Title: Rebel by Rhys Ford
415 Ink Series Book One
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic, Gay, Romance
Length: 220 pages/Word Count: 83,884
Book Rating: B
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by the Author
The hardest thing a rebel can do isn’t standing up for something—it’s standing up for himself.
Life takes delight in stabbing Gus Scott in the back when he least expects it. After Gus spends years running from his past, present, and the dismal future every social worker predicted for him, karma delivers the one thing Gus could never—would never—turn his back on: a son from a one-night stand he’d had after a devastating breakup a few years ago.
Returning to San Francisco and to 415 Ink, his family’s tattoo shop, gave him the perfect shelter to battle his personal demons and get himself together… until the firefighter who’d broken him walked back into Gus’s life.
For Rey Montenegro, tattoo artist Gus Scott was an elusive brass ring, a glittering prize he hadn’t the strength or flexibility to hold on to. Severing his relationship with the mercurial tattoo artist hurt, but Gus hadn’t wanted the kind of domestic life Rey craved, leaving Rey with an aching chasm in his soul.
When Gus’s life and world starts to unravel, Rey helps him pick up the pieces, and Gus wonders if that forever Rey wants is more than just a dream.
Rebel by Rhys Ford is a heartfelt second chance at love romance. This first installment in the 415 Ink series is full of heartbreak and angst, yet these deep emotions enhance the overall story.
August “Gus” Scott is finally forced to stop running from the man who broke his heart, Rey Montenegro, after he receives stunning news: he has a young son from a one night stand. Wanting to give his son Chris what he never had, a father, Gus rejoins the family of his heart but in doing so, he must also figure out a way to move forward from the tragedy in his past. Rey is an integral part of his history and he will continue to be part of his future since he is Gus’s soul brother Mason “Mace’ Crawford’s best friend and roommate. Gus is not exactly introspective since he would rather ignore his problems than face them but will he finally break free from this unhealthy pattern to ensure he will fully be a part of Chris’s life? Will Gus be willing to let Rey back into his life? Can they overcome the issues that lead to their break up?
There is no other way to describe Gus than “broken”. His childhood was incredibly dysfunctional with the people who should have been his advocates writing him off as irredeemable. Luckily, his cousin/father figure Barrett “Bear” Jackson fought to provide him with a stable home, but the damage had already been done by the time they were finally reunited. Gus holds all of his pain inside and he has never come to terms with the incredible damage wrought by his horrible excuse of a mother.
The 415 Ink family’s introduction to Rey was rather dramatic but life took a much better turn for Rey not long after their first meeting. He has a great relationship with his mom and stepdad but when things went wrong between him and Gus three years earlier, he decided to end their passionate yet troubled relationship. Since communication was not their strong suit, Rey’s resentment toward Gus finally spilled over into a painful breakup that neither man has truly recovered from yet.
While there is a romantic element to the storyline, the main focus of the novel is Gus and his personal journey of healing. He has a strong support system with the family he has made for himself, but Gus still has difficulty verbalizing the things that are troubling him. Despite the close ties he shares with the brothers of his heart (which includes his actual brother, Ivo), Gus does not actually begin to heal until he finally opens up to Rey about the traumatic events from his childhood that continue to skew how he views himself. Gus’s willingness to share his secrets reveals a heartrending vulnerability that he does not show to many people. In the aftermath of his revelations, he and Rey tentatively resume their sizzling hot romance.
Rebel is an engaging and deeply affecting romance with a fantastic cast of primary and secondary characters. The first few chapters are a bit confusing as characters are introduced and a little of their history is divulged. Gus is an enigmatic yet immensely appealing character whose backstory is parceled out in drips and drabs over the course of the novel. Rey is definitely the more stable of the two but he also comes with a bit of emotional baggage. One of Rhys Ford’s strengths as an author is her ability to infuse plenty of angst into her novels without making it feel contrived or unnatural. The drama is perfectly balanced by humor and the richly developed characters add depth and substance to the developing storyline. A brief glimpse of which characters will be starring in the installment of the 415 Ink series will leave readers impatiently awaiting its release.