Author: Jack L Pyke
Publisher: Fantastic Fiction
Cover Artist: Natalya Nesterova
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Novel (112,000 words)
Genre(s): Contemporary, Gay, BDSM
Carrying a tattoo on your skin no longer just comes with a risk of infection. Get the composition right, you have the latest mind-control drug on the market. It’s the sex-traders’ dream, or worst nightmare, depending on the concentrated dose of the ink—and just who’s wearing it.
For Kiyen, the ink means he’s able to strip raw the minds of the best and worst of society. He’s one of MI7’s top killers and never more driven to select and take down a target. For Falen, the ink has ensured he’s spent his early years as a willing sex slave and low-grade empath. Hiding out in a small town and trying to bury the needs running through his body, Fal’s hoping to stay under the radar of MI7 and their specialist killers. But the ink itself has a mind of its own, wanting to ignite the natural dynamics driving a Dom and sub, so when Kiyen is forced into Fal’s small world, prejudice battles a pure need to touch. Only problem is: Kiyen’s on the run, and in a world where thought can be the worst crime of all, Fal’s in for a fight for his sanity to find out just what it is that’s making a young killer run for his life. (M/M)
Jack Pyke is an auto buy for me. Her writing is always dark and pushes boundaries that I suspect make a lot of people uncomfortable. I love her well developed characters, I become invested in them and I have yet to pick up one of her books that I can put down easily. If you have read the Don’t… series you will know how Jack’s stories go, there is a lot of pain, sometimes trauma, definitely abuse, quite often situations that will prevent you from sleeping soundly and then finally a chance at happiness – this book is the same!
This book starts with a kick as 5 year old Kiyen is taken from school, sold by his father, and marked with an ink that ‘lives’. It is child abuse at its worst as the ink manipulates their minds and leaves them open to any and all suggestion. Kiyen is not the only child involved that day. Eight young boys and girls are in that small bedroom, surrounded by greedy and uncaring men who have no compunction to slapping these kids around to make them compliant. There is overwhelming fear in that room and by the end of the night only three children will be alive.
For Matt Chambers, a tattoo artist, this is his worst nightmare as he is forced to tattoo a group of children at gun point. The memories and traumatic scars will live with him for years and come back to haunt him in the worst way. His link to Kiyen is special as he feels responsible for him being there even though he was clueless as to what he had gotten himself involved in and that feeling hasn’t gone away when they run in to each other again over a decade later.
Kiyen spends the next decade or so with the two other children who survived, Erin and Connor, working for M17 a nonexistent Government Department, under the leadership of a mysterious man called Jules. They are known as the ‘firsts’ and are feared by many for their skills at entering people’s minds, stripping out information, and leaving them dead. Not many people are known to have survived a visit from a first and those that do are not left sane enough to be believable.
Roll forward and Kiyen is eighteen trapped in a burning building and with no memories of the previous week. He has left the safety of M17 and is running from whatever his memories are hiding. He has taken something, has no idea what, and Connor is intent on torturing him through his mind until he remembers. Kiyen, usually dominant in any sexual act, finds his will bending to Connor but even worse his ink has been locked and it is causing him to lose his mind. A lucky rescue from a fire-fighter finds Kiyen with somewhere to live but Connor is lurking around every corner.
At his new home Kiyen runs into a neighbour, a boy a couple of years older, who has his own traumatic story to tell with regards to the ink. Where the firsts are killers the seconds are sex objects. The ink has them becoming compliant to kink and sexual practices with the dregs of society. Fal was stolen and sold into the sex trade. He was also one of the luckier ones and had a father who rescued him. Never spending too long in one place for fear of recapture they live life in seclusion and the very last thing Fal needs is a locked and confused Kiyen landing on his doorstep. Land though he does and Fal feels compelled to help him.
As much as Fal and Kiyen are drawn together they also rub each other the wrong way. They each hold beliefs about what the other has done or is capable of doing and there are strong emotions, aided by the ink, that get in the way. They are both deeply damaged by their pasts but the strength their individual traumas have left them with makes them both fighters.
This is a complex story, not always easy to follow, and it almost takes on a life of its own – a bit like the ink.
Although not a love story, it is Jack Pyke after all, there is an element of love and that will be the factor that helps them survive. They end up in a small band of people, a pack of rebels almost like a family, who help each other escape and look forward to surviving the future. When you discover the missing ‘information’ that Connor is so desperate to find it all makes sense!
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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