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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Ink Me Blog Tour with Sidney Bristol (Guest Post/ARC Review)

Hello! And thanks so much to the Book Lovin’ Mamas for hosting me today! *whew* it’s been a crazy couple of days for me. The second book in my So Inked series about a bunch of female tattoo artists released on Friday and I’m uber excited.
You probably don’t know this, but I’m something of a tattoo nut. I have a bunch, and I’m a sucker for big, brightly colored pieces. So of course I’d write books about tattoo artists!
Since not all artists are the same, and many focus on different schools of tattooing, I thought it was important that the So Inked cast represent the different popular divisions. The heroine of The Harder He Falls is a half Korean second generation artist who specializes in Asian tattoos and artwork. The most popular form we see today are the images borrowed from Japanese culture.
One of the most prominent images I see is the Japanese dragon. It’s a powerful, mythic creature. Unlike the European dragon, which is often depicted as a cave dwelling, fire breathing tyrant, the Japanese dragon is a regal, benevolent creature. It’s actually an old belief that dragons were gods and that the very first Japanese emperor was descended from a dragon! Can you imagine those family reunions?
According to the mythos surrounding the Japanese dragon, they were thought to bring the ultimate balance. The perfect representation of yin and yang.  At home in both the water, air and on land, even fire is woven into the fabric of their being.
Physically, the dragon is an amalgamation of many creatures knit together. Though all dragons are unique, some common features you can find in the Japanese depiction include: long, skinny bodies, snake like bellies, demon or rabbit eyes, ears like a cow, horns from a stag, koi scales, a camel shaped head, talons from an eagle or hawk, breath sweet as perfume and a voice like music. Whereas the European dragons breathe fire, most Japanese dragons have fire that erupts from their limbs! Careful when shaking a hand with one?
One really unique quality about the Japanese dragon is that they develop colored scales after about five hundred years of life. The older the dragon, the more colorful they become until at one thousand years they grow feathered wings that borrow heavily from the Japanese phoenix.
As a symbol in art and tattooing, the dragon has many meanings that aren’t immediately obvious because of our European heritage. Again, unlike the early European tradition of dragons, the Japanese version is incredibly benevolent and works for the greater good of humans. They embody wisdom and strength. They dole out blessings. Instead of relying on strength, they use wisdom and knowledge to defeat problems.
Now, how does this translate to tattoos?
As with all Japanese tattoos, it’s all in the placement.
Typically the dragons are depicted with red, fiery eyes wrapped around a sword or other weapon, which represents power. Another other standard depiction is of a dragon flying in the clouds to represent freedom. The Buddhist “closed-lotus form” is one of my favorites, which depicts a floating dragon holding an object, usually a pearl, gem or ball, and represents control of the elements, where the dragon protects the world from those who would do it harm.
The image of the dragon is visually arresting, and one of my favorites. I thought the heroine of The Harder He Falls was a dragon type of gal. I won’t spoil that tattoo, you just have to read the book to find out more about hers!
If you were going to have a tattoo, would you want a particular style, like the heroine of The Harder He Falls? Or would you go for something original and unique?

It can never be said that Sidney Bristol has had a ‘normal’ life.  She is a recovering roller derby queen, former missionary, and tattoo addict. She grew up in a motor-home on the US highways (with an occasional jaunt into Canada and Mexico), traveling the rodeo circuit with her parents. Sidney has lived abroad in both Russia and Thailand, working with children and teenagers. She now lives in Texas where she splits her time between a job she loves, writing, reading and belly dancing.

The Harder He Falls 
So Inked #2   
Ellora’s Cave | Barnes and Noble | Amazon
A woman who doesn’t have time for love…
A hot night full of hotel-destroying sex was all Kellie wanted from her client-turned-sex god. Between family and work, there isn’t room for love, just hot, sweaty lust. An arrangement for mutual gratification is exactly what Kellie wants, but every kiss, each mind-blowing orgasm twines her heart around a man she cannot have.
A man building a new life…
Quinton’s assumptions about the So Inked shop owner are turned on their head after one session under her tattoo machine. Kellie’s not the vandal he’s looking for, but she’s the woman he wants. In his bed, on the desk or under the stars, he’ll take her any way he can get her. But Quin has secrets and someone is out to destroy him. Someone who has their sights set on Kellie now.

My Review
Oh man! Do I LOVE me some tattooed bad boys and it's even better when there is a tattooed bad girl too! 

I am so glad I took the opportunity to read and review this book when I was given the chance! I absolutely loved it! It's witty and sexy and the characters are tons of fun! There's a lot of drama both in the gym and tattoo shop and with the characters, so there's always something going on. I pretty much guessed the mystery with Quin's gym and the vandal right off the bat but it still added that suspense element which made the story better. Although I am new to this series and this author, I am loving her style and I look forward to discovering more of her books very soon.

Quin and Kellie were both great characters. Both are strong and independent and have really strong personalities and they both take their responsibilities very seriously, so they were a great match for each other. And it's was really nice to have such a 'kick butt now and take names later' type of woman to read about. Most of the time you don't get a character like Kellie and it was a nice change for me. Not only does she care for her sick grandmother alone but she also helps run her own business. I really enjoyed her! Quin is a sweetheart, an awesome dad for sure and it was really nice to have a man who is co-parenting with his daughter's mother so well. That made me love him even more! And the two of them together. HO-LY MO-LY it was HOTT!!!

The other characters, mainly Kellie's friends, played a big part too. There's definitely more story there and I can't wait to find out what happens with them in the future. Especially Carly!

This book is the second book in the So Inked series but even though I haven't read the first book this one was still really good. The author does a great job with filling us in on what we've missed and I personally will be going back and reading the first book, Under His Skin, which is Pandora and Brian's book. So if you haven't checked out Sidney's books yet, you definitely should! I'll definitely be coming back for more very soon!

Kellie  shifted on the wooden bench, still restless. The evening breeze was cooler than normal thanks to a cold front blowing in. It was ridiculous that dropping into the nineties was considered a cool spell, but in the height of Texas summer, you took what you got. She swept her hair up into a knot and tipped her head back. The slight dampness of her skin, courtesy of the ever-present humidity, was a small price to pay for being able to sit outside. She’d shed the formfitting dress for jeans and a tank top and felt more like herself for it.
“How hot does it get here?” Quin plunked down their dinner and sat on his side of the picnic table. Behind him the food truck was starting to pack up.
“Can’t handle the heat?” It was too much to ask that the man be able to cope with everything. He’d sat through the tattoo yesterday without complaint, being a heat weenie wasn’t terrible.
His brilliant blue eyes stood out in the dim illumination of the parking lot light. “When you have A/C, why should you?”
“You do realize that it’s going to get at least ten degrees hotter and stay there, don’t you?” She unwrapped the tacos and inhaled the spicy aroma of peppers and onions mixed with tender beef.
Quin made a show of wiping his forehead with a napkin. “I’m going to melt.”
“Why the hell are you still here then?”
He hefted his burrito and wrapped the tortilla tighter. “Family.”
She nodded, understanding that reason above all others.

They descended into companionable silence while they ate. The garbled sounds of a Tejano station melded with the distant sounds of Highway 75 and the light street traffic up and down Greenville Avenue.
“What are you so wound up about, doll?”
Her head snapped around. Quin watched her with one brow arched.
“What?” she asked.
“Your knees are bouncing and you keep looking around. Are you expecting someone I don’t know about?” He glanced over each shoulder.
The bubble of anger swelling in her breast burst. It wasn’t Quin’s fault she was suffering from a case of bitchitis.
Instead of snapping at him, she put her taco down and massaged her temples. “No, I’m just sitting on too much energy and not enough time to expend it.”
“Ah.” He nodded as if he understood. “We used to call that the fight or fuck stage.”
It was her turn to quirk a brow at him. She shivered despite the heat. He had a point; one or the other would help. “Fight or fuck stage? What did you used to do?”
“First I was in the Marines, then I used to fight MMA, semipro.”
Her eyebrows crept upward. Mixed martial arts? She saw Quin in a whole new light, and when she looked at him in this proverbial light, he looked damn good. Fighters came with their own set of issues, but as an MMA hobbyist herself, Kellie had to admit that her bad boy draw was sitting across from her. Growing up around the gym meant she’d become more than competent in a few martial art forms. As an adult, branching out into the grappling, wrestling and more violent aspects had given her a much needed outlet.
Kellie grabbed her drink, the cup covered in condensation, and gulped it down to get moisture back in her dry mouth.
“Why’d you stop?”
“I got hurt. Fractured a few vertebrae. Everyone was amazed I could walk after that. Realized there was little to no chance of me coming back from the injury, so I switched over to training. I like it.”
“Do you train around here?” An invisible fist clenched her heart. There had been a time when she would have known the different gyms, who trained where, which ones were worth going to and so forth.
Quin didn’t answer immediately. He chewed his food without haste and took a drink before replying. “I’m transitioning locations. Parting with someone. It’s a little messy.”
Her nose wrinkled. “Yeah, I’ve been there. I’m lucky to have Mary as my co-owner. The guy I worked with before her was a man-child.”
He snorted. “Man-child?”
“Yeah, you know. Frat boy types.”
He tilted his head back and laughed. “That’s a good one, doll. Man-child. I’ll have to remember that.”
The pet name slid over her nerves as if it were sandpaper. “Do you have to call me that?”
“What?” He blinked as if he had no clue what she was talking about.
“Lay off the doll crap already.”
He shrugged. “You look like a doll.”
Her scalp itched and her hand balled into a fist. “You think I look like a whore?” she growled. Moments like these she felt as if she were a passenger in her own body. The urge to do something, or even the man across from her, had her muscles too tense and her nerves strung too tight.
Quin jerked his face away from his cup. “What? No. That’s not what I meant. You’re attractive and exotic-looking. You look more like a doll than a real person.”
Heat crawled up her neck and she was thankful the parking light was their only illumination. It was the most convoluted compliment anyone had ever paid her, and it turned her on even more. She folded her taco wrapper into a neat square.
“You realize the term china doll is what men called Asian prostitutes and war brides?”
“The fuck—no. No, that’s definitely not what I meant. Hey, guys probably hit on you all the time. I figured I had to be a little creative.”
She rolled her eyes. “At least you don’t talk to my boobs.”
His gaze dipped to her chest and her nipples perked up at his inspection. She squeezed her thighs together. This was ridiculous. She was not an animal in heat ready to throw herself at some random guy.
“Well, in their defense, most guys probably only come up to your chest, so it’s not entirely their fault.” One side of his mouth kicked up in a roguish smile.
She chuckled and rolled her eyes. “Yeah, blame it on me because I’m tall.”
“It’s not your fault you’re tall. It’s their fault they’re short.”
Her phone buzzed against her hip. Conversation forgotten, Kellie dug it out of her pocket and unlocked the screen. The home-care provider always texted her when Grandma finally went to bed. She breathed a sigh of relief when nothing else was mentioned, which meant the day had passed without incident. She had all night before she would need to go home and face those troubles. For now she was her own woman.
“Everything okay?”
She glanced up from the phone. “Yeah.”
“So you moved here for family. Wife? Girlfriend?”
“None of the above.”
He was unattached and available. She went very still, the possibilities running through her head.
Quin cleared his throat. “My schedule right now doesn’t lend itself to dating.”
Even better. She laid her palms on the rough wooden surface of the table. “Neither does mine.”
His stillness echoed hers. A predatory awareness came over him, but she wasn’t prey. “That’s a shame.”
She looked him over, even as he did the same. He wouldn’t be the first client she slept with, she wasn’t a saint. But neither did she know him.
“Excuse me.” The food truck cook had walked up on them without either noticing. “I need to load the table, sorry.” He smiled and wiped his hands on the dirty apron.
Kellie swiped the napkin across her face. Had she really inhaled the burrito? Judging by the sad remnants left, yes she had.
“That’s fine. Thanks for the food.”
She rose, gathered up her trash and tossed it in a recycling bin, then leaned against the front of Quin’s truck, out of the way while Quin lent a hand to their cook and helped load the table. Too many thoughts spun around in her head, she needed a minute to get her head screwed on straight, but she wasted those watching Quin’s arms and the way his t-shirt stretched across his back. She pretended she hadn’t been staring when he headed for her, perching her elbows on the hood  and leaning back. The truck’s grille pressed into her back but with her elbows perched on the edge, it thrust her breasts out. As if she needed to draw any more attention to them.
Quin’s gaze roved freely over her body and she could already anticipate his strong touch. He would be an energetic lover, but would he be gentle? Or rough? Did he always have to stay in control? Because sometimes she liked to put a man through his paces.
“I can’t tell what you’re thinking and I’m dying to know.” He stopped less than a foot away.

She smiled slowly, already having a pretty good idea what his answer to her question would be. “I was wondering if you would like to get a room?”


Unknown said...

It sounds like Kellie and Quin have some real chemistry between them.

I'm not a big fan of all the body art--especially on women. I don't have any tattoos and won't be getting any. If I did, it might be a chinese character or symbol.
catherinelee100 at gmail dot com

Tattoos aren't for everyone, that's for sure. Go with your gut! Thanks for stopping by.

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