack of understanding, which is rationalised later and the edges smoothed with time. Characters from the past become archetypes of brutality, when brought to the present they are both less than they were and yet wield irrational influence. There are moments of tension, which are well crafted. The shame is that they are not built upon. There is an expectation that more will happen and that the reader prepared for surprises, but they never happen. This is really more like life than literature; people do tend to make mountains out of molehills. The question is whether in a work of fiction the reader should be left to draw that assumption or was an opportunity missed to develop the plot?
The relationship between the two lead characters follows a familiar pattern where both keep the other at arm’s length because they worry about the reaction of the other person or those around them. Missed opportunities are a feature of all of the relationships presented and yet when the individuals make that leap they always do so positively. Sadly, this is not like life, as such, it is hard to fully appreciate the intent of the author. The passion is presented effectively with the first encounter being the most fully described. This works well as a first encounter as it isn’t planned, things get knocked about and passion outweighs care of what is around them.
There is a steady pace throughout except for the brief moments of tension or passion. The focus is on family and relationships and so would not benefit from a frenetic pace. It works well for the plot and the writing is well-structured and easy to read making the pace of reading satisfying, allowing the reader to absorb the minor details such as the author’s apparent passion for Eastern food.
The ending to the story seemed somewhat of an anti-climax. Themes were resolved in small scenes marked by time jumps. Closure of the ‘baddy’ theme seems rather weak and questions still exist about if there has been closure. The author does provide a taster for the next book and who the likely central characters will be.