Hello and welcome to the 415 Ink: Rebel Blog Tour. I’d like to say I’m Rhys Ford, your host but the truth is, I am merely a stealer of space and time. Their space, your time. BUT I hope I can make it worth your while.
Because dudes, I’ve got a book I want to tell you about.
If you know me at all, you know I have a few tattoos and well, have a hardcore love for art. Skin art to be exact. It’s a difficult medium and well, there’s a culture surrounding it as well. Being a tattoo artist is more than a profession, it truly is a calling, or it is for the great artists, the ones who push at the boundaries of skin and ink and do fantastical things on a living canvas.
The 415 Ink series hopefully will capture a part of that culture and also showcase five foster brothers who have made their own family. Set in San Francisco, I will introduce you to each of the five in a series of books where they find love and in some cases, their true path in life. The first, Rebel, is about Gus, the true middle kid in the bunch, and the man whose love he’d won, lost and hopefully will love again.
As all of my blog tours, I want to present you with something unique at each stop as well as a giveaway. So, for each blog, I will give you a story (or part of a story as I’ve split most into two pieces) about a tattoo… involving a character from one of my series. Check out the blog stop list to get a sneak peek at the characters!
The giveaway? You’ll be entering to win a $20USD gift certificate to the online retailer of your choice!
Now, onto the tales of tattoos and where you can find Rebel, on sale December 29th through Dreamspinner, Amazon and other fine bookstores.
San Francisco — Bear Jackson and Gus Scott
415 Ink smelled of coffee, paint, and the sharp edge of stolen pleasure. Closing down for a couple of days was tricky but necessary. They’d repainted the walls that morning and refinished the floor until it gleamed. Bear spent a couple of hours putting up new half walls to cordon off the tattooing stations, so each artist could have a sense of privacy and ownership. Mace came up with the brilliant idea of hitting up used medical supply outlets to find room divider tracks for curtains they could pull around each stall if a client was feeling body shy. The other three — Luke, Gus, and Ivo — painted, cleaned and teased while they worked without complaint.
It was a sign of how far all five of them had come. How dedicated everyone was to the place that kept them fed and with a roof over their heads for the past few years. Refurbishing the shop had been Ivo’s idea, one broached over a dinner meal with an eye to firm up 415’s branding. The suggestion took off before Bear even had a chance to contemplate and the next thing he knew, there was a color scheme and merchandise in the works.
And every single brother had a hand in it and worked towards fulfilling the project… just like they had everything else they’d wanted.
The shop was a gamble, a pie-in-the-sky dream Bear had since the moment he’d picked up a tattoo machine and put it down on someone’s skin. It was both humbling and scary to lay down a piece of art someone would walk away with and carry for the rest of their lives. He’d always felt a twinge of regret doing a cover up — even when the original tattoos were particularly hideous — because he knew how it felt to hope someone loved what they wore.
He’d tried talking Gus out of becoming an inker, but the pull of the machine and ink were too strong for his cousin — no, his baby brother — and the sometimes flighty, always roughly sensitive, blond artist had been bitten with the bug and now there was no going back. From the noises Ivo had begun making lately, Bear feared their youngest brother was going to go down the same path.
When Bear found himself looking at the mounting piles of bills from raising four young men in a broken-down, constantly under renovation Victorian house in the hills, finding a decent paying job where he could be home during the afternoons was next to impossible. Until he’d found tattooing and then Bear could breathe a sigh of relief because it was something he was damned good at.
Then Gus came along and blew Bear’s mind.
The inkers at 415 Ink were competent and a couple were very good but like many tattoo artists, they lived in a transient state, working a particular shop and learning from its stable master inkers before moving on to another location. The pier-side shop only had one designated stall — Bear’s — that is until today.
“So where are we going to put his name tag?” Mace held up the wooden placard Bear had made to go on the outside wall of Gus’s stall. “And you know which one he wants?”
“I haven’t told him yet but he likes that one over there. Put it up and we’ll show them when were done.” Bear adjusted one of the framed out pieces of wall then anchored it down. “Luke! See if you can get Heckle and Jekyll over there to start putting curtains up on the rails. Hang them in the middle in front of the stalls so they don’t get any paint on them of the walls are wet.”
“Got it. I’m on it.” Luke shot a look over his shoulder where the two actual brothers in their cobbled-together family stood near the front of the shop arguing about the merchandise arrangement in the store window. “Wish me luck.”
It took Gus almost two hours before he saw the sign with his name attached to the stall… about the time the shop was completely finished, and the staff arrived for the subsequent relaunch of 415 Ink. The smell of coffee was soon replaced with the yeasty froth of beer and a spicy aromatic cloud from the pizza and taco buffet set up by the reception area. His younger brother had been speechless and took the various backslapping he got from the family and other artists in stride.
Bear only saw a flicker of tears in Gus’s pale blue eyes when Rey Montenegro hugged him and even then, only for a moment. There was something between them, Bear was sure of it, but as much as he wanted to encourage Rey with Gus, he wasn’t sure if his younger brother was ready for any kind of relationship… especially since he had to learn how to love himself first.
It was close to nine at night by the time Gus cornered Bear to say thank you. The hug had come out of nowhere and was bone-crushingly fierce, but Bear welcomed his brother’s affection, happy to feel Gus’s joy in the embrace.
“Jesus, it’s stupid, you know? I mean, it’s just a fucking space but…” Gus let go of Bear, rocking back on his heels. “It’s just so fucking big.”
“How much have you had to drink, Goose?” Bear teased, tugging at Gus’s shirt. “You’re drooling.”
“Nah, that’s… Ivo spilled some soda on me.” He glanced down then sputtered when Bear lifted his finger up to catch his nose. “Fuck you. Why do I fall for that?”
“Because you’re an idiot.” Bear laughed when his brother flipped him off. “I love you but sometimes you’re an idiot.”
“Hey, how drunk are you?” Gus’s fingernail chimed against Bear’s bottle. “I kind of want to commemorate today. Is that kind of stupid?”
“No, it’s not stupid at all. And I’ve only had a couple of sips so I’m good to go,” he replied. “What did you have in mind?”
What Gus proposed was easily within Bear’s wheelhouse and once he had the design down on paper, Gus got a bit of ribbing from the other artists about his word choice, but his younger brother stood firm. If anyone needed a little bit of rebellion, it was Gus. He’d drifted after they’d all been put into foster care, finally latching onto Luke and then rolling into the family Bear knitted together but until he’d picked up a tattoo machine, Gus had been lost. The art that poured out of his blood and soul had been his own means of escaping the darkness stalking him but inking finally turned him outward… giving him an outlet to express himself in ways he hadn’t imagined.
“Are you sure?” Bear asked as he shaved Gus’s forearm. “It’s kind of prime real estate. Sure you don’t want to leave this for something more —”
“I can’t imagine anything I want more than you doing me an eagle,” Gus replied, running his free hand through his long, dirty blond hair. “It is everything that I am right now and everything that I need to be… done by you… here in 415 Ink. And I got my own fucking stall. What else could I ask for?”
Bear couldn’t help but notice Gus’s gaze drift over to where Rey and Mace were chatting up a couple of past clients. There was a palatable need in his brother’s eyes and a longing expression he couldn’t hide on his face. It hurt to see the want there if only because Gus never wanted anything. He’d always taken anything life gave him without chasing after more… never believing he deserved more than the scraps handed to him.
“You can be anything you want to be, Gus,” Bear said as he laid down the stencil on his brother’s arm. “I have faith in you. I can’t wait to see what you do here. Shit, I can’t wait to see what you do in life.”
“I hope you’re right.” Gus’s teeth flashed white with a quick smile then he said, “Go on, Bear, make me a rebel.”
Rebel: 415 Ink, Book One
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 years of 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 break-up three 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 onto. 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.
Purchase 415 Ink: Rebel at…
Dreamspinner Press: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/rebel-by-rhys-ford-9200-b
Catch up with the stories and be sure to hit up each of these blogs for a chance to win at every stop! Check out the pairings preview and plan your visit!
12.26 Joyfully Jay (Kane, Part One)
12.27 Sinfully Gay Romance (Kane, Part Two)
12.28 It’s About The Book (Damien and Miki, Part One)
12.29 The Novel Approach (Damien and Miki, Part Two)
12.31 Boy Meets Boy Reviews (Cole and Ichi, Part One)
1.1 Ndulgent Bloggers (Cole and Ichi, Part Two)
1.2 Smexy Books (Gus and Bear)
1.3 The Blogger Girls (Kane and Miki)
About Rhys Ford
Rhys Ford is an award-winning author with several long-running LGBT+ mystery, thriller, paranormal, and urban fantasy series and was a 2016 LAMBDA finalist with her novel, Murder and Mayhem. She is published by Dreamspinner Press and DSP Publications.
She’s also quite skeptical about bios without a dash of something personal and really, who doesn’t mention their cats, dog and cars in a bio? She shares the house with Yoshi, a grumpy tuxedo cat and Harley, an off-kilter flower-faced grey and white cat-dog , as well as a ginger cairn terrorist named Gus. Rhys is also enslaved to the upkeep a 1979 Pontiac Firebird and enjoys murdering make-believe people
Rhys’ Blog: www.rhysford.com