What it’s about: (from Goodreads) Tattooing might have once been Liam’s passion, but he left it all behind along with ugly memories when he went to college. When his uncle’s health fails, Liam must come home at last to say his goodbyes. His days are spent at the hospice, leaving his nights to rake over the past. To fill those empty hours, he takes a job at Great Sin Ink. The close knit friendship of the workers there both intrigues and shakes Liam, who has spent the last four years keeping everyone at arm’s length. Neither Deb, the no-nonsense piercer, nor Goose, a manic tattoo artist, will let Liam get away with his isolationist ways for long.
If it were just those two, Liam might have stood a chance — but there’s also Ace, the owner of Great Sin. He hires Liam despite a thin resume, and that is a kindness Liam can’t forget. The two start up a tentative friendship, learning about each other as the summer days melt into each other. Slowly, Liam reveals a tender heart underneath the wall of quotes he uses to keep everyone out. Unfortunately, life doesn’t stand still, and both Liam and Ace have hard struggles before them that might break them up before they can even get together.
What worked for me (and what didn’t): I ended up liking this one okay but I admit I was ambivalent about it for a while at the beginning there. That may have been because I wasn’t sure of my reading mood. Once I committed to reading the whole book instead of wavering, things smoothed out. It’s a slow burn romance but once the romance appears it goes at warp speed. There’s an ensemble cast which I liked. The secondary characters, for the most part, felt like they had lives outside of Liam and Ace. I would have loved more about Frankie and Goose actually.
Liam had been in an abusive relationship some years before but this takes a long time to become clear. I thought what Ace had to say about it was great. It didn’t feel preachy because Ace is older (but not ancient – he’s in his early 30s) and he’s been around the block a time or two.
There were good reasons why Liam and Ace ought not to have hooked up – both characters are aware and name them but once they were named, it seemed they lost all power to create friction – which felt a little unrealistic to me. There really wasn’t much by way of conflict between Ace and Liam and basically none once they hooked up. So it was kind of a gentle introspective book in that respect.
It also had a melancholy overtone because the reason Liam is even in town is because his Uncle Gene (who raised him) is in a hospice, at the end stages of his life.
What else? It’s a Torquere Press book which means it should be professionally edited. Alas, there were
a number of quite a few typos and other errors in the book which was disappointing to say the least. I can see how one or two might slip through even the best net but there were too many here to let pass without saying something. And, “Liam jammed on the breaks…” I mean, really?
I thought the end of the book was abrupt and I would have liked more information about the plan Liam and Ace had – at the very end, I wasn’t even clear on what job Liam had accepted.
That said, I liked the family Liam and Ace created together and their broader one at Great Sin. I liked the quotes Liam used when he felt his own words were inadequate and I liked the quirkiness and acceptance of them – eg, how Liam eats because he doesn’t like the tastes to get mixed up.
There were things I liked and things which disappointed but none of it really fired me up all that much. It was okay and I’d definitely be prepared to read another book by this author because I liked the writing style but it’s not a book that inspired my review writing mojo.