Read my reviews of the previous books in the Irons & Works series:
We return to the Irons & Works tattoo shop for another visit to this excellent universe. You’d think we’d be running out of characters, but Lindsey effortlessly weaves together the “next generation” working full-time at the shop and the old guard who have gone down to part-time but remain close members of this lovely extended family. Luke got his start here but moved away from Fairfield to escape the lingering hold of his toxic childhood. He’s back now and slowly settling into his rightful place. He’d like an eventual happily ever after but is convinced that he’s not long-term material, even with his bisexuality doubling the potential pool.
In contrast, Raf arrives in Fairfield metaphorically kicking and screaming. His not-quite-perfect life took a drastic turn for the worse, and he’s not sure whether his newly exacerbated neurological disorder is the cause or a result. Luckily, he has a biological family to turn to, even if he’s not quite sure of the reception he’ll get. But Tony, estranged younger brother and owner of Irons & Works, immediately kicks into high gear to help Raf get settled here and work to get a better custody agreement for his daughter. Along the way, and free of his marriage, Raf quietly examines his desires and accepts his bisexuality. One of the things I loved about this character, in addition to him being older, is that Raf doesn’t spend a lot of time dwelling on “bi angst.” After all, he’s got enough more pressing issues to deal with already.
Luke and Raf become friends mostly through proximity, and a significant portion of this book cover their slow burn into friendship. Raf worries that the physical effects of his disorder will chase everyone away, but Luke never blinks, even at the worst. The friendship that blooms is a lovely example of positive masculinity, and the comfort between them acts as the precursor to a possible relationship. Luke crushes hard, more obviously, which is picked up by all around him except for Raf, who buries his attraction more deeply until it bursts out in the most dramatic way possible.
Thus, the slow burn continues as they muddle through a surprise first kiss. Right afterward, we reach the lack of competent communication portion of the plot. It made me smile even while rolling my eyes at these two bisexual disasters (and I say that in the nicest way possible). Since this is a romance, the happily ever after is expected but also completely satisfying. Coming home is the theme of this book, and I thoroughly enjoyed the journey as these characters find it at Irons & Works and with each other.
Final note: I always trust this author to do the appropriate research into every important facet of their characters. A basic primer on Tourette Syndrome is included in the front matter. Still, throughout the text, Lindsey does a great job of including subtle education about TS without Raf ever having to do more work than the scene requires.
Disclaimer: I received an electronic review copy of this book from the author.