'Back Piece' is the first book in L.A. Witt’s latest series Skin Deep Inc. This is the story of two men damaged and hiding from the world. Colin is a tattoo artist and the owner of Skin Deep Inc. His past has left him damaged in so many ways but he’s a fighter and with determination and a solid support system he takes one day at a time and struggles to keep himself together. Commitment’s not on the table for him because he’s not ready to share his past with anyone else.
Daniel Moore is 26 and joined the Navy to get away from his ultra conservative and controlling parents. Daniel’s been hiding who he is and what he wants his whole life. Raised by parents who loved Daniel not for who he was but who they believed him to be Daniel’s kept himself firmly ensconced in the closet, but one look at Collin when he sees him for the first time at the gym with his ripped body covered in tattoos gives Daniel the courage to finally start going after what he wants some tattoos of his own and a man to go with them.
I loved how the relationship between these two men developed. It wasn’t love at first sight, there was a definite attraction but neither of these men were looking for the ‘L’ word.
Colin likes big, strong military men like Daniel…and Daniel…well, Daniel likes muscles and tats. What starts as a business relationship when Daniel approaches him about his tattoos easily turns into more as Colin puts ink to skin. It’s during this first tattoo session that they begin to realize they also enjoy each others company and once again their relationship shifts to something more and they become friends and then friends with benefits when attraction becomes too strong to deny.
It’s during this time that Colin begins to open up and share his demons with Daniel. Colin’s issues aren’t the type that got away and he realizes that he needs…even wants to share this part of himself with Daniel. Neither man is willing to label their relationship but each acknowledges it’s importance in their own way.
I loved that Colin is both supportive and non-judgemental of Daniel’s reluctance to come out to his family, never pushing him to do what he is so obviously not ready for. He even spends a day with them as Daniel’s friend…his strictly platonic friend, and that Daniel shows him the same non-judgemental support when Colin opens up to him about his issues. The relationship between these two is so warm and positive and the author reflects this beautifully in how they share their passion for one another…it’s just hella’ hot…as in ‘turn on the cold shower’ hot.
For me one of the best parts of this book was when Daniel’s parents visited. As much as I wanted them to be…these people weren’t evil monsters or even abusive. They were just normal, average people who loved their kids and believed they were doing right by them. Sadly, they were also misguided and their idea of what the words ‘unconditional love’ meant had to many conditions tied to it. As a parent this of course was the part of the book that made my heart ache because there are too many Daniels out there in the world. Good kids who just want their parents to love and accept them for who they are rather than who their parents believe them to be or want them to be.
Ironically though it was Colin who really tugged at my heart. Colin had a good and loving family and they loved him for himself. For Colin it was the outside world that left him feeling broken and damaged, keeping him from seeing that he was a beautiful person inside and out. It’s not until Daniel that Colin feels like he’s found someone who sees him…not who they think him to be or want him to be but him…the Colin that is and likes what he sees…in fact loves what he sees.
As much as I loved the ending of this book it was part of the reason that this was a 4 star read for me and not 5. The ending in a lot of ways was so good, it was happy with a tiny expected touch of sad but unfortunately it was a little too abrupt as well. For me this would probably have easily been a 5 star read if the first part had been a tiny bit shorter and the ending had been a tiny bit longer, but, be that as it may at the end of it all ‘Back Piece’ was still an enjoyable story worth reading.
An ARC of ‘Back Piece’ was graciously provided by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.