Rating: 4 stars out of 5
From the moment SFPD Detective Ruan Nicholls meets Ivo Rogers, he knew the tattoo artist was going to bring chaos to his neat orderly life. A hellion down to the bone, Ivo is someone Ruan not only doesn’t understand but isn’t even sure he needs to. Everything about Ivo is vibrant, brash, cocky and arrogant and Ruan wants no part of him.
Or at least that’s the lie he tells himself when he damps down his desire for the social wild child life tosses into his path.
For Ivo Rogers, his life revolves around two things; his family and 415 Ink, the tattoo shop he co-owns with his four brothers. His family might be stitched together by their battle scars from growing up in foster care but their brotherhood was tight—and strong enough to hold Ivo together during the times when he fell apart.
Now Ivo faces a new challenge when he falls for a cop with an old-school mentality on what a man looks and acts like. Ruan is the promise of a life Ivo thought he’d never have but their thunderous clashes threaten any chance of a relationship. Being the family’s hellion makes it easy to be misunderstood yet Ivo has faith Ruan will not only embrace who he is but love him as well.
I thoroughly enjoyed Hellion (415 Ink #3) by Rhys Ford. I had been looking forward to Ivo’s story and his HEA because Ivo is such a magnetic character with his long legs, kilts, high heels, dyed hair and attitude. Also the baby of the made family of five men that make up this series and own 415 Ink, that tattoo shop. Rhys Ford always leaves hints about the next story at the end of the preceding novel, so it wets the appetite for what’s ahead for that story and clues us into some of the plot.
Still I found this a lovely break from the others in this series. Hellion leans more towards the introspective and less towards some of the more action/suspense elements that have occurred previously. I really sunk into that aspect of this story. It occurs from both, actually more than both, characters pov. For SFPD Detective Ruan Nicholls , it becomes an inward journey, taking a hard look at his upbringing and its effect on his identity as a gay man. Also how his profession as a police officer may have enforced certain aspects of his fear as well as his need to protect. There are so many layers to pull back from Ruan and there are other characters here that help with that reveal.
One of them is Cranston, his old landlord and a tough maritime sailor. Also gay but of the era where you never spoke it or if or even acted on it, unless you courted death. Cranston is an indelible personality , sitting in that rocker on the porch waiting for Ruan to walk by, talking about the past and, in his own way urging Ruan to escape the fate of the life that Cranston has made for himself. This man has impact. On Ruan and on the reader. Which is all the more puzzling for what the author does with him 3/4’s of the way into the story. After creating such an multidimensional man who has such a big part in Ruan’s life, she writes him off with a “he went to live with his sister in San Jose”. I was bereft. As was Ruan for a sentence or two. I had envisioned this old man as an extension of the 415 Ink family because he was actually part of Ruan’s. But no gone he was as Yoda would say. In my opinion, it was a misstep this author rarely makes, so again I’m greatly puzzled by it, a great and impactful character tossed away. And a hole left in the story that I felt greatly.
Ivo too looks inward and past. To see if he’s ready to help Ruan move out of his box and strict zone of thinking into something that might bring them a future. It’s a shaky step full of faith, strength, and the ability to trust someone outside the family. And Ford makes us feel every bit of Ivo’s journey, past and present.
I thought everything about their relationship and dynamics works. Sexy, strong, faltering at times when it hits upon the shores of Ruan’s box of fears and old mentality. But the chemistry and love the author writes into their relationship shines through.
Plus there’s Spot. Love that cat.
And Maite Suppe, Ruan’s partner, a lively and layered character, as well as an appearance by Donal Morgan. Win, and win.
As with all the books in this series, all the brothers and their SO (and kid) make appearances. They are an integral part of each others lives and stories. Ford also sets us up for Luke’s story which is next. It looks to be a heartbreaker. I can’t wait.
If you are following the 415 Ink series, grab this up immediately. Ivo’s story is a must read. If you are new to this made family and series, then I recommend you read them in the order they were written to understand the family, the past histories, and the dynamics that are referred to within this story. They are not what I call standalone novels.
Cover Artist: Reece Notley. Rarely do I think that this artist misses on the cover but I do here. I just don’t see either character in that model. Neither the older Irish cop for Ruan or the tall tattooed kilt wearing, high heeled Ivo with eyeliner and dyed hair. Uh no. That model could be anyone with ripped jeans and a nice bod. It doesn’t speak to the characters or story. A total miss. You’d think he’s at least have some tattoos right other than the one star? Ivo is covered in them.
ebook, First, 240 pages
Expected publication: September 17th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
Edition Language English
Series 415 Ink #3