A savior lies in the heart of every good man, but sometimes only love can awaken the man inside the savior.
The world’s had it out for San Francisco firefighter Mace Crawford from the moment he was born. Rescued from a horrific home life and dragged through an uncaring foster system, he’s dedicated his life to saving people, including the men he calls his brothers. As second-in-command of their knitted-together clan, Mace guides his younger siblings, helps out at 415 Ink, the family tattoo shop, and most of all, makes sure the brothers don’t discover his darkest secrets.
It’s a lonely life with one big problem—he’s sworn off love, and Rob Claussen, one of 415 Ink’s tattoo artists, has gotten under his skin in the worst way possible.
Mace’s world is too tight, too controlled to let Rob into his life, much less his heart, but the brash Filipino inker is there every time Mace turns around. He can’t let Rob in without shaking the foundations of the life he’s built, but when an evil from his past resurfaces, Mace is forced to choose between protecting his lies and saving the man he’s too scared to love.
Gay and Bisexual Characters
Warning for: Child Abuse, Assault, Violence, Homophobia,
Racist and White Supremacist content
The 415 Ink family continues to capture my heart with Savior, but Mace and Rob’s story isn’t without its problems. There’s a lot that I like about the book though, so let’s start there.
My absolute favorite thing about Savior was the fact that we get more page time with the entire 415 Ink family – there’s more Bear, Ivo and Luke, and we get to see how Gus and Rey from Rebel are settling into their new life together. To my delight, Ivo featured quite prominently throughout the book and easily stole every scene he was in. All the brothers continue to captivate me and if anything, Savior just solidifies my love for this fledgling series.
The book didn’t pick up where the teaser in Rebel left off (and I’d remember, that final back alley scene was fire!). Instead, Savior takes us a little further back to when our two heroes started to get under each other’s skin (or more accurately, get on each other’s nerves). I’m glad the author took the time to track back because it gave her an opportunity to do what she does best and connect us with her heroes via powerful backstories and glimpses into their day to day. I should warn you that Mace especially had an unspeakably horrific childhood courtesy of his abusive, white supremacist father, so please beware.
I also dug the fact that Mace and Rob fought their attraction at first – apart from making sense for professional and personal reasons, it also made the burn super intense. I especially loved that Rob pushed hard to be in Mace’s life. And when shit hit the fan, I loved that Mace stood up for what he wanted both in terms of facing his fears and exploring his attraction to Rob. I also appreciated the lowkey way the story was eventually resolved because I don’t know if even more explosive drama would’ve been the way to go.
So what didn’t work for me? As I had previously mentioned, Mace’s childhood was particularly heartbreaking and it made his fears understandably real. What didn’t sit right with me, however, was his lack of faith in his brothers. I mean even two books into this series, you know how tight their bond is, and that they would never in a million years abandon him. Doubly confusing was his insistence of keeping his dark past a secret from them – even from Bear, when it was implied early on that Bear was privy to at least some of it.
My biggest problem with Savior though was that ultimately, the romance just didn’t work for me. Between focusing on Mace overcoming his issues and his bond with his brothers, the book just didn’t have much left to give in terms of a relationship with Rob. After the dust had settled on the major conflict in the story, I was expecting our heroes to start exploring a relationship together. I was surprised to see them dive straight into “forever” mode even though in my mind, they were nowhere there yet. The fact that it’s also sometimes difficult to gauge how much time has passed from one scene to the next could be a factor, but the result remains the same – the relationship felt rushed and the HEA seemed forced.
This also brings me to my final bone to pick with the story, which was a small one at first but it ended up bothering me quite a bit by the end. We find out early on that Mace writes as an outlet for his pain and is in fact writing a book. I would’ve liked to have seen some sort of hint of Mace’s creative writing side in his POV – I think this would’ve enhanced his narrative and made it slightly more believable. At no point on page do I remember Mace doing any actual writing, but an indeterminate time later in the epilogue, not only had he finished his manuscript but he’d also found a publisher and had a book release coming up. I definitely had to suspend my disbelief where all this was concerned and I wish it was incorporated better into the story rather than just an afterthought.
So as you can see, as much as I enjoyed this read and would definitely rec it, some parts just did not work for me. This doesn’t stop me from being 100% invested in the 415 Ink brothers and I am seriously excited to read Ivo’s story next.
She’s also quite skeptical about bios without a dash of something personal and really, who doesn’t mention their cats, dog and cars in a bio? She shares the house with Yoshi, a grumpy tuxedo cat and Tam, a diabetic black pygmy panther, as well as a ginger cairn terrorist named Gus. Rhys is also enslaved to the upkeep a 1979 Pontiac Firebird and enjoys murdering make-believe people.
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I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.