Rating: 5 stars
It is a typical night at The Bremmer, it’s pouring outside and Johnny is arguing with Grimm inside over an alleged flirtation at a party they just left. A messenger interrupts them looking for Peyton Blue, the werewolf coowner and bartender of The Bremmer. The strange courier has a package to deliver, one that has an immediate effect on their beloved barkeep. When Grimm chases after the courier, he disappears under a magical spell.
The package is from Peyton’s past, bringing with it bloody memories and a death sentence. It is up to Johnny and Grimm to find the messenger, and finish the conflict started years ago when Peyton still belonged in the Blue Pack.
Ruffskin is a short story that follows the characters of Dance in the Dark (Dance with the Devil #2), Johnny Goodnight and his boyfriend/guard Grimm, and their friend Peyton Blue, a werewolf. Without reading Dance in the Dark, you will miss the backstory on all the characters involved in the case here which would be a mistake and leave you confused as to the elements involved in Ruffskin. That said, this is a marvelous addition to that universe. Most of the denizens of The Bremmer, local bar and hangout, have interesting pasts and it’s bartender and owner is no different.
Of course, it is a dark and stormy night that brings Peyton’s past home to him, a past he has tried so very hard to forget and one that could cause his death. Johnny Goodnight is none other than John Derossiers, son of The Dracula Derossiers who rules the territory they live in. When the mystery and conflict from Peyton’s past intrudes on the bar and his father’s land, Johnny is called in to investigate and solve the problem. And what a problem it is. A dreadful dark secret that is at the heart of the chaos in the Blue werewolf pack. This is a very sensitive subject matter that Megan Derr gives a delicate and compassionate treatment, identifying the matter through the use of a poem instead of outright stating the nature of the abuse. Simply and elegantly done.
Ruffskin contains all the usual elements I have come to expect from Megan Derr. Great characterizations, smart dialog and a storyline that keeps the reader engaged right to the end. Ruffskin is listed as the fourth book in the Dance With The Devil series but the author states at the beginning that this story fits in right after the second book as I have noted above. While Midnight could almost be read as a stand alone (it figures into the books that follow it), the first three books should be read in the order I have indicated below:
Dance With The Devil (DWTD#1) – see my review here.
Dance In The Dark (DWTD#2) – see my review here.
Midnight (DWTD#3) – see my review here.
Cover: Again another gorgeous cover by London Burden in keeping with the series and containing a simple graphic of a object center to the storyline.