Friday, August 24, 2012

Ink by Isabelle Rowan

Roman centurion Dominic drew his last human breath during the time of Hadrian. In the centuries since, he’s seen much of the world change around him, but the vampire finds himself held captive in Melbourne, Australia, by his fascination with young, passionate, fun-loving, and alive tattoo artist Michael Chapman. Unable to resist the lure of Michael’s beauty, Dominic finds himself entering the parlor to get a tattoo he knows will fade.

The attraction he feels only grows, and despite Dominic’s extreme reluctance to get involved with a human, he and Michael form a bond—a connection that all too soon attracts the attention of a dark specter from Dominic’s bloody past. Soon, a dangerous game of cat and mouse threatens not only the budding romance, but also their humanity.

This is an expanded novel based on the novella Ink originally published in the Desire Beyond Death anthology by Dreamspinner Press.

I was admittedly a bit skeptical after being asked to review Ink by Isabelle Rowan.  The concept of a human falling in love with a vampire feels like it is everywhere, with diminishing results.  Within the first few pages of Rowan’s Ink however these feelings of apprehension dissipated into the world she perfectly crafted. 
Rowan is an incredibly atmospheric writer, and this is the gateway she uses to draw you into her tale.  The sense of heightened and almost surreal atmosphere works even within the story and characterizations, giving her readers a sense of how the vampires in Ink experience the world. 
Dominic and Michael also work against the growingly typical vampire mortal couples.  Michael especially is a welcome change from the whiny (Bella Swan) or annoyingly unsure (Sookie and Anita Blake) seduced mortals.  He is conscious of what being with Dominic means, and is able to reconcile the realities of this with the affection he holds for him.  It is refreshing to find a story about a mature grown up couple. 
The small supporting cast is used to incredible affect especially Abby the owner of the tattoo parlor Ink that is the title’s namesake. 
Despite these strengths I felt the final climax was a bit lackluster and overly optimistic for my taste.   The shadowy figure from Dominic’s past gave the story a needed sense of tension, but the manner in which it ended just didn’t work for me personally. 
Also the scenes of sex and violence felt like Rowan was pulling back.  Her incredibly vivid writing style became sparse during these sequences and made these portions feel like watching a censored movie on basic cable. 

In the end; 
While I am not the perfect audience for this book Rowan’s incredible prose and expertly realized characters drew me into Ink despite my initial hesitance.  It is refreshing to find a romantic story filled with adults not needlessly moping and unable to make the most basic decisions.  For those searching for a dark supernatural romance I can honestly not thinking of a better story that has emerged in the last few years. 

End Note;
Animals by John Skip and Craig Spector as well as Sacrament by Clive Barker are some of my favorite dark supernatural romances.  Just want you to have a sense of reference.  

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