Author: Rhys Ford
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Rating: 4.5 stars
Type: Novel in Series
Provided by Publisher
Blurb: 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.
Review: When Gus and Rey first met, they were mere teens and Rey and his mother had just been rescued by Gus’ older brothers, Mason and Bear. It was a night of trauma for Rey and his mother, but it was also the day that marked freedom from the violence of his father. And from that time Gus and his brothers, including their other two brothers Luke and Ivo, became a fixture of Rey’s life.
Rebel marks the beginning of the 415 Ink series (named for the tattoo shop where three of the brothers work and they all own), with each book focusing on one of the five brothers. Rebel is the middles brother Gus’ book, with the POV being shared between Gus and Rey, the man Gus had loved and lost three years before.
Rey’s childhood was no picnic, living with an abusive father, but he did have a mother who taught him how to love and be loved. Gus grew up with a mother who was negligent and uncaring at best, and a callous psychopath at heart. He and his younger brother, Ivo – along with their cousin, Bear (when he was forced as a teenager to live with his aunt after his parents died), survived her uncaring cruelty only to end up at the mercy of the foster system, where they were separated and largely left to fend for themselves.
Rebel isn’t just the story of Rey and Gus and their relationship, though. It’s also the story of the five “brothers” – Bear, Mason, Luke, Gus and Ivo – who’d all come from troubled backgrounds, found each other and knit themselves into a family.
The first third of the book sets up the relationships and personalities of the Rey, Gus and Gus’ brothers as their pasts are revealed bit by bit. As the layers of Gus and Rey become apparent I understood what was driving them and why they made the choices they had made. Rey had grown up with violence for the first half of his childhood, but his mother did care for him, and once the father was out of the picture, he’d had a fairly stable life. Gus’ only frame of reference of what love was is his brothers, all of whom are as damaged as he is. Bear was the only one who had experienced a loving family with his parents before they had died and he’d gone to live with Gus’ mother. It’s no wonder there were assumptions and misunderstandings along the way. I could feel the love they had for each other, and also each of their fears and uncertainties. I adored both Gus and Rey, although Gus in particular really pulled at my heart. As I got to know more and more of them, I became completely invested in their story and wanted nothing more than for them to overcome their insecurities and take another chance at the love they both deserved.
While the focus of this book is mostly on Gus and Rey, the other four brothers also feature strongly, as they must with the bond between the five of them being what it is. Rebel is a fantastic start to a compelling new series and I’m eager to get to know the rest of the brothers.