Release Date: February 18, 2019
Received From: NetGalley
Blackballed from my job.
Moved back to my hometown with my tail between my legs and family issues crushing my back.
Slinging drinks in a dive bar.
Yes, the past year has been hell. So when a man who’s temptation wrapped in golden skin and sin offers me one night of no-holds barred, dirty sex, I’m all in. I deserve it.
But now those few unforgettable hours have me facing blackmail from my own father: He’ll pay for my mom’s medical bills, but only if I never again touch the man who has quickly become my obsession.
Because the man? My obsession?
He’s my stepbrother.
ROMANTIC ORIENTATION: heteroromantic
TROPES: stepsibling romance, forbidden romance, instalust
TAGS: adult, contemporary, romance, erotica, erotic romance, tattoo artist
WARNINGS: sexual assault, parental illness, cheating mention, rape mention, ableism, cissexism/anti-trans language, mental illness (PTSD, panic attack), slurs, gendered slurs, suicide mention, anti-sex work language, stalking, anti-queer language, gaslighting, abusive relationship, sexual harassment, workplace sexual harassment, vomiting mention, blackmail, misogyny, enby exclusionary language
PASSION & INK is a stepsiblings romance, in which the two main characters, Cypress and Jude, have an anonymous one night stand and find out a week later that they’re actually the stepsibling they haven’t seen in over ten years. As you’d expect, the book is full of angst and emotional upheaval with hot sex interspersed throughout.
The premise of the book is great, and I enjoyed both of the main characters and the different facets of their personalities. And I really loved the overall character development, but especially that of Jude and how he really broke out on his own but also was eventually able to recognize, with the help of Knox, that he’s already his own man and already an amazing person and artist. The sex scenes were explosive and just as steamy as those found in the previous novel of the series, SIN & INK. Also, I really enjoyed getting to see favorite characters again–from Knox and Eden to the other employees of the tattoo shop and Simon, Jude and Knox’s brother.
However, I didn’t connect with them and the plot as much as I did S&I. There wasn’t as much chemistry or as intense of an emotional connection between Jude and Cypress as there was with Knox and Eden, I felt, and I had a difficult time buying into the romance because of a key aspect of Cypress’ characterization. Understandably, she is rather leery of men and doesn’t believe that any man could be trusted (to stick around, not to cheat, etc), and that fits reasonably with her experiences. But she keeps on determinedly insisting this even up to the point where there’s only 15 pages left in the book, and even outright says to Jude around the time there’s 30 pages left that she believes this more than she loves him. Then, about 10 days later, a single conversation with her father (who she also hadn’t seen for over ten years) is enough to turn her thought process around? There was very little mental wavering from her on that stance, so it ultimately made the make up feel rushed.
Also, the fact of them being stepsiblings really isn’t all that taboo as it regards this story in particular–because no one really cares. Cypress doesn’t care, Jude doesn’t care, and Dan (Cypress’ father) only cares because he doesn’t want to cause anymore upheaval for Katharine if something had gone wrong between them. It really only served to cause drama in the moment when they meet again at their parents’ house, and then a few scenes later when Dan makes Cypress staying away from Jude a condition of paying her mother’s medical bills. Otherwise…it’s really a non-event.
The last thing that really made me pause was at one point where Jude asks Cypress to call off work so they can go home and have sex. Now, it’s frequently mentioned that she has no savings to rely on, especially as Dan is really only paying her mother’s bills, not any of Cypress’, and thus has no financial stability at this point. And yet, she does call off and therefore loses her pay for that day and any tips she may have made. I understand that it was setting up the for the two of them being available to pick up the pieces of her mom’s coming meltdown, but it was just hard to rationalize, I guess.
In any case, while I didn’t enjoy this book as much as the first and had a few issues with it, I really did enjoy this book and I’m excited to see what will come with the next book of the series!
USA Today Bestselling author Naima Simone’s love of romance was first stirred by Johanna Lindsey, Sandra Brown and Linda Howard many years ago. Well not that many. She is only eighteen…ish. Though her first attempt at a romance novel starring Ralph Tresvant from New Edition never saw the light of day, her love of romance, reading and writing has endured. Published since 2009, she spends her days—and nights— writing sizzling romances with a touch of humor and snark.
She is wife to Superman, or his non-Kryptonian, less bullet proof equivalent, and mother to the most awesome kids ever. They all live in perfect, sometimes domestically-challenged bliss in the southern United States.