My rating: 3 of 5 stars
In this new book by LA Witt, a tattoo artist with some baggage, and an inexperienced Navy man, guilty about his sexuality because of the way he's been raised, cross paths in life, connecting two complete different worlds and personalities.
At first, everything is sex between them, mostly because of Colin and his "I don't do relationships". Daniel's naivety and inexperience makes him go with the flow, following Colin's lead
And when they start to have sex so early in the story I thought "oh no, please, not too many gratuitous sex scenes , don't make me skip pages and drop stars, please, please..." But fortunately, my concern was unfounded. There is too much sex, that's true, but I started developing some kind of closeness with the couple while something was growing between them.
I liked that the characters were pretty real and imperfect. Daniel lived in an oppressive environment that made him the man he is today. Colin is more laid-back coming from a modern and understanding family that supports him and his decisions. Both share their experiences and start new ones together. In a way, Colin fix Daniel since the conviction that he is definitely gay comes with Colin.
Not that there was something wrong in Daniel that needed fixing, of course not, but I'm talking metaphorically here and, in a sense,the 'fixing' goes further, with the execution of his myth back tattoo. With the ink Daniel confronts years of doubts and fears. Colin practically ink him hope and independence. And I loved this idea (maybe it is just my idea, but I love it anyway) because the ink hurts Daniel, he is suffering while getting tattooed, but he is doing it to free himself... Or maybe, just maybe, this whole metaphorical thing was in my mind... And I am the only one thinking it was pretty cool.
"For the first time in my life, I could be gay and nobody could punish me for it"
Daniel is sweet, naive, and pretty normal keeping in mind the way he'd been raised.
Colin is a very interesting guy. I love the way he expresses himself, the way he talks about porn and tattoos, for instance. I was very drawn to his stories and how he told them. He is natural. He is damaged but pretty conscious of that. He faces his demons knowing sometimes they win. And, here comes the GREAT thing Daniel does for Colin: he UNDERSTANDS him without judging.
Another thing I liked about Colin that made me love the character more is that, even if he is struggling with his problems, he seems calm and transmitted this calm and acceptance to me, something paradoxical since we know he is not ok in the inside.
I also liked Daniel. It could seem like I don't, but I really do. It's just that I had problems sympathizing with him in the 'family field'. I don't understand (and lately I think a lot about it) how is possible to love someone who hates who and what you are. How is possible to still try to make your parents happy when they are awful with you and think about you as a sick person. I know family is family and all that (I am a mother and a daughter myself) but, come on, I'm not talking here about support, not even approval, just letting someone be.
I hate toxic families.
That said, I truly liked Daniel and maybe I have to be more understanding because he really is terrified and frightened, and his fear comes from the way he has been raised, so it has to be difficult to come to terms with who you are, when all your life your family told you it's wrong.
I haven't read anything by L.A Witt since I read "Rules of Engagement", my first M/M book ever. It changed my life (or, at least, my readings) so I started "Back Piece" with fear, not knowing how it was going to work for me, since the expectations were high. And I liked it, I really enjoyed it but, sadly, didn't love it the way I wanted, and I'm sure it was for the reason above. Compete with your first (and great) MM read is not easy but no doubt I'll be reading this author again asap. I missed an epilogue though.
Review posted on:
**An advanced reading copy of this book was generously provided to me in exchange for an honest review via Netgalley"
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