Published by Samhain Publishing on May 3rd 2016
The deepest scars aren’t the ones that show.
Jacob Shain is your average member of Generation Screwed. He has a boring internship, no cash flow, and a tiny NYC apartment he has to share with Ethan, his much-cooler, tattoo-artist twin brother. Not to mention his love life is DOA. At least, until his brother’s shop hires on a new piercer, and Jacob’s humdrum life takes a turn for the weird.
Cody Turner is gorgeous, funny and kind—everything Jacob wants in a boyfriend. Except for the way he refuses to talk about his past, or where he lives, or anything about his personal life.
When Ethan is arrested while on a mission of mercy, the reason Cody is so tight lipped comes to light. And while Jacob and Cody fight to understand the depth of their feelings for one another, the police dogs catch their scent. So does the local mob.
Now Jacob has to make the hardest choice of his life: stay safe like a good boy, or dive headfirst into a world he barely understands…and hope Cody is there to break his fall.
Warning: Contains a good boy who wants to be bad, a bad boy who longs to be good, bodies that are canvases for living art and high-speed chases with police dogs.
I made a promise to myself, years back. It was to review every book I read, even the ones with shirtless dudes on the cover. So here, I am saying to you, “Yes. I read this somewhat silly book. Let me tell you about it.”
High Contrast: Evolution Ink by Tess Bowery
High Contrast was a pretty standard romance novel — a New Adult M/M. Our protagonist, Jacob, is a self-doubting marketing intern from NYC. He’s living off the support of his parents and successful twin brother while his office career gets its wings. He’s very much a character yet to unfold. His only adventure comes from the company he keeps — his brother’s coworkers and employees at Evolution Ink, a tattoo parlor.
The story takes off when Jacob meets the store’s new piercing specialist, Cody. Cody is a beautiful specimen — lean, long blonde hair, full of sexy body modifications — and his personality attracts Jacob to boot. There’s just a few problems. Cody is very reticent about speaking about his past and is reluctant to start anything with Jacob due to mysterious experiences. What’s Jacob, a boy in love, to do?! Obviously, he’s going to sleuth out what is troubling Cody and take his problems on, even when the problem turn to out be —oops!— the Russian mafia.
I can’t give High Contrast more than 2.5 stars. It was an okay book, and sometimes I enjoyed myself while reading, but mostly I was perusing with a critical eye. My main problem is that the mafia angle was kind of silly. I got the impression that Bowery, when choosing a plotline to carry her romance along, chose a very literal “action plot.” But Jacob wasn’t an action hero by any stretch of the imagination, so the plot and the protagonist seemed mismatched. Moreover, Bowery’s mafia was unintimidating to say the least. That whole plotline flopped.
On top of that, I never got attached to the peripheral characters, who mostly just provided noisy dialogue. I sped-read through those tiresome bits of group conversation (which weren’t really that funny) in order to move to the quieter one-on-one chats and moments between Jacob and Cody. And that is where the book redeemed itself slightly. The book was meant to be a simple romance. All the handguns and street fights were unnecessary. What I enjoyed most was reading about a budding relationship between two boys.
Overall, I’m pleased I read High Contrast, because I do enjoy M/M romances. I only started reading in this genre recently, so I enjoy broadening my reading experience within each new M/M (or any LGBTQ+) book I take up.
On the Subject of Orlando and the Recent Violence There
Speaking of LGBTQ+ matters, I do want to write something quickly about the recent hate crime and mass shooting in Orlando, as many in our community have spoken up as well. These waves of violence and mass shootings in the United States are sickening. They hurt the soul, not just of individuals but of an entire nation. But how can this epidemic be reversed?
Of course, as voters we can put pressure on our elected officials and hope they listen and act. (It’s my own wish that our leaders take decisive and powerful action against the easy availability of automatic guns.) We can continue the discourse through our own public media long after news anchors stop reporting on the attacks. (Bless the internet.) And we can contribute to the fight against violence and hatred through using our own gifts…
What lies behind hatred, I’ve been told, is fear, and the best weapon against fear is knowledge. In our bookish corner of the world, we celebrate knowledge. Our community already does a wonderful job at promoting and celebrating books with diversity. Our writers are doing fantastic work at crafting stories and characters that give readers new outlooks and perspectives. We can keep up the good work. We can do our best to inform our rising generations about the many, beautiful differences that lie inside the hearts and minds of humankind.