The dark and dangerous follow-up that continues the adventures of a magical tattoo artist begun in Angel's Ink In a world where elves, faeries, trolls, werewolves, and vampires swim free in a sea of humanity, sometimes you need an edge. Looking for a little love? Need some luck? Desperate for revenge? Gage can give you what you need. The most talented tattoo artist in town, he knows the right symbol and the right mix of ingredients and ink to achieve your heart's desire. One tattoo is all it takes. But remember, everything has its price. . . . Gage learned that lesson long ago, in ways he'd rather not remember. But the cruel and powerful wizards in the dreaded Ivory Towers he escaped aren't about to let him forget. Though Gage has managed to stay out of sight, he can't outrun the past forever. The wizards know Gage is using forbidden magic, and they intend to punish him for his transgressions. Too bad if innocent humans and monsters-entire cities-get in the way. They will quell a nascent magical uprising and Gage will be the sacrifice they need. First, though, they have to find him . . .
All Gage has ever wanted was to keep his head down and forget about his horrid past in the Towers. But the Towers do not easily forget a slight and have placed a restriction on his magic use. Problem is that magic is a very part of him, and he cannot so easily resist its seductive nature. His guardian has been fielding some of the interference from the Towers, but they are growing restless with Gage's continued freedom and are determined to bring him to a heel, dead or alive. He'll have to stay one step ahead if he is to have any chance at survival. Game on.
I have to say that I'm really loving the way Jocelynn is writing Gage's character, especially in DEAD MAN'S DEAL. To be honest, she has written the most realistic male perspective that I have ever read, at least in my opinion. Let's face it, men think differently than women, and most books I have read really don't show it. I mean even the most civilized man out there is still going to have crude or very basic "manly" thoughts. And yes I do realize that I am a woman writing opinions about the way men think, so really I'm just going off of my own observations here. Gage however thinks and talks about his bodily functions and they way he loses all focus when Trixie walks into the room in her typical very sexy get-up. It also makes the sex scenes so much hotter, because his mind is reduced to such a base state of lust. I guess what I'm saying is that I really love that he isn't made out to be the romanticized hero whose thoughts and actions have been glossed over to make him more attractive. He is real and quintessentially male, crudeness and all, and I love him for it.
As much as I had enjoyed ANGEL'S INK, I was still frustrated at the frenetic pace of the multiple plots with very little back story or explanations. So this time around I was really hoping to learn more about Gage's past, as well as some stronger world building and thankfully DEAD MAN'S DEAL delivers. While some things about Gage's past are still a mystery, I feel like I understand him so much better now that I've got a better picture of how he got to be in his position. Of course there still was several plot threads going on, so there's no worry about a dull moment, but this time around there also was a good deal more of character and world development weaved in, making for a much more balanced read.
While I wouldn't say the ending of DEAD MAN'S DEAL is a cliffhanger in the strictest sense, I will say that those ending events have opened a whole new ballgame that has me really desperate to get my hands on the next installment. Jocelynn Drake's Asylum Tales series is shaping up to be a heavy hitter in the Urban Fantasy genre. With just the right amount of action, romance, and character development, DEAD MAN'S DEAL is sure to please.
(Received a copy from the publisher via Edelweiss)