Series: 415 Ink: Book Two
Author: Rhys Ford
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 220 Pages
Reviewed By: Ky and Jovan
Blurb: 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.
Ky’s Review: The first book in the 415 Ink series was Gus and Rey’s story, and it was amazing! I kept thinking about that story for days after I finished it. Savior is the second book, and it deals with Mace, one of Gus’s brothers. I was excitedly waiting for this story to get here, but after finishing it, I just feel disappointed.
To say it got the complete opposite reaction from me than the first book would be an understatement. This book felt nothing like the first one. It didn’t even read like its own teaser, meaning the scene that was at the end of book one. After reading that, I was expecting a story about two guys hating, or at least actively disliking, each other. I was expecting tension and fights, and I certainly didn’t expect the sweet story that I got in the end. At times it was like reading two different stories. We were constantly told how Mace and Rob hated each other and couldn’t stand the sight of each other, but we were never shown that. There was never a reason why, other than Mace saying he was attracted to Rob and that’s why he couldn’t stand him. That’s not enemies-to-lovers, though, and it’s not what the teaser teased about. Where’s the dislike? The “I’m attracted to you, but I don’t want to be”? The “I can’t stay away, and I hate myself for it”? It was all very smooth sailing, no bumps on the road. Sweet and effortless.
There was a side plot that brought some angst and action, but it had nothing to do with the two MCs. It was completely external. Mace had a bad past, like the rest of the brothers, and since this is his story, we get to learn about what happened to him and how he came to find his chosen family. That part was hard to read and it’s a wonder that Mace only has some hang ups after what he had to go through while growing up. Why does he have to have a nightlight on? Why does he always have to have some kind of noise around him? Why does he hate silence so much? His story and his experiences are truly frightening.
On a final note, how do you feel about characters talking loudly to themselves? I hate it! In this story both of them did it all the time. At times I even thought they were talking to someone else, but even if there was someone else in the room with them, they still said their thoughts aloud and nobody commented on them. I don’t know what that was about. It was plain weird and very frustrating, because it happened all the time. I keep trying to recall if that was the case with the first book as well, but I can’t remember. I kind of think it didn’t happen there because otherwise, I most likely would have commented on it. I can’t figure out why it was so important in this story for the MCs to have conversations with themselves loudly. Couldn’t they just think their thoughts quietly?
Anyway, maybe it was just my mood that was the problem. It’s very possible, since I wasn’t really feeling any of the books I read those days. Gus and Rey’s story will remain one of my favorites but this one didn’t measure up to them. I’m sorry Mace, I really wanted to like your story…: 2.5 stars
Jovan’s Review: Savior, the second installment in the 415 Ink series, is another heartbreaking dive into the damaged psyche of one of the brothers, but at the end of the day is hopeful and a testimony to love in its many forms. As introduced in Rebel, Mace is the no-nonsense brother who established his role in the household as Bear’s take no BS second-in-command. He tried to be a perfect role-model and disciplinarian for a houseful of lost, angry boys, while attempting to bury his past imperfection.
[Mace] ached to be loved. He wanted nothing more than to fill the emptiness inside. No matter how hard he fought to secure a place among the brothers, he knew their affection was built on a lie. . . to shield their eyes from the monster he’d been.
Over the years Mace’s fears—fear of his father, fear of the terrible life he led, and fear of losing his brothers’ love became a barrier between him and the world, holding him back from connecting fully with his family and being able to heal. No matter how perfect and strong Mace tries to be for his brothers, his past and his mother’s own rejection of him make him doubt his worth and keep him constantly afraid that if he ever steps out of line or, worse, if his brothers find out about the truly horrific actions in his past, they will turn their backs on him and discard him like his mother had, and that this would happen if he ever put himself out there in a relationship.
So, while he is drawn to Rob, Rob’s vivaciousness and lack of boundaries make Mace wary of letting the man close, and it helps him stick to the “no dating employees” rules the brothers have established. Unfortunately for Mace, Rob makes ignoring him extremely difficult. Although Rob has forged his own path in life and distanced himself from the scorn and disapproval of his father, the old insecurities of not being good or worthy enough rear up whenever he’s confronted with Mace’s persona of arrogant self-assuredness, causing him to push at Mace and play mind games that inevitably stoke the chemistry between them and embed them further into one another’s skin. After a series of dangerous events force Mace’s demons right into his face and his present, Rob begins to see under Mace’s armor to the truly battered man inside—a man unaware of his worth and value, and insecure in his brothers’ love and his place in their lives.
Even for those who enjoy hurt-comfort themes, the 415 Ink series may still be a hard read, especially for those who prefer the romantic element to take precedence or have enough sweetness to take away the sting from some truly heartbreaking backstories and plot elements. If that is the case, Savior may not be your cup of tea. While Mace and Rob’s relationship development feels organic and true to the characters, and there are some cute dating moments, Savior, like Rebel before it, is a story that focuses on the brother confronting the demons he has allowed to set up shop in his minds and run his life for years. It is about wading into the ugly, fetid muck inside and beginning to clean it out, and finding the strength, courage and help to do so with the love of someone who sees and understands them, and the unwavering, unshakeable support of the brothers that fear has kept them from fully embracing.: 4 stars
You can buy Savior here:
[zilla_button url=”http://bit.ly/2NWTacL” style=”blue” size=”medium” type=”round” target=”_blank”] Dreamspinner Press [/zilla_button][zilla_button url=”http://books2read.com/u/bWzed1″ style=”blue” size=”medium” type=”round” target=”_blank”] Amazon & Other Online Booksellers [/zilla_button]