Author: Stephanie Tyler writing as SE Jakes
Publisher: Self Published
Cover Artist: Croco Designs
Rating: 3.25 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 09/28/2016
Length: Novella (~ 15K-50K)
Genre: Contemporary, Gay, Gay Fiction
For Aleks, the third time wasn’t the charm…and fighting for survival was only the beginning…
Aleks is a tattoo artist at Inked. He’s also a man with a troubled history and a future bent on vengeance. But his plans for revenge are derailed when he meets a man with ties to his past. A man who also holds a promise of the future.
Brogan is dangerous for Aleks in more ways than one. He’s former military, a successful businessman and a strong hand in the bedroom—everything Aleks wants, under the worst possible circumstances. It’s up to Aleks to figure out what—and who—is worth fighting for.
Here’s the short of it, before I get to the long of it: I like the characters, there’s a bit of head hopping in terms of narration, these guys can be drama llamas sometimes, some plot points were spot on and provided a good base for everything, while others not so much, the writing has highs and lows.
I’m going to start with Aleks and Brogan, the two main characters in this story. I like them both, their different personalities and approaches to life making for a good mix in terms of making for an interesting relationship and endless possibilities for future stories. I understood Aleks more than Brogan as far as motivation for their decision making and ways of thinking about things. I think we could use more of Brogan and his history, a more personal approach as opposed to most of it being provided in terms of his family and their doings.
This was also affected by the scales balancing a bit more heavily towards telling than showing in some places. I didn’t get to feel along with learning about each of Aleks and Brogan, why they are where they are in their lives, and wanting to make the changes and take the risks they feel they must. This is a story about revenge and, I sometimes felt the weight of the stakes, but not always.
Drama llamas. That’s how these two sometimes reacted during their conversations with each other. They sometimes felt over the top, and used to generate conflict. They weren’t necessary. The nature of the story presented plenty in that department and, when organically included, it totally worked. I became invested. The strength of the those threads was uneven but these Brogan and Aleks kept me interested.
And Quinn and Con. They did, too. Keep me interested, that is. They injected some humor, a bit more danger, and a reference point that helped to ground the story, keep it steady on its feet when things faltered, whether in focus or intensity. Even in the scenes they appeared, it was easy to see the progression in their relationship. They’re definitely two very different people who work well together, and do not hesitate to help their friends. In this case, that’s Aleks.
This is, at the center, a story about revenge. We get some backstory about why Aleks, and Vann, are unrelenting in carrying out their plan. Some of this is told in a way that feels a little disconnected, almost like it all was done to someone else. In some scenes, though, it’s maddening and heartbreaking and it’s not difficult to understand why they have been working up to this for so long.
The guys in this Inked universe are all complex, have complicated histories, and are by no means angels. These characteristics remain consistent throughout the story. All of it helps feed the reality that Brogan and Aleks are each looking for home in the arms of someone who accepts them, challenges and all.
There’s a staccato rhythm that sometimes comes through in the writing, and it temporarily interferes with the mood. However, there are plenty of scenes that display that spark, that indefinable quality that Tyler owns like a badass in her storytelling.
I enjoyed this more than the first book in the series and, by the end, I wanted to learn more about and spend more time with Brogan and Aleks, and certainly Quinn and Con.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
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