Author: Aundrea Singer
Genre: M/M contemporary
Length: Novel (318 pages)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (January 7, 2013)
Heat Level: Moderate
Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥3.5Hearts
Blurb: Toronto artist Gabriel Navarro splits his time between slinging ink and working on his master’s degree. He’s sure of his beliefs and his artistic integrity and naïve enough to think he’ll never compromise—until Iraq war veteran Jake MacLean shows up in his tattoo parlor.
Overcome with anger and survivor’s guilt, Jake is locked in a struggle to atone for sins he’s sure will never be forgiven. Desperate to get his life back on track and with nowhere else to go, he moves in with his sister in Toronto. He doesn’t expect to fall for Gabe.
Though Jake’s refusal to talk about what happened in Iraq frustrates Gabe, accepting Jake’s claims that he’s “fine” is easier than dealing with the truth. But pretty soon it’s clear Jake can’t control his panic attacks, and his condition is worsening. If Gabe can’t help him face his demons, Jake is headed for a crash—and there’s every chance he’ll take Gabriel down with him
Review: Jake is an ex-soldier who hasn’t recovered mentally from a horrific helicopter crash during wartime. He suffers from a serious case of PTSD, but has no interest in seeking help. He’s pretty much a mess, and wanders around day to day in daze, just existing. Gabe is a nice guy who likes to help people when he can. He’s an art major who found a job as a tattoo artist, but has no tattoos. It’s certainly not stereotypical for either Gabe or Jake, which I find kind of refreshing. I also like the idea of a tough military man and a tatted up alternative guy, but that’s not what you get in this story. Not that that’s bad, just don’t expect it in this book.
The two meet when Jake decides he needs a large tattoo and walks into the shop where Gabe works. Their first few meetings are going over the tattoos, while Jake snaps at Gabe, and Gabe manages to insult him, but they’re attracted to each other, so both guys look forward to seeing the other. Things kind of evolve quickly from there after one of Jake’s episodes sends him running to Gabe for help.
It didn’t seem like the two MCs had much chemistry. It was more “a nice guy who likes to help people” meets a “guy who’s a mess and needs help.” Then they both happen to be gay and attracted to each other. There were a few reasons given for why they liked each other but it just never really clicked for me. Jake was damn near impossible to like. I guess his character was well-developed, but when writing a romance I want to find some likable quality about one of the guys falling in love.
Gabe’s character was likable. He’s younger and quick to help anyone who needs it. He’s funny, even if he does sometimes say things he shouldn’t, or avoid things he should confront. He really wants to help Jake, but he also just wants to be with him, and avoids some scary signs of trouble from Jake.
This book overall felt high on drama and angst, but somehow seemed slow and heavy. I guess what you need to know before you pick up this book is that it deals with a serious topic and doesn’t really lighten up at any point. There were funny moments, so it’s not exactly a somber book, but it’s not your normal m/m romance either.