Title: Written in Flesh
Author: Multi-Authored Anthology
Publisher: Storm Moon Press
Characters: Various Heroes
Sub-Genre: Paranormal, Contemporary
For many people, there’s nothing hotter than a man with tattoos. He might get them to commemorate a lost loved one, celebrate an event, or just to look bad-ass, but there’s no doubt the man enjoys showing off his ink. Tribal, classic black and white, or elaborate colored artwork spanning the entire back, each mark has a story, an indelible reminder of the past etched onto the human canvas with care and precision. We’re showcasing four of those stories in Written in Flesh.
Key is Bound by Ink to a woman he does not—cannot—love. He runs to escape his fate, but finds Dax, another fugitive, and learns that some bonds go deeper than skin. In the heyday of the 1980′s, Ian Grothe’s club is about to discover the Next Big Thing, but Ian only has eyes for the lead singer. But as the band’s star rises, Ian gets left behind, his hopes turning to Powder.
Then, in Helotry, Rontak is an escaped slave who wears the mark of his service beneath his skin. While on the run, he is sheltered by Tréy, an artist with a heavy secret of his own. Finally, Ellis comes to the Sui Generis Protection Agency bearing the Mark of the Familiar, magical animal tattoos granting him remarkable shapeshifting abilities. When he feels a True Bond to William, the Wardsman of the agency, he has to convince William of the truth or risk losing his sanctuary, and perhaps even his life.
These stories are about how tattoos can either be a symbol for love, hate, ownership or remembrance of the events in one’s life. Each story explores how the markings put on skin can either be a symbol for shame, a source of pride, or a commemoration of a special event in your life.
I really loved reading this book. Written in Flesh is a wonderfully written collection of stories that explores how tattoos can express myriad meanings, depending on who does the marking, why it’s done, and who sees them.
Bound by Ink by Kimber Vale
Key is being tattooed by the ink-witch of his tribe to symbolize his upcoming marriage to the chief’s daughter, with whom he has been lifelong friends. He doesn’t want to go through with the wedding because he prefers men, but feels that he must obey the customs and dictates of his tribe.
The ink-witch tells about the day her grandson broke tradition and left the tribe to seek the legendary island of All-World, a place where members of the same sex can be bonded in marriage.
Key flees that very night to find this mythical place as he feels he has no choice but to follow his heart and not his head. The chief sends his hunters to search for Key to avenge the dishonor of him abandoning her daughter on their wedding day, injuring him in the process.Dax finds the injured man and nurses him back to health.
Dax turns out to be the ink witch’s grandson who had left the tribe three years before because he refused to follow the customs of the tribe. Dax and Key fall in love and travel to All-World to become a bonded pair.
Powder by Alina Ray
Ian is the owner of a small hole-in-the-wall club that is auditioning an unknown band. He notices that the lead singer of the band called The Shredding Angels has tattoos on both arms. He finds them and finds them fascinating and becomes instantly attracted to him. He really likes the band’s music and books them to play once a week at the club for the next two months.
As the band plays every week, word of mouth spreads the band’s praises and the crowds get larger and larger. After every performance Ian and Arnold go out for coffee and powdered doughnuts. Ian critiques the band’s playing and gives Arnold advice on how to package the band to become more famous. He also advises Arnold to change his name to Apollo and to let his hair grow out.
Ian invites Apollo to his apartment to celebrate New Year’s Eve and they finally give into the attraction that has been building between them for months. Ian surprises Apollo with the news that the head of a record label is coming to listen to the band to see if he likes what he hears.
The record label hires the band and before Ian knows it, Apollo and the band back out of playing at Ian’s club and stop all contact with him. Ian finds himself in a severe depression that leads him to sell his club to his manager and to retreat from the world for several months. He finally pulls himself together and decides to open a bigger and better club near Broadway in Manhattan. He names the club Powder and works hard to make it the most talked about club in the city.
Just before the grand opening, Apollo shows up to explain why he disappeared almost a year before and to beg forgiveness from Ian. He shows Ian the new tattoo showing a doughnut and a cup of coffee that he had done as a symbol of their relationship and Ian finally forgives him.
Helotry by Suzanne van Rooney
Rontak Is a slave on the planetof Thiaki, a desert planet owned by the company Incarnadine Inc. The company mines the planet for the precious metal nassidium and uses the native population as slave labor and to entertain the company executives in whatever manner they prefer. Rontak manages to escape by attacking one of the executives and stowing aboard a cargo ship whose destination is Krisha, the home planet of the Incarnadine empire. He accidentally runs into Trey, a young man who is taking pictures of local landmarks.
Trey finds himself attracted to the beautiful young man and is fascinated by the exotic tattoos he has over most of his body. Trey takes Rontak under his wing and they become lovers.
Trey discovers than Rontak is a runaway slave and that the tattoos on his body are a sign of ownership. He becomes enraged at the lifestory that Rontak tells him and enlists the aid of a powerful friend and his own influence as the son of one of the majority stockholders of Incarnadine to publicize the plight of Rontak’s people. The public outcry forces the company to free the slaves and to turn over the ownership of the planet to the native population.
Mark of the Familiar by Alex Whitehall
Ellis is a magical shape shifter who is rescued from a cruel master and is taken to a safe house for the rehabilitation and protection of abused magical beings. He encounter William, the half human, half Succubus son of James, owner of the safe house.
Ellis finds himself hopelessly attracted to William and William feels the same way but fights it because he thinks it’s wrong to take advantage of him. He finally gives into the attraction when he realizes that Ellis is his intended magical mate and that they are fated to be together. Matching tattoos appear on each man as they make the bonding permanent by making love.
I really enjoyed reading these stories that span space, time, imagination, and ordinary life to explore the myriad meanings that tattoos can represent in relationship to people’s lives.
Reviewed By: Pat